Experts Say: This Healthy Habit Is Secretly Causing Hair Loss
Fact: Thinning hair is no joke. Anyone who has experienced the stomach-churning discovery of a handful of precious strands stuck in their shower drain knows what I'm talking about. We live in a culture in which a woman's hair is undoubtedly tied to her femininity and often her sense of self, making this condition one that attacks the sufferer's confidence as much as her ponytail. What's worse is that once affected, even a mild form of the condition can cause immense stress, which can then trigger more hair loss. Different from female pattern hair loss (a genetic condition that affects 60 per cent of Australian women predisposed to it), most of us know that an episode of thinning hair can be brought on by things like pregnancy and iron deficiency. What we didn't know (until now), however, is there are actually quite a few things we do on the daily that can contribute to this type of temporary hair loss. Cosmopolitan.com quizzed dermatologist, Jerry Shapiro MD, and trichologist, Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, on shockingly mundane things that can actually cause hair loss. Keep reading to find out what they are.
File this one under: more unfortunate evidence your dry shampoo habit could be stunting hair growth. According to Dr. Phillips, under-cleansing the scalp can cause problems which lead to hair loss: "If your scalp has any inflammation—if it's itchy, flaky, or has any sensitivity—that can contribute. If you exercise and you sweat, your scalp needs to be cleaned." Opt for a gentle clarifying shampoo like this one from Acure ($17) once a week to prevent build-up.
With conversations about hormonal contraceptives becoming more and more common place (and open), it only makes sense that women are discussing a wide range of potential side effects. One of the most common? You guessed it. Dr. Shapiro says that depending on the type of birth control you use, effects on the body can indeed include hair loss. Worryingly, though this shedding process is generally temporary, it’s not always: "If you have a predilection toward hair loss, such as a family history, you may lose some hair permanently."
Possibly the most surprising habit in this line-up, Phillips says she frequently sees clients who suffer hair loss as a result of diets or detoxes they've undertaken two to three months prior. "If there's a caloric restriction, then the variety of nutrients narrows," Phillips says. "The system's response is to cut off or lessen the supply of energy to hair, which the body considers a non-essential tissue." The link isn’t always obvious as the resulting hair loss is usually temporary and doesn’t involve damage to the follicles. The more you know.
Like having heavy periods isn’t bad enough, apparently they can also indirectly cause hair loss by zapping your iron levels. According to Phillips, over time depleted iron can represent an "eventual trigger." "Iron matters whether we're 25 or 45," she says. The silver lining? Dark chocolate is actually a pretty good source of iron.
If this doesn't sound like something that could affect you, consider this: even common acid reflux medications can be linked to hair loss. Before you panic, Phillips says to remember that though some prescriptions have the potential to be "interrupters", each individual is different. If you are suffering from hair loss, her advice is to take stock of if and when you began taking a medication in case it lines up time-wise. If not, as always, see you doctor for an in-depth examination.