Does Our Hair *Really* Fall Out More In Autumn?

Shedding hair at a rate of knots? You're not alone.
Predrag Popovski via Getty Images

If, like me, you’re looking at your hairbrush thinking it’s a little furrier than usual, don’t fret... It could just be the time of year.

Hair loss is very normal. So normal, in fact, that the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) estimates we lose around 50-100 hairs a day.

However excessive shedding can happen if your body has undergone certain stressors, such as: losing 20 or more pounds, giving birth, excessive or chronic stress and having a high fever.

You might also lose more hair than normal if you’ve recently undergone an operation, are recovering from an illness, going through menopause or have stopped taking oral contraception.

And it turns out the changing of the season might also play a part in your autumnal hair loss – although it’s not entirely clear why.

Do we lose more hair in autumn?

Some studies suggest we do. An analysis of Google Trends data between 2004 and 2016 explored the seasonality of online searches about hair loss.

It found trends in monthly ‘hair loss’ searches followed a cycle – spiking in summer and autumn.

“The results of this secular trend study suggest that hair loss in the population is significantly correlated with seasonality, and that hair loss occurs most frequently in the summer and autumn,” the researchers concluded.

“These findings are consistent with prior studies that used trichograms and other hair samples to find that telogen hair loss occurs maximally in the summer, or the transition between summer and autumn.”

What is telogen hair loss?

Around 85% of all hairs are in the growing phase – also known as the ‘anagen’ phase – at any one time. The next phase is ‘catagen’ – a transitional phase where the hair stops growing and the root begins to shrink.

Lastly, our hair goes through the ‘telogen’ phase. During this time, the hair is in something called the “resting phase”, which is when the hair doesn’t grow but stays attached to the follicle, taking a nice little break.

After this phase, which can take up to four months, your hair is more likely to drop out before being replaced by a new hair in the same follicle.

According to Exeter Trichology, women have a greater number of hairs in the telogen (resting) phase during the month of July. This then leads to more hair loss around three to four months later – so basically, autumn.

It’s not clear why we lose more hair in these months, however there are a few theories.

Dermatologist Emily Wise Shanahan told Allure: “There is evidence that people can note increased shedding in the late fall and winter months. The thought here is that perhaps in the summer months, we hang on to more hair to provide increased protection from the sun.”

Another idea is that our bodies are simply making way for thicker hair to keep us warm in winter, as dermatologist Roberta Del Campo suggested: “The idea is that more hairs than normal are shed to make way for a thicker head of hair for the winter.”

Whatever the reason, it’s pretty common for you to shed more hair in the autumn months — and it’s usually nothing to worry about.

When to seek help

If you are losing a lot more hair than normal, it might be a sign of a medical condition.

The NHS recommends speaking to your GP who can help you determine what might be causing your hair loss – the health service recommends GPs as your first port of call before going to a commercial hair clinic.