We adjust our clothing, footwear, and skincare routines according to the weather, but what about our hair care regimen? Our hair, much like our skin, is impacted by environmental factors, and as such, it requires special attention depending on the season. As the temperature and moisture content fluctuates, so does the health of our scalp, which happens to be the foundation for each strand. Seasonal hair shedding, like trees shedding their leaves in the autumn, is a natural event in which our strands fall. Excessive hair shedding, on the other hand, is not natural and must be treated.
In this blog post, we explain the difference between hair fall and hair shedding, along with tips on how to control hairfall with simple changes in your daily habits!
Let’s Begin at the Root Level (Understanding the Hair Growth Cycle)
Hair grows from the follicle, or root, located beneath the skin. Blood vessels near the follicle’s base “feed” the strand, providing it with the nutrition it requires to grow. Each strand undergoes phases of growth, rest, and shedding; this is known as the “hair growth cycle.” This hair growth cycle involves four stages: anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen.
Anagen- Growth Phase: The hair grows extensively during this phase. It may last between 2-7 years.
Catagen- Transition Phase: In this phase, the hair stops growing and is separated from the follicle. This phase may last for about 10 days.
Telogen- Resting Phase: In this phase, the strands rest for around 2-3 months. Strands don’t grow during this phase, but they don’t usually fall out either.
Exogen- Shedding Phase: The end stage where the strand is finally released. This phase is an extension of the telogen phase and lasts for about 2–5 months.
What Causes your Hair to Fall?
Various types of hair loss are divided into categories based on their causes, with hair shedding and hair loss being the most prevalent.
It is normal to shed between 50 and 100 strands of hair each day. However, if you are shedding significantly more strands daily, you may be dealing with a condition called “Telogen Effluvium” — a temporary hair loss disorder that generally stops on its own. Telogen Effluvium begins when a large number of hair follicles on the scalp enter the resting phase, but the next growth phase does not begin. Telogen Effluvium (excessive hair shedding) can be reversed by identifying the triggers and resolving them. This allows the hair cycle to normalize, and regrowth begins within 3–8 months.
By the end of the summer, almost all of us experience small amounts of telogen effluvium, also known as seasonal telogen effluvium or seasonal effluvium.
Hair shedding may take place for various reasons, such as:
- Drastic weight loss
- Post childbirth
- Emotional stress
- High fever
- Stopping birth control pills
- Seasonal shedding
Understanding Seasonal Shedding
Changes in temperature put stress on the scalp and hair follicles, causing seasonal hair loss. Seasonal shedding is temporary hair loss that generally stabilizes with time, depending on environmental factors.
If you don’t have a good hair care routine, though, this impact might last longer and possibly harm your hair in the long run.
Seasonal hair shedding usually occurs during the fall months, when our hair growth cycle is in its second half phase. This is when more hair shedding occurs. Thus, seasonal shedding coincides with the timeline of the hair-shedding phase of the hair growth cycle.
The proportion of hair in the telogen phase peaks during late summer, causing maximum hair fall in the early autumn. This pattern observed is similar across both genders.
In short, shedding more hair around late August, September, and October is a normal seasonal change, and you may not need to worry about it. Similarly, the hair growth (anagen phase) will peak at the beginning of spring.
Hair loss happens when hair growth is halted. This condition is called “Anagen Effluvium”. This condition arises during the growth (anagen) stage of the hair growth cycle. During hair loss, the hair does not grow back until the root cause is stopped. For instance, hair loss during chemotherapy is an example of “Anagen Effluvium.” The pattern of hair loss in males and females may also differ due to hereditary conditions like androgenetic hair loss. Male hair loss begins after puberty. It usually starts above the temples, and wraps around the top and sides of the head, often leaving a ring of hair along the bottom of the scalp. In the case of women, the hair tends to thin all over the scalp, but it rarely causes baldness. Hair loss can happen due to various factors, such as:
- Exposure to Toxins
- Polluted Air
- Nutrient Deficiency
Hair Fall during Various Seasons
Apart from seasonal shedding, various seasons can have different effects on our hair health and can contribute to further hair fall.
- Hair Loss during the Summer Season
Exposure to UV rays, heat, and less humid air causes the scalp to lack moisture, causing dry, brittle hair that is prone to hair fall.
Exposure to the sun may impact melatonin production. Melatonin has the potential to slow hair loss and stimulate hair growth. Melatonin affects hormone levels in the scalp, which causes the hair-shedding phase to be delayed more than usual. Exposure to UV rays thus causes hair loss.
During the summer, testosterone levels increase, which promotes androgenetic hair loss.
Hot weather is ideal for the growth of microbes that cause dandruff. Apart from itching and inflammation, untreated dandruff can lead to temporary hair loss.
- Hair Loss during the Monsoon Season
Ever noticed how you tend to lose more hair during a hair wash or when combing wet hair? The moisture weakens hair follicles and also causes the hair to tangle, which further leads to hair loss.
The hair strand is made up of keratin protein. Keratin molecules are held together by many chemical bonds, including hydrogen bonds, which impart strength and flexibility. The hair absorbs hydrogen from the atmosphere due to increased humidity during monsoons. This means the keratin starts to bind with hydrogen (water) in the air instead of hydrogen amongst itself (keratin molecules). This makes the hair brittle and fragile, which leads to hair fall.
Monsoon weather also makes the strand swell up and detach from the cuticle, thereby contributing to hair fall.
Hair roots may also become dry and weak due to excessive humidity during monsoons as the natural oils and nutrients are depleted.
- Hair Loss during the Winter Season
Winter does not necessarily mean hot coffee and cozy blankets; it often means dry air. This air tends to absorb moisture from the hair’s scalp, making it itchy and rough while leaving your strands dry. Dry and brittle hair is more prone to breakage and falling out.
Traction alopecia (hair loss due to friction) increases in the winter, contributing to hair fall. We all use those winter caps or tie-tight scarfs during the cold season, but have you ever thought that they could damage your hair? The friction between the head coverings and hair follicles can pull out healthy hair, leading to a condition called traction alopecia.
Alopecia Areata (AA) is an autoimmune disease where your own body cells attack your hair follicles, leading to hair loss. During the fall and winter seasons, the levels of vitamin D drop due to less sun exposure. Patients with AA were found to be deficient in vitamin D levels. Research indicates that low vitamin D levels could be a possible cause of this type of hair loss.
How to Control Hair Fall
Whether you are experiencing hair shedding or hair loss, you can solve this issue using the following hair care tips.
Clean and Moisturize: It goes without saying how important it is to regularly oil your hair and wash it with a mild shampoo and conditioner. Make sure the hair care products you use are not loaded with chemicals. Also, apply just what’s needed, as an excess of anything could be damaging to the body, including your hair.
Don’t Go the Hot Way: Using curling irons, hot combs, perming, chemical straightening, or simply blow drying can cause more harm than good because of the heat effect. Heating up your hair can weaken it, leading to hair fall.
Avoid Tie-Ups: While it is not advisable to keep your hair open all the time, as the wind, dust, or heat can cause breakage; tying your hair too tight can also be equally damaging as it weakens the hair and pulls it off from the cuticles, leading to hair loss. So next time while styling your hair, stop pulling them back tightly to make a hair bun, ponytail, pigtail, cornrow, or braid.
Tug of Hair: Comb gently and avoid tugging on the hair or vigorous combing to prevent the hair from loosening from its base and falling off.
Do Not Twist and Turn: Do you find yourself fidgeting with your hair every now and then? Sometimes it may even happen, unknowingly. But these habits can cause the already weak hair to become more fragile and break.
No Smoking: Smoking can affect your health negatively in various parts of your body, including your hair. Smoking causes your blood vessels to narrow, thus restricting the amount of blood flow to your scalp. Lesser blood flow would mean fewer nutrients and oxygen supply, causing weaker and brittle hair strands, thereby leading to hair loss.
Pick The Right Nutrients: Your hair is a growing entity, and it needs just the right amount of nutrition for its growth. A lack of important vitamins and minerals can impact your hair’s health, making it weak, brittle, and prone to shedding. Feed your hair the following nutrients to keep it in good shape.
Keranat: One of the potent nutrients for hair health is derived from French millet. It not only reduces hair fall but also promotes voluminous hair growth. It is clinically proven to reduce hair loss by 50%.
Iron: We all know how iron helps produce hemoglobin for our red blood cells (RBCs). These RBCs provide oxygen to body cells, including the ones responsible for hair growth. Foods like red meats, nuts, dried fruit, legumes (mixed beans, baked beans, lentils, chickpeas), dark leafy green vegetables (spinach, silver beet, broccoli), and oats are all rich in iron.
Vitamin C: You’ve probably heard that eating one Amla a day will improve your health. These Indian gooseberries are rich in Vitamin C, that help nourish hair follicles and aid in their regeneration. Amla also helps in retaining natural hair color, thereby preventing the onset of hair greying. A severe deficiency of vitamin C can also lead to hair loss and other complications. Along with Amla, ensure to eat citrus fruits, bell peppers, and berries regularly for your dose of vitamin C.
Zinc: This is another trace element that aids in the maintenance and growth of hair tissues. It also promotes healthier follicles, thereby promoting hair growth. You may find this mineral abundant in red meat and poultry, but you can also obtain it through legumes like chickpeas, lentils, beans, dairy products, and seeds, etc.
One Strip at a Time: Nutrition plays a vital role in hair health, but diet alone can’t help fill the nutritional gaps. Fortunately, the supplement market has come up with products that include all the necessary ingredients to control hair fall. From capsules to gummies and tablets, the list of multivitamins for hair is endless. But if you want an easy, tasty, and convenient way to get the nutrients you need to improve your hair health, then go for hair fall supplements. These strips rapidly dissolve on your tongue within a few seconds, delivering nutrients directly to your bloodstream. Hair loss patterns may happen differently in males and females. So if you are still wondering how to control hair fall in men, let us tell you that these tips are not gender-specific and can be practiced by everyone.
Going The Extra Mile
Your hair may need additional care if the root cause of your hair fall is related to hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism, PCOD, the postpartum phase, etc.
Addressing hair fall problems at the root level, like managing emotional stress, nutrient deficiencies, and limiting exposure to toxins, can go a long way towards treating hair fall. If the aforementioned tips do not prove helpful, it may be necessary for you to consult a doctor in order to diagnose any underlying medical conditions.
Hair fall can be quite a disappointment, as your hair plays a vital role in defining your overall appearance. Scanty, thin hair can also make you conscious and impact your confidence. Our simple but effective tips can help you control hair fall.
It’s important to address the underlying cause of excessive hair shedding. If you’re experiencing more hair loss than usual, consider seeking an evaluation from a professional and following their recommended treatment plan. Additionally, it’s advisable to consult with your doctor before starting any new supplements.