Hair Loss and the Curly Girl Method
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If your bathroom, shower, and sink constantly have hair in them, you may think you’re ‘shedding’ or losing hair.
The good news is it happens to everyone. The even better news is that it’s normal. Will you lose more hair using the Curly Girl Method?
Probably not, but it may seem that way. Curly girls lose hair differently. Well, it seems different, but it’s really the same. But because our hair is so different than our straight hair gal pals, it looks different, and different is sometimes scary.
So what should you expect for hair loss as a curly girl? We dive into the details including the reasons, what to expect, and when there may be a problem for you below.
Reviewed by Laurie Cain, Curl Specialist and Hair Stylist.
Hair Shedding – What’s Normal?
First, you have hundreds of thousands of hairs on your head. Each strand lasts 2 to 5 years. Everyday hair grows and dies, some faster or slower than others depending on how you take care of yourself.
This means you lose hair EVERY DAY or close to it. This is normal. Everyone does it. If your ‘old’ hair didn’t fall out, you’d never have room for new hair or we’d all walk around with the thickest most impossible hair known to man.
All hair goes through three phases:
- Anagen – This is the hair growth stage and most of the hair on your head is in this stage
- Catagen – This is when your hair stops growing, but it affects less than 2 percent of your hair and only lasts a few weeks
- Telogen – This is when your hair becomes loose and ‘falls out’. Less than 10 percent of your hair is in this phase at any given time so you shouldn’t notice a difference or worry.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, most people lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day. That means 50 to 100 hairs are in the telogen phase at any given time. Since you have hundreds of thousands of strands of hair on your head, 100 hairs is nothing. Like we said before if you didn’t lose hairs, what would your hair look like, especially us curly girls?
This doesn’t mean you won’t ever excessively shed hair. It happens to many. It’s usually temporary depending on what’s going on in your body and your life. These situations may cause increased hair loss (temporarily):
- You are pregnant or recently gave birth
- You’re under a tremendous amount of stress
- You just had a serious illness (especially with a high fever) or other medical condition
- Your hormones changed (especially if you just came off the pill or hormone supplements)
- You had anesthesia
- You experienced excessive weight loss
Hair loss for any of these reasons usually rectifies itself because they are temporary. Once your body recovers or resets, so does your hair life cycle.
If your hair shedding doesn’t seem to stop soon enough or you can’t help but worry, check with your doctor or dermatologist to rule out any serious issues.
Does the Curly Girl Method cause hair loss?
If you’re using the Curly Girl Method, you may see more hair in the drain at once, and think you’re doing something wrong. You may even think you’re losing MORE hair because of the CGM.
You probably aren’t losing more hair, though. Here’s why:
When you use the CGM, you don’t brush, fluff, or separate your curls. The method encourages greater curls, which means your curls ‘clump’ better. When your hair clumps, it’s less likely to fall out.
But, without brushing, washing, and otherwise ‘messing with your hair’ often, it may not fall out as often as girls with straight hair.
This doesn’t mean you aren’t ‘shedding’ hair at the normal rate. You probably are, but the hair doesn’t fall to the floor, or shower, or sink. The hair still sheds, but it gets caught up in your curls. It stays on your head even though it’s not attached to your scalp. When you comb your fingers through your hair, or it’s hair washing day, you may see many more hairs on the shower floor, making you think you lost more hair.
You haven’t, it’s just an accumulation of the regular shedding hair throughout the week or 10 days that you didn’t wash your hair.
Signs your Hair is Thinning
So how do you tell if your hair is thinning and there is a problem?
No one will sit there and count the hairs to see if they’re losing more than 100 a day on average. You’ll just know, though. Things will seem different and you can watch for these signs:
- You see more skin than hair when you pull your hair back.
- Your part suddenly seems wider.
- Your hair doesn’t hold the same style it used to.
- Everywhere you look, there’s hair – your pillow, the shower, the sink, your brush, etc.
- You can loop the hair tie around your ponytail more than before.
These things don’t happen with ‘normal shedding’ so it may be a sign that something else is up and it’s not the CGM.
Laurie recommends saving you wash day hair you shed in a Ziploc and labeling it with the date to compare loss over time. “You have to create a uniform method for dealing with it, and I have found that rolling it into a ball works best and it is easy to compare the balls, instead of a splat of wadded hair.” You can then take these to the doctor as your proof.
You can see the difference in the amount of hair I was losing above. I want to remind you that the amount everyone loses is different. The amount showing in May 2020 was not normal for me and was a lot more than I had ever seen. But that amount may be normal for you. Don’t use this picture as a guide to how much you should be losing but to see how I compared the difference. If you have thinning curly hair, you will see a difference, and that’s when you know there is a problem.
Causes of Hair Loss
Hair loss is different than hair shedding. We all shed hair, like we said, it’s a normal part of the hair life cycle. But hair loss is something completely different.
Hair loss occurs when your hair doesn’t grow – your hair follicles never enter the growth stage, but stay in the stagnant or shedding stage, which eventually causes hair loss.
The most common causes of hair loss include:
- A family history of hair loss. Female pattern baldness is common and occurs as you age.
- Major hormonal issues, including thyroid issues, menopause, and sometimes even childbirth.
- Medical conditions that affect the immune system and scalp, including ringworm, and alopecia.
- Excessive scarring from harsh hair treatments that cause permanent damage to the hair follicles.
- Poor diet and nutrition. Your hair follicles need proper nutrition like the rest of your body. If you don’t give your body what it needs, it may interrupt the hair life cycle temporarily or permanently.
- Excessive weight loss.
- Traction Alopecia, which Laurie says she sees very often.
Hair loss is something you should bring up with your healthcare professional to get to the root of the problem. If it’s hereditary there may not be much you can do, but most other issues have remedies.
In the images below, you can see I was having hair loss. My scalp was showing more and more as I was losing excessive amounts of hair from a thyroid medication I took for 2 months.
Curly Girl Hair Loss Remedies
At no point should the Curly Girl Method cause extreme hair loss. It’s not a side effect of it and is usually a sign of something more serious.
If you notice more hair clumps or you can’t seem to do anything without ‘shedding,’ consult your doctor. Rule out any medical issues. You may see your regular doctor or a dermatologist. Talk about any symptoms you’re experiencing including:
- Scalp irritation
- The amount of hair that falls out at once
- Hair thinning
If your doctor or dermatologist rules out any serious medical concerns, there are other things you can try yourself.
First, consider your products. Your hair may be ‘over them.’ The product itself may have changed (this happens more than you think). Whether the manufacturer changes the ingredients or your hair changes (gets healthier), your hair’s needs may change. It’s okay to change hair products – listen to your hair and its needs.
Do a clarifying and chelating wash. Sometimes buildup can cause hair loss and this is a simple solution.
Next, look at your nutrition. Could your body be lacking certain nutrients, namely iron and magnesium? It may be a good idea to get with a nutritionist to see what nutrients your body may need for optimal performance for your body and hair.
Also, watch your hairstyles. Any style your hair holds for too long that’s tight or restricting to your hair’s follicles may cause hair loss, otherwise known as traction alopecia.
Add in some scalp massage. A few studies have shown that daily scalp massages do boost hair growth. You need to do at least 4 minutes a day for this to work.
Products That Boost Hair Growth And Density
There are some products that claim to promote hair growth and increase density. When I was dealing with excessive hair loss from my thyroid medication, I tried a number of remedies and products.
Ultimately, nothing worked while I was taking the thyroid medication, but once I was off the medication, I noticed a big difference. My hair was growing a lot faster than before, and a little less scalp was showing. I do know that these things can take time though so I will keep at it for a while longer to see if it continues to improve.
Here are the products I tried:
- Organic Olivia Mane Magic – This is an herbal elixir that you drink twice a day. It’s pretty expensive and tastes bad BUT this actually worked for me. The bottle lasts about 3 months if you take it twice a day. I added it to pure cherry juice which is thick and tart and it helped mask the taste.
- The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Density Serum – I didn’t use this enough to determine if it worked for me or not, but my mom has seen results using it and it has tons of amazing reviews. You’re supposed to use it every day but I just couldn’t keep up with it. This bottle will last a while since you use so little and it’s only once a day. It’s very affordable too. I found it had a beer like scent which was off putting for me but others don’t complain about it. It is water based so it absorbs right in without any residue or oily feeling.
- Hum Hair Sweet Hair supplement – Lots of women swear by hair supplements but it gave me lots of painful acne so I had to stop it. I learned that this is because of the B vitamins which can cause acne in some people (lucky me!). It did taste very good and I am good about taking oral vitamins daily so this would have been great for me if I didn’t break out from it.
- Collagen supplement – I have been adding this to my daily matcha for the last few months and I have seen even less shedding. This brand is my favorite because it’s affordable, grass-fed, and tasteless. It dissolves in hot or cold liquids so it’s easy to take with any drink.
Curlsmith also has 2 growth serums that I plan to try because I don’t really like the way The Ordinary serum smells.
You can see in the images above, I had some improvement in density since less of my scalp is showing. I am hoping this continues to improve.
Don’t Worry about Some Hair Loss
The bottom line is to stop worrying every time you look down in the shower and see a lot of hair. Curly girls may even see ‘clumps’ if they are using the Curly Girl Method. This is normal. When your hair thins, your part widens, or your hair loss seems excessive, then you may have more of an issue than typical shedding causes.
If you’re ever in doubt – talk to your doctor. If they can’t find anything wrong, switch up your hair products, think about how you treat your hair, and take a break from the tight hairstyles, even standard ponytails and let your hair get back to its normal growth phase, and put an end to excessive shedding.
Please do me a favor and share this post to social media, as it helps me grow my audience and spread the word about the curly girl movement! And remember to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and Instagram for more curly hair tips and product recommendations. Thanks!
Check out these other curly hair posts:
- My Favorite Curly Girl Products of 2020
- 11 Frizz Tips & Tricks
- Protein Treatments For Curly Hair – A Guide To Protein Moisture Balance
- Tips For Fine Low Density Curly Hair
- How To Fix Limp Curls
- How To Choose Products When Starting The Curly Girl Method
- How To Repair Damaged Curly Hair
If you want help with embracing your naturally wavy or curly hair, you can join my FREE email course and download my FREE pdf guide, THE QUICK START GUIDE TO MASTERING YOUR CURLS, full of everything you need to know to get started and bring out your beautiful waves and curls.
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Thank you for this informative post about hair loss. I started CGM this past June and have noticed that on wash days I seem to be losing more hair than usual. But everything you mentioned about clumping and hair staying out til you brush out your hair on wash day makes so much sense!! I appreciate this post!
I’m so happy you found it helpful. Thanks for reading 🙂
I have wavy hair and always dry it straight. When I read blogs like yours I want to go curly. Maybe someday I’ll try it more consistently because it seems like that is the best way to get a nice curl.
I’ve found alternating collagen and an herbal supplement helps my hair stay strong but I need to find a hair styling product that I like. They either are too sticky or weigh down my hair. I guess this is the quandary many women have.
I found your site via Mike Futia’s group.
Hi Stacy. Yes, so many struggled with finding products like you. It takes a lot of research or trial and error.