Every time the seasons change I get a tinge of excitement. Whether it’s the crisp air and colorful leaves going into autumn, the promise of a white winter, the new life in spring or the warmth and fun of summer, there always seems to be something to look forward to. Though as much as I anticipate these things, I also dread the not-so-welcomed changes that come tagging along each time. Dry skin, seasonal allergies and my hair going absolutely crazy every few months. In short, yes hair loss is definitely affected by seasonal change, but to what extent?
Seasonal (Hair) Depression
Believe it or not, just like your mood can change due to lack of sunlight, so can your hair. It’s not uncommon to start noticing your hair following suit as the trees begin to shed their leaves in the fall. That’s because, typically, in the summer months you’re outside more often and your hair and skin get greater sun exposure. Sunlight plays a major role in hair growth, as it is responsible for your body’s absorption and production of melatonin through hair follicles.
Hair moves through four phases throughout the growth process: anagen, catagen, telogen and exogen. Each stage in the process is important for various reasons, and is responsible for growth, transition, rest and loss/regrowth, respectively. Without melatonin hair moves quickly from the anagen, or growing phase, to the catagen and telogen phases. Within a few months it will finally reach the exogen phases and fall out.
Your scalp relies heavily on your hair in the summer months to protect it from harsh UV rays, so in the spring when we start going outside more, our hair rapidly absorbs melatonin and begins growing thicker. Because we become more limited to sun exposure later in summer and are no longer in need of such thick hair, by October we start to see more hair entering the exogen phase.
Now that we understand why sun is your hairs best friend, let’s not forget she can also be a cruel mistress. Remember how I said your hair protects your scalp from those nasty UV rays? Well while it’s making a sacrifice at the same time. UV rays are just as damaging to your strands as the rest of your body, and can cause damage and breakage if left untreated.
I definitely don’t condone throwing just any sunscreen on your hair, or on your skin for that matter, but applying a zinc sunscreen on your hairline and part will be beneficial. You can also use a hair mist or hair sun cream fortified with SPF, add a protective and hydrating serum to your routine or use a shampoo and conditioner combo with coconut oil. Coconut oil has a natural SPF making it a safe choice. Just be sure to thoroughly wash out any sunscreen you do apply to your hair or scalp so that it doesn’t cake onto your hair or clog the follicles.
Food for Fight
While getting adequate sun daily can absolutely help, there’s more to it than just that. Studies have shown that including certain foods that help your body absorb and process melatonin in the summer months can help prevent as drastic of a change when the temperature begins to drop. Try including bananas, oranges and pineapples into your diet.
Thankfully there are also certain things you can amp up in the fall and winter to also help combat hair loss. Foods like salmon, avocado and nuts like almonds, which are loaded with fatty acids (the good kind of fat) can help to strengthen not only hair, but also do wonders for your skin in the drier months. Be sure to get an ample amount of protein, and of course, don’t forget about your vitamins. Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Biotin, Omega-3 and Zinc have all been known to help with hair growth and restoration. If your normal vitamin regimen doesn’t include some of these, try incorporating Significant Other into your routine to help fortify your strands.
While it may seem like a no-brainer, taking proper care of our hair is trickier than it should be. Honestly, it sometimes seems impossible to get that perfect style day after day, cue the go-to messy bun. However, protecting your hair can help to prevent unnecessary loss due to breakage and overly processed hair.
First off, make sure you’re using products that will protect your locks and promote growth. With the thousands of products out there, it can be overwhelming trying to find the perfect shampoo or styling cream, but a small bit of research can save you immense amounts of agony. Try to avoid anything with benzene, phosphates, sulfates and silicones especially. While all of these ingredients certainly do aid in cleaning removing oils and moisturizing hair, the long-term effects can far outweigh the temporary good. Instead look for vitamins, essential oils, castor oil or other natural ingredients such as bark or fruit extracts.
I know it can be beyond tempting, but one of the worst things you can do to your hair is over styling. Heat is hairs worst enemy, and when it goes through blow-drying, straightening, curling and other practices daily, it can really take a toll in the long run. This can result in dead strands and make it breakage-prone or brittle. Instead, try sleeping with hair braided, wearing it up occasionally or using a hydrating styling cream as opposed to heat.
Lastly, don’t forget about your scalp. Remember the scalp damage we talked about. Adding in a scalp conditioner like our Superpower serum can help to reverse any damage that does occur. Fortified with nourishing ingredients that strengthen both your follicles and helps hair to grow stronger and faster, users have seen noticeable a difference in strength and thickness of hair after incorporating this into their hair care routine. After eight weeks of continued use, an strong majority of users found that the Superpower serum actually helped to reduce hair loss on top of its other benefits.
While seasonal hair loss might seem drastic and let’s be honest, downright terrifying at times for hypochondriacs like myself, it’s generally nothing to lose sleep over. If you notice severe loss, it may be worth taking to your dermatologist. Just try to keep in mind, the Fall Shed is inevitable, but taking precautions and being proactive can help to lessen the severity and give you some peace of mind. Have any other tips or tricks that you’ve found helpful to combat this dreadful experience? Let us know below!
Morgan is a writer and content creator with a degree in Biology from Clemson University. She is an outdoor enthusiast who is passionate about health and wellness, currently living in the mountains of Colorado.