How Much Hair Loss Is Normal for Men and Women?

how much hair loss is normal

Let’s be honest, whether your hair is long or short, straight or curly (or even balding), or how young or old you are, everyone sheds. We all naturally lose some strands of hair daily. Sometimes, though, it seems perplexing how much hair we can lose. (It’s also not much fun if we need to unclog drains.) So, how much hair loss is normal? And, what increases hair loss?

How Much Hair Loss is Normal?

In the shower or when you comb or brush your hair, you’ll find telltale signs that you’re losing hair. These hairs typically aren’t coming out because of your grooming or because you are starting to go bald. Rather, they’re hairs that were already loose or beginning to disconnect from the scalp. They’re just collecting in one location (i.e., the brush or drain), so it can look like a lot. Most likely, though, it’s just the normal result of natural hair shedding.

Surprisingly, the answer to how much hair loss is normal is around 50 to 100 strands each day. While up to 100 strands may seem like a lot, since we each have over 100,000 hair follicles on our heads and we’re constantly regrowing hair, that loss will likely go unnoticed, at least when looking at the hair on the head.

What that loss looks like once it’s fallen depends greatly on your hair type, hair length, hair color, how often you shampoo your hair, the types of products you use, etc. For example, for those with shorter haircuts, those clumps will be less noticeable than for people who have long hair. People who shampoo their hair less often may see bigger clumps come out as that’s when the hair follicles finally have a chance to fully release and fall out.

Hair loss is just part of the normal lifecycle of hair. Every hair has a two to five-year lifespan, so eventually all hair falls out. Fortunately, hair grows and dies in phases, so we don’t lose it all at once. Ninety percent of the hair on your head is in the growing (aka “anagen”) phase at any given time. In this phase, in general, each strand grows about one centimeter per month.

Next comes the catagen phase, which is a two to three-week phase when the hair stops growing and begins to separate from the follicle. Just one to two percent of the hair on your head is in this phase.

The final hair growth phase is known as “telogen.” This is when the hair strand is no longer growing and rests as it prepares to detach from your head and fall out. Around eight to nine percent of your hair is in this phase.

How Much Hair Loss is Normal for Men vs. Women?

If you’re an average woman, you likely lose more hair than the men in your life. That’s often due to how women treat their hair—using heat to style it, being more likely to change color or use other chemical treatments, and using other tools to tease, curl, straighten, or otherwise play with it. According to research, around 40% of women lose extra hair due to their styling routines. And that includes just brushing your hair. 1

Excessively washing the hair as well as vigorously brushing (especially when hair is wet), bleaching, or using heat to style the hair can cause the hair follicles to be stretched or split. Once the hair follicle structure is compromised, it’s more likely to die and fall out.

Women are also likely to lose more hair due to the hormonal shifts they experience during their periods, pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause. Yay.

That said, nutrition, stress, and hygiene (along with styling and products used) all play a role in hair loss, so you may lose more or less than the people around you. If you are stressed, ill (especially with a fever), have been through a surgery, or have recently changed your diet (and are thus, for instance, consuming less B vitamins or not enough calories), the telogen phase can increase to 10%, resulting in a temporary increase of hair loss (known as telogen effluvium). When this occurs, you may have noticed more hair in, say, your drain or brush.

Fortunately, your hair will typically get back to normal within four to six months (or even less) as you return to full health and are ensuring you’re providing your body with the nutrients it needs. During that time, you may even see more fine “baby hairs” starting to fill back in.

Other Reasons for Hair Loss

In addition to normal hair loss, excess stress or illness (such as a high fever or Covid-19), or nutrient deficiencies, other conditions can cause excess hair to fall out, including:

  • Heredity
  • Alopecia
  • Male or female pattern hair loss, due to increasing age
  • Thyroid imbalances
  • Other hormonal imbalances, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Starting or stopping the use of birth control pills
  • Perimenopause
  • Menopause
  • Lupus
  • HIV infection
  • Eczema, psoriasis, and other inflammatory conditions on the scalp
  • Physical or emotional shock or trauma, such as a death, divorce, job loss, or severe injury
  • Chemotherapy or other medical therapies
  • Ringworm (which causes redness, swelling, itching, and hair damage, depending on the location)
  • Weight loss, especially with losses of over 20 pounds

Are You Losing Too Much Hair?

Because it’s normal for hair to fall out, you likely can’t tell if your hair loss is normal just by looking. One way to help see if you’re losing too much hair is to do a pull test. That is, starting with clean, dry hair, run your fingers through a small area, gently tugging once you’ve reached the ends of your hair. If you have more than a few strands of hair in your hand with each tug, you may be experiencing excess hair loss.

As mentioned above, most of the time, this increased hair loss is temporary, and within a few months, it will go back to what’s normal for you.

On the other hand, if you have bald spots, patchiness on the scalp, you’re losing entire clumps, or you’re seeing greater hair loss for you than usual (e.g., 300 to 500 hairs per day), it’s time to make an appointment with your doc. Preferably, make that appointment with a doctor who specializes in skin care (e.g., a dermatologist) to help determine the cause and possible solutions.

Other reasons to see your physician include gradually seeing the hair on the top of the head thinning or the loss of hair from other parts of your body, which could suggest an underlying health condition, side effects from medications, stress, or a nutrient deficiency. Again, your doctor can help determine the cause and potential options.

How Much Hair Loss Is Normal: A Wrap-Up

Everyone sheds some hair every day. It’s completely normal and shouldn’t raise any alarms. You may help decrease the rate of loss by being gentler with your styling routine or choosing haircare products that avoid harsh chemicals, such as bleach or sulfate. If you are noticing more hair loss than usual—especially if it’s coming out in clumps—a visit with your doctor can help address the situation.