Hair Loss: why is my hair shedding and how do I fix it?
Hair shedding is one of those things that seems normal until it is isn't. Now, it's important to note that hair shedding IS normal. On average we lose 80 to 100 strands of hair a day. However, once your hair shedding exceeds that limit and your natural hair cycle cannot regrow fast enough to maintain your typical hair density, you begin to notice it.
I noticed my hair was shedding excessively about 6 months ago. For a while, I didn't notice...until I did and then, I couldn't unsee it. We were in the midst of the world-wide pandemic and I had more to worry about then a few extra hairs on the shower floor. Then it all changed when I brushed my hair after a shower and my hair was coming out in a quantity I had never seen before.
What Causes Hair Shedding?
This is a tough one to answer because there could be a mutlitude of causes or a combination of things causing it. It could be genetic or reactive to outside stimuli. Here are a few potential causes to consider...
Genetics - If you are genetically predisposed to shedding or thinning hair, this may be the cause of your hair loss. Further, a genetic predisposition to hair loss may be exacerbated by any of the following triggers.
Hormonal Imbalance - An excess of androgens, male hormones, can be connected to hair loss.
Stress - Stress and hormones are deeply connected. A high stress environment can trigger the body to release excess androgens and therefore result in hair loss, as well as dandruff and digestive upset.
Iron Deficiency - Iron deficiencies (or anemia) is a common cause of hair loss because Iron is the a necessary component for having healthy hair cell proteins. If you suspect that you suffer from an iron deficiency, seek out guidance from your general practitioner for proper testing and protocol.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency - Vitamin B12 is an important component of healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your body tissues, including your hair follicles.
Hypothyroidism - The thyroid gland regulates your bodies natural functions and can impact hair follicle health.
Life Experiences - If you are going through puberty, pregnancy or menopause, the change in hormones can cause hair shedding.
Habits - Including, for example, vigorous brushing, too much ponytail usage, sleep habits, or product build up.
How did I Stop My Hair Shedding?
When my hair shedding began to impact my self-confidence and overall self-image, I decided to take action to make a change. I implemented a few minor changes to my daily routine that made a huge difference and brought my hair back to health. I knew I did not want to start with a hair growth supplement because I wanted to avoid adding another supplement to my already robust supplement cabinet.
I was able to solve my hair shedding problem without the need for professional or medical intervention. However, many are not so lucky and if the protocol I used does not work for you, I urge you to speak to your general practitioner to find a solution that works best for you. As described above, there are countless potential causes of hair loss. While my protocol worked for me, you may require a combination of both at-home treatments and professional care.
The combination of these specific practices was exactly what I needed to slow my hair shedding and bring my hair back to health...
1. Cold Rinses
At the end of each shower, I turn the shower water down to nearly ice cold temperatures. Yes, it must be very, very cold. Then, I run my hair from scalp to end under the water for about 30-60 seconds, making sure to fully saturate my scalp and hair in the ice water. While my hair is under the cold water and I freeze my tush off, I massage my scalp with my finger tips. I apply medium pressure and give myself a good scalp massage. You know, the ones you get at a hair salon? Just like that. The cold water massage helps invigorate my scalp and I notice that my hair has more shine when I do this. Plus, there is the added bonus of increases blood circulation and muscle recovery from the cold shower.
2. No Ponytails
Ponytails are one of the main causes of hair breakage and shedding. The pressure of a ponytail on the hair shaft itself can cause breakage and those little hairs at the top of the head that always manage to ruin a perfect smooth hairline (aka fly-aways). Also, the pressure of a ponytail pulling on the hair root can cause excessive hair shedding.
While I haven't give up ponytails completely, I am much more conscious in how long I keep a ponytail in and what types I use. I try to avoid wearing ponytails as much as possible and I opt for a small clip or headband to keep hairs out of my face. When I do wear a ponytail, I stick with these silk ponytails. They are much more gentle on your hair and I notice a significant difference when I use them.
3. Conscious Brushing
Up until about 6 months ago, wet, dry, tangled, it didn't matter...I had one brush and one brush only. When you think about it, our hair texture and durability changes when it is wet vs. dry, so why do we use a single brush for both? The demands of wet hair are very different than dry hair and so the brush we use in each occasion should be different.
After much research, I went with this brush set that comes with 3 brushes (one for wet, one for dry and one for styling). The Wet Detangle Brush gently detangles wet hair with special memory-flex bristles and ball-points tips. The Care and Style Brush is perfect for styling and daily care with a blend of memory-flex and 100% boar bristles. Lastly, the Dry Detangle Brush is perfect for detangling and smoothing dry hair with its seamless tension-flex bristles of different lengths. I personally purchased the full set of all 3 brushes because it is a great value.
4. Clarifying Shampoo
Excess product build-up on the scalp can actually suffocate the hair root and follicle, leading to hair loss and shedding. Clarifying shampoo is great to remove the build-up of products and films left from shampoo. I use a this clarifying shampoo to remove excess build-up and keep my scalp clean. However, too much of a good thing can sometimes become a bad thing and excessive use of a clarifying shampoo can remove too much of the healthy oils necessary for a healthy scalp. I try to limit my use of a clarifying shampoo to once a month.
5. Silk Pillowcases
Yes, the silk pillowcases work. Silk pillowcases cause less friction on the hair (and skin) when you sleep then a typical pillowcase. Friction can cause breakage, and a silk pillowcase avoids that. I ordered 2 of these Silk Pillowcases and now these are the only pillowcases I use.
6. Eating Greens Daily, Spinach Especially
Spinach is packed with nutrients like folate, iron, vitamin A and C, all of which may be beneficial for hair growth. As mentioned above, iron is integral in the production of healthy hair proteins. Folate is a type of Vitamin B9 that is amazing for hair growth. You often see folic acid in your favorite hair vitamin supplements and folic acid is actually just a manmade version of vitamin B9.
I skipped the supplements and started incorporating spinach in my daily routine. Some days I had a large spinach salad and other days it was just a few leaves in my smoothie or omelette. Spinach is very neutral in flavor, so you can add it to pretty much anything. I also make green juices when I can to get an extra boost of vitamins.
7. Product Overhaul
I took a look at the hair care products I was using and, more specifically, the ingredients in them. I realized I was using products that contained chemicals that are harmful to my hair and overall health. I swapped out my shampoo and conditioner for this non-toxic shampoo and this non-toxic conditioner. Let's just say, my scalp is very happy.
8. Microfiber Hair Towel
When you get out of the shower, how do you dry your hair? Do you rub it in a towel? Do you wrap it up in a bath towel on the top of your head? Both of these practices can lead to hair breakage, either from friction or from pulling on the hair root. I switched over to this microfiber hair towel years ago and it is a game changer. If you haven't made this switch, what are you waiting for?!
If you have found yourself suffering from hair shedding or hair loss, a combination of these simple changes may be just what you need! However, you should always consult with a medical expert or your own health practitioner for personalized advise.
SHOP THE ITEMS MENTIONED IN THIS POST
"This is why your hair is falling out (AND how to stop it)" Cosmopolitan.com, Victoria Jowett; https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/beauty-hair/advice/a48958/hair-loss-reasons/
"It’s Time to Add Silk or Copper Pillowcases to Your Sleep Routine" Healthline, Jennifer Chesak; https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/pillowcase-benefits#the-silk-or-copper-conclusion
"So You Have Scalp Buildup: 7 Expert Ways To Get Rid Of The Gunk ASAP" MindBodyGreen, Jamie Schneider; https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/so-you-have-scalp-buildup-7-ways-to-get-rid-of-gunk-asap