Hair Shedding vs. Hair Loss:
What is the Difference?


If you’re noticing your hair falling out, it might be hard to discern whether you are dealing with shedding, or hair loss. Each issue generates similar symptoms, yet the terms are used interchangeably. There are a multitude of factors contributing to both hair shedding and hair loss. The many moving parts of these issues make it overwhelming to understand. Worse—it’s easy to feel defeated without adequate resources. Add to that distress a slew of myths and misinformation and many women are ready to throw in the towel. Beautiful hair is in your future. In order to obtain it, we first have to pinpoint whether or not you are dealing with a hair shedding or hair loss issue.


Hair shedding occurs from a variety of reasons as does hair loss. The difference lies in what causes the hair to fall out, when it happens and at what frequency hair falls. Below are illuminations of both issues and their relative causes.


Shedding is something we all deal with—from the most thick, coarse head of hair to those with thin hair. Even our furry friends shed every day! Some days you may feel like there is way too much hair shedding to be considered normal. In reality, normal shedding means losing 50-150 strands every single day. That’s a lot of wayward hairs floating about in the world! What happens when we lose hair in excess?

Causes of Excessive Hair Shedding

Sometimes, extenuating circumstances lead to excessive hair shedding: lifestyle changes, events, seasonal changes and beauty habits. When the body sheds hair excessively, it’s known as Telogen Effluvium, which is defined as:

A condition triggered by a major life event like childbirth, major surgery, medical condition, or extreme emotional, physical stress or trauma. Telogen Effluvium shocks the natural rhythm of the hair growth cycle, ceasing growth and sending follicles into the Telogen Phase, also known as the hair shedding phase.

The result: massive hair fall and thinning about 2-3 months after the initial event. Excessive hair shedding wreaks havoc on our emotional wellbeing. As if the initial event weren’t stressful enough, the added crisis of excessive hair shedding sends women into a state of unrest and even panic. That’s why it’s paramount to remember that excessive hair shedding is often temporary. Once you narrow down the root of the issue, hair growth typically resumes within 3-6 months after the event. In some instances hair shedding lasts longer than 6 months, which is known as Chronic Telogen Effluvium.


Hair loss is commonly misaligned as strictly a men’s issue. However, over 40 million women are currently dealing with hair loss, too. This myth is a detriment to women with valid concerns who are seeking trusted resources and treatment. Fortunately, at Daniel Alain we understand that a woman’s identity is threaded in her hair health and beauty. Thus, we are committed to staying on the leading edge of innovative science, research and solutions.

First of all, there is no one reason for women’s hair loss. Women are too dynamic and important to be diluted to one cause or one solution. Women experience currents of abundance and stress in their lifetime. It’s these seasons that cause hair loss triggers to rise to the surface. With this in mind, how can we clearly define hair loss? Moreover, how can we distinguish between hair loss and shedding?

The single most differentiating factor between hair shedding vs. hair loss is a sustained disruption in the hair growth cycle. While hair shedding is more temporary and isolated to a triggering event, the causes for women’s hair loss widely encompass genetics, stress, dietary changes, autoimmune disorders, and hormonal imbalances.

In its simplest terminology, hair loss is medically defined as “Alopecia.”

Yet due to the variety of triggers causing Alopecia, the last thing we can regard women’s hair loss as is singular. Instead, we start broad and survey the common causes, narrow down the trigger and illuminate the right treatment path. 

Causes Of Women's Hair Loss

One of the most common causes of women’s hair loss is Androgenetic Alopecia, commonly referred to as Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL). This hereditary condition affects 40% of women by the time they’re 50, but thinning can begin as early as 12-years-old. FPHL is progressive and over time, the center part thins and widens over the scalp. FPHL can be effectively treated if addressed early.

In addition to FPHL, women's hair loss results from:

  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Permanent Traction Alopecia
  • Trichotillomania ( a disorder where one pulls their own hair out)
  • Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia


Physicians and hair loss specialists can use DNA tests to help determine your genetic predisposition to hair loss. They will also ask you many questions about your health history, family history, stress levels, eating habits, activities or significant life events that may have occurred in the past 3-6 months to help detect what may be the root cause.

Doctors also have unique tests and visual reference guides like the Sinclair Scale for hair shedding or the Ludwig Baldness Scale that will help them identify and evaluate your condition. They will most likely conduct a hair-pull test in which they grasp a small portion of hair and gently pull along the length of the hair shaft to see how many strands come out. Blood work may also be necessary to see any nutritional deficiencies or abnormalities in hormone levels. For example, thyroid issues can be a major culprit of sudden hair loss and once the root cause is identified and medication administered, hair will grow back once the condition is managed.

Oftentimes there is not one single approach to hair loss treatment. A combination of products or solutions may be recommended to help address your hair growth needs.

innovations in prevention & treatment

Hair loss and shedding are complex conditions millions of women face. Targeting the source of your condition takes time, but the future is bright and full of solutions. A holistic approach that incorporates professional medical advice, psychological support and cosmetic solutions can all help to place you on a path to identifying, treating, and coping with hair loss – be it a temporary or long-term condition.

The treatment course for women’s hair shedding and hair loss varies depending on the root of the issue. Hair Shedding is typically short-lived or seasonal. Yet in the throes of hair loss, you may feel helpless to resolve the issue. With over 40% of women impacted by hair loss, remember that you are not alone. More and more solutions are on the horizon as opportunities come forth each day to exchange knowledge and support a community of strong women experiencing hair loss.