Nearly every time I wash my hair, I ask myself the same set of questions: Am I shedding too much hair? How does this compare to other people? Does everyone feel like they pull out half their head every wash day? Am I doing this all wrong? What makes me feel better is I know I’m not alone. At least anecdotally, most people with long hair go through cycles in which they are concerned about increased shedding.
So instead of panicking alone in my shower—I consulted some experts. Here’s how to know if you are shedding too much hair:
1. You are shedding more than 100 hairs a day.
You shed hairs every day—and honestly probably far more than you realize is happening: “On average you can lose anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs per day,” says Megan Taylor, stylist at Gloria and Company in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. And listen, you’re not going to catch all these hairs to be able to count them up so you can keep track of your daily count (nor would you want to; that sounds exhausting and time-consuming).
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to your typically shedding patterns. Understanding your hair and scalp health on even normal days is how you more easily identify issues as they come up. “Having awareness of your general hair loss per day is important. That way, if or when the time comes that you are experiencing more shedding than usual, you are able to identify quicker,” says Taylor.
2. But remember: Hair texture may affect your perception of what’s happening.
While everyone sheds on average 50 to 100 times a day, your hair texture may play a role in how much you realize it’s happening and how it presents itself. “Curly hair plays a factor when shedding,” says Manetti. “When hair sheds and you have straight hair, it will mostly stay on clothes or will fall to the ground. Curly hair will stay within the coils or curls of the hair. So on wash days it will appear to be a heavy shedding cycle but is not. If you have curly hair and wash once a week, be prepared to shed 300 500 hairs in one washing.”
3. Do the pull test.
So the former tips are just good day-to-day practice—something to keep with long term. If you are concerned, uh, right now you can try the pull test: “A good way to test your shedding, whether it be normal or too much, is to take a small section of clean dry hair and lightly pull down on that section from the mid-lengths to ends of your hair,” says Taylor. “Normally you might notice that none or a strand or two might come out as you pull. If you notice more than a few strands coming out it might be something you want to look into further.”
4. The hair in your drain is “pillowy.”
When you shower, do you clock how much ends up down toward the drain? Well, that’s an easy way to see what the deal is: “If the remaining hair on the drain has a pillowy texture to it, that is an indicator more hair has been shed,” says Leonardo Manetti, stylist at Rob Peetoom in Brooklyn, New York.
But just mindful: If you are one to skip daily brushing, detangling, or shampooing, you will likely see an increased amount of hairs at the drain when you do shower. This is simply because said hairs would have shed naturally over the course of a few days but instead shed all at once when you detangle hair. “Yes, if you don’t brush daily, you will notice more hair in your brush or when your shower drains after you give yourself a nice shampoo and scrub your scalp,” says Manetti.
Taylor agrees, “If you don’t brush your hair every day, you will notice more hair is coming out at one time. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you are shedding too much. It just means that the hairs that have fallen out naturally are getting stuck in small bindings or knots that happen when you don’t brush your hair.”
5. Use a hair trap on your drain.
If you want to take your shower evaluation even further, consider getting a hair trap (like these bestsellers from Amazon, Gotega Hair Catcher Durable Silicone). These help collect your strays as you wash your hair—good for both you and your pipes. “Some people who are very concerned about losing their hair will put a hair trap over their shower drain to see how much hair they are losing when shampooing,” says Taylor. “This is a very quick visual way to check the amount of hair loss.” From there, you can even count the number of hairs to get your shed count.