via Audrey Sivasothy, the author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Texture Hair Care
Hair Shedding versus Breakage
Understanding the difference between hair breakage and shedding is an important part of any healthy hair regimen. Many people use these terms interchangeably to refer to any hair that falls from the head; however, this misinformed language can be a recipe for hair disaster. You must be able to properly differentiate between these two very specific forms of hair “loss” in order to effectively address even the smallest of your hair needs. This article will teach you the difference between hair shedding and hair breakage, and offer strategies to help you combat both hair problems.
What is Shedding
In its truest sense, shed hair is hair that has reached the end of its growing cycle and naturally falls from the scalp along with its tiny, white “root” attached. This is not the actual hair root that is secured deeply within your scalp, but it is the bulb root or base of the hair strand found on the scalp-originating end. It appears white because the hair stops producing melanin (color) at the point in its growth cycle right before it gets ready to fall. If your actual hair root came out along with the hair, you would no longer be able to produce hair from that same place on the scalp ever again! If a hair does not possess this white root bulb, then it is not a naturally shed hair, rather, a broken one. Shed hair tends to be longer in length than broken hairs which are generally short pieces of varying lengths. According to Halal, after a hair is naturally shed, it may take about 130 days for a new hair to fully emerge in its place.
In general, shedding should not be a major concern for you and should be seen as a sign of a healthy, normal, functioning scalp. There is no need to fear shedding unless it is tied to a medical issue. If you notice rapid hair loss from shedding or hair loss accompanied by a host of other problems, please consult a medical professional. Most shedding, however, is simply nature taking its course.
What can I do about shedding?
You must understand that because shedding is a natural, internal process, it may not respond to topical, external treatments. Some have praised garlic shampoos or “garlic scalp rubs” for reducing shedding, but there has been no clear concensus on the effectiveness of garlic as a remedy for shedding. Shedding is also not easily solved by protein or moisture treatments because it has nothing to do with the hair shaft itself, but is a response to hormonal influences on the hair follicle and is dependent on growth cycles. When a hair completes its life cycle, which generally last s 4-6 years, its final act is the shedding we experience. This cannot be prevented.
Also, our hair naturally cycles in and out of seasonal shedding phases which may last days or weeks at a time in some individuals. Research suggests that peak shedding rates occur during the fall season. A healthy head of hair may shed as many as 50- 100 hairs per day, though I personally believe this amount to be a grand stretch. You should be concerned if your shedding suddenly increases to a rate that was uncommon to you before, or if the shedding seems to be prolonged over the course of several weeks or months. Continue reading at Black Hair Science