Everything You Need to Know About Hair Loss (Like How to Stop It)
Think you're losing more hair than normal? Here's how to deal.
Losing hair is a completely normal process. Similar to the way your skin sheds dead cells, your body expels old strands so they can be replaced with new, healthy ones. It might sound like a lot, but fun fact: Most people lose around 75 to100 strands a day.
But if you're seeing more hair in the drain and in your brush than normal or you can tell your ponytail is thinner than it used to be (and don't have a medical condition, like alopecia), it's possible you're losing more hair than you should be. Since you only replace about 50 to 75 new hairs per day, losing more than 100 hairs a day will create a deficit, says Michelle Blaisure, trichologist and Bosley Professional Strength Product and Technical Specialist.
A deficit is never great in any context and it's definitely not ideal when it comes to your hair. Here, the reasons why you might be losing more hair-plus what you can do about it. (Related: The Healthy Scalp Tips You Need for the Best Hair of Your Life)
The Most Common Reasons for Hair Loss
One of the most common causes of hair loss is stress and fatigue. "When you're stressed, your body is in fight-or-flight mode and the response is to increase blood sugar and suppress digestion, so you can use all your energy to run from the tiger," says Blaisure. While we don't have any literal tigers chasing us in 2018, we do have traffic, lack of sleep, jobs, and poor diet to balance. Instead of sleep, we fuel ourselves with coffee and sugar-laden granola bars, causing blood sugar and cortisol levels to fluctuate up and down. This stress response impacts your hormone levels and can cause hair to shed excessively, she explains.
Diets high in refined carbs and sugar also impact new hair growth. "Constant stress affects your ability to digest food, which means the vitamins are used quicker and by vital organs first," says Blaisure. Your hair isn't necessary for survival, making it last on the priority list to receive nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for healthy hair growth, so a deficiency in vitamins A, B12, D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids stunt the ability to produce new, healthy cells which slows hair growth, she explains. Vitamin deficiencies can be identified with a simple blood test and easily corrected with supplements. Talk to your doctor before taking any so they can prescribe the type and amount of vitamins needed. (Related: Do Gummy Vitamins Actually Help Your Hair Grow?)
Lastly, many women experience hair loss after giving birth due to changing hormone levels that can cause hair to suddenly fall out. Luckily, the body generally self-corrects when hormones return to normal about three months postpartum, Blaisure says.
Lifestyle Changes to Help Hair Grow Back
None of this advice will surprise you; it's the exact advice you've heard for nearly every health-related problem. But this simple advice is also the key to getting to full, healthy hair. First up, sleep: seven to eight hours minimum every night to restore energy and lower cortisol levels. Eat a balanced diet including protein and healthy fats to help stabilize blood sugar so you don't crave the sweets and caffeine, says Blaisure. And to further reduce stress, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day for healthier hair and a healthier everything else, too. Win-win.
The Best Products for Hair Growth
1. When you go long periods without cleansing (hi, day four of dry shampoo), you disrupt your scalp's natural bacteria. Throwing off that balance can lead to inflammation and irritation that impacts the hair follicle and can worsen, or even cause, hair loss. You don't need to shampoo daily, but Blaisure recommends shampooing at least twice a week to remove product buildup, oil, and pollutants from the scalp. Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo is formulated for thinning hair and contains peppermint and tea tree oil to soothe the scalp. ($34, ulta.com)
2. Along with shampooing twice a week, it's important to keep hair strong from the inside out to prevent breakage, says Blaisure. Look for a conditioner with keratin (the building blocks of hair), like Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Conditioner, which also contains biotin for growth and sheen. ($10, dermstore.com)
3. Bosley Professional Strength BosRevive Starter Kit is available for color-treated and non-color-treated hair and contains shampoo, conditioner, and a leave-in treatment specifically formulated for thinning hair. The treatment works by inhibiting DHT (a hormone responsible for thinning hair strands) while strengthening and thickening new growth. ($42, ulta.com)
4. The botanical formulation of Phyto Phytocyane Revitalizing Serum supports scalp microcirculation. Bringing more blood flow to the area slows down thinning and encourages new growth. The pre-dosed vial of serum is applied at the root to towel-dried hair. It can be applied three times per week for an intensive treatment or once a week for maintenance. ($69, ulta.com)
5. Evolis Professional Activator works by extending your hair's growth cycle. Increasing the time in the growth phase slows down the aging process and prevents hair from entering the resting and falling phases. There are three versions of the treatment-one to prevent thinning hair, one to promote hair growth, and one to reverse hair loss. Apply the serum to the scalp twice a day and massage in. It can be used on wet or dry hair and doesn't interfere with other styling products. ($65, neimanmarcus.com)
6. Even if you don't have noticeably thinning hair, you may want to consider adding Intact Root Securing Complex to your routine. The proprietary formula creates a temporary grip on the scalp to prevent losing strands during standard washing, brushing, and styling. To use: Apply the treatment in sections to dry hair. Wait 10 minutes before washing, then the grip effect will last for several hours. ($34, intacthair.com)