• Gemma Corby

The four main CAUSES of hair shedding in women, and five ways to PREVENT it

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

Hair shedding is normal. Most of the time.

It is typical to lose about 100 hairs a day (who’s counting?!), although this can vary from woman to woman.

Woman hair shedding
Hair shedding is normal; so how much is too much?

But with people reporting greater levels of hair shedding as a result of catching Covid-19, how do I know that I am shedding a normal amount?

Look out for the following, if you’re worried that you might be shedding too much hair:

· The tug-test. Take hold of about 60 hairs and gently pull as you run your fingers through your hair. It is normal for between five to eight hairs to fall out, according to Dr. James Marotta.

· Inspect your plug hole. Buy a drain hair trap for a closer analysis of how much hair you are shedding.

· Check your ponytail. If your hair is long enough, pay attention to the thickness of your ponytail. A sudden decrease over a three to six month period is an indication of hair loss (as opposed to regular shedding).

What causes hair to excessively shed?


If you’ve got a full-head of luxurious hair, thank your DNA.

Genetics play a significant role in determining the thickness of your hair and how likely it is to fall out, although genes are not the only consideration…

beautiful red hair woman
If you have a beautiful head of hair, thank your genetics


Stress is everyone’s nemesis when it comes to physical and mental health.

Hair shedding can increase at times of stress, because:

· It takes a lot of energy for your hair to grow, so if you are feeling stressed your energy sources will be directed elsewhere, leading to greater shedding.

· Hair pulling (or trichotillomania) is something people do consciously or sub-consciously at times of stress.

Hair loss has been experienced by some people who have tested positive for Covid-19, due to emotional distress caused by their ordeal.

woman hair loss stress
Hair shedding can increase in women, at times of stress

Nutritional Deficiency

Vitamin B (namely biotin) and vitamin D are essential for hair growth, as is zinc. Magnesium plays a role too, as it helps activate the benefits of vitamin D.

Omega-3 fatty acids also have a role to play in promoting hair growth. A 2015 study of 120 women found that a supplement containing omega-3s and omega-6s, reduced the amount of hair in the rest stage (or telogen stage) and increased the amount in the growth (anagen) stage.

Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids are found in the cells that line your scalp, providing oils to keep it and your hair hydrated and healthy.


Hormonal changes as a result of pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth, the contraceptive pill and the menopause, can all result in greater levels of hair shedding.

pregnant woman hair loss, postpartum hair loss
Hormonal changes postpartum can cause hair to shed

So, which five things can I do to reduce hair shedding?

Identify and reduce the stressors in your life

Life throws curveballs at everyone, there’s no avoiding that; however, there are some stressors that can be addressed.

If something is causing you stress, and you can realistically do something about it, act now!

Sustained levels of elevated stress wreak havoc with your physical and mental health.

If you cannot eliminate the stressor, look for ways to reduce its impact:

  • Make time for yourself – do things you enjoy

  • Spend time with people who make you smile

  • Have things to look forward to, however big or small

  • Share your feelings either with friends/family or with a professional therapist. Never suffer in silence.

  • Get an adequate amount of sleep. Aim for seven to eight hours a night.

woman red hair walking
Reduce stress by doing things you enjoy

Eat a balanced diet

Foods essential for hair growth include:

  • Eggs

  • Omega-3 rich fish, e.g., salmon, mackerel and sardines

  • Berries

  • Spinach

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Avocados

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Red meat

  • Soybeans

sardines omega-3 hair shedding
Sardines are an excellent source of omega-3

Mix up your hairstyles

Wearing your hair in the same severe hairstyle everyday can result in traction alopecia. This is common in female ballet dancers, who often wear their hair in tight styles.

Vary your hairdos and only occasionally tie your hair tightly. Wear your hair out when you can, or in a loose braid, to prevent it from breaking.

woman hair loss tight bun, hair loss hairstyle
Limit how often you wear your hair in a severe style

Supplement your diet

If you struggle to regularly eat the foods listed earlier, then supplementing your diet is advisable.

The vitamins and minerals needed for healthy hair growth are:

  • Vitamin A

  • Biotin

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin E

  • Magnesium (to activate vitamin D)

  • Omega-3 fatty acid

  • Zinc

A really great product that I take is Viviscal, which contains zinc, biotin, iron and AminoMar C (a rich, marine protein complex unique to Viviscal). I purchase mine from Holland and Barratt (please note, this is NOT an affiliate link or advert).

Maintain a healthy scalp

A healthy scalp means healthy hair.

If your scalp is irritated or inflamed, this could lead to hair loss.

Use high-quality products to treat your scalp, especially if you experience a flaky scalp or dandruff.

Regular head massage increases the flow of blood to the scalp, boosting the amount of oxygen reaching the hair follicles.

Visit a professional masseuse, if you have the funds and it is safe to do so. Alternatively, give yourself a head massage by investing in a scalp massage tool.

If you are worried that you are losing an excessive amount of hair, consult your doctor. They can refer you onto a trichologist, if necessary.

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