Living with 120 girls is a great reminder of just how much hair humans lose on a daily basis. "Without fail, at every chapter meeting, someone would stand up and complain about how gross it was that girls would leave their hair on the shower walls," says Megan Leyds, 22, a Kappa Kappa Gamma who lived in a sorority house for three years at the University of Washington.
The amount of hair lost became so large that eventually the sorority had to hire professional cleaners to come three times a week to fish it out of the drain. As gross as it was, the girls just shrugged it off as a fact of life, says Leyds.
Hair loss is normal, and most women can joke about the amount of hair they lose thanks to the straightening, curling, blow drying, and brushing they do on a daily basis. Normal primping damages hair, which can cause it to break more easily and might make it look like more hair is lost than actually is.
The average woman loses anywhere from 60 to 100 strands everyday thanks to washing, brushing, and styling. If locks are longer, it may seem like more hair is lost. The same goes for if a person takes a few days off from washing their hair—the longer between washes, the more excess hair will be lost.
Guys will lose a little less hair, just 25 to 100 strands, but typically their hair is shorter, so it's far less noticeable.
But losing more than that for either sex, especially with the follicle intact, is more problematic. While this is definitely a serious issue for nearly half of women, in general they tend to overestimate how bad their hair loss is compared to men. According to a study done by LaserCap, 83 percent of women believe that their hair loss is moderate to excessive, even though in reality only 50 percent of women have a serious hair loss problem.
"Your hair has a life cycle just like the skin cells do so natural daily shedding is essential to detoxification, healthy turnover and regeneration," says Amy Halman, the founder of Acure Organics.
Extra hair shedding can be explained a few factors. Because hair is non-essential to our overall health it can be a really good indicator of other health issues. According to Halman, "Hair loss is associated with hormonal changes and imbalances in the body. This can be caused by stress, illness, pregnancy, diet, etc. However, synthetic ingredients in food and personal care are now being linked to estrogenic effect in the body as well."
Often after a stressful time period (think a crazy few weeks of work, a bad breakup, or a really bad case of the flu) the scalp, skin, and hair will show signs of distress. The response time of hair is anywhere from six to ten weeks, so you might not see the effects of a high anxiety time period for reflected in the fullness of tresses for a few months.
Worrying about your locks won't help you, but supplementing your diet with foods like collagen, bone broth, healthy fats, and vitamins D and B12 can help increase thickness and prevent breakage and fallout. Scalp massage with essential oils can help stimulate circulation, which simultaneously encourages more hair growth and provides moisture to tresses at the delicate root. Halman recommends using argan oil as your carrier oil when doing scalp massage: "Argan stem cells actually have the proven power to boost moisture and hair cell regeneration at a root and follicle level."
If you continue to lose hair at an increased rate, it's smart to head to your doctor or dermatologist. The issue might be skin related—psoriasis or eczema can cause thinning hair on the scalp and is easily treated by a doctor—but it could also be something more serious. Thyroid issues, a hormonal imbalance, and even genetics can play a role in hair loss but only a doctor can give you a definite diagnosis and treatment.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho