As our environment and the seasons change, so can our hair. Seasonal hair loss — also known as seasonal hair shedding — is a common experience for many. It's natural to spot a few extra strands falling out here and there as the weather shifts.
With the help of FUE Clinics’ trichological specialist Arran Isherwood, we'll dive into what seasonal hair loss is, the causes, and how to prevent it so you can keep your hair looking great all year round.
- What is seasonal hair loss?
- What are the causes of seasonal hair loss?
- How long does seasonal hair loss last?
- Can seasonal allergies cause hair loss?
- How to prevent seasonal hair shedding
What is seasonal hair loss?
While it's normal to shed 50-100 hairs daily, according to the NHS, there are certain times of the year when you might spot a few extra strands on your hairbrush or more hairs swirling down the shower drain. This is known as seasonal shedding.
What are the causes of seasonal hair loss?
Although the direct cause of hair shedding is uncertain, research found that during the late summer and early autumn months, there is the least number of hair follicles in the anagen stage (the growing phase of the hair cycle). This means that during these months, less hair is actively growing. Interestingly, another study also found an increase in people searching for why their hair is falling out in autumn.
Arran expands on this: “Evolution could play a part in seasonal hair shedding — we may grow more hair in the summer to shield our scalps from the sun. So we could naturally shed more of it when cooler months roll around. However, a mix of other factors is likely at play during this period.”
Some of these include;
- Sun exposure — If you've been basking in the sun all summer, you may notice more hair loss than normal come autumn. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation can damage the hair follicles, according to a recent study, making your hair strands more brittle and prone to shedding. Read our guide on how to prevent hair damage during summer to learn more.
- Hormonal fluctuations — According to the NHS, when there's less sunlight in autumn and winter, a part of our brain called the hypothalamus might not work as usual. This can make our bodies produce more melatonin, the sleep hormone, which can impact the hair growth cycle, leading to more hair shedding during these months.
- Diet and nutrition — Arran says, “In the summer, with all the BBQs, ice creams, and picnics, we might not always get the vital nutrients our hair craves. When we miss out on essentials like iron, protein, and vitamins over a long period, our hair can become more brittle, dull, and susceptible to breakage.”
- Stress — End-of-summer transitions, like returning to school or work, can introduce stressors that potentially contribute to hair loss. Chronic stress can disrupt the natural hair growth cycle, pushing more hairs into the ‘shedding’ phase, also known as the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle, when hair stops growing and eventually falls out. To learn more, read our guide on the hair growth cycle.
- Seasonal activities — “Swimming in chlorinated pools or the ocean can weaken hair strands by stripping away their natural oils,” says Arran. “This can leave hair dry, brittle, and more susceptible to breakage come the end of summer.”
How long does seasonal hair loss last?
“Typically, seasonal hair loss is a temporary thing,” says Arran. “Most people notice it for a few weeks up to a couple of months. As the seasons shift and you address the other factors that could be adding to it, the shedding usually decreases back to its normal rate.”
Can seasonal allergies cause hair loss?
Seasonal allergies, like hay fever, might seem like they just bother our nose and eyes, but they can also impact our hair. Arran explains: “When allergies kick in, our body responds with inflammation, which can restrict blood flow to our hair follicles, denying them the nutrients they need. This, in turn, can push the hair from its growth phase to its shedding phase a bit too quickly.”
“On top of that, the physical strain of dealing with constant allergies can stress out the body. And we all know that stress isn't great for our hair.”
“Plus, the itchiness from these allergies can make us scratch our scalp more. Over time, that scratching can weaken hair roots, making them more prone to breaking.”
How to prevent seasonal hair shedding
By looking after your hair and scalp, you can set the stage for healthier growth. Here are our top tips:
1. Eat a balanced diet
“Hair, primarily composed of a protein called keratin, thrives on a protein-rich diet,” says Arran. “That's why foods like fish, chicken, and tofu are essentials; they provide the nutrients to build hair follicles, supporting healthy hair growth.”
“But it doesn't stop at protein. Vitamins, particularly iron, play a pivotal role in hair health. Iron, found in foods like spinach and red meat, produces haemoglobin in our red blood cells. And this transports oxygen around the body, helping cells grow and repair. So, if you're low on iron, your hair might lose its strength and you could see more strands falling out than usual.”
So, even though summer may make us want to indulge, keeping a balanced diet is important year-round. It keeps your hair healthy and resilient, especially when facing the challenges of shifting seasons.
2. Avoid excessive styling
Continuously wearing tight hairstyles, like ponytails or braids, can lead to traction alopecia. This type of hair loss is caused by persistent tension on the hair follicles, eventually damaging them and inhibiting hair growth.
“While it's okay to sport that sleek ponytail or braids occasionally, consider letting your hair down or opting for looser styles instead, especially during shedding season when hair may be more prone to falling out,” says Arran.
3. Stay hydrated
“Just as our skin can feel the effects of seasonal dryness, so can our hair,” says Arran. “Drinking enough water — around eight cups or two litres daily for the average person — ensures your hair follicles are nourished, preventing dry, brittle strands.” This extra hydration support helps reduce the chances of hair breakage at a time when it may already be vulnerable.
4. Limit heated tools
As the temperature drops in autumn, reaching for the hair dryer might become a frequent habit. But Arran explains why we should be cautious: “These tools can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it vulnerable to breakage. Try to minimise the use of heat styling tools, and when you do decide to style with heat, always apply a heat protectant. It acts as a shield, reducing the potential damage and keeping your locks looking lustrous.”
5. Manage stress
Arran says, “Hair shedding can be encouraged by chronic stress, so it's essential to have coping mechanisms in place. Whether it's taking a walk, meditating or taking some time out from work, finding your personal stress-relief strategy is vital for both your mental well-being and your hair's health.”
Learn more about the connection between hair loss with our guide on how to stop hair loss from stress.
6. Treat your scalp
A healthy scalp can set the stage for strong hair growth. Arran explains: “Regular scalp massages can stimulate blood circulation, delivering more nutrients and oxygen to hair roots. This promotes healthier and potentially faster hair growth. Plus, keeping your scalp moisturised with hydrating treatments stops it from getting too dry, protecting your hair from becoming brittle and shedding more easily.”
Learn more about taking care of your hair with our guide on 8 ways you’re damaging your hair and how to stop it.
Learn more about FUE Clinics
“If hair loss continues for more than a couple of months without improvement, it might not just be tied to the season,” says Arran. “There could be other underlying issues at play – from hormonal imbalances to more permanent conditions like pattern baldness.” At this point, it's a good idea to see a doctor or a trichologist.
A hair transplant could be a long-term solution to restore your hair. Take a look at our guide to learn if you're the right candidate for a hair transplant.