Long hair is beautiful – but what if you start shedding? I am deep into that topic for years now and had to realize every time again: the affected persons often get left alone with their fears and sufferings, yes, it even happens much too often that they get derided. The internet is full of information rangeing from panic to miracle pills, in between only very few helpfull advice, mostly indefinite and many statements like: “Don’t cry over spilt milk. It will regrow!” or “Just don’t be that stressed about that!”
This information here is supposed to be a guideline for you to help you help yourself. It is supposed to make your research more effective to find the quickest and best way to overcome your hairproblems. Nevertheless: always keep in mind that this here is based on my experience – and meanwhile also the experience of quite a lot of fellows.
I am no doctor and I cannot make diagnosis here. See me as a guide, a consultant and a sister at heart. For you and your hair: get well soon!
My own experiences or why I think I can give you advice
Kurzfassung: Ich hatte bereits mehrere Male mit Haarausfall zu kämpfen.
Long story short: I had to fight hairloss already for several times in my life.
1. Beeing a teenager. Various reasosns, but most likely because of a combination of emotional and physical changes, stress and mayb also a lack of nutrients (teenager tend not to eat the best…). Full regrowth.
2. In my early twenties. Again for a variety of reasons. My health was really down for a long period then. Regrowth came but really took a long time (more than a year) to fully recover.
3. 2011, irondeficiancy. Severe hairloss, over 50% of my overall hair volume was gone. Full regrowth right after getting supplements. Maybe I even got more hair than before, because of a latent mild irondeficiancy the years before. Regrowth came en bloc, a thick layer of new hair.
4. 2012, maybe androgenetic hairloss? The question has never been finally answered. First using a specific hairtonic helped, but as the shed reoccured, the tonic worked no longer. And the shedding pattern was untypical. I guess I got this diagnosis because it is the diagnosis you get when the doctors don’t know another. Full regrwoth.
5. 2013, several causes in combination. The biggest part took probably my new lifestyle and diet. Although I switched from a common healthy diet to a very healthy diet (aka clean eating) the first results were not feeling better, but suffering from detox symptoms. That was the first time I lunged myself into the detox topic. Doctors don’t talk about detox usually but we agreed, that it was most likely that my new healthy lifestyle gave my body the opportunity to get rid of a lot of old toxins, which showed in the skin and therefore also on the hair. I got dystropic hair, which is something you only find after poisoning or most common – after chemo.
The hairloss stayed for a long period of time and there were several cylces of dystropic hair until finally healthy regrowth showed up. The shedding time lasted over 1,5 years and the healthy regrwoth came slowly. Since the end of 2014 it is over now and my hair recovers now at a faster pace. Even though that first detoxing and the hairloss was an experience I would have liked not to make, it was an incredibly important lesson for me. I learned a lot about my body, diet and the importance of rest and I am now healthier and happier than ever. Of course sad for my hair, but well. It regrows.
6. Early 2016, the revenge of the flue. Early this year I was hit by several nasty stressors which lead to a flue and an accute hearing loss combined with inflammation in almost every sinus in my head which knocked me out for around 6 weeks. I lost around 5% of my bodyweight in a very short period of time – my hair hates that. The result was a minor to medium shedding interval which lasted around 2-3 months and came and went exactly as calculated with the three months delay which si common for telogen effluvium. Luckyly I lost no visible thickness on ym crown thanks to me continuating regrowth but for the length that shed threw me back a lot, as I lost around a halfyear progress. Complete recovery without medical intervention. All I needed was food, sleep and I took the consequences and eliminated the stressors as far as this was possible.
Right after the severe hairloss from irondeficiancy 2011 compared to two months later. I trimmed only some centimeters between the photos. The most striking is, that after the lack was fixed, my hair recovered very quickly, much faster than it could have regrown. Hair under hairloss often looks dead: dry, frizzy, dull. But afterwards it literally comes back to life. I experienced that phenomenon at all of my sheds and saw it on many other heads too. So don’t cut too much when you are still shedding,. Be patient, wait and cut when it is all over. You will probably cut more than needed, when you cut when still shedding.
As you see I have quite a history concerning hairloss. Nothing to be proud of, but something which told me many lessons. And what I made of these lessons, this is something I am proud of. And that is something I want to pass to you. Because always keep in mind: hair is about the least important part of your body. Take care of you as a whole healthy being and probably your hair will follow.
Let’s get started! Advice please!
The most important advice first:
1. Don’t panic!
Maybe it is no real hairloss but brakeage are a slight up and down of your normal shedding.
2. Don’t panic!
Even if it is real hairloss: in most of the cases you can fix your problem and your hair will regrow. Beining scared or even sad is understandable, these feelings are in fact the worst symptoms of hairloss as it does not hurt your body but your soul. The image that you have of yourself gets harmed. So be nice to you. You are more than your mane. Even though your hair matters a lot to you.
3. Don’t panic!
Don’t rush into the next drugstore to buy pills at random. Don’t research for wigs (most hairloss patients do this, evben though the most of them never need it. But they are all too afraid…). Don’t cut your hair short in an act of blind sctionism and hopelessness because they are thinnig or might be thinning. Wait until it is neccessary. Better wait until the hairloss is over and decide than how much of a cut is needed. When you feel bad due to hairloss you are very likely to make a BIG chop. When it is over and you are full of hope, you can see your hair again with loving eyes.If you follow my advice here, your chance is high that you will be able to prevent the worst so that no shortcut would be needed.
4. Answer yourself a few questions:
* How many hairs am I actually shedding? I mean the absolute number (yes, count every single hair: from your brush, your pillow, your clothes, your floor. Do this for about a week and culculate the average) and the relative number (twice as much as you are used to, three times more? More? Like this you can get a better feeling of how “bad” it acutally is. When you visit the doctor you are better prepared to answer some questions and state your problem. For example: absolultely high numbers of shed hairs are over 100. Relatively high amounts of shedding are would be the double or four time bigger amount of hair than usual. If you normally shed about 20 hairs a day, shedding 40 is no big deal. Relax, even though it is the double amount. If you normally shed about 80 hairs and climb up to 160 you better have a closer look. And if you normally shed about 20 hairs and hit the 100-hairs-demarcationsline, you are right: there is something out of order. So it depends on the relation between absolute and relative individual amount.
* What happend three months ago? Many hairloss causes can be found about 12 weeks in the past due to the grwoing cycles of hair. Have you been ill? What happend? A trauma, sever stress? Were you on a diet or taking medication?
* Am I living a healthy lifestyle? And I mean really healthy. Could there be a deficiancy? Vitamins, minerals, fresh air, sleep, time to recover… Hairloss is nasty, it can depend on almost anything and very often it has not only just one cause, but several. This is why it is so crucial to treat yourself the best you can in whole, not only focussing on a specific part.
5. Go and see a docotor – and be prepared!
Your first adress is your general practitioner, your family doctor. Or a dermatologist. Describe your worries as objective as possible, but it is okay to stress, that you are really suffering. If everything takes the right direction the doctor will ask you similar questions as I did. Then he will check your scalp and if there is nothing obviously wrong he will get your blood checked. Depending on your personal history several blood levels will be tested. The most common in combination with hairloss are those concerning the tyroid gland and your iron status. Concerning iron it is important to get the ferritin checked. This is the marker which is most important in this context. If you need other bloodlevels in addition, talk to your doctor.
If your visit won’t turn out that helppful, be prepared to be smiled at or even interrupted. Unfortunately that happens much more often than I would wish for. Stay objective. Stress the facts but don’t try to lecture your doctor. Maybe you can ask for a general check-up (often you can get that once a year just for precaution). Like this you can be shure, that there is no latent other problem, maybe a bigger one, and your hairloss is only the first warning sign. Explain that you understand your doctor’s pont of view: he sees much harder pain and suffering than your hairloss everyday. Nevertheless pain and sorrow is subjective and you visited him in search for help. Does not work? Maybe you are too shy? Many people I know are still somehow frightend when it comes to thoses “gods in white”. They are only humans too. Humans with a special education and the mission to help others. Remind them of this mission and their knowledge.
Still not working? Well, look for another doctor. I know, this is annoying. But take it as a lesson. Imagine what can happen when you might suffer from a severe desease. In that case it is even more important to have someone at your side who understands you, who wants to help you and with whom you can communicate.
6. Take your blood test with you and check yourself!
I was lucky to meet many very good doctors in my life yet but I also know pretty good the opposite. Maybe they are not “bad”, but in many doctor’s offices there is only a second to look on the blood results and if there is nothing strinking the eye you are told: everything fine. Even though if there are levels which are pretty, pretty close to bad. Some reference levels are even outdated, but the doctors don’t know. The ferrittin which is important for us is one of thoses levels. It should be over 40, but the old references tell, that over 15 is still fine. It is not for most people. If you already have a hairloss issue a ferritin under 40 can tell you why you shed. And 40 is the lower end of the range. Which means: maybe it is just sufficiant, but far away from optimal.
Did you make a hit? Tell your doctor. Maybe he admits that he overlooked it. If not, tell him aboput the outdated references, but friendly. Try to talk about supplements. No? More arguments. Still no? Go and see another doctor.
7. Be patient.
You have tackled that doctor’s topic, maybe you get supplements now or another remedy. Especially when it comes to deficiancies you have to wait again for almost 3 months until you can see real results. Again because of the hairgrowth cycle. Don’t stop taking your medication only just because you don’t see immediate results. Be patient. The worst is already over.
8. Look for the cause of the cause.
For example irondeficiancy again. That caused your hairloss. But what caused the deficiancy? Try to find out, what you are lacking. Why can’t you resorb enough iron through your food? Why is your skin prone to eczemas? Keep asking this until you find the first cause in the row. Like this preventing future hairloss becomes much easier.
9. Be gentle and kind with you.
Now you have done everything: visited the doctor, took pills, smeared cremes, changed maybe your diet or even got rid of bad habbits… but… somehow your hair still does not recover. Always keep in mind: hair is something your body has no special focus on. It is unimportant. So treat yourself nice as a whole person and maybe – probably! – your hair will be grateful. But this can take time. Somethimes months or even longer. But on the other side: what is that bad about treating yourself the best you can? Nothing.
If you feel really uncomfortable with your thinned hair try out clip-in or flip-in extensions. Or hairdonuts for buns. “That’s a cheat!” Well, yes, it is. But what is bad about this? Wearing high heels makes long legs, wearing make-up can improve the look of your face. I personally regard my extensions as make-up for my hairstyles. No problem.
10. Don’t panic!
Don’t expect an immediate healing and regrowth. Don’t expect a rapunzel’s mane or super fast growth or the answer to all questions. Progress not perfection. Maybe your hair can’t run a marathon, but every step in the right direction gets you closer to your goal. And well, the hard thing is that hair is that slow. So every step takes its time.
Haircare when shedding
1. No extra stress for your hair and scalp!
Avoid chemical dyes or even changing of your hairstructure like curling or straightening. Chemicals stress your scalp and you don’t want another possible reason for more hairloss. In addition: brush gently, wash gently and not hot, no tons of shampoo. Be gentle.
2. Wash as often as necessary, proloning your washing cycle is not needed.
Many people with hairloss try to avoid hair washs as long as possible as they have the impression that they shed even more, when they wash. This is true and is at the same time not. Hair you shed is dead for long already (3 months, hairgrowth cycle). So what you loose when washing can’t be saved anyways. The water just loosens the hair and washes it away. But if you did not wash you would brush it out anyways. So decide for yourself: washing once a week with a disastrous amount of hair in the sink and inbetween, well much hair, but not that much. OR wash more often with still more hair in the sink than on a non-washing day, but not as horrible as it would look if you only washed once a week. For example. What can you bear better? I say: Wash as often as neccessary. You already feel uncomfortable with your hair, so just wash it when neccesary, so that it can look its best. Walkinbg around with a greasy head won’t let you feel more attractive or brighten up your mood.
3. Wear braids or buns.
Like this your hair is up and away and you don’t shed it everywhere you are. Like this you are not constantly reminded of your hairloss. And, all pragmatic, cleaning the house is easier. Hairloss sucks for whiping the floor…
4. Take good care of your scalp.
I am a big fan of scalp treatments, also when I am not shedding. A healthy scalp is the base of healthy hair. But of course the scalp needs nutrients from within, so treat your body the best you can with food and an overall healthy lifestyle. If you feel the urge to DO something, try hairoils for the scalp. If they provide the help they promise is unshure, but in the end: if it does not work against hairloss, at least you took good care if your hair and scalp. And you had the feeling of actually doing something. Don’t be scared: if you have never treated your scalp with oil before, this can result in bigger sheds when washing the first times, as the oil loosens more telogen (already dead) hair. Usually after a littel while this adjusts to normal.
5. Choose a mild shampoo.
Choose a mild shampoo. If you don’t already have a shampoo matching your scalp’s needs, now is definitely the time to find one. Mild shampoos often loosen less hair per wash. As mentioned above, that does not help against hairloss, as the already dead hair will fall, no matter how you wash, but it is nice for your emotions.
6. Hands off your hair!
No scratching! Scratching losens even more hair.
What helped me personally
With my doctor’s help I overcame my irondeficiancy. After that I fixed the cause of the deficiancy by healing my colon and my overall health. This took me 4 years! So be patient and keep working on your goals. Supplements were only to tide myself over. To reinstal my health I did what you have read and heard a thousand times before: I treated myself the best I could. In every aspect. I eat and move rich in variety, I am outside to catch fresh air and sun, I learned to deal with stress, I avaoid environmental toxins as good as I can, I sleep a lot and drink a lot of water. I became a far more positive person and still improve.
Food & Lifestyle
This question is definitely one of the FAQs. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what you should do exactly to help your hair grow and be healthy. A healing diet is not the same as a daily diet and you always have to find out for yourself what your body really needs. As a healingdiet the subversion of paleo, AIP, was my saviour. For many other people this counts for turning vegan. As a daily diet I have chosen the way that is most popular known as “clean eating” or “whole foods”. This is neither vegan, nor AIP, nur paleo, nor lowcarb nor anything else. It is my personal way of feeding my body with foods that do good to me. My food is as rich in variety, fresh, regional, seasonal, organic and in first line as unprocessed as possible. Theses guidelines can help you for any other diet. Eat real foods. Foods which come without a package or if not that they come without a list of ingredients. If you eat like this your risk is very low to develope a deficiancy of a micro- or even macronutrient. I avaoid all chemical additives, refined sugars and whiteflour products. I only have to be dogmatic with this when I am ill. When I am healthy “hints of” are no big deal for me. Me too I love eating. Food is more than just fuel. It is a fullfillment. Literally.
And again and again: “Don’t ask for a food answer if you have a lifestyle question.” Look through my “Grow long hair with the Magic Svene”-series and maybe you will find out quickly, that your problem is not a food topic but about move, rest, water, light, air or love.
The most important to me is a healthy scalp. My scalp likes to be massaged with the boar bristle brush, it likes oil and yoghurt treatments. If the shampoo is matching, daily washing routines are no problem. The most important is always not to scratch the scalp. Accordingly my head does not like stronger massages even though they are highly recommanded when you do research for scalp health and hairloss treatments. Find out for yourself. I don’t like them as they lead to more shedding in my case. That is why I cling to the boar bristle brush and everything is fine for me.