The crucial differences between hair thinning, hair shedding and hair loss

Woman in towel leans against a wall  whilst brushing her long brown hair with a wide-toothed comb.

They sound similar, but there are key differences between hair thinning, hair shedding and hair loss. It’s worth understanding all three and confirming which you’re dealing with before trying to improve the condition of your hair…

What is hair shedding?

First things first: gradual hair loss as we age is completely normal. While some of us enter our 60s with a full head of hair, the majority of women have noticeably sparser strands later in life than in their teens and 20s. This is especially the case for women who regularly heat style and use chemical colorants, as hair breakage also decreases hair density over time.

A small amount of daily hair shed (around 50-100 hairs) is normal and often causes women to feel that their hair is getting thinner, but when this amount increases – either due to environmental or biological factors – shedding moves into hair loss territory.

How do I know when my hair is thinning?

The term ‘hair thinning’ is often used to describe hair loss, but if you talk to an expert, they’ll explain that it’s not technically the same thing.

Female pattern hair loss (AKA androgenetic alopecia) refers to individual hairs growing back thinner and shorter over several years. It’s caused by genetics and hormones, which shorten hair’s growth phase (anagen) and lengthen the time between its shedding and starting a new anagen phase.

The hair follicle itself also changes, shrinking due to a follicle sensitivity to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and producing a shorter, thinner hair shaft. This is called ‘follicular miniaturization’.

What causes hair loss in women?

Hair loss, unlike hair thinning, tends to be more sudden and is caused by either an environmental or biological factor shifting an excessive amount of hairs from growing to shedding. This is what’s known as telogen effluvium.

Stress, illness, hormones, and childbirth can all cause an out-of-whack growth cycle, but the good news is, the condition is usually temporary, and your hair will naturally grow back around six months to a year later.

How to stop hair loss in women

Asking your doctor to check for any vitamin deficiencies, underlying illnesses or hormone imbalances is the best place to start if you’re experiencing hair loss. It’s also important to protect the hair you have from breakage caused by brushing, heat styling, tight hairstyles, or chemical colorants.

Using a protein-powered hair care system, such as our Unbreakable Care range will help to support stronger, fuller, thicking-looking hair. Infused with a unique ProteinFusion™ blend with Advanced Keratin Protein, Biotin, and Collagen Amino Acids, it reduces breakage in fine and thin hair by up to 97%*.

*vs non-conditioning shampoo

Be sure to read all product descriptions before purchasing and labels before use to ensure product is used appropriately for desired result.


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