Whether you’ve recently pulled a furball the size of Kanye’s ego out of your shower drain or simply noticed a bit more scalp showing in your updo style, hair loss is something many women experience.
In fact, it affects approximately 25 per cent of women and 75 per cent of men at some point in their lives. In light of National Hair Loss Awareness Month, we talked to Sally-Ann Traver, Consultant Trichologist, The Cotswold Trichology Centre & Theradome GB, and Sam Burnett from Hare & Bone, to find out why you might be shedding…
Yes, chronic stress can cause malting. Officially known as Telogen Effluvium, a sudden or stressful event can cause certain hair follicles to prematurely stop growing and enter into the telogen (read: resting) phase. The hairs affected by Telogen Effluvium will then stay in the resting phase for about three months, after which time they will shed. The good news is, unless it’s something more serious, your hair will grow back. “Hair loss will increase approximately two months after the stress begins and stop approximately four months after the stress stops,” says Traver.
2. Sudden weight loss or diet change
Restricting your diet can result in hair loss as your body realises it’s not receiving the same nutrients as it did before. One of the main food groups that help with hair is protein, to assess whether you’re getting enough of that if you’re noticing an increase in shedding.
“Increasing the amount of dietary protein you eat, can help with nutritional hair loss,” says Sally-Ann. “A reasonable portion of meat or fish every day can make up around half of your 45g quota. Try adding up how much protein you consume daily for a week to get a feel for how much you really need – you may surprise yourself as to how little you really consume.”
Tying your hair bobble too tight? You’re probably breaking your hairs with your ponytail. Yes, even though your hair isn’t falling out of the root, breaking the strands can mean you’ll malt. Try not to fasten it so hard.
4. High fever
If you’ve had a high temperature (32c or over), hair follicles can temporarily shut down as the body concentrates on fighting infection. The higher and longer the temperature, the more hair is lost. But – and this is what we didn’t know – you won’t see hair loss for around two or three months after you were ill. “Many people don’t make the connection between an illness a couple of months prior to hair loss, they tend to think more about what they have done or changed recently to cause it but it’s often just delayed,” says Traver. Bear that in mind next time you panic you’re using the wrong shampoo.
5. Iron deficiency
Heavy periods, vegetarianism or regular blood donation can lead to low Ferritin levels, the protein that stores iron in the body. Low iron is one of the most common mineral deficiencies in young women with hair thinning. Iron levels can be increased by increasing certain foods in your diet – red meat, spinach, legumes etc are naturally high in it – but supplements are also available.
6. Not taking care of your scalp
Scalp health is instrumental to the growth and the condition of growing hair.
“Any kind of blockages or buildup on the scalp can suffocate the hair cuticle and therefore does not allow it to ‘breathe'”, says Burnett. “This can cause the hair to not grow to its full potential.”
“Healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp,” says Sally-Ann. “If your scalp has a tendency to be dry, one of the most amazing low-cost solutions is pure coconut oil. Apply it before bed, sleep in it and wash off the next day. Do this for several nights in a row and often even some of the thickest scale will slowly break down and come away from the scalp.”
Add a clarifying shampoo into your hair-washing routine to help remove product build-up.
7. Vitamin deficiency
Vitamin B12 and D are relatively common deficiencies in hair loss sufferers. Reasonable dietary B12 can only be obtained from animal sources which is why the deficiency is common in vegetarians and vegans.
Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise as 85 per cent is made via our skin during sun exposure. In recent years as we have become educated on sun exposure; to cover up, seek shade and use high SPF to prevent burning, hence the increase in deficiency rates. Taking supplements can really help to boost your Vitamin B12 and D levels.
8. Birth control
If you’re switching up your birth control or have just started the pill, it can have a negative effect on your hair. Generally, birth control pills with oestrogen are typically good for your hair, but ones with progesterone only can contribute to hair loss. Before selecting the right birth control, consult your doctor about possible side effects.
One of the best things about pregnancy for some women is that they can experience thicker, more luscious hair. But what goes up, must come down and thanks to hormonal changes, hair loss is also a possibility.
“During pregnancy, an increased number of hairs go into the resting phase due to hormonal change, which is part of the normal hair loss cycle”, says Burnett.
Thankfully, it’s usually not serious enough to cause bald patches or permanent hair loss.
“It should begin to diminish within 3-4 months after delivery.”
10. Thyroid conditions
Thyroid conditions, particularly hypothyroidism, can cause hair thinning and is most common in postmenopausal women. “The condition also causes hair to become dry, lead to brittle nails, weight gain and tiredness,” says Traver. If you’re concerned you may be suffering from Hypothyroidism, consult your GP.