Our hair goes through a Growth, Resting and Shedding cycle. Shedding is a natural process which occurs when a hair has reached the end of its natural cycle. Research has shown that a healthy head of hair can shed as many as 50-100 strands per day.
Shedding is not the same as breakage. Shed hair as a rule of thumb tends to be longer with a white bulb at the top of the strand where it was attached to your head. Your hair will always shed no matter how great your hair routine is. It is just natural.
As much as shedding is natural, you can still have certain factors/triggers that lead to 'excessive shedding'. A way to identify excessive shedding is really if you start to notice a lot more hair falling than normal (daily, weekly or monthly). It's probably not the best identifier but you need to really be in touch with you hair to identify changes. It is the best way to understand and take care of your hair.
There are quite a number of factors which can trigger increased/excessive hair shedding. I will cover the major/most common triggers below:
1. High levels of stress
Some people find that medications like oral contraceptives, medications for treating hyperthyroid and hypothyroid can trigger increased hair shedding.
3. Crash dieting/low protein & iron diets
4. Age and Heredity
As you get older, the rate of shedding increases and your hair is not replaced as fast as before. This is why people start to see thinning in their scalp. This rate of thinning is genetic.
5. Pregnancy Hormonal changes
The surge in hormones when a woman is pregnant usually locks your hair in the growing phase which explains why some women tend to see their hair growing and thriving like crazy! Unfortunately, once the baby arrives, the hormones take a nose dive back to the pre-pregnancy levels and this leads to shedding. You will have hair which should have shed during the pregnancy stage as well as those from the non pregnancy stage all shedding at once. This is why it may like all your hair is falling out. This tends to happen within the first 3-6months after the baby arrives.
Some people suggest pre-natal vitamins to help combat this. Unfortunately, this does not actually work in most cases. This also applies to extending or prematurely stopping breastfeeding. For pregnancy related changes, shedding will balance out after about 6 months. Sadly, you just have to give it some time.
There is some research to show that the seasons can affect our rate of shedding. It shows that shedding may be highest during autumn and lowest during spring.
7. Use of chemicals like dyes, bleach and relaxers directly on your scalp
8. Thyroid disorders
For increased rates of shedding and patches, it is always best to speak to a dermatologist or trichologist. They can help pin point the cause of the problem. There are some homemade solutions which can help a little (based on research) but honestly they would not be as effective as actually seeing a doctor.
1. Onion juice: You might have seen some people talk about this all over Tiktok and Instagram at some point. Funny enough, there is actually some research to show that applying Onion juice twice a day for about 2-3 months may help reduce excessive shedding.
2. Tea or Coffee rinse: There is also some research around the use of caffeine to help reduce shedding by stopping the damaging effects of some hormones on the hair follicles.
You can brew 2-3 cups of coffee or 2-3 bags of tea. Allow to cool and pour over your hair after you have shampooed your hair. Follow on with massaging your scalp for a few minutes, rinse then proceed with a moisturising deep conditioner. You may also include the tea/coffee mix in a spray bottle and use on affected areas only, massage as above and rinse. Please note that tea/coffee can darken your hair over time.
3. Garlic: Some people claim that they have seen reduced shedding by increasing their garlic intake through meals or supplements. Some have also claimed to see reductions from using garlic infused shampoos or adding 1-2 cloves to their shampoos.