What Hairdressers Should Know About Hair Loss

By Liz Kline 

Under normal circumstances, the average person loses between 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. Normal daily hair loss is the natural result of our hair growth cycle, which is the process of anagen (our growth phase), catagen (our transition phase), and telogen (our resting phase). 

But when people think of abnormal hair loss, they generally think of male or female pattern baldness (also known as androgenic alopecia), where hair is thinning in the crown area or ponytails and other updos appear thinner. Yet surprisingly, more than 63 million people in the US suffer from abnormal hair loss—it can happen to anyone. Hair loss can be the result of genetics, the aging process, a change in hormones, a medical condition, or the side effects of a medication. 

As a licensed professional, it is likely that you will be the first person someone experiencing abnormal hair loss will come to with questions. You’re also likely the first person who will broach this topic with them if you suspect a client is showing signs of abnormal hair loss.  

So, let’s get a little more granular and talk about the different types of abnormal hair loss and what you can do to help your clients,  starting with excessive shedding, or telogen effluvium. This condition is common in people who have experienced constant or extreme stressors. Examples of such stressors include: 

  • Losing an excessive amount of weight 
  • Giving birth 
  • Experiencing a lot of daily stress (because of work, personal life, and other factors) 
  • Recovering from an illness 
  • Undergoing an operation 
  • Stopping medications like birth control, as this is a big change in hormonal balance 

Most people who have experienced these types of stressors will notice excessive shedding within just a few weeks or months of the stressful event. However, the body readjusts over time and hair typically grows back. 

It’s important to note that hair shedding is different from hair loss. Hair loss, or anagen effluvium, occurs when hair stops growing. 

Some factors contributing to hair ceasing to grow include:  

  • Androgenic alopecia (also known as hereditary hair loss or male or female pattern baldness). Men can develop a receding hairline or bald patch that begins in the crown area, whereas women may notice gradual thinning and eventually have patches where no hair grows.  
  • Drugs or treatments such as chemotherapy 
  • Hairstyles that pull excessively on the hair, causing it to pull out from the root 
  • Alopecia areata, which is a sudden falling-out of the hair in round patches or bald spots. These can be singular or multiple smooth patches.  

Some hair loss may require treatment. In some cases—such as that of a chemotherapy patient—once a medication(s) is stopped, hair may grow back. However, in other cases—like in hereditary hair loss—some topical or surgical procedures can be performed  to help promote new hair growth. 

Hair professionals can also talk to clients about prevention for normal hair loss.  Some prevention methods include: 

  • Avoiding hairstyles that consistently pull on the hair, such as tight braids or ponytails 
  • Avoiding high heat styling tools that can dry out the hair strand, causing additional breakage over time 
  • Being responsible when it comes to chemical services, including not getting them too frequently and maintaining the integrity of their hair in between service visits 
  • Sleeping on a silk pillowcase and using a hairbrush made of natural fibers, which will help distribute natural sebum throughout the hair 
  • Getting frequent scalp massages to help promote hair growth with blood circulation 

Last but certainly not least is scalp condition, which is just as big a factor for hair growth as it is for hair loss. For example, ringworm of the scalp, also known as tinea capitis, can make hair brittle and lifeless, causing it to break off, and psoriasis on the scalp and even dandruff can cause hair loss. A healthy scalp promotes healthy hair growth, so be sure that as a professional, you are examining the scalp during your consultation with your client. 

When professionals can identify which type of hair loss a client may be experiencing, we’re able to better help them with their hair needs. For some, it may just be a different way of styling hair, adding in extensions, or simply incorporating a new color and cut to create more fullness. Though this is not always an easy topic to discuss, it is an opportunity for you to make your client feel amazing.  

To learn even more about hair loss, read the feature, “Empowering Clients to Embrace Change” from AHP Indie Stylist Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 2.

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American Academy of Dermatology Association. “Hair Loss: Who Gets and What Causes.” Accessed March 2024. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/18-causesĀ 

Milady. Milady Standard Cosmetology. 13th ed. Cengage, 2016. 

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