There’s nothing worse than struggling for hair loss. For many of us, hair is a big part of our self-image, and when we start shedding strands we can lose a considerable amount of self-esteem. If you’re noticing increased hair shed, here are some red flags to look out for—and what you can do to take care of them to keep your hair happy, healthy, and thriving.
The Surprising Causes You’re Losing Strands
So what causes hair loss? While some hair loss has a genetic component, there are many other lifestyle factors that can have a major impact. Here are five of the most common you should be aware of:
Chronic stress is bad for every aspect of your physical and mental health—and your hair is no exception! Your body sheds hair when exposed to both external and internal stressors, and when you’re always worried your hair will pay the price. When you suffer from high levels of stress, you may experience alopecia areata, a form of hair loss that occurs when your immune system attacks the cells responsible for hair growth.
Even if you’re not stocking up on junk food every night, you may be experiencing nutritional gaps in your diet which can lead to hair loss. When your body isn’t getting the nutritional support it needs, your strands are often the first thing to suffer. Deficiencies in vitamins like B12, folate, riboflavin, and biotin have been shown to lead to hair shed. If you’re missing out on key nutrients, your strands will suffer.
If your hormones are out of whack, your strands will be too. When estrogen and progesterone levels are unbalanced, due to normal life changes like pregnancy and menopause, or as side effects of birth control and other medications, your follicles can shrink, leading to thinning hair.
- High impact hairstyling
If you’re someone who relies on high-tension hairstyles, heat styling, or harsh chemical breeches and dyes, your hair will likely pay the price. These hair styling processes can create strands that are more brittle and prone to breakage, as well as increasing the rate of hair shed.
- A lack of sleep
Getting 7+ hours of high-quality shut-eye is one of the best things you can do for your whole body, including your hair health. Studies show that people who suffer from chronically interrupted sleep patterns are more prone to hair thinning, hair shed, and other forms of hair loss including alopecia areata, due to the stress elevating qualities of interrupted sleep. Want good hair? Get good sleep.
How to Get Your Hair Happiness Back
If any of that sounded familiar, don’t worry! There are many steps you can take to get your hair health back on track. Here are four steps to take to help restore your hair health, nourishing strands from the inside out:
- Reduce your stress
Breathe in. Breathe out. You’re already on the road to healthier hair! Cutting down on stress is one of the best things you can do for your strands, and there are many scientifically effective ways to get there. Try practicing gratitude by writing down a list of the things that make you happy, scheduling a regular mental health break to walk through your neighborhood, or downloading a meditation app to keep stress in check.
- Stock up on hair health fruits and veggies
“Eating the rainbow” is a great way to make sure your hair is nourished from the inside out. Try to eat as many servings of fruit and vegetables as you can, with an emphasis on hair health boosters like leafy greens like spinach and kale, fruits and veggies high in vitamin C like carrots, strawberries, and sweet potatoes, and healthy fats like walnuts and almonds.
- Make hair wellness part of your beauty routine
Hair health comes from the inside out, so making sure that you’re indulging in beauty practices that actively promote hair wellness is key to supporting regrowth. Throw out your old, harsh drugstore products, and replace them with standbys that work to boost new hair growth. Pro tip: invest in an all natural serum clinically shown to support the growth of thicker, fuller-looking hair to help make sure your hair is getting the support it needs to thrive.
- Practice good sleep hygiene
If you’re having trouble sleeping, creating a relaxing environment to support sleep is critical to your hair health. Stay away from screens in the hours before bed to reduce your exposure to blue light, and work to transform your bedroom into a restful, sleep-promoting environment. A white noise machine can help drown out any potential sleep interrupting noises, and make it easier for you to get a good night’s rest.
- See a doctor
Last but not least, if you’ve tried everything and are still experiencing hair shed, it may be time to consult with a medical professional. Hair loss can be a sign of a few serious disorders, and may also be an indication that your medications are causing unwanted side effects. Consulting with a trusted physician is a great way to make sure your concerns are addressed and get your hair health where you want it to be.