Most people assume hair loss is a condition that only affects older men. While this is somewhat valid—hair growth does tend to slow down with age and affect men more visibly—women can still lose hair starting as early as ages 20-35. Thinning hair is actually a relatively common occurrence in many younger women!
Thinning hair is largely hereditary in both men and women, but premature thinning can usually be stopped or slowed. This is because the causes of hair loss may actually lie with everyday routines that cause unnecessary damage to your follicles. If you are noticing a receding hairline, widening part, bald spots or broken strands of hair, examine your daily rituals to see if any of these 8 common hair care habits could be causing your hair to fall out.
- Excessively hot showers: Everyone loves a steaming hot shower, but running the water a little too hot too often can actually cause major damage to your hair. Hot water can dehydrate your strands, leaving them brittle, and excessive washing can strip your hair of its natural oils. This can send your scalp’s pores into overdrive, trying to produce more oil to replace it, damaging the root in the process. Even though you can expect to see some hair pooling at the bottom of your shower from natural shedding, keeping the temperature down a few degrees can reduce the amount of hair you lose.
- Skipping too many washes: It’s an urban myth that washing your hair too much can cause hair loss. Most shampoos are designed for frequent use. In fact, skipping too many washes can actually have the inverse effect on your hair! Using lots of dry shampoo can clog your hair follicles and make it harder for your hair to grow. Skipping washes, in combination with the use of other long-lasting hair styling products like hairspray, can also dry out your hair, which can make it break and fall out.
- Using hot styling tools: Blow-dryers, curling irons and flat irons have the ability to reach really high temperatures, but that doesn’t mean you should be using them every day. If your morning routine consists of a hot shower, blow-dry and curl, the excessive heat from your styling tools can damage the proteins in your hair, leaving it susceptible to breakage and thinning. Give your hair a break from hot tools, use cool settings or apply a heat-protectant product before styling to minimize damage.
- Wearing tight styles: If your go-to style is an ultra-tight ponytail, bun or braid, you might want to switch it up and wear your hair down or loose for a while. Tight hairstyles encourage pulling on the hair follicles and can lead to traction alopecia, or permanent hair loss resulting from too much tension on the scalp. Clip-in extensions can also pull on your hair and potentially lead to thinning or bald areas on your scalp.
- Getting too much sun: Soaking up some sun by tanning or working outside can help your body produce vitamin D, which is important for healthy hair. However, exposing your hair to too much sun can cause damage. Long-term exposure to the sun’s UV rays can weaken your hair so much it breaks.
- Poor nutrition or crash dieting: Your hair is a part of your body and requires ample nutrients to grow healthily. Eating poorly can result in thinner and less-healthy hair, so double check your diet to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients. Crash dieting or starving yourself can also lead to severe hair loss.
- Taking certain medications: Some medications are known to cause hair loss, like oral birth control pills, blood pressure medication, antidepressants or hormones. Always check the side effects for medications you take on a daily basis and speak with your doctor about finding alternatives.
- Maintaining high stress levels: People who live with high levels of anxiety or stress day to day are often surprised to find their hair falling out prematurely (which can, in turn, lead to more stress). Telogen effluvium is a condition where high stress levels cause hair follicles to enter a resting stage and fall out prematurely. Additionally, alopecia areata can be triggered by high stress and causes the body’s immune system to attack hair follicles, resulting in severe hair loss. If you have high levels of stress each day, try implementing methods to control it to live a happier life and keep hair loss under control.
If clumps of hair seem to be falling out of your scalp, there’s a chance you can rectify the problem without permanent damage. By changing most of these daily habits, your hair will likely begin growing back on its own to look healthier, longer and fuller.