The Real Reasons Your Hair Is Falling Out

by Stephanie Montes and Blake Newby
Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

If you constantly find strands of hair on your clothes, clogging your shower drain and stuck in hairbrushes, you may be feeling pangs of worry. But when exactly should you hit the point of serious concern? With so much going on in the world, causes of hair loss are more than likely due to an internal problem rather than any external factors. The most notable and most common, is stress.

"I'm seeing at least 10 people a day for stress-related hair loss," Dr. Sapna Palep, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology in New York City says. "People have been sick with COVID-19, stressed out about this entire pandemic, losing their jobs, suddenly moving homes, we're in the midst of innumerable stress factors." However, the reason that the vast majority of hair loss is just showing up now, is because it takes three to four months to see the results of stress-related loss. "There's three stages of hair growth: antigen, catagen, and telogen," she says. "Antigen is the phase that most of your hairs are at all times. Telogen is the resting phase right before it falls out. So when the stress hits, it causes almost 50% of your hairs to convert to the telogen phase, causing the delay in shedding."

The good news though, is that the hair will grow back. However, it takes time and as Dr. Palep suggests, increased vitamin intake to speed up the process. "Taking biotin and making sure you're not vitamin D deficient are the most important steps toward renewed hair growth," Dr. Palep says. "I do blood work on everyone coming in for hair loss to make sure they're not anemic, or they don't have a thyroid issue or autoimmune condition, all things that further contribute to hair loss." However, for quicker results she also suggests Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) shots. "PRP is the injection of rich plasma into the hair follicles," Dr. Palep says. "It's wonderful because it stops the telogen phase really well and triggers a boost in growth and hair retention."

However, we know it's not always just stress, so we’re getting more answers to all your questions by enlisting the help of a dermatologist, nutritionist and hairstylist. Get the facts and try our tips for maintaining a healthy mane.

Know The Cause

“In women, hair loss is usually associated with a hormonal imbalance such as an over- or under-production of various hormones, especially during or after pregnancy and menopause. Thyroid issues, extreme stress or high fever can also result in hair loss. For women, this can also be genetic and linked directly to their mother.” –Dr. Gary Goldfaden, dermatologist and founder of Goldfaden MD

“A strong shiny mane indicates a diet high in nourishing B vitamins, biotin, iron and zinc. Hair is directly affected by diet, so I always recommend eating foods packed with vitamins and minerals such as eggs, shellfish and grass-fed red meat.”–Kelly LeVeque, health coach and nutritionist

Wash Your Hair The Right Way

“Unless you produce a lot of oil, washing only twice per week is the perfect amount. It’s imperative to find a healthy balance–washing too often can strip hair of natural oils and not washing enough eventually affects the hair growth.” –Dr. Gary Goldfaden

“A general rule of thumb is to condition every time you wet your hair–many women skip conditioner because they worry it weighs their tresses down. Conditioner creates a barrier, protecting hair from the earth’s elements and all the heat you apply. Also long, scalding-hot showers dehydrate and strip your scalp of its protective oils. When washing your hair, alternate the use of hot and cold water to stimulate circulation and promote new hair growth." –Riawna Capri, hairstylist and co-owner of Nine Zero One

Take Your Vitamins

“Iron deficiency can quickly cause hair loss. There are two types of iron: animal derived and vegetable derived–it's important to tailor your diet to feed your body what it needs. Vegetarians should consider supplementing with multivitamins.” –Kelly LeVeque

“Look for a multivitamin that is formulated and labeled 'for hair, skin and nails.' They contain a variety of vitamins including B and C, biotin and other ingredients that support healthy hair. If you are not getting excellent nutrition through daily meals, a supplement can make a world of difference.” –Riawna Capri

Handle With Care

“Brushing too often, wearing tightly pulled hairstyles (like ponytails or braids) and constant use of hot tools damages the scalp and hair follicles, which prevents hair growth. Also be cautious of overexposure to sun, chlorine, alcohol-based products and those that include sodium lauryl sulfate. Always read ingredients and try to use natural products that nurture the hair.” –Dr. Gary Goldfaden

If you are noticing hair loss or thinning, stay away from chemical treatments as they compromise the integrity of hair and further exacerbate any issues.” –Riawna Capri