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April 8, 2011

How Big Are Your (Hair) Balls?- Natural Hair Shedding

One of CurlyNikki's post-partum hair balls


Danielle writes;

Dear Fellow Natural Divas:

Curl to curl, how much hair in the shower is too much? I BC’d in January and have a nice mini fro of about 3in (when curly). I Co-wash and stretch my curls 2-3 times a week tops, and wash and deep condition (Olive Oil brand deep conditioner, ½ tsp honey, ½ tsp olive oil, wrap my hair in a very warm, soaked towel and sit for 30 min) every Saturday. I am loving my hair more than I can ever remember but there’s one problem: I have very fine hair and it scares me to see so much hair going down the drain after detangling. I use Tresemme Naturals for detangling, and typically comb through with ease, but there is always a nice clump of hair to toss. I’m probably being over cautious, especially since my hair doesn’t seem to be thinning. I know we typically lose 60-100 strands a day, but how do I know If I should worry?

How much hair do you lose? When do you notice the most hair?

25 Chime in!:

Verde Butterfly said...

I just googled this very topic yesterday! I have very thick, probably 3c/4a hair and I also use Tresemme naturals. My shower comb glides through much easier than it used to before I really started taking care of my hair, but I still lose a lot of hair. I am wondering if it's normal, but its always been like this for me, in fact I've seen significant improvement. I think as long as you aren't thinning, you are okay, but that's just my opinion. I'd like to see what others have to say.

theverdebutterfly.blogspot.com

BKelz said...

I BC'd in February and I think your hair is a little longer than mine. I probably shed around mmmm 30-50 hairs on days that I manipulate my hair. This is when I wash/co-wash and when I'm applying products to my hair. I stay away from combs for now (I notice more hair loss when I comb through it).

Ejiro O. said...

I lose about an eighth of what Nikki has shown, but then I don't have a lot of hair, I've been one year natural as of last week. I take comfort in the fact that we shed hair everyday and with natural hair being so dense, we don't see it till we actually detangle.

Anonymous said...

I notice more hair shedding after I take down twists (I leave them in for abt 2 weeks) or when I detangle after not washing or combing my hair for a week (bad habit I know). But this is because I'm removing 1-2 weeks worth of shed hair all at once.

It freaked me out at first but as of now I've been natural for about 3 years and have shed like this pretty routinely. Yet my hair has never lost density. In fact, sometimes it feels so dense that I would like to shed a little big more hair lol

Anonymous said...

*bit

FunkyHairChic said...

I've been natural for almost 2 years and I shed a good amount of hair, too. I used to worry about the amount of hair I would lose, but like Anon 12:28 said, I haven't lost any density. My hair is growing above average, so retaining length hasn't been an issue. I expect more shedding when I don't manipulate my hair for a few days. If I manipulate daily, I lose a lesser amount.

You should worry when you don't see the white bulb on the strands and you see more broken hairs (shorter). That's reason to be alarmed. Shedding is normal and some people are naturally heavy shedders, while others, not so much.

Anonymous said...

I think another thing people are overlooking is that a lot of you aren't combing your hair every day. I comb my hair daily, and see a tiny bit of hair each time. But if you are wearing twists for two weeks or don't comb your hair except when you wash weekly or biweekly, you do realize that you have 100 x 7 to 14 days. So that shouldn't shock anyone, and it's not a problem.
If you were really balding and true thinning, and I know people who have experienced that from medical conditions (like PCOS), trust me, you will know it. You'll have visibly thinner hair AND you'll have bald spots.
Please differentiate between shedding and breaking.
Shedding is what any cells that go over rapid turnover will do...so you are losing a lot of skin each day too.
You aren't really protecting your hair from shedding by low manipulation. The hair will shed whether you comb it loose or not, and in fact, some of you will have that shed hair get tangled up with the hair that is still in your head.
But if you have hair that is easily broken, then for some people, less combing is better.
Don't go into alarm mode over something that your body is SUPPOSED to do. As that old hair, which is quite old, is ejected, a new one is growing in its place.
Also, older women will see loss in hair thickness as they age (some, not all). It goes hand in hand with the lower hormone levels that you have post menopause.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that Nikki didn't comb her hair every day, and only washes every couple of weeks or more.
Perhaps you should explain that your hair ball shown is not something that occurs on a daily basis, and in fact also occurred after you gave birth, which of course is another time when your hormones are fluctuating as they go back to pre-pregnancy levels. I'm pretty sure that once things go back to normal, you'll have a smaller hair ball, and if you combed your shed out more often, you wouldn't have such a huge ball (just pointing out to put it in perspective).
If you are comparing yourself to something, always put it in perspective...

Anonymous said...

Dear Danielle,

I wash once or twice weekly and notice the most hair when I wash weekly. I do not track hormonal or seasonal "cycles" to identify trends of more or less shedding. Anonymous @ 12:45 above provided a great explanation.

I never lose as much as Nikki above because my hair is not that long or that thick!

1. I have fine, thin, 4b/c coils approximately 5 inches long. I wear a chunky 'fro twistout. Heck yes I get tangles.

2. I used the Tangle Teezer for shower detangling and still see split ends (sigh). Ima have to let it go, looks like another love TKO.

3. I wash with a sulfate free shampoo and apply Joico K-pak Reconstruct conditioner (the protein level is ok for my use). WOW does this improve tensile strength! If your hair is snapping off, please consider trying this. You may purchase it at Ulta or Trade Secret. It has ZERO slip for conditioning detangling though.

4. So, I jumped on the Tresemme Naturals bandwagon and I'm using that for conditioner detangling.

HTH

~Thetruthisoutthere

Anonymous said...

My hair is always all over the place, and that didn't/doesn't happen when I straighten. Argh.

LaNeshe said...

I just wish there was an image of "normal amount of shed hair" to compare to out there some where lol.

MelMelBee said...

I definately shed less hair 1 year after first going natural because I think my hair is stronger with regular henna treatments. I notice less shedding using stretched styles. I have also changed my detangling process. On clean hair, I apply conditioner, and finger detangle in sections. Then I continue to finger detangle under the stream of running water in sections. Then I apply more conditioner and go through once with the tangle teezer. Keeping it in sections helps as well as using conditioners with extra slip (I'm now in LOVE with Behentrimonium Methosulfate).

Ambitious_Tiff said...

Hey Danielle. Once of the best tips I have gotten about keeping track of regular shedding is to keep a week's worth of shed hair in plastic baggies to compare over time. If this seems a bit extreme, keeping pics of your shed hair should also help. Keeping a journal to record what tools, products, and processes you are implementing at any given time can show you what is going on when the shedding seems to be more/less than usual. There are a ton of things that can contribute to the amount or percieved amount of shedding. Diet, hormones, anything. You could also try ditching the comb. I know when I did I saw a lot less hair being lost. HTH!

Anonymous said...

My hair is APL, and I used to shed a cotton ball size amount of hair after de-tangling once per week, but in the last month of my treatment on Accutane, it was four times as much shedding (similar to the picture). I'm not sure if using the Tangle Teazer also played a role because I previously finger detangled, which could leave a lot of shed hairs behind.

Green Afro Diva said...

Hi, I'm coming out of lurk mode and wanted to share this post since we are talking about hair shedding. Shedding could depend on a number of factors, but if your hair is thinning then it's a whole different story. I had this problem and thought that my hair was just shedding and it will go away on it's own, but come to find out, I have what is called scarring alopecia and I have bald patches as a result. Anyway here is the post http://www.greenafrodiva.com/2011/04/07/rip-my-hair/

Butterfly3000 said...

When I was doing the whole detangling thing, I would shed about that much. By "detangling thing" I mean standing in the shower and applying condish to wet sections and then using the wide tooth comb to eventually glide through. Now I do it a little differently (more fingers than combs) and lose less but trust me, I still shed and break! It used to bother me but I continue to have a head full of thick, growing hair so I just get over it.

CurlySwan said...

Hi Danielle. This is a great topic and one that concerned me at some point in my journey. Next month, I will be 2 years natural. YAY!:-D Last summer, I noticed that I seemed to be shedding more than usual. It was enough for me to be alarmed. I had read that it is normal to shed up to 100 hairs a day and although the amount I was shedding was less than 100 (about 65 max), it was still much more than I previously recalled and more than I was comfortable with shedding.

So, I had to evaluate the products I was using at the time. This is where I found the culprit. 2 months prior, I had switched to using Aubrey Organics White Camelia condish and a shea butter with about 6 or 7 natural oils that I just LOVED! Cocoa (my hair's name)seemed to like both the condish (it was very moisturizing which I need a lot) and the shea butter/oil mix a lot b/c she looked so shiny and healthy.

Sadly, I began to suspect that one or both prods were the cause of the shedding so I went back to the routine I had before integrating the new prods into my routine. When I made this change, the massive shedding was cut down by HALF!!! I was back to shedding what I considered normal for my hair (25-35 hairs max) per day.

So what was it in both prods that caused me to shed so much hair? The OILS! The Aubrey Organics White Camellia condish had about 6 oils and the shea butter/oil mix had about 6 or 7 oils. I have learned that my hair DOES NOT do well with oils. Oils basically just sit on top of my low porous hair. It's not enough to penetrate my cuticle to give it the moisture/hydration that it needs. The only oil that Cocoa seems to be ok with is the 1 1/2 tablespoons of EVOO that I mix with 3 tablespoons of honey to add to my condish when I want to deep condish my hair every 2 weeks. Anything more, Cocoa will freak out.

Sooooo, I say all of that to say, your hair may be having a problem with the Olive oil condish that you use on top of the 1/2 tsp of olive oil. Just something to think about.

Also, I noticed that you co-wash. Co-washing isn't for everyone. I use to do it but it's something else that caused me to shed more at one time. I have learned that with my hair, I have to use a clarifying shampoo. For many people co-washing works wonders, but know that it is not for everyone's hair. Just something else to consider as you search to find what may be causing you to shed so much.

-Curly Swan

bludini1 said...

I shed an exorbent amount of hair weekly, esp after I wash but, I do have scarring alopecia. I have been keeping my hairs in baggies to compare the differences when I wash and co-wash. I still shed on co-wash days but not as much hair loss.

Anonymous said...

I co-wash my TWA almost daily! Each time I lose about a nickel-size amount. I don't count the strands. I doubt if adds up to 100 strands a day. I used to shed a ton when I was relaxed, but now that I'm natural, I don't shed too much unless my hair is dry. I try to keep my hair as moist as possible to avoid unnecessary breakage. Also, I deep-condition every week using a protein treatment, which I believe strengthens my hair. Unless your hair is thinning out, I wouldn't panic too much over the shedding, but I would suggest you try to find a way to add strength and moisture to your hair.

Renise B said...

I shed less than half the amount that I used to once I started damp detangling. Got the method from moptop maven. Just spritz my hair with water/conditioner mix and detangle with a wide tooth comb. It's faster and again, I lose a lot less hair.

Makeup4play said...

I have noticed my hair is shedding a lot lately, and it is freaking me out. My hair has always shed, but not this much. I can't even put my fingers in my hair without getting shed hairs. I recently had surgery, and my mother told me that the anesthesia could be the culprit. If it keeps shedding like this I will be going to the doctor.

LBell said...

Not only is shedding a normal human function, the amount can fluctuate based on a whole host of internal factors, only some of which are abnormal. (Post-partum shedding is totally normal.) My general belief about this is that if you're not losing obvious density in a short period of time (a few weeks or months), don't worry about the amount of hair shed.

Hair ball pics are very misleading because people look at the size without taking into account the length and texture of the hair as well as the fineness or coarseness of the strands themselves AND the amount of time that passed since the last detangling/clearing out. My hair is a totally different texture and length than Nikki's and if I had a hair ball that big I'd be at my doctor's on Monday. Actually the only time I ever had a hair ball anywhere near that size was when I was taking out my 3.5-year-old LOCS! I had several hair balls that size, lol.

M3RLz said...

After reading all of these comments, I'm guessing that I should run to the doctor asap! LOL

I have a lot of shedding but I just thought that it was normal since I don't manipulate my hair much. I just take down my twist every week and wash my hair every 2 weeks. That ball of hair is just a tiny bit more than my hair balls but my hair is an inch below my shoulders.

Should I really be worried guys?

jadar47 said...

Hair shedding often varies from one head to another, however unless, as already stated, there is a large thinning of hair or bald spots, you usually have nothing to worry about. The seasons, the hormones, the age it all varies. Just keep the hair entertained with a variety of(Haircare products) and you will probably be fine.:)

Qalil.com said...

I am a 4Z (if there is such a thing) I don't quite know how to describe it.

I shed that and more when I take out my protective style (Which I have been renewing every two weeks for a whole year after my 3rd big chop) but I don't lose any thickness at all. So it doesn't worry me.

I notice, however, that when I leave my hair out there is more that sheds.

skinnypennie said...

I have very little shedding and I comb and wash every or every other day. I finger comb first then use my wide tooth comb with tons of conditioner.

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