Normal shedding of the human scalp is a result of the hair’s natural growth cycle and consists of three stages. At any given time, ninety percent of the hair is in the growth phase, which lasts two to six years based on genetics. Another three percent is in the intermediate phase that lasts two weeks—the hair is static for a time being. During the last phase [which accounts for about six-eight percent of the hair], the hair follicle is completely at rest and the club hair is completely formed. Pulling out a hair in this phase will reveal a solid, dry, white material at the root.
Reasons You’re Losing Hair
To diagnose a bigger issue versus the aforementioned healthy loss, be aware of why you’re losing hair. Rest assured; you may just require a simple change to your routine.
Know Your Average Loss
In general; you will see greater shifts in natural daily hair shedding between different ethnicities. Caucasians generally lose on average 100 hairs per day, Asians about 70, and Africans about 60 hairs per day. This is because the amount of hairs per square inch more drastically changes between these ethnicities. Blonde hair will experience more loss than red or brown because the lighter the hair, the more hairs per square inch.
Consider the Weather
Just like your dog sheds more come winter, human hair loss patterns also change with the seasons. There are two times during the calendar year when humans experience seasonal hair loss. The first is in July and August and the second—and more significant—is November and December into half of January. The hair is thickest in the summer to serve as protection from the sun. The shedding during these months is a temporary situation. The hair will grow back in about three months.
Be Aware of Damage
The amount of hair women see falling daily also greatly depends on the condition of the hair. If the hair is highly damaged then breakage will occur, adding to the number of hairs seen. Check fallen hair to see if the root in still intact. If there is a raise at the end of the hair, this is a damaged strand that did not complete the hair cycle. Be conscious of how much you heat style, put the hair in an elastic only when dry, and apply leave-in conditioners at least once a week.
Account for Length
Regardless of damage, women with longer hair may perceive more hair loss. This is because longer hair will take up more space and appear to be a greater volume lost.
Three Stages of the Hair Growth Cycle
Losing hair is a natural part of the hair growth cycle. We lose hair so that new hair can replace it. In order to understand hair loss, one must understand normal hair growth and shedding cycles.
The hair growth cycle is ongoing, and on an average day, 90% of your hair is in the resting phase while the other 10% is either growing or shedding. Balding occurs when the hair sheds, and no hair re-grows to replace it. Hair is made of keratin, the same material that makes up your nails and the outer layer of your skin. Hair is really a dead structure while the follicular bulb is the growing center. Because the actual strand of hair is not alive, hot curlers, chemical processing, hard plastic combs can cause damage and lead to split ends and fracturing of the shafts.
1. Anagen Stage (2-6 Year Duration):
The hair growth cycle begins with the anagen or growth phase. During this phase cells in the root of the hair divide to add to the hair shaft. Depending on your genetics, the growth phase can last anywhere from 2 to 6 years. As the anagen phase comes to an end, an unknown signal tells the hair to enter the next stage. The hair grows about a fourth of an inch each month, and though it is technically dead, a healthy hair care regimen can keep it looking beautiful while it’s in the anagen phase.
2. Catagen Stage (2-3 Week Duration):
The catagen stage follows the anagen phase and is made up of a 2-3 week transitional period in which the hair is no longer growing. During this stage, a club hair is formed. A club hair occurs when the section of the hair follicle attaches to the hair shaft, cutting the follicle off from its blood supply and the cells that produce new hair. This club hair leads to the next stage of the hair growth and shedding cycle.
3: Telogen Stage (2-4 Month Duration):
The final stage of the hair growth and shedding cycle is the telogen or resting phase. During this two to four month phase, the hair begins to shed at normal levels, and the anagen phase begins again producing new hair.
The average person sheds around 100 telogen-stage hairs a day by brushing the hair, showering, and other activities. High-stress and trauma like high fevers, nutritional deficiencies, pneumonia, and accidents can cause hair to shed in higher than normal amounts. Patterned baldness (androgenetic alopecia) occurs when hair production slows and beings to produce weak, shorter hairs, eventually ceasing to grow completely in some areas.
Men and women often lose hair for different reasons and should be properly diagnosed before beginning any hair restoration treatment. Depending on the cause of your hair loss, there are both surgical and non-surgical treatment options including hair restoration surgery and medications.
Essential Oils for Thinning Hair
Besides being the natural part of the hair growth cycle, thinning hair can be caused by many internal and external factors including stress, poor diet, washing your hair with tap water which contains chlorine, poor hygiene, dandruff & other skin inflammatory conditions, among others.
A study on hair loss treatment found in the Archives of Dermatology found that applying and massaging a mixture of cedarwood, thyme, lavender, and rosemary essential oils promoted hair growth after consistent use over several months.
Rosemary Essential Oil
In Ancient Egypt, rosemary essential oil was combined with other oils like sweet almond oil, fir oil and castor oil to stimulate hair growth. Rosemary essential oil, extracted from the herb rosemary, is one of the best essential oils for thinning hair and it has been recommended to stimulate hair growth and improve blood circulation
It contains powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that promote a healthy scalp. This essential oil is also said to slow greying due to its antioxidant properties and can be used to treat dandruff & an itchy scalp due to its anti-fungal and antiseptic properties.
►Rosemary Stimulant: Mix 12 drops of rosemary essential oil in 2 tablespoon of warm olive oil. Apply it all over your scalp using your fingers or use a spoon to pour it on your whole scalp. Massage it in for about 2 minutes. Now put your hair in a shower cap. This traps heat and allows the goodness to sink deep into your hair follicles. Wait for at least 30 minutes for the mixture to penetrate, and then wash your hair as usual. Shampoo twice, if your hair feels oily.
Cedarwood Essential Oil
Hair follicles can weaken because of poor blood circulation in the scalp. Using cedarwood essential oil stimulates blood circulation in the scalp and thereby promote hair growth. Cedarwood essential oil also has anti-fungal properties that protect the scalp from fungal infections that stop your hairs from growing properly and cause them to fall out
► Scalp Massage: Mix 6 drops of cedarwood essential oil in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and apply it onto your scalp in gentle circular motions. Do this an hour before you shower. Or leave it on overnight and wash your hair the next day. Cedarwood is also said to promote deep sleep!
Thyme Essential Oil
Bacteria, fungi and other germs can accumulate on the scalp, cause scalp infections and lead to hair fall.
Thyme essential oil contains antiseptic properties that wards off germs or bacteria which clog up hair follicles and cause hair to fall out. Massaging thyme essential oil mixed with a carrier oil improves circulation, slow hair loss and promote new hair growth. There are many different types of thyme but the thyme that is ideal and safer for thinning hair is white thyme as red thyme contains more phenols and is also said to cause irritation for some people.
►Thyme Treatment: Add 6 drops of thyme essential oil to 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil. Mix well and apply it to your scalp. Wait for about 30 minutes and then wash your hair as usual. Shampoo twice if your hair feels oily.
Sweet Basil Essential Oil
I love growing my own basil because it’s filled with powerful antioxidants and other nutrients that can help fight flu & colds. It is also a potent anti-inflammatory agent that can heal any inflammatory condition including acne.
Sweet basil essential oil can also help unclog blocked hair follicles and clear up an oily scalp and dandruff. It has stimulant properties that promote proper circulation and this ensures all areas of the scalp are nourished with nutrient-rich blood hence facilitating hair growth. Please use only recommended doses of basil essential oil because it is extremely potent and can be very toxic and dangerous if not used in the right way.
► Overnight Oil: To a tablespoon of jojoba oil, add 3 drops of basil essential oil and massage this onto your scalp gently. When your entire scalp is covered, leave the oil mixture to penetrate for at least 30 minutes. Shampoo and rinse your hair when the time is up. Then wrap it in a non-fluffy towel or even a T-shirt. Fluffy towels cause hair breakage.
Lavender Essential Oil
Added to many hair care products, lavender essential oil is extracted from the beautifully scented lavender flowers. It has strong antiseptic properties that help get rid of germs that clog up hair follicles and cause infection, which leads to hair fall. Lavender essential oil is also a stimulant which helps improve blood circulation on the scalp thereby preventing hair fall due to poor circulation.
►Hot Oil: Combine 4 drops of lavender and 2 drops of cedarwood essential oil in 2 tablespoons of warmed sesame oil. Massage this onto your scalp and cover it with a warm towel to trap the heat. You can apply this as an overnight scalp treatment and wash off very well the next morning.
Essential oils are very potent and might cause irritation if not used in the right way. Do not use the essential oils “neat” or directly onto your skin. Rather, first dilute them with a carrier oil such as wheat germ oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, or sesame oil before use.
Please make sure to purchase high quality and 100% pure essential oils for your body. If you are pregnant or nursing and would like to treat your thinning hair with essential oils, please consult with your health care practitioner first. Most essential oils are not recommended to be used by pregnant/nursing women.