Article by Alexandra Engler, mbg lifestyle, October 16, 2020
We know that changes in the season can prompt changes in our skin: As fall and winter overcome the summer humidity, your skin starts to get a touch drier and irritation-prone. On the flip side, come summer, maybe you're dealing with a bit more oil and blemishes than you're used to. Hair comes with its own set of changes, too. Some may be obvious—uh, who among us doesn't battle a bit of extra frizz during high humidity? Or a drier scalp come frigid temps?—but others, not so much.
Like, say, did you know that come a new chapter in the calendar, you may experience "seasonal shedding"? Well, it's a very real phenomenon, and may explain why you see a few more hairs in your comb or deal with extra strays post-shower. Here, what you need to know.
What is "seasonal shedding"?
The description's in the name, really: It's increased shedding during transitional weather or by changes in your environment. "Seasonal shedding is primarily caused by hormonal fluctuations in the body induced by climate and temperature changes—as well as the amount of daylight that we are exposed to," says famed hair restoration specialist Lars Skjoth, Ph.D., lead researcher and founder of hair care brand Harklinikken. (Skjoth started several internationally renowned hair loss clinics and is considered to be the best of the best in noninvasive hair growth treatments, which are grounded in natural-leaning and safe formulas; as an aside, this beauty editor has in the past visited the New York–based clinic during a particularly intense bout of hair loss and can attest to the efficacy.)
Typically, we know, the average person loses 50 to 100 hairs a day. So "increased shedding" may mean nothing to you if your typical fallout is low, consistent, and relatively stable. But for others, who have more sensitive hair fluctuations, you may notice an uptick around daylight saving time or when temperatures shift.
Skjoth notes, though, that this fall and winter may be a bit different. Not only could you be going through a (totally natural) seasonal shift, but the stress of the current atmosphere could be compounding said shedding: "Certain people have been suffering from much more shedding because there's been so much stress for so many people for so long. I truly believe COVID-19 has been exacerbating the symptoms of hair loss dramatically."
What you can do about increased shedding
Given you can't control the seasons, or how much daylight you're exposed to, you may just have to live with the reality that you have a bit more hair loss right now. But that's not to say you can't treat hair loss from a proactive standpoint.
Re-evaluate your hair products
Skjoth notes that high-quality, hydrating, and scalp-healthy ingredients go a long way toward helping you retain hair and support a healthy environment for growth. Skip harsh surfactants, irritating synthetics, and silicones, and look for things like botanical oils for conditioning, fatty acids for nourishment, and antioxidants for protection.
Limit excessive hot tool use and processing
Hot tools and overprocessing—via perms or dyes—really does a number on hair, including shedding but also just garden-variety breakage. If you are concerned with the amount of shedding you are experiencing (at any given time), your processing habits are a good place to, uh, cool it.
Reduce stress as much as possible
Since stress triggers hair loss—a phenomenon that's well documented via research, specialists, and anecdotal evidence—you need to find ways to better manage your anxiety.
Enrich your diet
There is a significant connection between diet and hair health. Deficiencies—particularly zinc, iron, and vitamin Bs, like biotin—have been connected to hair loss. By ensuring you are consuming a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids, you'll likely see improvement in your strands over time. (Of note: This is not a quick fix, and you must be consistent with your healthy habits.) You can also consider supplementing with things like collagen (which contains amino acid peptides), biotin, and antioxidants to help ensure you are getting enough daily.
Hair shedding is totally normal (reminder: we lose anywhere from 50 to 100 a day!), and may even increase during environmental shifts like changes of the season. This is a totally normal process that you may not even realize is happening—but if the amount of loss you're seeing is of concern, there are actionable ways to tend to the issue.