How much hair loss is normal?

Yael Cooperman, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Amelia Willson 

Yael Cooperman, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Amelia Willson 

last updated: Jan 24, 2024

6 min read

Key takeaways

  • The average person sheds up to 100 hairs daily. If you think you are losing more hair than normal, you should follow up with your healthcare provider to see if an underlying condition is contributing to your hair loss. 

Hair loss is a normal part of everyday life. There are 80,000-120,000 follicles of hair on your head, all growing and shedding at their own pace.

But maybe you’re starting to notice areas of thinning hair. Or, you think you’re finding more hairs than usual in your hairbrush, shower drain, or pillow. If so, you may be wondering if the hair loss you’re experiencing is not so normal.

Read on as we review what’s normal when it comes to hair loss, possible causes of hair loss, and what you can do to stop it.

Hair loss

FDA-approved Finasteride, delivered to your door

How much hair loss is normal?

The average person sheds up to 100 hairs daily (with some estimates as high as 150). Shedding this many hairs on a daily basis is totally normal. A normal amount of hair shedding may be more noticeable if you have long hair since you can see the strands of hair when they come out more easily, but if you think you’re losing up to 150 hairs throughout the day, know that that is completely normal. In fact, roughly 9% of your hair is in the telogen stage of hair growth and ready to fall out at any time.

What is the telogen stage? We are so glad you asked. Here is a quick recap of the hair growth cycle.

  • The anagen phase describes a period of active hair growth. 90% of your hair is in this growth phase at any time, although that percentage lessens with age. The anagen phase can last up to 8 years.

  • The catagen phase describes a period of rest where the hair stops growing. About 1% of your hair is in this phase at any given time. It can last for 4–6 weeks. 

  • The telogen phase describes a period of hair shedding, which occurs when the hair is ready to fall out. About 9% of your hair is in this phase at any time, which lasts 2–3 months.

Typical hair loss while brushing your hair 

It’s normal to see strands come out while brushing your hair. You’re probably just collecting the ones that were ready to fall out. In fact, about four in ten women notice excess hair shedding while brushing or styling their hair. 

If you’re concerned about excessive hair loss from brushing, you might want to switch up your brushing technique. In one small study, women were told to brush their hair with differing frequencies over a period of four weeks. Those who brushed more often noticed more hair loss. 

If you notice a lot of broken hairs or split ends while brushing your hair, consider talking to a dermatologist. They can offer tips for strengthening your hair and reducing hair loss while brushing, such as brushing less often or less aggressively. 

Typical hair loss in the shower 

As with hair brushing, some hair loss in the shower is completely normal and expected. You may notice it more simply because washing and putting your fingers through your hair helps remove some of the strands that were ready to fall out. You may also notice hair loss in the shower more if your hair contrasts with the color of your shower or bath.

If you’re noticing increased hair loss in the shower, you might want to try a gentler shampoo or talk to a dermatologist. The chemicals in certain shampoos can be harsh on your hair and lead to more breakage and hair loss. They can also impair hair growth

Causes of excess hair loss 

If you’re noticing an increase in hair shedding or finding large clumps of hair, you could be experiencing excess hair loss. Technically, hair shedding is different from permanent hair loss. Shedding hair usually grows back, while permanent hair loss (or alopecia) happens because the hair follicle stops working. 

Stress is one of the most common causes of hair loss. About one in three people who experience sudden hair shedding do so due to stress. Stress-induced hair loss can affect anyone at any age, with many adults experiencing it at some point in their lives. Hair loss caused by stress is known as telogen effluvium and the stressors can be emotional or physical, with common causes including:

  • Weight loss

  • Extreme dieting

  • Childbirth

  • Caregiving

  • Loss of a loved one

  • Divorce

  • Loss of a job

  • High fever

  • Serious injury

  • Surgery

  • Stopping or changing birth control pills

  • Harsh hair treatments or dyes

  • Hormonal changes, such as during menopause or after giving birth

  • Recovering from an illness, especially one with high fever (e.g. malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, HIV infection)

  • Medical conditions, including thyroid disorders, kidney failure, lupus, and syphilis

  • Medications, including ones that treat high blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid conditions, and psoriasis 

  • Vitamin deficiency, in particular not getting enough iron, zinc, fatty acids, or protein

Telogen effluvium occurs when a lot of your hair transitions to the telogen phase all at once anywhere from 1–6 months after the stressful event. It can feel scary because the hair loss is so sudden, and you may not make the connection that it’s related to a stressor that occurred months ago. Normally, when your hair enters the telogen phase, it stays in the follicle until the new hair grows in and pushes it out, so you don’t notice any thinning or bald spots. But with telogen effluvium, a bunch gets pushed out at once, before the new hair has time to start growing in. 

Other forms of excess hair loss include:

  • Traction alopecia, which more commonly affects Black women and women of African descent. Traction alopecia can develop from regularly wearing tight hairstyles, such as ponytails, braids, cornrows, locs, extensions, weaves, and tight scarves. The continued strain on their hair follicles and surrounding skin can damage the hair follicles, leading to bald spots and scars. 

  • Trichotillomania is a type of hair-pulling disorder that falls under the banner of obsessive-compulsive and anxiety disorders. People with trichotillomania repeatedly pull the hair on various parts of their body due to a compulsion or stress response, leading to thinning and bald spots.

  • Alopecia areata, which is a type of permanent hair loss that occurs in specific areas or, if it spreads all over, is known as alopecia totalis. It is an autoimmune disease. 

  • Androgenic alopecia is the official term for female or male pattern baldness. Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss and is genetic. Men may notice receding hairlines and thinning hair, while women may notice their part getting larger or thinning around the top of their scalp. 

How to tell if you’re losing more hair than normal 

Sometimes, you can easily tell that you’re losing more hair than normal. Suddenly finding clumps of hair on your pillow in the morning, or pulling out clumps while showering or styling your hair, are signs of excess hair shedding. But, if you’re interested in a more official way to diagnose hair loss, there’s the hair pull test. 

If you make an appointment with a dermatologist about your hair loss, they may perform this test. They’ll collect about 50–60 strands of hair and hold it close to your scalp using their thumb, index, and middle finger. Then, they’ll start to pull as they slide their fingers slowly down your entire hair shaft. After performing the hair pull test at the top, back, and both sides of your hair, they’ll begin counting how many hairs fell out. If more than 10% of the hair fell out, it’s considered above-normal hair loss. If less than 10% of the hair fell out, it’s normal hair shedding.

Your healthcare provider will ask questions to help determine the cause of your hair loss. If a stressor does not become apparent during your discussion, such as recent childbirth, they may order blood or urine tests to see if an underlying condition is contributing to hair loss, such as an iron deficiency or thyroid issue.

Depending on when you visit your healthcare provider, the shedding may have stopped. But they can still look at your scalp and be able to diagnose telogen effluvium. For example, they may see a number of small, short hairs close to your scalp. Or, they may ask you to collect your hair over a 24-hour period. Finding more than 100 hairs, especially ones that have a white bulb at the end with no sheath (also known as a “club hair”), suggests telogen effluvium. A scalp biopsy can also be performed to analyze the follicles.

How to improve hair loss 

If you recognize some of the behaviors above that relate to hair loss — such as wearing your hair in tight hairstyles, feeling stressed, or having a diet low in iron — you can make lifestyle changes to address those changes. For example, you can:

  • Reduce the tightness of your braids or other hairstyles

  • Avoid chemicals and heat styling your hair

  • Use a gentler shampoo

  • Improve your diet to ensure you’re getting enough iron, zinc, biotin, and fatty acids

  • Manage your stress levels

  • Connect with a therapist to help with stress, grief, or trichotillomania

  • Choose other healthy lifestyle habits to promote healthy hair, such as avoiding smoking and reducing your sun exposure

If a health condition or medication side effect is contributing to your hair loss, talk to your healthcare provider about your options. Treating the underlying condition may help. They may be able to recommend another medication less likely to cause hair loss as a side effect, or recommend an iron supplement. Topical medications may be prescribed to relieve the inflammation and scarring from traction alopecia.

Once you’ve addressed the underlying cause — e.g. wearing looser hairstyles, seeing a therapist, taking medication, or changing your diet — all that’s left to do is wait. The hair will start to grow back after six months or so, although it may take longer for you to notice it. There is no need to change your hair-washing practices or get a hair transplant. You don’t need to take hair loss treatments like topical minoxidil (a prescription ointment prescribed for male or female pattern baldness), but you can if you want to.

If you notice scarring, inflammation, or changes to your hair color or texture along with the hair loss, talk to a healthcare provider. They can help you determine what’s going on and recommend treatment options.


If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

January 24, 2024

Written by

Amelia Willson

Fact checked by

Yael Cooperman, MD

About the medical reviewer

Yael Cooperman is a physician and works as a Senior Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.