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Hair Shedding vs. Hair Loss: How to Tell the Difference

Seeing stray strands on the regular?  Don’t worry — you're not alone. It's normal to shed some hair each day. And while daily shedding hair is completely normal, noticing extra hair on your brush can sound your internal alarm. 

Find out whether those stray strands are a result of hair shedding or hair loss, plus what you can do to combat thinning hair naturally.

How Hair Shedding and Hair Loss Differ

While hair shedding and hair loss share a commonality, there's also a key difference between hair loss and hair shedding. Hair shedding is a regular process that occurs within the body, while hair loss is related to something, either external or internal, that prevents the hair from growing in a healthy manner.

Read: I Tried This Best-Selling Hair Serum for 18 Months

What Is Hair Shedding?

Hair sheds as a routine part of the natural cycle of hair growth. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the average person sheds approximately 50-100 hairs a day. While shedding as many as 100 hairs each day sounds like a lot, in actuality, it's all relative. Remember: Humans have about 100,000 hair follicles.

The shedding process is part of the hair growth cycle known as the exogen phase. The exogen phase follows the telogen (resting) phase, which is when the body is preparing to shed hair from the hair follicles and begin a new growth cycle. While the telogen phase lasts about three months, the exogen phase is the shortest of the hair growth cycles, lasting only a few days. While some hair shedding is normal, if you're experiencing excessive shedding, it may be a sign of a deeper underlying factor rather than healthy loss.

Read: How Fast Does Hair Actually Grow?

What Is Hair Loss?

Hair loss can be an anxiety-inducing experience — and one that can impact anyone, from men to women to older and younger people alike. Hair loss occurs when hair falls out from the root. Here are some of the different types of hair loss:

In short, causes of hair loss can be related to internal factors, such as an inflammatory or immune response or external causes, such as harsh hair care products, medications or tight hairstyles. It can also be stress-related due to pregnancy or a lack of proper nutrition. Additionally, hair loss can be hereditary or due to hormonal changes, which may require treatment from a medical professional.

Related: The Difference Between Hair Loss and Hair Breakage

Hair Loss vs. Hair Shedding

So, how do you tell if you're experiencing hair loss or hair shedding? For starters, if you're experiencing excessive hair shedding, it's usually temporary. For example, excess stress or a stressful event can trigger a hair loss condition called telogen effluvium, which can cause excessive shedding for many months. What happens is that cortisol encourages hair to exit the anagen phase (growing phase) and prematurely enter the telogen (resting) phase, leading to hair fall that's more than the normal amount of 50 to 100 hairs per day.

Telogen effluvium tends to be more common in women and is characterized by a general, gradual thinning of the hair through a noticeable increase in excessive shedding. It’s often concentrated at the top of the head but can also localize on any part of the scalp or evenly spread throughout the entire head. In this example of excessive hair shedding, once the stressor is gone, hair should return to its regular growth patterns.

On the other hand, hair loss, also known as anagen effluvium, is when something stops the hair from growing — and the hair will not start regrowing until the issue is resolved. With hair loss, you can experience patchy or bald spots, sudden loosening of hair, full-body hair loss or a receding hairline.

Whether you're experiencing hair loss or hair shedding, you can promote healthier hair while also minimizing stress for the scalp and hair. Apply GRO+ Advanced Hair Serum to dry hair daily; it utilizes concentrated mung bean, red clover, curcumin and Nicotiana benthamiana extracts to circulate into problem areas, strengthening roots and increasing the appearance of hair density, thickness and volume. Micro-encapsulated broad-spectrum hemp is also included for soothing and calming the scalp, which is key to healthier hair growth.

GRO+ Advanced Hair Serum Before & After

Say Hello to Supplements and Self-Care

“The simplest way to explain androgen alopecia or “hair thinning” is something that happens with time,” said Ona Diaz-Santi, celebrity hairstylist, curl expert and owner of 5 Salon & Spa in Fort Lee, New Jersey. “Excess hair shedding can be due to an imbalance or deficiency in areas like iron, thyroid, zinc and more.”

If you experience excessive hair shedding or are simply looking to elevate your nutrient intake, consider adding a supplement packed with nourishing vitamins and minerals for healthier hair and whole-body wellness. One to try is GRO Biotin Gummies. Just one gummy per day includes your daily value of biotin, along with folic acid, Vitamins A, C and E, plus B-5, -6 and -12, zinc and more key minerals.

GRO Biotin Gummies

Here are some other ideas to promote hair and overall wellness:

  • Treat yourself to weekly TLC: Use GRO Scalp Detoxifying Serum to give your scalp and skin a weekly detox treatment. The serum includes Zinc PCA to absorb excess oils and reduce irritation. It also includes baobab and marula oils to offer extra antioxidant support and Omega 6 and 9 to moisturize and protect. Add it to your self-care routine along with a soothing scalp massage!
  • Make an appointment with your doctor: If you can’t figure out what's behind your hair issues or think that medication is the culprit, consult with a doctor. A dermatologist, for example, can perform a hair pull test to determine the cause of your hair loss. Your hair health can be an indicator of your overall health so pay attention to changes.
  • Prioritize your self-care: Make your wellness a "mane" priority — after all, your tress-to-toe health habits impact how you feel both physically and mentally each day. Make movement a daily occurrence, practice stress-relieving activities and integrate mindfulness into your daily routines, including your skin, scalp and hair care!

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Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.