It’s normal to lose hair, but how much is “normal” and what causes female hair loss? And why don’t we talk about female hair loss more?
I get a lot of emails from women who are worried about hair loss. Sometimes it’s just your everyday shedding but occasionally it’s more. It’s hard to know what’s normal.
I know that with my hair, I lose a lot of hair every day. My husband always complained about it but now he’s so used to it he hardly notices. He does freak out if I forget to clean out the shower after washing my hair though…
It’s like that Seinfeld joke, how can something that’s so beautiful when it’s attached to you suddenly become so disgusting when it’s not?
But that hair in the shower drain isn’t a joke for all women. If you’re losing hair, you’re not alone. Let’s talk about it and start the conversation.
How much hair loss is normal for women?
As a guide, it’s normal to lose 50-100 hairs every day.
Some women (like me) will lose up to a 150 hairs a day.
This is predominately determined by your genetics but can change due to certain circumstances.
Excessive hair shedding is called telogen effluvium. If you’ve noticed an increase in hair loss, here are some things to consider.
What causes hair loss for women?
Excessive hair shedding, or telogen effluvium, can be caused by the following:
- Major weight fluctuations
- Post-pregnancy hormonal changes
- Changing birth control pills
- High fevers
- Illness or having an operation
If it’s a one-off occurrence, then your hair cycle will recover in 3-9 months time. If you are under a lot of stress, the hair loss can continue until your circumstances change too.
You see, hair really isn’t particularly necessary for survival and if your body is suffering from stress or illness, your hair is often the first to show the physical signs.
Shedding vs hair loss for women
Most women will experience a change in their hair shedding cycle during their life. These hair loss events are usually temporary and your normal hair cycle will return eventually.
Some hair loss is more obvious and can last for longer periods of time.
Here are some of the most common causes of hair loss for women:
- Alopecia or autoimmune disease
- Hormonal changes
- Trichotillomania, a compulsive behavioural condition where you pull out your hair
- Medical conditions or treatments, like chemotherapy
How does the hair growth cycle work?
There are three main stages in each hair’s growth cycle – anagen, catagen and telogen.
Anagen phase – The growth phase
The anagen phase lasts for 3-5 years. During this time, your hair grows around 1.5 cm per month. This means your hair can grow to around 27-45cm (18-30 inches) long. In some women, this growth phase can last up to 7 years and so your hair can grow to 1 metre in length.
Catagen phase – Transition phase
This transition phase lasts for 10 days at the end of the anagen phase. The hair follicle shrinks and detaches from your skin.
Telogen phase – Resting phase
At any one time, around 10-15% of your hair is in the telogen phase. This resting phase lasts for around three months. Your old hair sits and waits until a new hair grows through and pushes the old hair out.
Each follicle goes through this phase independently so there is even growth (and hair loss) across your head at all times. It’s very similar to the cycle your skin goes through.
Why should female hair loss be so taboo?
Let’s start the conversation about female hair loss. It’s more common than you think.
Share your story in the comments or feel free to ask any questions. I’ll be filming a female hair loss Q&A video to answer all your questions.