Why Does My Hair Fall Out?

Hollie Shirley / Hair & Skincare Editor

7 reasons your hair is falling out and how to stop it

Hair shedding is a part of everyday life.  It clogs up your shower drain, clings to your brushes, and you find it everywhere… But the fact is, hair loss is totally normal, and proof of a healthy hair growth cycle.

The thing is, when it comes to hair loss there are so many potential triggers, which means it can be tricky to pinpoint the exact reason why your strands are falling out, and henceforth, how to remedy the situation.

First things first,  hair loss is a very common problem for women – much more so that people realise. Research shows that at least 1 in 3 women will suffer from hair loss or reduced hair volume at some point in their lifetime So if you are losing more hair than usual, it’s important not to freak out, your mane will recover. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know.

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On average we lose 80-100 strands a day which is to be expected. Your hair goes through three distinct phases in the growth cycle –

Anagen Phase
Your hair grows around half an inch a month, and faster in the summer than in winter. The growth phase, or anagen phase, lasts an average of 3-5 years, so a full-length hair averages 18 to 30 inches.

Catagen Phase
At the end of the anagen phase, your hair enters the catagen phase. A short transitional phase that lasts approximately 10 days.

Telogen Phase
Lastly, your hair enters the telogen phase, a resting phase when your hair is released and falls out. The follicle then remains inactive for 3 months and the whole process is repeated. Each hair follicle is independent and goes through the growth cycle at different times, otherwise, all your hair would fall out at once.

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There are two different types of hair loss, Genetic and Reactive.

Genetic hair loss is, as the name suggests, caused by genetic defects passed on from parents. If your parents suffered with hiar loss, there’s a chance you’re genetically predisposed to hair thinning, which means you may see a progressive, gradual reduction in hair volume. In these instances, certain hair follicles are sensitive to male hormones – and this sensitivity causes follicles to gradually shrink and produce slightly finer and shorter hairs with each passing hair growth cycle. Male pattern baldness is more common.

Reactive hair loss is when your hair loss is the result of a trigger. Excessive daily hair shedding (which is known as telogen effluvium) is not reliant on having a genetic predisposition, it occurs as the result of an internal imbalance or upset, such as a nutritional deficiency, severe stress, crash dieting or an illness, pregnancy, miscarriage, excessive tight hairstyles (known as traction alopecia) heat and chemical styling can all be triggers.

 

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7 common hair loss triggers

 

Hormonal Imbalance

A hormonal imbalance can lead to a multitude of inconvenient health and beauty issues, from adult acne to weight gain. If your hormones are out of sync the effects will radiate throughout the whole body including your hair.

Hormones play a huge role in regulating the hair growth cycle. Oestrogens (female hormones) are ‘hair friendly’ and help to keep hairs in their growth phase for the optimal length of time. Androgens (male hormones) are not very hair-friendly and can shorten the hair growth cycle.

An excess of androgens which could be caused by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can cause hair loss. This is often down to genes – hormonal imbalance can affect your hair more than it would someone who doesn’t have a family history of hormone imbalance.

Stress

It’s no myth that excess stress can literally make your hair fall out. How does this happen? Well, it can raise androgen (male hormone) levels, which in turn can cause hair loss. Stress may also trigger scalp problems, such as dandruff, disrupt eating habits and mess with the digestive system – all of which can have a negative impact on hair.

Anaemia (Iron Deficiency)

One of the most common causes of hair loss in women is an iron deficiency. Iron is essential for producing hair cell protein, without it, your strands will suffer.

 

Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid gland helps to regulate the body’s metabolism by controlling the production of proteins and tissue use of oxygen. Any thyroid imbalance can, therefore, affect hair follicles. If hypothyroidism is left untreated it may result in anaemia, which – as we’ve just discussed can also impact your hair growth.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

A lack of vitamin B12 can leave you feeling tired and low on energy, sound familiar? Well, it can also take its toll on your hair. Vitamin B12 deficiency often causes hair loss as it can affect the health of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your tissues. It’s most common in vegans as you can primarily only obtain B12 through animal proteins.

Sudden Weight Loss

A steep drop on the scales can impact your hair. 6-12 weeks after dramatic weight loss, whether it be intentional or unintentional, hair commonly comes out in excess. This is because our bodies will naturally pull resources from non-essential functions to our organs. While our hair is incredibly important to us psychologically, physiologically it is non-essential – we could survive without it with no detriment to our physical health. This means that any nutritional deficiency often first shows up in our hair. Yet another reason to avoid crash dieting and instead try to adopt a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Age

If you’re going through or about to enter the menopause, changes in your body also have an effect on your hair. Hair loss becomes more prevalent leading up to and after the menopause. That being said, it’s important to realise that our hair ages, and as we get older, hair naturally gets finer. It’s a totally normal part of the ageing process. We repeat, normal.

 

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And here’s what you can do to fix it:

Ok, so now you know what triggering the hair loss, here’s how to deal with it…

Recognise the problem

Hair loss doesn’t happen fast or overnight. Our strands grow in cycles, which means it can take up to 3 months for the hair to fall out after a trigger has caused it. If you notice excessive daily hair shedding for longer than 3 months, it would be wise to see a trichologist or your GP, there could be an underlying factor that needs to be addressed. Very importantly, try not to panic. Telogen effluvium (excessive shedding) is almost always self-eliminating and hair will start to grow back as usual once any internal imbalance is put right.

Change up your diet

1) Get More Protein

Hair is made of protein, making the adequate daily intake of protein-rich foods essential. Including at least a palm-sized portion of protein at breakfast and lunch will help keep your hair in good health.

2) Complex carbohydrates are essential

Carbohydrates provide our hair with the energy it needs to grow, so it’s important not to forget this food source.

3) Drink plenty of water

Water is a key ingredient that supports vitamins, which contribute to your hair growth. Believe it or not, but water makes up almost 25% of the weight of a single strand of hair. Drinking at least two litres of water a day will help to strengthen your hair.

 

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Take a supplement

As hair is a non-essential tissue, it has unique nutritional requirements, and supplementation can be very helpful in boosting levels of vitamins and minerals available to your hair. But, they must be taken alongside a healthy diet for full benefit. Those to consider include Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, Copper, Zinc, Selenium, and the essential amino acids, L-Lysine and L-Methionine.

Get smart about styling

Yes, that messy topknot may look cool, but it could be placing extra stress on your strands. Try to avoid hairstyles that place traction on the hair such as tight ponytails and braids. Try to avoid heavy styling creams and serums, as they can add unnecessary weight to the hair.

DON’T freak out

I know, its easier said than done. Losing your hair can leave you feeling stressed, upset and feeling insecure, however, it is incredibly important to realise how common female hair loss is – and that if you are experiencing it, you are not alone and it is nothing to be embarrassed about.

Remember, regardless of the claims on the bottle, there isn’t one product alone that cures hair loss – you must also look at your general health, your diet, as well as optimise the health of your scalp and the condition of growing hairs. Above all, although it is very difficult, be patient and do not despair. Due to the nature of the hair growth cycle, it takes at least 6 weeks to see an improvement.

Hollie Shirley
Hair & Skincare Editor

Hollie Shirley is SILKUP’s hair and skincare editor. She’s obsessed with all things hair care and results-driven skincare, that is kind to the environment and your wallet. She has a weakness for limited edition eyeshadows and is always testing out the newest and greatest deep conditioners. Hollie has a passion for hair and is studying Trichology, working towards becoming a Member of the Association of Registered Trichologists.