Picture the scene: You're already super stressed due to the pandemic. You just finished binge-watching K-dramas back-to-back and you suddenly realize: It's been a whiiiile since you washed your hair.
Just quarantine things, right? So you head to the shower and shampoo out a week's worth of grime (no judgment, though). But then, when you're rinsing out your conditioner, panic strikes as you notice more hair than usual circling down the drain. Your stress increases by, like, a billion percent.
Disclaimer: It's true that your hair loss could be caused by a number of different reasons such as stress, diet change, hormonal fluctuations, and underlying health conditions. That in mind, it’s always important to check with your doctor if you think something’s up.
But, that said, there could be a way more reassuring reason for your lockdown hair loss. Three little words:
Cumulative hair shedding.
In short, if you’re washing your hair less frequently than you usually would and skipping brushing sessions, it’s likely that you’re going to have a lot more accumulated hair to shed when you hit the shower.
“If you cut down on your weekly washes, expect to see more lost hairs when you do wash,” according to Jane Mayhead MIT, a trichologist at The Private Clinic of Harley Street.
“The reason for this is simply that hair sheds daily but in varying amounts. It can become trapped together and then when you do wash, the hairs are released, particularly with conditioners making the hair slippery and untangled.”
How much hair should I shed per wash?
“It’s normal to lose up to 100 hairs a day—so if you shampoo daily, you can expect to see around 80 strands coming out (with the rest being lost throughout the day). If you shampoo every three days, you may see three days’ worth of hair fall at once—maybe 250-280 hairs —depending on how often you are brushing or styling your hair in-between washes,” says Anabel Kingsley, trichologist at Philip Kingsley.
Can a fever cause hair loss?
If you’ve recently suffered from a fever, this might also be something to bear in mind if you’re shedding more hair than usual in the shower.
“High fevers (those over 39 degrees Celsius) almost always cause excessive hair shedding six to 12 weeks later. Don’t worry though—the hair loss will stop on its own and hair will grow back just as before.”
Should I be skipping hair washes during quarantine?
Whilst it’s nice to take advantage of lessened pressure to keep your hair squeaky clean, it’s worth keeping up a consistent hair wash schedule that takes into account your scalp’s natural cycle.
According to Anabel, "Treat your scalp with similar care to the skin on your face. Your scalp is, after all, simply an extension of the skin on your forehead."
"Over time, infrequent shampooing can cause scalp problems, which in turn can lead to hair problems. Your scalp is your hair’s support system, so it’s important to keep it clean and healthy."
Again—you know your body better than anyone else. If something feels wrong, always consult a medical professional.
How else can I protect my hair?
I’m a huge silk pillowcase advocate—it will protect your strands from unnecessary friction while you're sleeping.
You can take a supplement with hair-enriching nutrients, such as Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, Copper, Zinc, Selenium, and essential amino acids, L-Lysine, and L-Methionine.
And finally, it’s worth investing in hair care products that protects your strands if they’re feeling fragile.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.