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How Much Hair Loss Is Normal? 9 Signs You’re Losing Too Much Hair

A little shedding is normal, a lot is not.

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At some point, most adults have probably looked down at the bathroom or shower floor after getting ready for the day and noticed the amount of hair everywhere. Shedding hair is common, but how much hair loss is normal? If you’re concerned by the amount you’re shedding, there are ways to tell if you’re losing too much hair. All it takes is a little focused attention, and in some cases, a call to a medical professional to determine whether the excessive hair loss is due to a medical condition, the natural progression of aging, or the normal postpartum hair loss that comes after childbirth.

How much hair loss is normal?

“We naturally shed and regrow hair in regular cycles,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby, tells Romper in an email. “Each hair follicle usually has its own cycle, that is why we don’t shed all at once and [the hair loss] is less obvious.” So, if you’re consistently losing hair on a daily basis, it’s not cause for immediate alarm. “Typically about 10% of our scalp hair is in the shedding phase at any one time,” Dr. Amy W. Fox, Associate Professor at UNC Department of Dermatology tells Romper. “There are times when women can experience significant increases in shedding, and the reasons for this are various.”

How can I tell if I am losing too much hair?

That being said, increased hair loss can happen, and the increase in hair loss can often be subtle. “Sadly, by the time most people realize they have more than normal hair loss, approximately 50% of the hair has reduced,” says Dr. Allenby. That’s why it’s best to be observant of the amount of hair you’re shedding (but try not to obsess over it). Here are some clear signs you’re losing too much hair to watch out for.

1

There’s hair all over your shower

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“Increased shedding in the shower” could also be a sign of significant hair loss, says Fox. Of course, it’s normal to regularly find some hairs on the shower floor, but an increased amount on a consistent basis may warrant a call to your doctor. This is a sign where attention to detail is important, because you need to be aware of your baseline before you can determine whether or not you’re losing more hair than normal.

2

You see lots of hairs on your pillow in the morning

Just seeing hair on your pillow is not necessarily a symptom of hair loss; in fact, the American Academy of Dermatology says it’s normal, and an increased amount could just be a sign of increased shedding. However, if you’re consistently seeing a lot more hair on your pillow than you’re used to, that could potentially be a sign that you’re losing more hair than you should be. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to call your physician.

3

You’re seeing an increase in your 60-second hair count test

Another test that you can try to determine how much hair loss you’re experiencing is the 60-second hair count. An article published in 2008 in JAMA Dermatology found that brushing your hair from back to front for one minute and then counting the number of hairs that fall can give you an idea of whether or not you're losing too much hair. If you find about ten hairs, you're likely losing a normal amount. If you find more than ten, you might want to reach out to your doctor.

4

Your part looks wider than it used to

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Another way that you can tell if you might be losing more hair than normal is by looking at your part. “Your hair part becomes wider” when you’re losing a lot of hair, Dr. Allenby explains. It might be difficult to tell, but chatting with your dermatologist about your concerns or enlisting your hairdresser to help you determine if your part might be getting wider could help you get to the bottom of things.

5

Several hair strands come out when you pull or run your fingers through your hair

Have you ever tried to run your fingers through tangled hair? It’s painful, and you’ll likely pull more than a few strands out in the process, which isn’t uncommon. However, when your hair is not a tangly mess, running your fingers through your hair can be used as a test for hair loss. A few hairs coming out when you run your fingers through your hair is normal, but if you end up with more than a few, you might consider calling your doctor, in case you’re experiencing more than a normal amount of hair loss.

6

Your scalp is more noticeable

Depending on your hair’s natural texture, you may be able to see a bit of your scalp all of the time, so simply being able to see your scalp is not cause for alarm. However, if you feel like you’re seeing more of it, that’s something to pay attention to. “If you can see into the scalp easier and the follicles seem more individualized” it could be a sign that you’re experiencing hair loss that isn’t normal, Dr. Allenby says.

7

Your ponytail seems to have gotten smaller

Have you noticed a change in your ponytail? “If you wear your hair in a ponytail and [find that] it takes more turns with the hairband to tie it up” it could signal hair loss, Allenby says. If you want to try this test, though, make sure you’re using a fresh hairband. Old hair ties naturally stretch out over time, which can be misleading.

8

There’s a lot of hair in your brush and on the floor

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Another thing Dr. Fox suggests paying attention to is the amount of hair you’re shedding when you’re brushing your hair. Pay attention to how much hair is falling onto the floor while you’re styling it as well as how much your brush collected. Make sure you start with a totally clean brush and stand on a towel so you can easily gather and assess the amount of hair in your brush and that fell onto the floor.

9

Your hair doesn’t style the same way it used to

If your hair just doesn't seem to look the same way that it used to when you style it, that too could be a sign that your hair might be thinning. If your straightened hair looks flat, your natural hair just doesn't have the life it used to, or your style won't hold, there might actually be a real reason for that. Try some of the other tests mentioned here, and if you’re worried — as always — contact your health care provider.

The long and the short of any of your hair loss worries are that it’s best to call your doctor if you’re concerned or if you’re exhibiting other symptoms. “If you are having symptoms on the scalp like tenderness or itching that persists or increased shedding that lasts longer than a few months,” that should signal a call to your doctor, Fox explains. The sooner you come in the better, agrees Allenby agrees. “[With hair loss] the most important piece is determining the type, whether it is a medical problem versus the natural progression of aging,” she says “because the cause is the key to treatment and regrowing your hair.”

Sources interviewed:

Dr. Amy W. Fox, M.D., Associate Professor at UNC Department of Dermatology

Dr. Janet Allenby, DO, Board-Certified Dermatologist

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