- Men's Health & Wellness
Stop Stressing About Hair Fall: It’s Natural
A lot of people, including myself, get worked up over hair coming out. We think that if it comes out, it’s not going to grow back – it’s gone forever – and we’re slowly going bald one day at a time. This can be stressing and depressing like you wouldn’t imagine – well you would be able to - if you experience it (and trust me, you do, whether you know it or not).
Hair fall is natural. You will lose hair everyday – some say up to 100 hairs or even more if you have a full head of hair, maybe less if you’re all ready thinning in places on the scalp. It occurs every day, and there’s no real way of stopping it. There are those who claim that more recent studies say that 100 hairs or more is grossly overestimated, and that it’s far less. Well, what can you do? Scientists always change their damn minds. Some say 10 to 25 hairs should be the maximum, but that’s likely taken from the “brush test”*, which I think is rubbish.
Yes, there are products that claim to minimize hair fall, but whether they really work is another story – or there’s natural alternatives (which I tend to stick with by choice). More on that later though.
You’ve probably woken up with hairs on your pillow after a night’s sleep; hairs have come out while brushing or combing; hairs have come out while in the bath or shower; they’ve come out while towel drying or using the hairdryer; they’ve come out on your clothes. Hell, it’ll come out when you sit there in your chair in front of the PC, or when the wind blows a bit outside.
*The Brush Test is what it sounds like - that if more than 10 hairs come out when you brush your hair in the morning, then that is cause for concern. The issue with this is, even if you have no hair that comes out in the morning, you might have plenty of hair that comes out at other parts of the day.
But the truth is that this is normal. It must be. You’ll get people who will tell you that you should see a doctor or start taking any number of medications that may not even really work to “stop” it. But don’t let people worry you over it, because it happens to all of us. Even them.
Because I’ve been experiencing hair fall – hair coming out every day – since I was a child, likely, even though at that age it’s still growing and probably not at its full body. You’ll notice that most of the time when looking at a kid – that they don’t have as much hair as an adult.
In any case, I must have “lost” thousands of hairs (maybe more) in my twenty something years in all the previously mentioned places. But it grew back. The hair continued along its natural growth cycle and just came back. Just because it falls out doesn’t mean it isn’t going to grow back. There’s a difference between natural hair fall and hair loss – when the hair starts to thin, shorten, and become lighter, over years usually, and eventually doesn’t grow back. That’s proper hair loss.
But if you compare the amount of hair you lose in a day to the amount of hairs on your head at any given moment: you have about a hundred thousand hairs on average on a person with a full head of hair, and most of these hairs are in the anagen, or growing phase. So you’d likely not even notice this amount coming out every day. This is why it also makes sense when it’s been said that most people don’t even notice that they’re losing hair until 50% of it is gone!
You also have the telogen (resting) and catagen phases (when the hair falls). When they refer to thinning hair as telogen effluvium (which is a temporary hair loss) – now you know why. The hairs are in the resting phase and not the growing phase.
One way to tell if you’re experiencing hair loss is if you see hairs on your pillow, just look at the colour and length. Thinning hair looks thinner, shorter, and lighter. Normal hair generally looks darker and thicker, and they’re longer hairs. But don’t get too carried away about counting your hairs and all that. I would imagine that would be one sure way of going mad, and stressing yourself out unnecessarily.
Some say that if you lose more than the average amount a day (which tends to vary from person to person), then it might be worth seeing someone about it – probably a doctor or a dermatologist. It could even be something internal (and it usually is) – something like a thyroid problem. If you are losing a lot of hair, especially if it’s in big chunks, then I would say that IS cause for concern. But just a few hairs here and there isn’t worth your time or sanity worrying about.
People tend to worry that it’s something they’ve done to their hair externally that’s the problem, but I’ve heard time and time again that it really isn’t. So going about your normal routine of washing, drying, and styling your hair shouldn't have anything to do with it. Although there are exceptions to this though.
I lose hair in all the places mentioned above (mainly on my clothes and in the bath or shower). But you also need to think about this – especially if you’re a guy: I for example have hair on my back, on my stomach, on my chest, on my arms, under my arms or armpits, on my legs, even on my feet… oh, and in those other places too. And I notice hair in the bath or shower even before I’ve even touched my head and begun washing it. So it’s therefore entirely plausible that hair has come off of the rest of my body too. Sometimes there’s so much it’s a wonder there’s any left on my entire body – but there always is. Because it grows back too. You can usually always tell by looking at the length and colour of the hair: if it’s darker, shorter, and curly, then it’s likely off of the rest of your body. And also remember that you have hair all over your head, so it could be off the back, and the sides – areas that are typically not affected by DHT, like the top and front of the head.
Even if you have shaved all the hair off your head, but still have hair on your body, much like my father, you’ll still see hairs in the bath. Proof that it comes off those other areas too.
To quote another appropriate piece I read one day: “The issue is not the number of hairs falling out in any case. The issue is whether the hairs are growing back.”
So stop worrying about hair fall – hair that comes out every day naturally along its cycle – if you are stressed out about it.
How to Minimize Hair Fall and Possibly Even Hair Loss
Now let’s move on to things that may minimize hair fall and even breakage if you are worried about seeing it in places. Some of these I’ve tried myself and others I’ve just read about and I’m not too convinced of. Some may even help with new hair growth – which is what you should really be focused on:
- I’ve heard that one should eat yoghurt to minimize hair fall. Not sure of this, but I do tend to eat yoghurt when it’s in the fridge. It's good for your overall health and does help replenish good bacteria in the stomach, which is particularly useful if you drink a lot of water. So you should probably try it anyway.
- Don’t wash your hair every day. Seriously, only if you’re getting it really oily or dirty should you do this. I wash my hair twice a week – I used to do it less often than that years ago, and I’ve considered going back to doing it to. My hair was a lot shorter then though, and I can’t really stand having long, greasy hair.
- Use a natural sulphate-free shampoo. A lot of shampoos out there have harmful chemicals in them. So stick with all-natural ones that don’t have these unnecessary ingredients in them. Some people apparently suffer from allergic reactions to these chemicals. Other products like bubble baths, face washes/masks, and soaps also contain some of these chemicals. Always check the ingredients if you can. If you don't suffer from allergic reactions to usual shampoos though, then stick with it.
- When you bathe or shower, just use either cold or luke warm water to wash your hair. I’ve read that hot water tends to strip the hair of its natural oils. Since I’ve stopped using hot water, I notice less hair overall in the bath or shower on average.
- If you’re in the bath, then either wash your hair first in the water before using your soaps and other products, or else use water from the tap and put it in a jug, instead of dunking your hair in the water with potentially harmful chemicals from soaps and other such things.
- Don’t wash your hair in the pool. I used to do this, and not only does it make your hair frizzy and feel horrible, but it becomes brittle and can break off. If you swim in the pool, just make sure to rinse it and shampoo in the shower afterwards. Otherwise wear a swimming cap. I would, but I have quite a lot of hair still, and I’m worried about it causing breakage just putting it on! Or else just try not to get your hair wet in the pool. I used to love swimming underwater years ago, but that’s something I’ve since given up due to the reasons I specified above.
- Some people apply oils and other stuff to their scalps because they’ve heard or read that it can help with hair loss. The thing is that with an all-natural shampoo, it’s enough – and these oils are said by some who use them to even increase the amount of hair that comes out. I’ve never really been a big believer in topical solutions for hair loss anyway, mainly because I was influenced by others’ opinions. If you are, fine.
- Just use a shampoo in the bath or shower, seeing as I’ve read that using a conditioner can cause more hair breakage. I’ve stopped using a conditioner, and I can say that this is quite plausible as I’ve noticed, once again, less hair coming out in the bath and overall.
- Don't use too much shampoo. There is a theory that it might clog hair follices, preventing them for breathing. I don't personally subscribe to said theory but it has been suggested that using too much shampoo might be detrimental as far as causing more hair fall, possibly due to increase exposure to more harmful chemicals per use.
- When you’re in the bath, it goes without saying that the more vigorously you wash your hair, the more you’ll see in the bath. If you do it too delicately though, you run the risk of developing a bad case of dandruff or another scalp condition. You need to wash the scalp thoroughly enough to prevent this from happening. Just use the tips of your fingers (not the entire palm) – preferably with trimmed nails, as long nails might hurt a bit.
- Either let your hair air dry or if you must use a towel, just pat it fry or wear the towel on your head. Don't be rough when towel drying.
- Try to reduce the wearing of hats. I know you might be trying to cover up your thinning hair, but some say that it can lead to more breakage seeing as the hat causes friction on the scalp. So you might notice a few in the hat or cap, or whatever. This isn’t to say that hats actually cause hair loss or baldness, because that’s just a myth, and likely false at that. Although in extreme cases, it might cause traction alopecia, which might contribute to hair loss.
- Once you’ve styled your hair, then just leave it alone. Don’t mess about with it all the time as this will likely just make more hairs fall.
- Your hair is more vulnerable to breakage when it’s wet. So combing or brushing it when it’s wet will likely lead to more breakage. Wait a while so your hair has a chance to dry and become stronger so it can stand up to some abuse!
- You lose more hair on the days that you wash your hair than the days that you don’t. You’ll also notice this when towel drying your hair and using a blow dryer. You’ll also experience more hair fall in seasons such as Summer.
- The way you brush your hair can also lead to hair loss. Always use a comb, and never a brush – unless you have very thick, long hair (in which case you shouldn’t be worried about this at all!). I used to a lose a lot of hair in the brush and I will never go back to using it. Also be sure to comb the proper way. Backbrushing, although it gives a lot of body to thinning hair, can apparently also make things worse for your hair.
- Some hairstyles such as cornrows and the like can also cause hair loss. This is called Traction Alopecia. Because it’s done so tightly.
- It goes without saying that you shouldn’t pull on your hair unnecessarily. Rather develop another less destructive habit, than constantly pulling on your hair. Some people, when stressed, pick their hair until they eventually develop a bald spot on top! I sometimes stroke my beard. A stress ball helps here, too.
- Always make sure to eat properly. A well-balanced diet including not just meat, but sea food, vegetables and fruit, is essential. There was a reason your parents told you to “always eat your veggies”, and this might as well have been that reason. I like veggies that are orange, like carrots, because these have all the necessary goodies for healthy hair, such as vitamin A, biotin, and keratin. But be careful, because an overdose of vitamin A has also been said to cause hair loss!
- Make sure to take some vitamins and minerals to supplement your diet. Zinc and Beta-sitosterol are two that you should look in to, as they are natural DHT blockers, and therefore good natural alternatives to products that contain Minoxidil or Finasteride, such as Regaine (or Rogaine) and Propecia, respectively. You might also look into Finasteride for slowing down hair loss, and Minoxidil for boosting hair growth in areas where it is needed.
- I’ve also recently read of Taurine and Green Tea being good things to look into. I like to drink Green Tea every now and again. They say it’s a great antioxidant. Chuck Norris allegedly drinks it, so there must be something in it!
- There’s a myth or theory that suggests that too much sexual activity may cause aggravated hair loss, possibly due to hormones, chemical release, and such. Others suggest that sexual frustration can do this too. In any case, it’s probably best like all things in life, to do it in moderation. Others don’t subscribe to this theory, as they say that testosterone levels are increased even when just in a relationship, or even just thinking about sex and so on, and not just from engaging in sexual activity. So as a man it’s very difficult to avoid any of these cases. So far, there’s no scientific and/or medically proven link between sexual activity and hair loss.
- In fact any sort of stress that weighs heavily upon the mind may well exacerbate hair loss in those susceptible to it. But most sources will say that it’s a temporary thing and as soon as the stress is taken care of, the hair should come through again, especially if it’s just over the temples and/or in the front. But some think that as soon as you get stressed, your hair falls out. This isn’t the case. It usually happens after a major stress or shock to the system, such as pregnancy – and it can take weeks or months for the hair loss to kick in. Day to day stress isn’t really a contributing factor, but if it’s something that weighs on your mind for months on end, then beware!
- For stress, you should take supplements as well as eat fruits that are rich in vitamin B, like bananas. The Bs help you cope with stress.
- Try and get as much sleep as possible. I’ve read that lack of sleep is one of the more common contributors to mental illness. When you suffer from this common ailment, you can suffer even more stress. If you don’t get enough sleep at night, then just try to nap in the afternoon or evening. I always feel better after having done that.
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