How much hair should one shed? What is normal shedding? How to tell if you have a shedding problem? What causes excessive shedding? What’s the difference between shedding and breakage? The questions around shedding never end and as one who has done a good bit of research on the topic, it seems as though the answers to these questions never begins. In short discussing shedding is an extremely subjective topic and many, myself included, are left in frustration when trying to figure out how how to deal with shedding.
What makes shedding so subjective is that largely it is an internal process and therefore internal factors that cause hair to shed. There are four stages to hair growth, and the normal lengths of each are predetermined by genetics. The stage in which your hair sheds is called the telogen stage. The amount of hair your normally shed during and the length of the telogen stage are determined by your genetic composition of hormones. Now if your hormones began to fluctuate because of outside factors, here comes the shedding. We all know, hormonal fluxes are…well, hormonal. Are you happy? Stressed? Emotional? Going through change? This why for most women there telogen stage is usually at it’s height around their period. That post-partum shedding, just look at those hormones at work. Birth control? Change in diet (low protein will heighten the telogen stage)? Or are you just someone like me who decides to start juicing, after suddenly moving across states, in the middle of the winter while taking birth control for the first time, in the middle of feeling like life just sucks right now? Just me?
So let’s get into the facts that I’ve learned through research.
Difference between shed hair and breakage?
Telogen shed hairs can be identified by the (typically white) bulb of keratin that should be visible at the end of the hair. Anything else falling from your scalp, without the white bulb, would be considered breakage.
Things that cause excessive shedding?
Low protein diet
High estrogen birth control
Styling that strains the follicle
Lack of blood flow
When is it excessive?
Well only you know best. Is an area of your hair visibly thinning out? It’s not wrong for your hair to shed. Also keep in mind, the longer your hair gets, your shedding will give the illusion of looking like more shedding, especially if you have natural hair that coils and shrinks up.
Is it a protein problem?
This often comes up when discussing shedding. The ominous issue of protein overload or underload. An issue with protein, whether you need more or your hair is protein sensitive, would be dictated by the breakage and not true blue shedding.
What can you do to counter the shedding?
Keep your scalp clean, by clarifying and other methods. (I’m currently trying out Monistat, post coming soon).
Tea rinses are popular and nominally effective.
Keep a healthy diet.
Vitamins E, B and D (Biotin is a derivative of Vitamin B).
Get and stay happy.