During the winter months, many of our patients come to us concerned that they are losing hair more rapidly than usual. Fortunately this is very rarely the case. While it is common for hair from a healthy scalp to shed somewhere between 50 to 125 hairs a day as a part of hair’s natural growth process, the idea that this shedding somehow increases during the winter is completely false. In fact, one six-year study from the University Hospital of Zurich shows that people actually lose the least amount of hair when the weather is cold. Research suggests this might be a leftover evolutionary adaptation, with the body shifting to increased hair growth as a natural response to dropping temperatures. Melatonin production, which increases in darker winter months, actually helps regulate hair cycles, spurring longer, and warmer winter coats in all mammals, including humans. However, even though hair growth may be stimulated during the winter, other environmental factors often contribute to excessive drying and breakage, which can make it seem as though you are suffering from rapid hair loss. Some of those environmental factors include:
Long Hot Showers: A long, hot shower might feel great on a cold day, but long exposure to hot water can strip moisture and essential oils from hair and skin, leaving the scalp and hair dry and brittle. Stick to warm or lukewarm water for 10 minutes or less to keep your hair healthy. Commercially available deep-conditioning treatments, often fortified with vitamin E, are designed to replace your hair’s natural oils, while products with higher alcohol contents can often contribute to excessive drying.
Sun Exposure: Even though the damage caused by ultraviolet light can be just as significant on a snowy ski slope as it is on the beach, people seldom take the same precautions to protect their hair in the winter that they normally would take in the summer. The effects of the sun combined with a blustery wind that can snarl hair or snow and rain that can make hair brittle and dry can cause significant damage to your hair. Simply keeping your hair covered from the wind, rain and snow with a hat or scarf can make a world of difference.
Heating: Dry, heated air from a furnace or central heating unit can cause as much damage to your hair as spending an entire afternoon under a hair dryer. Excessive drying caused by damaging hair care products can also make hair brittle and easily broken. Any friction, like pulling on and off a too-tight hat, can snap or uproot brittle hair altogether. Using a simple humidifier and dimethicone containing serums on the hair shafts while you have the heat on can spare your hair a great deal of damage.
If you have questions about caring for your hair or any of the treatments we offer, please contact The Griffin Center to schedule a consultation. Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.