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How Much Hair Loss Is Normal In The Shower?
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Updated on April 29, 2024

If you’re worried about hair loss then washing your hair in the shower can become a source of dread. You may notice hair shedding as you shampoo and condition your hair, or spot clumps of hair in the drain while you’re drying off. Some people see significant in-shower hair loss for a few months [1] before it relaxes back to its previous shedding rate.

Either way, it can be alarming to see just how much hair you’re losing in the shower.

Everyone experiences a certain amount of hair loss when they wash their hair, so how much hair is normal to lose in the shower? Also, what is the difference between normal hair shedding and excessive hair shedding?

Table of Contents

How much hair loss is normal?

People with healthy hair lose up to 100 strands every day. Brushing, washing, and tying your hair back can all dislodge your hair from the hair follicles. Often, you won’t even notice it when hair sheds.

Showering, however, can highlight just how much hair you’re losing on a regular basis. It can be distressing to discover that you’re losing significant amounts of hair, so how do you know if you have hair loss or hair shedding?

100 hair strands in a person with short hair (left) and long hair (right)
Photo showing 100 hairs from a person with short hair (left) and longer hair (right).

What is normal hair loss?

The hair growth cycle causes people to lose hair naturally. Around 85-90% of your hair is in the active growth phase at any one time [2]. The rest of your hair strands are in degenerative, resting, or shedding phases. These are the hairs that are liable to fall out through normal shedding.

hair growth cycle
The normal hair growth cycle

When your hair does eventually fall out, the hair’s life cycle begins again, with the hair follicle returning to the growth phase [3].

Washing your hair can speed up the normal hair-shedding cycle, which means it’s completely normal to lose hair when you shower. However, there are also some hair-washing practices that can increase the risk of hair damage. Learn more regarding how often you should wash your hair to keep it strong and healthy.

What causes hair loss in the shower?

Hair washing stimulates your hair follicles that are in the resting or shedding phases of the growth cycle (the telogen phase). This stimulation can dislodge hairs to make way for new growth.

As a result, you may find a number of strands of hair that come away from your head when you massage shampoo into your scalp.

This is completely normal. In fact, it’s been suggested that scalp massage can stimulate hair growth, so you may actually be helping your hair by treating yourself to an in-shower head massage.

Excessive hair shedding in the shower

However, there are some conditions that cause excessive hair loss whilst in the shower. Research suggests that noticing large clumps of hair in the shower (or on your hairbrush) can be a sign of telogen effluvium [2]. This is a kind of temporary hair loss caused by emotional trauma or stress. It can usually only be treated by addressing the underlying cause.

Excessive in-shower hair loss may also be a sign of the most common type of hair loss: genetic pattern baldness (male pattern baldness in individuals assigned male at birth or female pattern baldness for individuals who were assigned female at birth). Pattern hair loss is more common in men, but it can also affect women.

Female hair loss is hard to diagnose without the right tools and tests. Get a professional diagnosis from a qualified trichologist so you can get the best female hair loss treatment for your alopecia.

Hair loss vs hair breakage

Using harsh products such as hair dyes, bleaches, and chemical shampoos in the shower can damage your hair. While these don’t typically cause hair loss, they can make your hair brittle, so the strands snap off and give the appearance of thinning hair.

Washing your hair in water that’s too hot can also damage your hair, so try to maintain a moderate temperature.

Don’t avoid washing your hair altogether by overusing dry shampoo. While dry shampoo may not make hair loss worse, it won’t help with regrowth and doesn’t get your hair properly clean.

How to reduce hair shedding in the shower

If you’re noticing more hair falling out than usual in the shower, here are some tips for managing this:

  • Brush your hair lightly before you shower. This can help dislodge some of your ready-to-shed strands before you wash your hair.
  • Use a wide-toothed comb on wet hair. This minimises damage to the strands when detangling.
  • Use a detangling solution. Kids’ detanglers are gentle and are also effective at removing knots from adult hair.
  • Blow dry your hair less often. Excessive blow-drying causes hair to become brittle, which can lead to hair breakage which may give the appearance of hair thinning.
  • Avoid tight hairstyles. Tight ponytails, buns, and braids can pull at the hair follicle which in turn can cause hair loss due to traction alopecia. Avoid rubber elastic bands and hair extensions which can also pull tightly on your hair causing it to shed.
  • Be extremely careful when washing your hair after a hair transplant. Vigorous rubbing can easily dislodge your hair grafts and cause them to fall out.

What are the signs of abnormal hair loss?

Sometimes in-shower hair shedding can be a sign of more permanent hair loss. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing male or female pattern baldness:

  • A patchy appearance
  • Thinning hair across your whole scalp (especially in women)
  • A widening parting
  • Receding around the temples (especially in men)

If this is the case, your hair won’t grow back without medical intervention, so it’s a good idea to speak to a trichologist to see if there’s a way to address your hair loss.

There are non-surgical ways to treat permanent hair loss, especially if it’s identified early, so book a consultation to discuss a treatment plan if you’re concerned your hair loss may be permanent.

What are some other causes of hair loss?

As well as genetics and haircare, other factors can also disrupt the hair growth cycle, impacting your follicles’ ability to produce new hair. In fact, there are 27 reasons why your hair could be falling out. This includes:

All these factors can cause your hair to fall out in the shower, so it’s important to focus on your mental and physical health in order to see healthy, sustained hair growth.

What to do if you’re losing a lot of hair in the shower

If you think you’re losing substantially more than 100 hairs a day when you wash your hair, it may be time to seek professional advice. 

Book a consultation with a hair loss specialist to determine the cause of your hair loss, and create a personalised treatment plan to restore your hair and your confidence.

How Much Hair Loss Is Normal In The Shower?, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Michael May (FRCS)Updated on April 29, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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