Shedding Hair- Causes

It is normal for people to be defined or described by their hair. After all, it is the first thing that people see. It is not unusual for people to be described by the color of their hair, the length of their hair, and whether their hair is relaxed or natural. So, it is understandable that women are very mindful of how their hair looks. Nobody wants to be described as the girl whose ‘hair is shedding like a dog’ or ‘the woman with the fly-away, thin-looking hair’. Shedding hair in women can be devastating as you watch your mane fall without a discernible reason. This article will attempt to answer the question, ‘why is my hair shedding?’

There are several reasons why hair sheds or breaks; the following is a list of them.

1. Hair Relaxers

Relaxers break down the hair cuticle and lay it flat. Ultimately, relaxers are the chief hair breaking culprit for black women especially:

(A)   if the root of the hair is not healthy,

(B)   the application was not done in the correct way,

(C)    if relaxer is applied to otherwise relaxed hair including hair ends,

(D)   switching of relaxers,

(E)    relaxing too often,

(F)    length of time it is kept in the hair,

(G)   not neutralizing after relaxing.

2. Hair Dye

 The constant use of hair dye is very bad for hair health. Synthetic dyes are made up of potent chemicals that will dry out the hair shaft and cause split ends and ultimately shedding hair.

3. Handling Hair (Combing, Brushing, Washing)

Combing and brushing puts pressure on your hair strands. Brushing black hair is a very stressful thing to do to your hair, especially if the hair is relaxed. Washing the hair with harsh shampoos and with a forceful agitation can cause hair to break and pulling at it from the roots with combs with grooves at the teeth can cause hair to shed overtime.

4. Excessive Heat

Excessive heat makes hair brittle and dry. There are some staple heat appliances that are used to style hair that actually fry the hair and will cause hair to shed especially at the vulnerable points where these appliances are used on the hair shaft.

5. Stress and Medications

Stress is notorious for causing hair shedding and so are certain medications. These two combined can create havoc for the hair strands and can lead to hair breakage.

6. Nutritional Deficiency

If all your efforts fail to stem hair breakage externally, may be the problem is internal. Nutritional deficiency is a very common culprit for hair breakage especially if you are on a diet. There are several key vitamins and minerals that aid in hair growth, a deficiency in these can cause hair to shed like crazy. These are:

  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin E
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Silica

7. Towel Drying

It goes without saying but just in case you towel dry your delicate hair strands, stop. The vigorous rubbing of a towel can break your hair at the weak areas.

8. Pulling

Tight braids and ponytails and twists supported by rubber bands can pull on the hair and cause breakage. If you can see the scalp in gathered rolls or you can’t move your head after a hairstyle then the style is too tight and it will break your hair.

9. Appliances

Curling irons, hair dryers, blow dryers and crimping irons are all possible ways to break hair if these appliances are used on a regular basis and used improperly.

10. Sunlight

Frequent or prolonged exposure to sunlight weakens the chemical structure of your hair.

11. Hair Oil/Mineral Oil/Petroleum

There are certain hair products containing mineral oil and petroleum that can dry out hair and cause hair breakage.

12. Chlorine from Swimming Pools and Municipal Water

Excessive exposure to chlorinated water can break hair. If your water supply is too hard for you to drink then it is hard for your hair.

Check out Breaking Hair- Remedies for the solutions to hair breakage and shedding hair.


Hoffmann Candace, Breaking the Silence on Women’s Hair Loss, Woodland Publishing, 2007


  • jasmin said:

    Thanks for the wonderful information. I think it’s also important to point out that as mammals, our hair grows in phases. Humans naturally shed some hair daily. I shed 10-40 hairs everyday– more during early spring and late fall. By most accounts up to 150 shed hairs a day still falls within the normal range. While shedding more than that may be cause for concern, I think that women should not automatically panic when they find shed hairs in their comb or on the bathroom floor. Of course, if your hair is coming out in clumps or handfuls, you should visit your doctor. Breakage is an entirely different issue. In the case of relaxed hair, I agree that the way we treat our hair can literally “make or break” it.

  • Ruth Nelson said:

    I love everything about your website.


  • Sylvia said:

    Thanks very much for this article.
    I have 4 inch 4c soft but very dry hair, but I go swimming once a week. Any advice on how I could maintain my fitness regime while still keeping my hair protected? I currently co wash my hair every time I leave the pool. I then apply my ‘kinky curly’ leave-in mix with olive oil and water, then seal it with my ‘moosh’ of shea butter, coconut oil, castor oil and vitamin e. My hair still has no ‘life’ although it’s not as dry as it used to be, but I don’t know if that’s just down to the leave-in, which I use everyday with my ‘moosh’. PLEASE HELP!!

  • Mary said:

    My hair has just recently started to shed, not like it’s normal shedding but a lil extra. I have a question about something that I’m doing a lil different and want to know if this plays a factor…I started not eating meat since 1 Mar 14. I have only began to eat fish or seafood and I donot eat it every day. Is there such thing as me not getting enough protein in my diet and it’s causing the shedding? I have/had really healthy hair but I do feel the difference with the recent shedding. I do take a hair vitamin and was off my regular regiment for about 3 weeks. I did do a heat style so I can trim my ends and I re-flat iron that style…I did get heat damage because my hair went right back to it curly pattern. I really want to know if it is my protein intake may be the issue? Thanks

  • Josie Ellis said:

    I have been natural of over 13 years. I do not dye, use applicances – even combs, or towels on my hair. I twist my hair for protective style, co wash my hair, do not use products with sulphates and finally use water as a moisturiser and oil as a sealant. Yet still. If my hair continues to break ( oh I forgot, always wrap my hair at night) at this rate, I will have patches of hair over 15 inches long and patches of an inch. To top everything off, the patches of longer hair, probably will only have a couple of strands. I could cut my hair, but four years ago, in a moment of annoyance, cut my hair until it was approximately 2 inches long. Please I need help.

  • angela said:

    My hair sheds, it seems excessively, but there is no breakage. It seems to shed from the root and there is no sign of thinning, just a lot of shedding. I noticed mainly if I am due to relax or shampoo it tends to shed more. Wondering if there is something I can take to stop this. I just picked up a wad of hair from under my chair at work that has accumulated over a period of time. Please help.

  • Simone Shirley said:

    A wonderful site. I get a lot of useful information here. Thanks so much for your help.

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