Hair loss is a natural part of the aging process. However, it can also be triggered by a variety of underlying conditions. While there’s no one-stop solution to the problem, there are some simple actions you can take to reduce the likelihood of hair loss.
Why Does Hair Fall Out?
The hair on our head goes through a life cycle that involves three main stages: growth, resting, and shedding. For most people, this process lasts anywhere from two to seven years, with the duration shortening as we age.
Because hair follicles don’t go through all the stages at the same time, some daily hair shedding is to be expected. In fact, we lose anywhere from 50 to 100 strands each day. That number doubles, or even triples, when you wash your hair because it loosens hairs that were close to shedding.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Hair thinning and loss are a natural side effect of aging. However, they also occur due to a number of health issues. An easy way to look at it is by viewing your scalp as a garden. If the soil underneath has all the necessary nutrients to create life, the plants (your hair) will grow strong and healthy.
The following are some factors and conditions that can lead to hair loss:
- Medication and treatments: Those used to treat cancer and high blood pressure are notorious for causing hair loss, but even oral contraceptives can cause it, too.
- Illnesses: Autoimmune diseases (such as alopecia areata), organ dysfunction, diabetes, and anemia can all cause hair loss.
- Physical trauma: A major surgery or injury can cause hair loss.
- Hormonal changes: Those experienced during pregnancy and menopause might cause hair loss, but thyroid problems can, as well.
- Stress: Emotional or physical.
- Certain hairstyles: Tight ponytails or braids can cause traction alopecia.
While there isn’t much you can do to stop hair loss—especially when it occurs due to a health condition—there are some practical ways you can fortify your scalp and try to minimize it.
Tips and Tricks to Reduce Hair Loss
There are a few simple actions you can take to keep your locks healthy and strong. Keep in mind, though, it might take some time to notice a change. As is usually the case with a natural approach to wellness, consistency is key.
Give Your Hair Regular Breaks
If you use a hairdryer or hot styling tools daily, give your hair some time to recover. Heat can weaken strands, which makes them more brittle and prone to falling out. The same is true for chemical treatments, like hair dyes and bleach, which can cause a lot of damage and result in excessive hair loss.
If going natural isn’t an option for you, consider giving your hair a break between treatments whenever possible, so it can recover.
Choose Hair Tools Wisely
Wavy or curly hair is a desirable style for many. Generally, though, to get it, you have to use hot tools, which can damage your hair. One way to avoid this is by going old-school and using soft rollers instead. They’ll get the job done without causing as much harm.
Another tool you might want to invest in is a natural-bristle brush. They’re gentler on your hair and won’t cause static like nylon or plastic brushes do.
Avoid Washing Your Hair Too Often
It might seem counterintuitive, but washing your hair too often can be more harmful than beneficial. Many shampoos contain harsh chemicals and aren’t designed to be used daily.
Washing your hair daily can also strip your scalp of its natural protective sebum and throw off its natural microbiome. This allows bacteria and fungi to run rampant. The result is often inflammation, itchiness, damage, or hair loss.
Try to wash your hair with a gentle shampoo, or one specifically for thinning hair if you’re already experiencing that. Washing your hair only two or three times a week will keep your scalp clean and your hair happy.
Use Proper Brushing Technique
When we’re in a rush or when patience is in short supply, we tend to brush our hair very quickly and rather harshly. This can cause an unnecessary amount of hair to be prematurely pulled from the follicles and end up on your brush.
One way to avoid this is by applying full, gentle strokes from your scalp down to the tips. This helps distribute the hair’s natural oil, which protects your locks and will prevent your roots from getting greasy too quickly.
Most importantly, try to avoid brushing your hair when it’s wet, as that’s when it’s the most fragile—use a wide-toothed comb instead.
Try to Minimize Stress
There are many reasons you should try to keep your stress levels in check, but preventing hair loss is one of them. This is hardly an easy thing to do, but there are many ways you can boost your mood to avoid feeling stressed out.
Getting enough sleep, exercising frequently, staying hydrated, and practicing mindfulness can all work wonders for your mental and physical health. Reducing hair loss is just the cherry on the top!
Try to Break Bad Habits
Speaking of stress, we often employ harmful management strategies, like drinking alcohol and smoking, when we feel overwhelmed and need a quick solution. While this might make you feel better in the moment, the unpleasant side effects always follow.
Both of these activities also restrict your blood vessels and reduce blood flow throughout your body, including your scalp. This deprives your hair follicles of the essential nutrients they need.
If you can reduce the quantity or frequency of your consumption, that’s a good first step toward a healthier lifestyle—and a head full of hair!
Supplements and Diet
Step into any supermarket, and you’ll find an entire section dedicated to hair supplements, which make all kinds of promises regarding what they can do for your hair. While some might be more effective than others, the majority often come with fancy names and a hefty price tag.
Unfortunately, the chances that any of these products will solve your hair problems are very small.
It’s true that certain nutrient deficiencies can weaken your hair and cause it to fall out. Some vitamins and minerals that are particularly helpful for hair are iron, biotin, vitamin A, and zinc. Of course, you should always consult your doctor before you take any of these. That way, you’ll fully understand how they work and how they’re meant to be taken.
Lastly, try to consume a diet that’s rich in protein, healthy fats, and lots of greens to nourish both your body and your scalp.
While these tips might help prevent your hair from falling out, they’re unlikely to be a solution, especially if there’s an underlying condition that hasn’t yet been diagnosed. If you’re experiencing sudden or excessive hair loss, it’s best to see your primary care physician or a dermatologist.