Why am I losing hair in the shower?

Knowing the why of shower-related hair loss can give us the how best to tackle it.

Written by
Bailey Petts
Medically reviewed by
min read
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Noticing hair fall can be incredibly upsetting — no matter the amount. While losing a bit of hair in the shower is to be expected, it can be confronting if it feels like more than normal.

And, it can make you wonder what is happening to cause hair loss.

If you notice patches of hair loss, clock a clump in your hair brush or find that you're standing in a puddle as your shower drain is blocked with hair strands again, there might be something going on but the good news is that it can be helped.

Let's dive into all things female hair loss.

Why does my hair fall out in the shower?

For the most part, it's totally normal to lose hair in the shower mainly due to the fact of what we're doing in the shower.

The act of hair washing itself can be quite vigorous and lead to hair loss. Overstimulating your scalp can also result in shedding hair.

In other circumstances, using certain haircare products, which are harsh and strip your hair of its natural oils meaning you're more susceptible to hair damage, can encourage further loss as damaged hair is then more likely to fall out.

Hair shedding and hair loss in the shower are something an average person will experience.

How much hair loss is normal?

You may notice that you experience hair loss in other scenarios — not just the shower. In fact, it's normal to lose quite a few strands of hair each day. These might be noticeable on your pillow or in your hair brush.

But, this doesn't have to be a major cause of concern as hair shedding is part of the hair growth cycle and shedding around 50-100 hairs a day is considered normal.

But, if you're shedding a substantial amount of hair each day, this would be considered excessive and is known as telogen effluvium [1]. And, this can happen to women of all ages, from their 20s onwards.

What's the difference between excessive hair shedding and hair loss?

It can be easy to confuse hair shedding with hair loss. Hair shedding actually refers to the hair growth cycle and it occurs after the resting phase of the hair growth cycle (the telogen phase) [2].

After this phase, which usually lasts around 3-4 months, you'll notice hair falling out. The telogen phase is where your hair strands are in place in the follicles but aren't growing.

Once these hairs fall out, the growth phase will commence again in the follicles. Hair shedding is completely normal, but others may notice more than others. There are a few reasons for this, which we'll touch on later.

Hair loss in the shower or elsewhere is different from hair shedding as it refers to when your hair stops growing. This is known medically as anagen effluvium [3].

What causes excessive hair loss?

Excessive hair loss happens because something is affecting your hair growth and stopping it from growing.

Common causes are:

  • Hair ties being used too tightly (tight hairstyles) and causing hair breakage
  • Hereditary hair loss
  • Androgenic alopecia (or androgenetic alopecia)
  • Heat styling (excessive heat from hot tools)
  • Medication and treatments
  • Weakened immune system.

Female pattern hair loss can be harder to contend with as it's genetic. But, there are treatment options available to help slow the loss and encourage hair growth.

How can I reduce hair shedding?

Shedding is a natural part of your hair growth cycle. It allows new hair to come and take its place, meaning your hair will be healthier and stronger.

But, how much hair you're losing or shedding can be reduced, which is important as excessive hair shedding can lead to feelings of insecurity and worry about what's behind the hair loss [4].

Thankfully, making simple lifestyle changes coupled with tailored treatment options can help you deal with hair loss.

Follow a healthy diet

Consuming extra protein can reduce the risk of telogen effluvium (excessive hair shedding).

Whether you follow a vegan, vegetarian or meat-eating diet, being conscious of how much protein you consume in a day can have an impact on your overall health and also your hair.

Hair follicles are mostly made up of protein so it makes sense that a lack of protein can cause hair loss or excessive hair shedding. Make sure you're getting enough vitamins and minerals through your diet as zinc, iron and vitamins C, D and E are important for healthy hair growth.

Protein, fruits and vegetables are key [5].

Avoid tight hairstyles

Hair falling out can regularly be attributed to tying your hair up too tightly. This puts tension on the hair strands and can lead to damage and in turn, hair breakage [6].

Finding less abrasive hairstyles can have a positive impact on your hair health and reduce hair shedding.

Detangle with a wide-tooth comb

Again, lots of pressure on the hair strands can be the underlying cause of hair shedding. Using a wide-tooth comb can be more gentle on your hair follicles, and will prevent any tugging if you have knots in your hair.

Regularly brushing your hair can also reduce hair loss. Avoiding knots can mean that your hair growth isn't impacted, reducing the risk of telogen effluvium.

Limit heat styling

Heat styling in moderation shouldn't have an impact on your hair's strength.

However, using hot styling tools can eventually lead to dry, brittle hair. A lack of moisture in your hair can lead to hair snapping and your follicle isn't protected.

Reduce the amount you wash your hair

Overwashing your hair and overstimulating the scalp can reduce the natural oils and impact your hair's structure, so you might want to consider scaling back the number of times you wash your hair in a week.

This might be difficult for those who have an oilier scalp but see if you can squeeze a day or two more between hair washes.

Hair loss treatments

If you're experiencing hair loss, a hair loss treatment may be worth considering.

Image credit: Getty Images

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