January 23, 2020

Lash shedding explained: why eyelashes fall out

Lash shedding is a common occurrence, but what affects the rate at which lashes fall out? Some suggest it’s purely the Autumn or Spring lash shed; however, there are many reasons you could be losing lashes faster.

Change in Season

Twice a year, autumn and spring, our bodies react to the changing seasons, as if the rain and wind aren’t bad enough! Our bodies decide it’s time to shed our hair (including our lashes) faster than usual to adjust to the new temperatures and/or lack of sun.

Why does this happen?

In a study published in the journal Dermatology, scientists followed more than 800 healthy women over six years and found that they lost the most hair in the autumn months. To understand why you need to know something about normal hair growth.

Hair cells are the second-fastest produced cells in the body, so hair is often the first thing to suffer from any bodily changes. Hair is in a constant state of growth; 90% of our hair is growing, while the remainder is in a resting state (known as the telogen stage) before it falls out. The hair follicle itself then rests before the whole process is repeated.

Researchers found that women had the highest proportion of resting hairs in July — with the telogen state in most of them ending around 100 days later, from October onwards. This pattern is thought to be evolutionary: the body holds on to the hair to protect the scalp against the summer’s midday sun.

Fortunately for my extension lovers, this will only last approximately 6 weeks or two lash cycles before your back on track! In the meantime, make sure you book your lash infills more regularly, I suggest every 2 weeks to prevent looking too sparse.

Other reasons for lash shedding:

“Autumn is not the only cause of unexpected hair loss. It can even forewarn you when there are no other symptoms of illness because we don’t need our hair for survival, so if it’s a choice between your hair growing or keeping blood going to the vital organs, the former will suffer” explains Dr Hugh Rushton, honorary senior lecturer in trichological sciences at the University of Portsmouth.

If you find yourself suffering from unexpected hair loss, here are some possible causes….

Medication

A number of medications can trigger hair shedding.  It is thought certain drugs switch more hairs from the growing into the resting phase, and these hairs are then shed a few months later.

Iron deficiency

Most of the iron stored in the body is bound to ferritin — a protein which helps in the production of hair cells and guards against hair shedding.  Good food sources of iron are red meat, egg yolks and green, leafy vegetables. Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron, so have a glass of orange juice when eating.

Polycystic ovaries

The second most common cause of hair loss in premenopausal women is polycystic ovarian syndrome, leading to excessive amounts of testosterone.  This can trigger excessive body hair — but hair loss on the head. 

Skin conditions

Pityriasis amiantacea — basically adult cradle cap — can cause hair loss.  It’s linked to eczema, and may be confused with psoriasis.

Crash dieting

Crash dieting, particularly low-carb diets, can cause hair loss. You can eat as much protein and iron as you like, but without any energy, your hair will suffer. That’s because if the brain or other vital organs are desperate for energy, it will often be taken from non-essential sources, such as the hair and nails.

Thyroid problems

A thyroid problem can affect the normal timing of the hair cycle.  Usually, hair will ‘rest’ before falling out. With a thyroid problem, the hair will have a tendency to fall out sooner, before growing to a normal, reasonable length.’ 

Contraceptive pill/HRT

All oral contraceptives contain progestogens, synthetic hormones that produce similar effects to the natural hormone progesterone — needed to help prevent a fertilised egg being implanted. Some of these progestogens are good for the hair; others less so.  That’s because the progestogen used can have a male hormone-like effect on hair.

Stress

Stress can lead to a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium —forcing the hairs into the resting state before their time. Chronic stress might also push the immune system into overdrive so that it makes white blood cells attack the hair follicles. Something to help counteract this can be having a VitB12 injection to help support the immune system; these are available at the monthly aesthetic clinic with nurse Kate.

And of course, the final reason, not caring for your lashes! You can refer back to my previous blog on Lash aftercare.

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