Why Your Hair Is Shedding and What You Can Do About It – Allure Magazine
Gorgeous, shiny, healthy hair is intrinsically linked to our idea of what’s beautiful, and our sense of self. We glorify celebrities for their glossy beach waves or lustrous curls.
But what happens when you start to shed major amounts of of your hair?
It all depends on the severity of your situation. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s perfectly normal to lose between 50-100 hairs per day. Anything beyond that is known as excessive hair shedding, a condition called telogen effluvium, and is a common response when you’ve lost 20 or more pounds, given birth, or dealt with major stress (think a layoff or a breakup).
Francesca J. Fusco, a New York City–based dermatologist, says that hair goes through phases: growth, rest and shedding. And if you’re dealing with chronic shedding, it might be time to see a medical pro.
Prior to making that appointment, though, Fusco suggests that you do a “self-history” that goes back six months to pinpoint any lifestyle or physical changes like “medications, diet, menstrual cycle patterns, or chemical treatments. Bring this info to your doctor.”
Next, it’s time to unleash your inner mathematician and do a “quantitative count for a few days. An excess of 100 shed hairs a day consistently may indicate a problem. Ask family members about any family history of hair problems.”
You may have an issue if you’re losing more than 100 hairs a day for several weeks, says Fusco. Plus, take note of any visible bald patches, or an inflamed, sore, irritated scalp.
“Bald patches could indicate an autoimmune problem or an inflammatory skin disease which is causing the hair loss,” says Fusco. “If an individual has very severe dandruff and it goes untreated, this could increase the normal amount of daily shedding.”
And here’s what not to do: Go on a shopping binge and load up on hair-loss remedies. In this case, one size does not fit fall. If you have an iron deficiency, or are following very protein-restricted diet, “adding protein supplements would be helpful. A very general answer to this question is to look for a vitamin that is labeled as a ‘hair vitamin.’ My current favorite is Nutrafol because it addresses multiple causes of hair loss including androgenetic alopecia, stress, and deficiencies,” says Fusco.
When you’re getting ready to leave the house, Fusco recommends that you give your hair a break. Meaning, don’t blow-dry every day, or use a curling rod or flatiron. And don’t yank your strands back into supertight ponytails or other scalp-stressing styles. As for products to avoid, there’s no blanket rule that applies to everyone.
“In general, however, one should take great care of the scalp: The cleansing and the conditioning of a scalp means a healthy hair follicle and a healthy hair follicle is less likely to shed. A very common problem that I encounter as a cause of shedding is dandruff, and this is something that can be controlled very easily by using a dandruff shampoo,” says Fusco. “The problem is people tend to avoid dandruff shampoos because they are concerned that it will not beautify their hair and leave their hair looking dull.”
Fusco, who is a consultant for Unilever, has a go-to product, which is also easy on the wallet: Dove DermaCare shampoo and conditioner, which retails for $4.99.
“This product contains zinc pyrithione (an active anti-dandruff ingredient) which is very hydrating to the scalp and hair and in addition contains botanical ingredients that leave hair looking pretty. Since it leaves hair manageable, smooth, and attractive, it encourages patients to be consistent with use and this is key to controlling dandruff,” she says.
Here’s a fun fact: Humans tend to shed the most during the fall. “This is thought to be an evolutionary adaptation. Follicles ‘hold onto hair’ during sunny summer months as protection for our scalp,” says Fusco.
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