Losing hair – Are you balding or just shedding some of those curls?

As one starts paying more attention to one’s curls, it is easy to start noticing hair everywhere, most commonly on the pillow and bathtub. Once this becomes a more common sight, it is easy for the “OH MY GOD I’M BALDING” alarm to go off and make a whole drama out of it. Most of the time, however, the culprit is in fact the natural process of shedding hair, a benign and completely normal process which yields the loss of anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs from the scalp per day! The question is, how do you tell whether you are merely shedding hair or starting to bald? At Manly Curls we want you to avoid the drama and associated hypochondriac googling, so below you may find a quick checklist to make sure you are not on your way to eventually never stepping a foot inside a barbershop again.

 

Your hairline hasn’t receded a bit

This is a big one and pretty much tells straightaway whether you are on the MPB track or not. Male Pattern baldness is characterized by the receding of the hairline. Your best way to check if MPB has hit you? Check pictures of yourself from 3, 6 and 12 months ago. Specifically look for the area on top of the temples. Has it gone back noticeably? If yes, MPB is in progress and your new girlfriend is called Minoxidil although you can also caller her Rogaine (her hot dangerous sister is called Finasteride too). Make sure to check my MPB article for more info on balding.

 

MPB shows a predictable area recession (not time, though) so keep an eye on your hairline at all times!

 

Do understand that hairline recession does not follow a predictable timescale hence I recommend you to start keeping a record of pictures depicting your hairline, especially if MPB runs in your family and you are over the age of 21. These pictures will be invaluable when it comes to assessing any receding that may be occurring.

 

You only find hair on the pillow or bath tub

Shed hair tends to fall when rubbed and bedtime as well as “shower time” is when your hair is exposed to most daily friction. Thus, if you find shed hairs only on the pillow or bathtub do not be concerned, it is perfectly normal. Now, if you start finding hairs elsewhere, such as on the floor or desk, you should then start paying more attention as to how your hairline is faring over time.

 

You are on medication that can induce hair loss

I have gone through a list of medications known to have the side effect of inducing hair loss. Click here for it and, while being on any of these medications will very likely be the cause of your concerns, it is best to still keep an eye on the hairline so as to rule out the medication-induced hairloss from disguising true MPB.

 

You have grown your curls

Many times I have dudes telling me about seeing more hairs in the bathtub, freaking the heck out and running to the internet to buy the latest hairloss snake oil. These same dudes have decided to grow their hair longer and have obviated a simple observation: that longer hair means more visible hair! I made this same mistake when I decided to grow my curls into the longer lengths and I remember my heart almost popping out of my mouth to initiate a break-dance on the floor the first time I noticed the pile of shed hairs collected in the tub drain. Truth is, if your hair is normally an inch long and you grow it to 3 inches, you have, right there, 3 times more of the material to see! Still, keep an eye on that hairline.

 

You are not grooming your hair properly

When curls are not groomed, they tend to shed and get trapped somewhere on the mane of curls. Curly hair is special in that anything can get trapped on it, included curly hair itself. Groom your curls daily with your fingers using some leave-in conditioner or other grooming product and make sure not to pull them too much when grooming. Bear in mind that you will find detached hairs on your fingers as you groom through and about, which is perfectly acceptable.

 

All the best gents,

Rogelio

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Rogelio

Rogelio is the go-to guy when it comes to men's hair. Having embraced his natural curly hair for over a decade while living in 5 countries, Rogelio has learnt a thing or two along the way. Rogelio is the author of the two bestselling men's books "The Curly Hair Book" and "The Men's Hair Book", and his motto when it comes to hair is, "Gentlemen, having a good head of hair should not cost us our testosterone".

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12 comments for “Losing hair – Are you balding or just shedding some of those curls?

  1. John
    December 28, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Hey man,

    I’m a 19 year old male, started to grow my curly hair around 6 months ago from an undercut, and around 3 months ago I was finding a lot of hair on my hands when I style it, as well as when I shower.

    Recently I took a look at my cowlick or main whorl at the crown of my head, and let’s just say a lot of scalp was showing whilst it was wet, but to a lesser degree when dry. Now I know it’s difficult without pics, but would a visible skull from the cowlick plus the large bits of hair strands “falling” out mean that I’m losing my mane? The natural part that formed in my hair was also extended and my scalp is visible when wet and under heavy light.

    • Rogelio
      January 24, 2017 at 8:47 pm

      Hi John,

      Hope all is well. What you’re experiencing is absolutely normal. It’s extremely common, if not a rule of thumb, to be able to see one’s own scalp under heavy lighting when one’s hair is wet. Nothing to be concerned about on that front.

      As far as noticing more hair strands shedding off your mane as you grow your curly hair longer, this is absolutely normal too. I’ve explained this phenomenon in both of my books and on this website: you were already shedding the same daily amount of hair strands 7 months ago, it’s just that, now, your curly hair is about twice as long, hence it will be a lot more visible when it falls off and sheds!

      Lastly, the mere act of using a hair conditioner, which you should be using if you’re growing your mane anyway, will have you noticing even more shed hair strands, which can be a scary sight at first. In this instance, the reason for this is that conditioners act as lubricating agents on the hair strands themselves; thus, those same hair strands that normally are shed (off the follicle), yet remain trapped in your curls, can now easily slip through all the tangle mess that shed hair strands usually make on one’s own mane.

      My advice is to take pictures of the sides, back and top of your head as soon as possible so that you establish a baseline of what your current hair density and pattern is; then, take pictures from the same angles again in 6 months and compare the density and pattern of your hair. Pay special attention to your forehead’s hairline and to the hair atop your head as those are the main areas afflicted by male pattern baldness. Your hairline should not have receded whatsoever and you should have the same hair density as you had 6 months ago when you first took your pictures.

      All the best,

      Rogelio

      • John
        January 25, 2017 at 9:37 pm

        Hi Rogelio,

        Cheers for the reply mate! Appreciate it! I will definitely be taking photos of the crown, sides and front more often, thing is I take a lot of pictures of myself (I’m a self conscious dweeb ;P) so I kinda already have a good timeline already. Its difficult to tell whether my hair density has changed since the sides confuse the overall density of the hair, but it does seem to be a bit thin on the top compared to the sides (the top is around 8 inches in length, but the sides are around 4 inches long, so I can’t tell whether it’s just length or actual changes). Nonetheless, I will take the advice and see what happens from there!

        Cheers again,

        John

        • Rogelio
          February 7, 2017 at 7:34 pm

          Hi John,

          My pleasure. For the record, I think your case is very likely to be more related to the aforementioned phenomenon of seemingly noticing more hair strands shedding as you grow your hair longer. Eight inches of hair length is a lot of hair and it takes a lot of space, so naturally any shed hair strands will make it look like you’re shedding more than you used to.

          Also, do bear in mind that, as a male’s mane grows longer, his hair strands will lay flatter on the scalp due to the inherent weight of the strands’ longer length. As the hair lays flat on your scalp, there will be some areas which will look to be low in hair density or even bald; these are the areas in which grouped hair strands (i.e. locks) part at and seeing such areas on your scalp is completely normal. This other phenomenon that I’ve just described is especially noticeable when long hair is wet. Just warning you in advance: make sure you that you’re investigating your hair density when your hair is dry and not wet.

          Feel free to keep me updated on your progress!

          Rogelio

  2. Ellis
    August 29, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Hi there I’m a 35 year old guy I’ve got thick dark hair , recently I’ve noticed hair coming out on my hands when wet eg. Shower , swimming normally about 20 I’ve never noticed this before, I don’t wake up with any on my pillow. Do you think this could be the beginning of mpb or simply an increased amount of shedding, I’ve looked at old. Photos and I don’t appear to be receding any advice would be appreciated. (Also have been weight training at the gym for about 8 months I was taking creating for 2 months but have now stopped )

  3. Jay Patel
    August 5, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Hi, great article! I been losing hair for the past year, after being hospitalized. I was originally diagnosed with Telogen Effluvium. Later we did a scalp biopsy which came back with male pattern baldness. What I want to know is shedding close to 500 hair a day normal in the process of MPB? In the past year my has has thinned out and lost all it’s texture, also able to see my full scalp when my hair is wet.

    • Rogelio
      August 6, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Hi Jay,

      Yes, shedding 500 hair strands per day is normal with male pattern baldness. Consider that a male with no balding sheds about 100 hair strands per day and even up to 150 hair strands. You also have approximately 100,000 hair strands at any given time on your scalp prior to starting to bald.

      Male pattern baldness acts two-fold: the hair follicle is miniaturized and thus the actual hair strand produced becomes thinner and, when the hair follicles miniaturizes fully, it stops producing hair (i.e. the follicle is effectively “dead”). The hair strand from a miniaturizing hair follicle can become detached sooner than the actual death of the hair follicle, which further aggravates the hair loss as that means that you can lose your hair very fast in some cases.

      Are you using any hair loss medication? Minoxidil is an excellent over-the-counter product that is proven to improve the blood supply to the miniaturizing hair follicles and minoxidil practically has no side effects. Have a look at my hair loss product guide as I cover the different options that you can use to treat male pattern baldness. If you’re interested in slowing down your male pattern baldness and even regrowing some of the hair, then consider minoxidil. Do bear in mind that you need to apply minoxidil daily and that it does not cure male pattern baldness; there’s no cure for male patter baldness and never believe such a claim! Minoxidil just treats MPB with different degrees of success depending on the male’s own genetic response, but minoxidil is one of the very-few products currently available that has been scientifically proven to successfully treat male pattern baldness and even baldness in women.

      Here’s my hair loss products guide:

      http://www.manlycurls.com/2013/11/rogaine-shampoo-for-hair-loss-minoxidil-alopecia-treatments-toppik-guide/

      If you have any more questions, then feel free to ask them.

      Best,

      Rogelio

  4. Armstrong
    February 7, 2015 at 5:23 am

    I only find a few hairs on the pillow and bathtub, my hairline isnt receding, so is it considered normal? Please answer. Im a 21 guy

    • Rogelio
      February 7, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      Hi Armstrong,

      This is absolutely fine. If you’re worried, just take pictures of your hair from the side and top every 3 to 6 months.

      Best

  5. Rogelio
    November 15, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Thanks for the comments!

    All the best.

  6. Lurker
    November 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I was actually wondering the other day about this same thing. I decided to take your advice and looking at my hairline for the last months, nothing has changed. I am on one of the medications on your list which causes hair loss and my doctor already warned me about the side effect. Good to know though!

  7. Barber
    November 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Nice article man.

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