Monday, October 5, 2015

The Autumnal Falling of Hair

Several years ago, a study was published in the journal Dermatology measuring hair loss (shedding- hair fall) in women over the course of 6 years.

They found that in summer, there were more hairs in the telogen phase (resting, getting ready to shed) and that those hairs tend to be shed from the scalp about 100 days after the middle of summer. Just figure about 3 months after your summer solstice - the longest day of the year.

That means if you notice more hairs shedding in late September, into October or November - it's normal. For folks in the Southern Hemisphere, your autumnal shed should be around late March and into April and May. 

The hairs you shed are going to be replaced by new hairs.

Of course, this time of year comes a change in seasons for a lot of us and sometimes that also means drier air and more wind - and therefore hair that may tangle more, dehydrate more readily  and need extra conditioner or lubricants like oil and if you don't keep up with that requirement - you can have extra shedding too from the extra friction.

But if you're seeing extra hairs when you detangle and you and your scalp are otherwise healthy and the shedding goes back to normal in late November or December - you were probably just experiencing the autumnal shed.


  1. I'm so glad you posted this. I washed my hair 2 nights ago and definitely saw a difference in the hair that was coming out versus what it had been all summer. I wash my hair every 4 days and don't brush it in between washing (it's wavey/curly) so I think any hairs that fall out kind of just get caught and held in my hair until they all come out when I wash, which leads to it looking like chunks are coming out!

  2. What are your thoughts on scalp oiling? (applying castor oil to the roots)

    1. Hello shyenghura - I'll share my thoughts, but I don't have any studies of using castor oil on scalps from which to make any conclusions.

      I'm not an advocate of scalp oiling to leave the oil on for a long time *IF* a person has any history of itchy scalp, dandruff, eczema or seborrheic dermatitis or any other skin disease. Adding oil can cause an imbalance in fungal growth (some fungi on the scalp are normal) and increase in itching, redness, scaling or painful bumps. In that case, one would want to do a test-patch first.

      On the other hand, castor oil can help make hair very flexible and if a person is experiencing breakage around their hair "edges" - it can provide enough softness and lubrication to reduce that.
      Castor oil has some components which have anti-microbial properties, but by itself it may not have much anti-microbial impact. However, castor oil does have anti-inflammatory effects. That could be helpful because inflamed or irritated scalps are not healthy and will not be providing a healthy barrier - something that tends to produce hair that has less strength.

      If I were going to do this, I would probably leave the oil on my scalp for 30 to 60 minutes, then wash it out. I know some people do leave castor oil on scalps or eyebrows to try to promote hair growth, but that can lead to some scalp itching or irritation which is the direction we don't want to go in! I prefer a "try it with increasing lengths of time on my skin and see what happens" approach.

  3. Thank you for the article. I wanted to ask you a question: whenever I experience a lot of shedding, or experience breakage (Im usually pretty gentle with detangling, and rarely use heat), I find that the hairs, as they grow back, tend to stick up like crazy- especially in the back of my head. Gel and pomade help a bit, but I still struggle a lot with this problem. do you have any guidance on this issue?
    I am a 2c/3a curly btw

    1. My hair does this too - the new growth sticks up often until it's 2" long, especially the more-coarse hairs or the most-curly ones. While you wait for them to grow - deep conditioning can sometimes help by softening those new hairs. If your hair does better with protein - then protein might help to add some weight to those hairs. Applying the gel to very wet hair (or misting the scalp area after applying gel and then smoothing your fingers over to press in the new "sprouts") can help. Anything you do during styling to press hairs together so the short, new hairs get trapped in with the longer hairs is helpful. You want them to dry in that "stuck to their neighbors" position vs. standing up above everybody else so they'll be "set" to stay where you want them once dry. I hope that helps.

    2. Those sound like great tips. Thank you :)