To say the 2020’s got off to a rough start would be the understatement of the year. From stressing about getting Covid to actually getting Covid (and all the complications a world-wide pandemic has brought!), it’s upped the stress factor for all of us! So no surprise, we’ve been getting a lot of questions from you all about the impact of stress and hair loss. Lots of worries.... is hair loss due to stress possible? And what are the most common hair loss causes?
We’re here to confirm the fact: yes, some stress and hair loss are linked. And it’s actually quite common (more on that later). But there are many other reasons why you might suddenly find a larger than usual clump of hair in your shower drain, some more serious than others. According to the American Hair Loss Association, it’s extremely common for women to experience some kind of hair loss in their lives. In fact, women make up 40% of Americans who suffer from hair loss!
So we decided it’s time for a deep dive. We turned to our resident Color Wow hair expert, Dr. Joe Cincotta (PhD Organic Chemistry) to answer all your most pressing questions concerning hair loss for women and the ways you can help prevent it. Read on for our comprehensive guide.
The Hair Cycle – How long does my hair keep growing?
Before we begin to talk about abnormal vs. normal hair loss, a quick crash course on “the hair cycle” (the life span of your hair) is a must. Your individual strands are constantly moving through phases of growth, rest, and shedding. At any point in time, 80-90% of your hair is in the growth phase, aka “anagen phase”. How long can YOUR hair keep growing? That answer lies in your personal DNA code. The anagen phase can last anywhere from 2 to 7 years.
Once a strand is done growing, it moves to the “catagen phase” where it detaches from the blood supply and prepares to shed. The final phase is the shedding phase, aka “telogen phase”, when the old hair falls out to make room for new hair growing in. This process can last upward of three months.
Normal Hair Loss vs. Hair Shedding What does “normal” hair loss look like?
If you’re finding some hairs in your brush, on the floor, in the shower drain, no need to panic. It’s extremely normal to shed 80-100 hairs a day. Now, if you’re seeing a LOT more hair than that, this excessive shedding could be due to a major life-change event or physical trauma. Here’s the simple breakdown:
“Excessive hair shedding” is NOT permanent hair loss, even though it might feel like it and it can be very upsetting. It’s usually in reaction to an emotional or physical trauma in your life (i.e., giving birth, divorce, surgery, weight loss, etc.), which triggers more hair than normal to skip to the shedding phase. Because this phase can last three months, you don’t usually see excessive hair shed until months after the stressor has been removed from your life. But don’t freak out! You’ll see your hair return to its normal thickness within six months. Our advice? Sleep, yoga, meditation, self-care. Gentleness with your body, gentleness with your hair... and patience!
“Hair loss” on the other hand, impacts the anagen phase, causing your hair to stop growing altogether. Hair loss can be both permanent and temporary, and can be reversed or slowed down through the use of supplements, treatments, and special care. It’s when your follicle is damaged due to breakage and constant pulling on strands that hair loss becomes permanent.
What are the main hair loss causes for women?
There are many reasons for hair loss in women. Here are the most common:
• Tight Hair Styling: You know those snatched ponytails and tight buns you love? Not so great on the hair follicles. Tight styles put a lot of strain on your strands and can result in major breakage and stress on the hair. Repeated damage can result in irreversible harm to the follicle and permanent hair loss (aka, traction alopecia). The solution? Take frequent breaks from tight styling and let you hair hang loose.
• Over-Brushing/Combing Wet Hair: Wet hair is extremely vulnerable. If you hair snaps when its wet and you brush or comb it, you’re causing damage that can lead to permanent hair loss. The key changes you need to make?
1) Always use a detangling conditioner that hydrates your hair and gives it “slip”
2) Using a wide tooth comb, start combing from the ends of your hair and work your way up to the roots, gently untangling as you go.
• Harsh or Unhealthy Hair Products: You’d think products made for hair would care for hair, but sadly that’s not always the case. A lot of products are formulated with a desired result in mind at the sacrifice of the health of your hair. These products leave residues on your scalp that block hair follicles or make your hair stiff, brittle, and easily susceptible to breakage. Chemical and color treatments can also damage your hair when not done by a professional. At Color Wow, it’s been our mission to only use good-for-you ingredients in our products so you can reach your styling and hair health goals together.
• Stress and hair loss: Like we said up front, hair loss due to stress is extremely common. And with the way our lives have been upended due to Coronavirus, it’s no wonder dermatologists have recently reported an increase in patients with hair loss concerns. The good news is, this kind of hair loss is temporary. As long as the stressor is removed from your life, you’ll begin to see your hair return to its normal thickness and fullness in six months.
• Seasonal Hair Loss: While it may be concerning to see excess hair in your brush in the late summer months, this kind of hair loss is totally normal. As summer months approach, you grow more hair to protect your scalp from sun exposure. As temps cool, your scalp no longer has use for the excess hair and begins to shed. Think of your hair like leaves... fuller foliage in the summer, then some shedding in the Autumn.
• Diet: Just like your body needs nutrients to stay strong and healthy, so does your hair. Going on a restrictive diet, such as Keto or Vegan, disrupts your body’s usual intake of nutrients, which in turn can cause your strands to weaken and fall out. Not only that, but quick weight loss of 20 pounds or more is a major stressor on your body and can also result in hair loss.
• Medications + Treatments: As we all know, medications and treatments can have negative side effects. Thankfully, when it comes to our strands, it’s not permanent. If you’re experiencing hair loss due to medications or treatments, talk to your doctor about a safe way to transition off.
Hair Loss Solutions
The important thing to remember is that, today, there are a vast range of new treatments and procedures to address hair loss today. Other than making an appointment to see your dermatologist (an absolute must if you want to prevent any serious issues before it’s too late), there are ways you can better care for your hair at home, starting with your shampoo.
We know it’s tempting to reach for a thickening shampoo or conditioner during this time, but DON’T DO IT. They’ll only make your problem worse, and here’s why: These formulas usually contain ingredients that stick to your scalp and block your follicles. And as you can imagine, it’s kinda hard to grow hair when the follicle is blocked. Your quick fix? Switch to a 100% clean shampoo, like Color Wow Color Security Shampoo. Its sulfate-free, no residue formula leaves nothing behind but fresh, glossy, healthy hair and scalp so your hair can grow unimpeded. Follow with your fav hair thickening styler for fuller results.
Already using our shampoo? Amazing. Here are other ways you can better care for your hair and help protect against thinning and hair loss everyday:
• Use low heat settings or limit the use of your hot tools.
• Leave hair color to the professionals! Don’t attempt at-home coloring or chemical treatments.
• Give your hair a break from tight hairstyles.
• Break any bad habits like pulling on your hair when you’re stressed.
• Keep your hair hydrated and conditioned, comb and detangle with care!
• Eat a healthy, balanced diet.