Let's Talk Hair Loss - What's Normal, What's Not, & Everything In Between

It's often been said that losing a little hair each day is completely normal. But just how many strands are we talking about, here? There's a difference between typical daily shedding and too much hair loss.


It's a scene many women can relate to — recoiling in horror after seeing just how much hair has been left on their hair brush. Or, looking down, mid-shower, to see what surely must be most of their manes, circling the drain. Their inner voice begins questioning, "Why am I losing so much hair?" It could be a sign of something amiss, sure. However, as noted by the American Academy of Dermatology Association, parting with up to 100 strands a day is pretty standard. Granted, that's a ballpark figure. As dermatologist and hair expert, Dr. Amy McMichael explained to Martha Stewart, your hair type can play a role in that number being ever so slightly over that count. In fact, hair transplant specialist, Dr. William Rassman told InStyle that shedding even 150 strands can be normal, for some. 


So, some shedding is normal — but that's not all. As McMichael pointed out, it's simply, "part of the hair's life cycle." More specifically, as trichologist, Penny James told InStyle, it signals that the hair is in its final cycle, the telogen stage. That said, sometimes there is cause for concern. So, just when should one be worried?

How to tell if your hair loss is normal

Pinpointing what's normal regarding hair loss isn't always clear-cut. Speaking to Martha Stewart, trichologist and hair loss expert, Dr. David Kingsley pointed out that knowing our own hair is the first step. After all, losing 100 strands might not seem like a problem — but for someone who would typically lose just 50, that could indicate an issue.


Having said that, there are times when there's no doubt about it — and the hair fall needs to be addressed, stat. For starters, according to Health Navigator New Zealand, whenever sudden changes in the number of strands lost occur, whether in large chunks or if hair growth appears patchy, that should be cause for concern. What's more, if hair loss is accompanied by new health issues, from gut and appetite problems to fevers, it's definitely time to see a healthcare professional. As for a receding hairline (which typically isn't sudden, but noticeable all the same), Optima Hair Specialists notes that it can often be caused by changes in hormone levels or the immune system. 

Of course, there are also times when hair loss isn't abnormal. Pregnant and post-partum women, for example, often experience hair loss. Likewise, genetics can play a role — and even though that predominantly affects men, it's not unheard of for a woman to inherit hair loss from a parent. Either way, when in doubt, speak to a hair care professional


...And what to do if it isn't

So, the hair loss in question isn't normal — what next? 

As worrying as hair loss may be, there are ways to deal with it. And, as a major bonus, some of them can be done from home. Scalp massages, for one, have long been touted as a great way to stimulate hair regrowth. Per Optima Hair Specialists, there's also a strong case for going easy on hair, by nixing heat and harsh hairstyles. And, speaking to InStyle, Penny James suggested that women who don't have naturally oily hair create an at-home treatment "with natural oils like lavender, rosemary, jojoba, almond, and avocado oil." Of course, for those seeking something stronger, there are also products available that address hair loss. According to Healthline, Rogaine is a great choice for women dealing with both alopecia and pattern baldness. 


However, one thing most experts seem to agree on is that the cause of hair loss is the first thing that needs to be dealt with. As James told InStyle, "If you keep blind aiding with lots of products but have no idea why your hair is falling out, it will continue to fall out." 

Plus, it's important to remember that not all treatments work for all forms of hair loss. "Patients should always speak with their doctor to make treatment decisions," McMichael explained to Martha Stewart. No one wants to deal with hair loss, but thankfully, there are options for those experiencing it.