First thing’s first: Losing hair every day is perfectly normal. In fact, on average, people lose between 50 to 100 strands per day. (This might seem like a lot, but if you compare it to the estimated 90,000 to 150,000 a healthy human head of hair comprises, it’s not a lot.) Normally, for each hair that is lost, another teeny tiny hair is gained. This is probably the only cause of hair loss you’d consider benign: it’s nature—and nature compensates! However, if you notice visibly thinning hair or end up with big clumps of hair in your hands or drain after a shower, that’s out of the ordinary and might be a reasonable cause for concern and inquiry. Hair grows long and strong because of a complex range of processes in the body, so it follows that there is also a wide variety of reasons why hair loss can strike.
The Main Causes of Hair Loss
The most common cause of hair loss is hormonal, and it can usually be predicted to a certain extent. If there is a history in your family of male or female pattern baldness you can expect that it may happen to you, too. Hereditary baldness itself is primarily hormonal; it is referred to in medical literature as ‘androgenic alopecia’ since it is thought to be caused by increased activity of male hormones.
Testosterone, the androgen which most people are already familiar with, undergoes a process where it converts to DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, at which point it can trigger androgenic alopecia by shortening the growth phase in the hair’s lifecycle. This usually happens with age, with two-thirds of postmenopausal women and 85% of men at the age of fifty experiencing some hair loss.
However, there are other issues that can lead to increased androgen activity in the body, including endocrine conditions like hyper- or hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, and more. Thyroid disorders, in particular, can also lead to the loss of brow and lash hairs.
The body undergoes major hormonal changes during pregnancy, which at first seem great for your locks since they often become lush and shiny. But the hormonal fluctuations lead to hair loss after delivery. This is because most hairs will go into their resting phase during pregnancy, so once the hormones normalize after delivery much of that hair is shed. This hair loss is usually temporary, and soon enough new hairs grow back. Hair loss during pregnancy, on the other hand, is not normal, and may signal nutritional deficiency.
Hereditary Auto-Immune Disorders
Sometimes, hair loss can be the sign of an auto-immune disorder called alopecia areata, which is often hereditary. In that instance, the body directly attacks the hair follicles and stops their hair growth, which leads to bald patches and loss of lashes and brow hairs.
People rarely realize that inflammation, especially because of skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis, can also lead to hair loss. The irritation can damage both the hair follicles and the root of the hair, causing it to shed. The hair loss will usually stop once the inflammation is under control, but in some cases, the hair may not grow back properly if the hair follicle becomes damaged or scarred.
Extreme or chronic stress often leads to sudden hair loss (and not just because of the urge you might get to pull your hair out of frustration!). During times of stress, the body produces higher amounts of cortisol, a hormone that can disrupt the growth phase of the hair, causing it to enter its resting phase prematurely. The hair loss caused by stress will usually stop and hair growth will go back to normal once the stressor goes away and the body stops overproducing cortisol.
A poor diet can take its toll in a variety of ways, and hair loss from the scalp, eyebrows, or lashes can be one of them. There are a few different ways in which dietary deficiency can lead to hair loss, including overall caloric deficiency as well as protein deficiency. Hair loss is also a symptom of anemia, which can occur for a variety of reasons including iron, vitamin B12, and folate deficiencies.
Hairstyles and Grooming
Traction alopecia is the hair loss caused by external pressure on the scalp, usually from very tight hairstyles or extensions. Putting the hair up into a tight ponytail every once in a while isn’t likely to cause hair loss, but doing so regularly or opting for very tight protective hairstyles can eventually lead to serious damage, especially if the follicle becomes scarred. In the same vain, traction alopecia can also be caused by regularly pulling out hair, especially via tweezing and waxing. If you’ve kept your brows thin for many years, you may find that hairs stop growing back even once you stop tweezing. Those dealing with stress-related conditions that lead to hair-pulling, like trichotillomania, are also very susceptible to traction alopecia.
There are certain medications that can lead to hair loss, usually by triggering nutritional deficiencies or hormonal imbalance. There is a very wide range of medications that can do this, with chemotherapy drugs being the most infamous. However, there are other drugs that have hair loss as a potential side effect, including antibiotics, blood pressure medications, and many more.
The 3 Major Types of Hair Loss Solutions
Since hair loss often signals more serious medical issues issues, your first instinct when experiencing it is to seek a doctor’s help, at the very least in order to rule out a serious hormonal disorder or nutritional deficiency. In most instances, once the underlying cause is treated, the hair loss will stop as well. However, a doctor’s focus will be your overall health (as it should be), so in the meanwhile, you can rely on complementary treatments that may also help. The most common medication for hair loss is called minoxidil, and it is often recommended no matter the type of hair loss, despite the fact that its mechanism of action is not well-understood. A frequent problem with minoxidil is that it can also be irritating to the skin, while for women it can cause hirsutism. The second most frequently recommended medication is finasteride, a DHT blocker that can also have very serious side-effects, including depression and birth defects.
There are natural ingredients that can inhibit 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, like red clover and saw palmetto. The latter, in particular, has shown promise as a remedy for hair loss when taken orally.
DHT inhibitors can also work when applied topically. According to this study, applying red clover extract to the scalp may help reduce hair loss, especially when paired with a biomimetic peptide, which is how it was formulated in the Gro+ Advanced Hair Serum. This ingredient can also help regrow brows, which is why it is key in the vegaBROW Volumizing Serum.
Lifestyle and Diet
In instances where hair loss is caused by things like stress and poor diet, which often come together, it’s important to make lifestyle changes to improve the situation, which will have far-reaching benefits beyond potentially reducing hair loss. It is also a good idea to take vitamin supplements geared specifically towards improving hair wellness and skin health, that help maintain healthy levels of the exact vitamins needed to keep hair growing. Since anemia often leads to hair loss, B vitamins like folate, B12, and biotin, as well as iron, can act as preventatives.
For hair loss caused because of physical damage to the hair follicle, it’s important to focus on healing the skin, in order to restore the follicle’s function to promote new hair growth. Doctors will often prescribe corticosteroid based treatments in an attempt to stimulate the hair follicles, but those shouldn’t be used long term since they can thin the skin.
Internally, supplements with collagen and biotin can be really beneficial to strengthening the skin and follicles, while topically, anti-inflammatories like CBD can help encourage renewed hair follicle activity. This is another instance where the Gro+ Advanced Hair Serum is a must-have.
If you’re experiencing hair loss, excessive shedding or thinning, we understand it might be discouraging or stressful. Rest assure that many times, there is a feasible solution. Consider starting with one of our long-term hair growth strategies along with the advice of a trusty healthcare professional. Here’s the happy, healthy hair!
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