How Much Hair Loss Is Normal in the Shower?

How Much Hair Loss Is Normal in the Shower?
08.02.2024

Some of us put the loose hair on the shower wall to be removed at the end; others ball it up in their hands and let it wash down the drain (only to eventually clog the pipes). But the common denominator here is that we’re losing hair, and it has us a little freaked out.

Luckily, there’s good news: It’s unlikely that you’re losing as much hair as you think you are, and it’s considered normal for a woman to lose up to 100 strands of hair each day, according to Julia Schwartz, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and the dermatology advisor for Ro. 

But there are some situations—like having alopecia areata, undergoing cancer treatment, or being deficient in certain vitamins—that can lead to more hair loss than is expected. Here’s how to tell if your hair loss is typical, if it’s time to seek out a dermatologist’s advice, and how to ensure you’re taking the best care of your hair.

What’s Normal Hair Loss—and What’s Not?

Just to reiterate: Losing some hair is not only normal—it’s expected. That’s because, for your body to grow new hair, it has to shed the old. 

Hair loss is also a natural part of aging. Nearly everyone experiences some sort of hair loss as they get older—hair growth slows down, and some hair follicles stop producing new hairs. This is called androgenetic alopecia (more commonly known as male- and female-pattern baldness). For men, this hair loss is often at the temples or the top of the head; for women, hair becomes less dense, making the scalp more visible.

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This hair loss happens at a different rate for everyone, so what’s “normal” or not comes down to what’s typical for you—if it seems like you’re losing a lot of hair but you’re not seeing more of your scalp, you’re probably just witnessing your normal hair growth and shedding cycle. 

As for hair loss that might signal an underlying health issue, Schwartz said the following signs should tip you off that it’s time to see a dermatologist or other healthcare provider:

  • Bald spots that appear or expand quickly
  • Widening part
  • Thinner ponytail
  • Clumps of hair falling out at once

Do You Actually Lose More Hair in the Shower?

If the amount of hair you lose in the shower has you rethinking your wash day schedule, I get it. (If you don’t wash your hair quite as often, less will fall out, right?)

But as it turns out, your showering habits likely aren’t impacting your hair loss all that much.

“Washing your hair can increase the likelihood that you notice your hair shedding, as moving your hands through your hair can lead you to come away with hair that’s already shed from your scalp,” Schwartz said. But “people generally don’t lose more hair in the shower.”

But that shouldn’t give you the go-ahead to manhandle your strands on wash day.

“Combing or brushing wet hair after a shower can increase the likelihood of losing more hair than normal,” Schwartz said. (Note to self: Stop brushing out knots with a vengeance after shampooing and conditioning.)

Gentle is the name of the game when it comes to hair care if you want to avoid hair loss as much as humanly possible—that means no scrubbing your scalp, no yanking a comb through knotted hair, and no vigorously drying your hair with a towel.

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How to Combat Hair Loss

Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely avoid hair loss. And if there is some magical strategy out there to help you keep your luscious locks on top of your head, no one knows of it.

Every human is unique and there are a variety of factors that contribute to hair loss that are just out of our control (aging, heredity, medical conditions), so on some level, we often have to accept the hand we’re dealt.

But regardless of what your body has in store for you, there are certain steps you can take to prioritize your hair health (and hopefully, in the process, mitigate hair loss), according to Schwartz. Those include:

  • Eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet with enough proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, as well as fruits and vegetables for essential vitamins and minerals (think: the Mediterranean diet).
  • Consider supplements that may help support hair health, like vitamin A, vitamin D, and iron.
  • Add products with essential oils, like rosemary oil or tea tree oil, to your hair health routine.
  • Keep a close eye on scalp health (redness, itchiness, flaking) which is directly connected to hair health.

If hair loss persists and you end up seeing a dermatologist or other healthcare provider, they may recommend minoxidil, an FDA-approved over-the-counter medication known to stimulate hair growth.

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