The leaves are starting to change color, it’s starting to get a little colder, Starbucks is now offering their signature pumpkin spice latte, the seasons are changing!
While there are a lot of great things about the transition from warm to cold weather, it also affects your body in many ways, some of which may not be so great. Some people get seasonal depression and others might experience what is called seasonal hair loss.
Yep, you read that right, the changing of the seasons can cause hair loss.
In this article, we are going to talk all about seasonal hair loss from why it happens, to how it works, and even how you can deal with/prepare for it so that as October rolls around, if you start to notice changes in your hair, you know exactly what to expect and what to do.
Why does seasonal hair loss occur?
It’s getting colder outside, and after you take off your beanie you notice that there is a lot of hair stuck to the inside, but don’t worry you’re not alone. Seasonal hair loss affects many people, including people both with and without androgenic alopecia (pattern hair loss).
Seasonal hair loss is all related to the phases of the hair cycle. For those who are unaware, there are four main stages of the hair cycle, in which every single hair follicle must go through in this order: anagen (growth phase), catagen (transition phase), telogen (resting phase), and exogen (shedding phase).
Seasonal hair loss also has a lot to do with sunlight and how much you are exposed to it, don’t worry this will all connect and make sense soon. During the months of June and July you are exposed to the most sunlight, which also means that your body will not be producing as much melatonin. This is because melatonin is naturally produced by your body after the sun goes down (melatonin induces sleepiness and is the entire reason we get tired at night). In short: because of the lower amounts of sunlight, your body produces more melatonin in the fall/winter months, but what does this have to do with hair loss?
Your hair follicles have melatonin receptors in them. Research has shown that the less melatonin your hair is receiving, the more likely it is to transition from the anagen phase to the catagen and telogen phases.
Therefore, during the summer, as your hair is receiving less melatonin, it will slowly start to transition into the resting phase (which lasts anywhere from 2-4 months). After the resting phase, it has to go through the exogen phase (i.e. needs to shed) before it can start growing again. Since the resting phase lasts about 2-4 months, right when fall rolls around is when your hair is transitioning to the exogen phase and hence why a lot of shedding occurs.
Do you need to worry about seasonal shedding?
Seasonal shedding is a completely normal phenomenon. Although scientists are not entirely sure why your body does this, some predict that it could be in preparation for the winter because many of your hairs will be well into the growth phase as the coldest part of winter hits.
Regardless of why it happens, seasonal hair loss can be devastating for someone who is also dealing with androgenic alopecia, especially if they are achieving some degree of successful regrowth only to have it (seemingly) taken away from them.
Luckily, to all my people who are combatting pattern hair loss, seasonal hair loss is completely unrelated and won’t affect your regrowth long term. This is because pattern hair loss is caused by dihydrotestosterone (DHT): a hormone derived from testosterone. DHT attacks your hair follicles and causes miniaturization (the slow death of your hair follicle). But, DHT and melatonin are two completely different things and affect hair in different ways.
Is there anything you can do about seasonal shedding?
If you are trying to recover from pattern hair loss, and maybe having some success, and then out of nowhere you begin to rapidly lose your hair again due to seasonal shedding, you may be thinking there’s got to be something I can do to prevent this.
Unfortunately, neither I, nor any scientists for that matter, have a magic pill that will stop seasonal hair loss. While this might suck to hear, there are still a couple of things that you can do to possibly reduce the severity of the shed.
The first thing you can do (and should be doing anyways if you are losing your hair) is take a hair supplement. Unfortunately, there are a lot of hair supplements that are marketed as hair loss “cures”, to which most of the supplements that make that claim usually leave people disgruntled when they don’t regrow any hair. But, hair supplements can be put to good use as long as you understand what they can and cannot do.
I’m telling you right here right now that an all-natural hair supplement is probably not going to regrow your hair. But, taking the right supplement can optimize your hair and scalp’s health, which will keep your hair strong and in the healthiest condition it can be in. If your head is full of healthy hair instead of dry, dull, lifeless hair, the amount that sheds during the seasonal change will likely be lower.
Shameless plug: if you are having trouble finding a good hair supplement, check out ours called Follicle Foundation. Learn more here.
The other big thing that you can do is mentally prepare for the shed.
As the weather starts to get colder, begin to expect that you hair is probably going to (temporarily) thin out a little bit. Remind yourself over and over that it is natural and has nothing to do with pattern hair loss.
Mentally preparing for the shed will help avoid stress. Hair loss, especially when the onset is rapid (like during seasonal shedding), can be very stressful. Unfortunately, letting yourself get stressed out about hair loss will only lead to more hair loss because they are inexorably linked.
Meditate, exercise, repeat a mantra in your head, do whatever you need to do to avoid hair loss-induced stress so that you can get through the seasonal shed quickly.
Seasonal hair loss is a natural phenomenon that happens to many people, regardless of whether they have pattern hair loss or not. But, the two are not linked as seasonal hair loss is caused by changing levels of melatonin while pattern hair loss is caused by DHT.
While the seasonal shed can be stressful, disorienting, and overall just a bummer, taking a good hair supplement and reducing stress may be able to help you get through it much easier.