Whenever a new season begins, you break up with your S.O., or you're just looking for a change, it can be fun to try something new with your hair. Whether you opt for a trendy new cut or go wild with the color, having a fresh new look can really put some pep in your step. Some hair changes that you don't actually choose aren't so fun and harmless though. Hair loss in women is more common than you probably think, and can be difficult to know how to handle.
According to Harvard Medical School's "Harvard Women's Health Watch," about one in three women experiences hair loss at some point in her life. If you notice some hairs in your brush or find yourself picking a couple off of your pillow in the morning, it may be totally normal turnover. So how much is too much to be losing on a regular basis? "The loss of around 100 hairs per day is considered normal hair shedding," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ted Lain tells Elite Daily. "More than this, occurring regularly, would be abnormal."
Not all hair loss can be attributed to the same causes, or be treated in the same way, according to board-certified dermatologist Jennifer T. Haley, MD FAAD. For example, in some situations, once you lose hair, you might not be able to get it back again. "Scarring hair loss will often present as tender, red, inflamed patches of hair loss and should be addressed immediately for a full workup," she tells Elite Daily in an email, "as this may be irreversible. Early treatment is necessary."
Going through a really difficult period in your life can also contribute to more hairs left on your pillow or in your shower drain. "Diffuse thinning from excessive shedding of hair loss (telogen effluvium) may occur about three months after a significant stressor — emotional or physical," explains Dr. Haley. Anything from surgery or illness with a high fever to emotional stress from the death of a loved one can leave you with a ponytail that is much sparser than it once was, so if you're noticing hair loss now, think back to what was going on in your life a few months ago to figure out if there might have been a cause.
Genetics or hormonal changes (due to thyroid issues or low progesterone) can cause female pattern hair loss, a gradual thinning of hair, especially toward the crown of the head, according to Dr. Haley. "This may first be noticed with widening of the part or getting sunburned on the scalp," she says. "A hair from the crown of the scalp will often be thinner in caliber than a hair at the nape of the neck."
Not getting enough iron in your diet could also manifest in abnormal hair loss, explains Scarlett Full, a registered dietitian and nutrition scientist at Growing Naturals. Animal-based proteins like meat and plant-based foods like beans and dark leafy greens can help boost your iron intake, she tells Elite Daily. If you are still worried that you aren't getting enough iron from food, Full says that iron supplements are an easy, accessible and effective way to raise iron levels quickly if you need to. "They can be detrimental to health if taken in unnecessarily large doses," she says, so opt for a pill with a lower dosage. As always, check with your doctor before adding any supplements into your routine.
Trichologist and hair-loss specialist Iain Sallis, MIT IAT tells Elite Daily that using the wrong brush may contribute to thinning hair from breakage. Instead of tearing through any knots with a harsh comb, he recommends using a detangling hairbrush from Tangle Teeser. Whether you're combing through wet hair right after the shower or you're just taming dry flyaways, this brush will be gentle enough to add shine to all hair types while minimizing breakage.
Because there can be so many different reasons why you're noticing hair loss, Dr. Haley says that it's crucial to seek a professional evaluation from a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in skin, hair, and nail conditions. "Once you are properly diagnosed and underlying conditions are ruled out, it may be recommended to take a hair support supplement such as Nutrafol or Viviscal Pro," she explains. "Over-the-counter Minoxidil may also be helpful as may a laser comb to stimulate hair growth." Whatever your condition is, your dermatologist will be able to point you to the treatment that is right for your body.
If you're interested in trying out a hair growth product that's made from natural ingredients, check out the activating serum from hair care brand Collective Laboratories. One of the things I always try to avoid when choosing topical treatments is a pungent, chemically smell. This serum is full of plant goodness from lilac stem cells, pumpkin seed oil, and ginseng root. Even better, there's no huge time commitment to using this scalp-nourishing treatment, which you can apply straight to dry hair without having to rinse it out. It also works as a "dry" shampoo.
Whether your hair loss is caused by hormones, genetics, or stress, taking the time to listen to your body's signals and consult a professional can give you the guidance you need to prevent losing more hair or even get back to a healthy scalp.