Shedding a small amount of hair daily is normal. Everybody will shed 50-100 hairs a day as part of their natural hair growth cycle. Your hair grows in a constant cycle of growth, shedding and renewal that repeats continually over your life. Your hairs are cycling, not in unison though, so only a small portion are entering the shedding phase at any given time. In all likelihood, what you’re seeing on your pillows, in the shower, or on your hairbrush is just routine shedding that happens everyday.
If your hair fall is excessive and you have noticed changes such as thinning of your ponytail, a widening of your part line or seeing your scalp peeking through under bright lights, then there may be some underlying changes happening to your hair cycle.
Your hair and your hair cycle are often a reflection of the state of your body as an entire system and can change according to your overall health and wellbeing.
So if you’ve ever wondered why your hair might be falling out more than usual? Read on to learn some common causes – you may be surprised.
You’ve had a baby
About 30-60% of women will experience postpartum hair loss after having a baby.
For most, the post-partum hair shed is a temporary phenomenon that is driven by hormone changes after birth.
During pregnancy, your estrogen and progesterone levels soar, particularly from the second trimester, too many times higher than usually seen in the body.
Estrogen in particular has a powerful effect on multiple systems in the body including the skin and sebaceous (oil) glands, and also on the underlying growth pattern of hair. During pregnancy the excess hormones encourage the hair to enter and stay in the growth phase, grow faster and shed less, ultimately synchronizing the follicles in their growth.
Following labour and birth, estrogen and other hormone levels fall rapidly to pre-pregnancy levels. In addition, cortisol levels remain high, and in some women thyroid hormones can get out of balance. What this can lead to is a rapid synchronous transition of large numbers follicles out of their growth phase and into the resting phase. Couple this with the lack of sleep, potential nutritional stress and the demands of caring for a newborn and a perfect storm for hair changes is in place.
What is important to note is that when the follicles enter the resting phase, they do not fall out immediately, but after a delay of 2-4 months. Scientifically this process is known as telogen effluvium.
The silver lining of this is that the fall is actually precipitated in most cases by the emergence of a new hair that has regenerated from stem cells in the scalp.
You’ve switched birth control pills
Pharmaceutical birth control pills and implants are usually hormones, or combinations of hormones, that work by preventing the release of other hormones involved in the development of the egg and specific changes in the uterus lining which prevents pregnancy.
Hormones are very potent molecules that affect the body in profound ways. Many of them can also impact the way hair grows, metabolizes and cycles. After all, it is the sex hormones that cause the sprouting of pubic hair during puberty. Many hormones can affect the hair follicles, changing the way they grow and cycle.
Some women have follicles that are especially sensitive to the impact of hormones altered by birth control and this can result in hair cycle shortening, increased shedding, hair thinning and changes in hair quality. For example, many women notice their hair becomes more brittle and drier. Some women may also notice hair loss when they stop taking a particular type of birth control pill, in this case, it is the change or absence of the hormones in the pill that triggers a change in the hair cycle.
The excess hair fall from changing birth control will start to happen 2-3 months after the switch. So if you’ve changed your routine in the past few months, or had a new implant inserted, then this could be the underlying contributor to your hair fall, and you may need to look for an alternative.
You’ve experienced sudden weight loss or changed your diet
Your hair is a reflection of your internal health and wellbeing. Ensuring your body is receiving adequate nutrition and a balanced diet is critical for maintaining healthy hair.
If you are on a strict or restrictive diet and/or have been losing significant weight, your body may not be getting all of the nutrients and energy it needs for healthy hair growth. The body is an amazing machine that intricately conserves and manages energy balance and nutrition. Your body knows that your hair is not essential for maintaining your life, unlike your heart, lungs and brain. So when your body is experiencing nutrient restriction or isn’t getting the nutrients it is used to, then it will shuttle those nutrients and energy to essential organs and away from the hair. This can result in shortening of the hair cycle, hair follicles prematurely entering into the resting phase and slowing of growth. Excess hair fall may follow.
You’ve experienced extreme emotional stress
As with diet, stress impacts the way the body shuttles and manages energy and nutrients.
High levels of constant stress put the body into a constant fight or flight mode where hair growth is not a critical function and is reduced in favour of other systems. Similarly, extreme stress such as a divorce, death of a partner or close family member, or bankruptcy can place the body under pressure, where nutrients supply to the hair follicles is diverted and the hair cycle is prematurely shortened. As with, diet, childbirth and changing medications the hair fall due to stress will usually be delayed by 2-3 months as the follicles rest before falling.
You have a medical condition
Many medical conditions can cause excess hair fall.
Autoimmune diseases such as Alopecia areata and Alopecia totalis cause the body to attack the hair follicles, resulting in complete hair loss in small round patches, or over large areas respectively. If this is happening to you, you may need to see a dermatologist for treatment.
Apart from the medical conditions that directly attack hair, several systemic illnesses can result in excess hair fall. Conditions that affect your hormones such as Thyroid conditions (both hyper and hypo-thyroid diseases) and polycystic ovaries can influence the hair cycle, leading to cycle shortening and excess hair fall. Medical conditions that affect the absorption of nutrients such as Chron’s disease and IBS can also impact the hair cycle, similar to dieting and stress.
Your hair styles are damaging your hair
Any hairstyle that puts pressure on your roots can have a detrimental impact on your hair cycle and cause excess hair fall through what is known as traction alopecia.
The excess pressure can actually damage the small muscle attached to each hair follicle (known as the arrector pili muscle), resulting in a reduced ability for the follicle to cycle and excess hair fall.
If you’re a fan of tight hairstyles, braids or heavy extensions, you should try switching up your style occasionally to give your follicles a rest.
You’ve inherited it
Genetics can play a large role in your hair health and quality as you age. Some men and women have a genetic predisposition to lose their hair or to thin from a young age. Other people have a predisposition to lose their hair later in life. If you have a family history of thin hair or hair loss, chances are you may also be vulnerable to hair challenges occurring.
Hair growth is very complex, as is the signalling that controls the hair cycle, that many genetic factors may be at play for any individual. The best genetic studies of tens of thousands of individuals with hair loss have highlighted that more than 150 genes may be involved. In all studies, firmly sitting in the top 20 of the genes that are involved in hair loss is the hair cycle regulator FGF5 – evolis directly tackles FGF5 to fight hair loss, hair thinning and hair cycle dysfunction
What can you do?
While some hair changes are inevitable for many people, it's extremely important to be gentle with your hair and implement the following steps:
- Reduce hair colouring and heat styling - thinning hair needs time rejuvenate itself. Adding chemicals will only further weaken the strands which can lead to hair loss via breakage.
- Take care drying hair with towels - this can snag on a fibre which can pull on brittle hair causing them to break.
- Reduce stress levels - stress is a huge contributor to hair loss so practising meditation or calming strategies are not only helpful to your mind but also your hair.
- Eat well - Building healthy hair starts from within. Zinc, vitamin D and biotin are all nutrients that help hair to grow stronger.
- Implement a gentle hair care routine to assist hair growth - évolis is a natural technology that can help keep the hair cycle healthy in the face of the most detrimental pressures. évolis tonics are hair serums that contain FGF5 blocking botanicals; Sanguisorba officinalis, Swertia chirata and Rosa multiflora, that act on the hair growth cycle, preventing excess hair fall and boosting growth. They can be used safely and can naturally support a healthy hair cycle, while the our 3-in-1 volumising shampoo and conditioner helps to lift your roots ensuring your hair looks thicker and fuller.