Friday, 25 November 2011

A question about shedding

I would really like to read about if you have had any major shedding and what you did to make it stop. 
Yes, I have experienced shedding. I actually lost 1-2 cm circumference of my hair after a very sneaky shed. Without going into details, I had one of those periods in my life where it felt like “Oh great, what else can go wrong?!” was seen as a challenge to see how much it really took to break me. I was incredibly stressed and it was followed with a long period of deep depression that has taken me years to get out of.
I didn’t notice it until way later, but I must have shedded a little extra each day. You wouldn’t notice 5-10 extra hairs under normal circumstances and especially not when you’re so stressed out you can’t even sleep without taking pills or so depressed that taking a shower seems like too much work because it requires having the energy to dry yourself off and braid your hair afterwards. 
It wasn’t until 1-2 years after when I was plagued by the regrowth that was long enough to get in my face but too short to go safely up in a bun or braid that I realised I had gone through a shed. It didn’t take much thought to add two and two to why that happened.
 So, yes I experienced a bad shed, but I didn’t realise it until after it had stopped on its own again. I can’t really tell what to do to make it stop since it stopped on its own. The fact is though, that I’m in a completely different place in my life than I was then. 
But I have two thoughts on unwanted shedding:
  • Get a blood test.
  • Look into stress-coping.
Getting a blood test is the best place to start. If not for anything else, at least to give yourself the peace of mind to know it isn’t a sudden illness or deficiency you’re experiencing. Of course some doctors can be unwilling to take a blood test on a “healthy” individual and they can be quite condescending when it comes to “silly” things like hair loss. I have experienced enough doctors in my life to know the threads on doctors brushing off concerns about hair loss with a condescending “That’s normal” are completely true and frequent. After all, with “normal” shedding being between 50-200 hairs a day, how can you even tell someone you don’t know at all that their shedding is normal, even when the owner of the scalp swear they’re experiencing a drastic increase?
So what should you do? Lie. It’s that simple. Tell your doctor that a relative have been diagnosed with a deficiency and it makes you worried you might have it too because you feel you have experienced some of the same “symptoms”, could he/she draw a routine blood test to give you peace of mind? It will require a bit of research, but only a truly arrogant ass of a doctor would be able to brush off a “real” concern that can be put to rest with such a simple step.
Even if your increased shedding isn’t caused by stress, it is a highly stressful experience. You may even start to feel stressed over the shedding itself. And no, it doesn’t make you a horribly vain person to worry about that. Anyone who dares to judge you over your very real, physical concern isn’t worth your time.
As for handling stress, there are many good sources for information from people who are trained in dealing with this and have degrees that are relevant.
I can share what I found have helped me though…
Make a minimum list of things you need to do for the day. Be realistic! Cross out things as you have finished them and start with the easiest one to encourage yourself. Life can seem a lot easier when you have your to-do’s on a list instead of rummaging around in your skull.
Make your sleep a priority. During sleep is the time where your brain restarts, your body repairs itself and it will give you the mental and physical means to deal with a stressful day. Air out your bedroom before sleep; change your bed sheets frequently and to something a little more luxurious. Make sure to set enough time in your schedule to get the 8 or so hours you need. If you have trouble dosing off, don’t be afraid to look for aid in herbal supplements or prescription pills. We have all experienced how a full, satisfying night of sleep can make the entire world a different place.
Make food and nutrition a priority too. No living off fast food and sugary snacks no matter how much easier it is! You need real solid and healthy food without sugar crashes to give your body and mind the energy they need.
Take at least 15 minutes each day to put your feet up, relax and not worry about anything. Set an alarm if you need to help you focus on relaxing! Put on a facemask or paint your toenails, drink half a glass of wine and read a Cosmo. Take it as a mental break and don’t feel guilty for it. Take it as a priority to make yourself relax and spend some time to make yourself look good in the process too; it will make you feel better and more confident. Under eye bags and dull skin never helped anything and if taking care of this will help you relax and unwind in the process, it’s just an extra plus. I think the one thing that really broke me down in the stressful period was that I didn’t have a place where I could just put my feet up, relax and prioritise myself. You need to create a space for yourself for that.
Those reading this will have noticed that I haven’t actually mentioned any “hair solutions”. Well, there is a reason for that. I truly believe that if you’re experiencing a bad shed, you need to look for a mental or physical reason. As it has been said many times, hair is actually very far down the body’s pecking order and your hair will suffer when something else is wrong. Bad sheds aren’t something that will be fixed with massage, pomegranate juice, kelp diets or what have you. They might mask the symptoms and reduce the shedding for a while, but they will not cure what is really wrong and what is really causing the shed. You need to address that and either fix it or learn to deal with it in some way. The shedding will eventually be reduced or go back to normal when you do.
But never forget you can always find people who will listen and truly care on hair forums.  


  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I have been reading your blog for months now and I really appreciate your sense of humour and your straight talk and this post here was what I really needed to read. I've been experiencing a pretty bad shed for a while now, linked to the stress of finishing my PhD, and which has gone worse now that I'm experiencing a weird "post-partum" depression after handing in the thesis. Of course the shed which has made me lose a lot of thickness makes me even more stressed out and down as having a nice thick mane was something I was proud of. And seeing my two thin plaits as opposed to the thick ones I had just a few months ago is depressing.

    You are definitely right to point out that obsessing over a shed is not going to help. Nor going on a crazy kelp diet and other hair-fads. I need to learn how to relax asap!

    Sorry for the super long comment and spilling out my life story but I wanted to say how much I love your blog and how this post finally made me want to stop lurking and come out as a fan officially.

    Charikleia on UTT

  2. I so love your no-nonsense sound and sane hair advice!