About two years ago, I noticed my hair was shedding a bit more than normal. As someone with already a lot of bleach damage, I’m pretty used to some breakage. But this seemed different. I went to see my dermatologist about hair loss treatment and she asked if I had been through any stress lately. Well, I had. I was recovering from surgery on my ovaries. After taking a look at my scalp and deciding it looked normal, she told me to wait three months and see if I notice any regrowth. I gave it some time and as my body healed, my hair seemed to grow in, too, as new baby hairs popped up after those few months. Stress, it turns out, can do even more harm than we realize.
It’s possible right now, you’re feeling some serious stress as well. Whether you’ve been sick or a friend or family member has, or just been sheltered-in-place for all this time, it all takes a toll on your body. Board-certified cosmetic and general dermatologist Annie Chiu of The Derm Institute agrees. “There’s actually a condition of hair loss called Telogen Effluvium, where large numbers of hairs are lost after a stressful experience,” says Dr. Chiu. She explains that under normal circumstances (these times are not normal), you shed hair during an inactive stage called “telogen.” Usually, about 85 percent of your hair is a growing phase called “anagen.”
“Acute Telogen Effluvium can occur after a stressful event or some other shock to the system, like a fever or weight loss, which pushes growing anagen hairs into telogen, so you will see a ton of hair loss in a short time,” she says. Sound familiar? “This can happen in all ages and genders and is typically noticed with increased hair shedding found on pillowcases, what feels like a lot of hair coming out with brushing and showering, and the actual look of thinning hair,” adds Dr. Chiu. The good news? It almost always resolves with full recovery (like mine did). Of course, it’s possible your hair loss is related to another medical condition so you should always check with your derm if you’re concerned.
If you get checked out and you and your doctor decide your increased hair shedding is stress-related, there are topical, drug-free treatments you can use to increase overall scalp health and make the hair appear fuller. Combined with stress-reducing activities such as yoga and meditation, you’ll be on your way to healthy hair. Shop some of our favorite scalp treatments, below.
Foligain Triple Action Shampoo and Conditioner for Thinning Hair
This line contains what the brand calls “Trioxidil complex,” as well as biotin and fruit stem cells for a healthier scalp and fuller strands.
Regenepure 3-Step Hair Regrowth Bundle
I personally still use this shampoo to purify my scalp of build-up allowing healthy hair to grow in. This system includes the conditioner and regrowth treatment with 5 percent minoxidil.
Collective Laboratories Activating Serum
I also love this scalp serum that stimulates follicles to promote hair growth and makes the hair appear fuller instantly (seriously). Ginseng stimulates microcirculation, biotin helps strengthen strands and zinc balances oil production. Note: grab a free scalp massager with your purchase.
The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Serum For Hair Density
Fans love this scalp serum for the way it supports fuller, thicker hair and reduces any scalp flaking.
Women’s Rogaine 5% Minoxidil Foam
This OG hair regrowth treatment is popular for a reason. The 5 percent minoxidil foam works to stimulate hair follicles and botanical extracts and emollients condition the scalp. (Note: whether you use a formula marked for men or women, cisgender women should only use a 5 percent formula once a day.)
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