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Hair Shedding vs. Hair Loss: What’s the Difference?

Hair Shedding vs. Hair Loss: What’s the Difference?

There’s a whole lot of confusion in the world of hair care — especially when it comes to hair loss. So before you jump to a conclusion over those extra strands in your brush, the pile of hair clogging your shower drain, or the locks left on your pillow after a date with the Sandman, it’s important to understand the difference between hair loss and hair shedding. Why? 

Because once you know which issue you’re dealing with, you can properly treat it to help get your hair health back on track. So, without further ado, here’s our comprehensive guide on hair loss vs. hair shedding to help you differentiate between the two. 

How Does Hair Grow?

To determine whether you’re experiencing hair shedding vs. hair loss, it can be helpful to understand how your gorgeous locks grow.

Hair grows from the root underneath the skin. It’s fed by blood vessels at the base of the follicle, which supplies it with the nutrients it needs to grow. Every single hair on your body — including the hair on your head — goes through a three-stage hair growth cycle:

  • The anagen phase (growing phase). During this phase, new hair pushes the old hair up and out of the follicle, and this new hair will keep growing anywhere from two to eight years. At any given time, about 90 percent of your hair is in this phase. 
  • The catagen phase (transition phase). This phase is when your hair stops growing. It’s completely natural and acts as a transition from the growth phase to the shedding process. 
  • The telogen phase (resting phase). Finally, hair enters the “resting” phase when some of your hair falls out. It typically lasts up to three months but can vary from person to person. Once the old hairs fall out, new strands grow from the existing follicles, and the hair growth cycle starts all over again. Normally, 10 percent of your hair will be in the resting phase at any given time. 

So, in a nutshell, hair shedding is perfectly normal and something everyone experiences. This is the main difference between hair shedding and hair loss.

What Causes Hair Shedding?

We shed hair from our scalp all the time — up to 200 strands a day. That’s why it’s totally normal to see some hair in your brush or on your pillow when you wake up in the morning. That being said, if you’re shedding more hairs than usual, you could be experiencing excessive hair shedding. This could be due to many things, such as:

  • Stress
  • Age
  • Pregnancy and hormone changes
  • Illness
  • Thyroid problems
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Medications

Is Hair Shedding the Same As Hair Breakage?

When we find our tresses losing their original volume, many of us immediately blame it on hair fall, but did you know that hair breakage could be to blame? In other words, hair shedding and hair breakage are not the same. 

As mentioned previously, hair shedding is when hair falls naturally from the follicle. These shed hairs often have clubbed roots and are long. In a hair breakage situation, on the other hand, your hair breaks at some point on the hair shaft. These strands will be shorter than the hairs you shed.

Although there are many, some of the top culprits behind hair breakage include:

  • Heat styling and damage
  • Dryness and split ends
  • Chemical exposure or processing (bleaching, relaxers, etc.)
  • Brushing too harshly or ripping through tangles
  • Tight elastic hair ties or rubber bands 
  • Sleeping on wet hair 

What Exactly Is Hair Loss?

Losing hair can be an extremely stressful experience — and one that can impact anyone, from women to men to younger and older people all alike. 

Like hair shedding, hair loss — or anagen effluvium — occurs when hair falls out from the root. But unlike its counterpart, hair loss may not resolve itself naturally. While the condition is reversible, hair regrowth can take quite some time, and in extreme cases, it can even lead to permanent alopecia. 

Some potential causes of hair loss include:

  • Genetics
  • Certain drugs and treatments (chemotherapy, immune system issues, etc.)
  • Tight hairstyles
  • Harsh hair care products
  • Compulsion to pull out one’s hair (Trichotillomania)
  • Poor nutrition

It can also be stress-related due to pregnancy or a side effect from an underlying medical condition. That said, if you’re worried about hair loss, the best thing to do is mention it to your healthcare provider so they can run some tests and point you in the right direction for treatment. 

Any Tips To Support Healthy Hair Hair?

As a matter of fact, we have quite a few! Here are some helpful tips for maintaining healthy hair: 

Tip #1: Take Supplements for Hair Health

If your diet is lacking and your hair is falling, you may want to consider taking a supplement like Healthy Hair Probiotics to give your locks the nutrients they need to thrive. 

Made with ingredients that have been clinically tested to stimulate the growth cycle, this scalp-lovin’ probiotic works wonders to help reduce hair shedding while supporting longer, thicker, and shinier hair. Simply take one capsule a day to support hair growth, hair strength, and hair health.* 

Pro Tip: Want to give your hair health an extra boost? Take XOmegas — your daily dose of Omega-3 support. According to experts, increasing your intake of these essential fatty acids may encourage good circulation in the scalp, ultimately triggering hair growth. 

Tip #2: Choose the Right Shampoo

Using the wrong shampoo can cause major hair damage. Look for products that are right for your specific hair type — dry, oily, normal, or color-treated — and always be sure to avoid harsh ingredients that can wreak havoc on your scalp. Some of the worst offenders include:

  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • Polyethylene glycols
  • Parabens
  • Formaldehyde
  • Triethanolamine (TEA)

Tip #3: Show Your Scalp Some Love

Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. Give your scalp some TLC with a weekly scalp detox, which involves massaging cleansing ingredients — like antibacterial oils or pore-clearing charcoal — onto the scalp to draw out impurities to create a healthy environment for hair growth. 

Conclusion

Hair shedding is a normal and natural thing that everyone experiences due to the hair growth cycle. In contrast, hair loss is the unexpected, heavy loss of hair that typically occurs because of external factors, such as a nutritional imbalance or over-styling with heat. 

Not sure if you’re dealing with hair shedding or hair loss? Reach out to a certified dermatologist or your primary care provider who can help you to differentiate between the two and advise treatment. 

At Love Wellness, we create natural solutions for natural problems. Why? Because we experience them too (Yes, really!) From hair health to gut health and just about everything in between, you can always count on us to have just what you need to feel your best. 

 

Sources:

Promotion of anagen, increased hair density and reduction of hair fall in a clinical setting following identification of FGF5-inhibiting compounds via a novel 2-stage process | PMC

Why Is My Hair Falling Out? - Chester County Hospital | Penn Medicine.

Do you have hair loss or hair shedding? | AAD

Mackerel-Derived Fermented Fish Oil Promotes Hair Growth by Anagen-Stimulating Pathways | PMC

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