I’ve always had beef with my hair. You see it’s the kind of hair that’s neither poker straight nor gorgeously thick and voluminously bouncy curly, instead it sits somewhere in between the two – thin, frizzy, fluffy and requires a LOT of attention.
When I was little even my mum didn’t know what to do with it and so my hair styles ranged from scraggly with a fringe, to ‘let’s just cut the whole thing off’ short like a boy, and then finishing off with by far the worst haircut you’ll have ever seen…. a mixture of the two. Yep mum gave me a mullet – curly and short on top and a long wavy curtain of hair reaching down my back…. a classic child of the 80’s.
Today I still struggle, but thanks to the invention of GHD straighteners, hair oil and my fab hairdresser who also has a bit of a love/hate relationship with my hair I’ve managed to find peace with it. I accept I will never be one of those women who wake up in the morning with that just got out of bed look (I look like I’ve dragged myself through a hedge, then rubbed my hair against a balloon and then stood in a wind tunnel), that in reality there is literally one day of the year when the weather is suitable for hair like mine (even the tiniest amount of moisture in the air and I’m screwed, too hot and it gets sweaty, cue more moisture problems), and that there is only really one hairstyle that suits me and so I just need to stick with it.
One thing I do feel very hard done by though is the fact that my hair is wavy, yet thin. And what annoys me even more is the amount of hair that falls out when I wash it. I mean like seriously I can’t afford to lose any thanks! I can literally pull it out as I’m rinsing the shampoo out of my hair, feel it tangling between my fingers and then I watch as it lands in a tangled clump on the shower tray, before clogging up the drain with a giant matted hairball.
I remember when I’d just given birth to my children, I went from having possibly the best hair I’ve ever had (thick, shiny, manageable) to suddenly developing bald patches on the crown of my head that I had to strategically cover up, comb over stylee. And the hair in the shower… well let’s just say my husband must have been wondering whether I’d secretly got a dog without telling him, it was that bad! Thankfully it sorted itself out after a couple of months and grew back extra fluffy like a little baby duck, but every now and again I do still have a little worry about the amount of hair I lose and whether in fact it’s normal to be losing the amount that I do.
Female pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss in women and it is thought to be inherited. So basically, if your mum or dad have gone a bit thin on top it’s likely you may have problems in the future too. However, other factors also come into play, such as age and hormones, hence why hair loss is usually more noticeable during puberty, pregnancy and the menopause.
But what is a normal amount of hair loss and when should you worry?
The average woman loses between 60 to 100 hairs a day, which is actually quite a lot and if like me you have long, very dark hair it is naturally going to look a lot more than someone who has short blonde hair. But this is completely normal and part of the hair growth cycle.
There are 4 stages to hair growth:
- Anagen – (Growing) Cells are dividing at a rapid rate resulting in new hair growth.
- Catagen – (Transition) Hair stops growing and cuts itself off from the blood supply.
- Telogen – (Resting) The hair takes some time out and allows the hair underneath to start growing
- Exogen – (Shedding) Hair falls out.
And then the cycle begins all over again.
During pregnancy, an increased number of hairs enter into the resting phase and so it can look as though a woman’s hair has thickened. However, once the woman has given birth the hair stops resting and moves onto the shedding phase and of course because there is an increased number of hair resting it goes without saying that there is more hair that needs to be shed. Which is exactly what happened with me.
For most women, hair loss is just part of our daily natural body cycle, however there are of course instances when hair loss becomes more of a problem and is way more noticeable than a few stray strands in the shower.
Hair loss can happen as a result of many different things including stress, illness, extreme and rapid weight loss, anaemia, cancer treatment, and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). If you are experiencing regular hair loss that is resulting in patchy baldness, a receding hairline or a thinning of the scalp you should seek the advice of your GP or speak to a specialist in hair loss.
There are lots of different options available to help treat or disguise hair loss and so you needn’t suffer in silence or be ashamed of what is happening to you. In most cases, hair will return to its normal growth pattern, but during that vulnerable and often upsetting time when hair loss is at its most extreme it’s important to realise that you have options.
I feel very fortunate that my hair loss has only been very minor and that despite what I may think of my hair, it is in fact completely normal.
Still feeling a bit damaged by that photo of me as a kid mind you!