Home Beauty The Beauty Shop: Losing Weight, Losing Hair – What Happens, Why it Happens, and How to Fight It

The Beauty Shop: Losing Weight, Losing Hair – What Happens, Why it Happens, and How to Fight It

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Earlier today, someone left a comment mentioning shedding hair, and it reminded me that I’ve actually never covered healthy hair and weight loss.

Over the course of my journey, I’ve never actually experienced hair loss. In all honesty, I’ve only experienced hair growth. It’s become thicker – and not just the from-straight-to-coily thickness, either – and more dense, stronger and more healthy. My hairline is looking fuller, and my hair has grown consistently ever since, with a full head of natural hair that currently reaches my behind at its longest point while wet (which means a little past bra strap level when it’s dry.) (I don’t know why I had to share the “while wet” length.) (Bragging rights, I guess.)

I have definitely seen people who experience hair loss with weight loss, and it’s usually due to malnutrition. A depletion of calories beyond what the body can naturally sustain on its own, combined with a depletion of nutrients, often results in a loss of hair. This also oftentimes results in flimsy nails and drying, poor quality skin.

It should be noted that some hair loss is natural. There are thousands of strands of hair on a healthy adult head, and you should expect to lose between 50 to 100 of them each day… but those strands replenish. That’s a completely different ballgame from thinning hair. Consider this post a quick starter guide to help you out, here.

Our hair doesn’t require much. Lots of moisture, lots of vitamins, lots of healthy fats. People often think that the totality of hair care is what’s done on the outside – what topical creams, gels, and oils should I use? – but as someone who is quite possibly the laziest naturalista ever, I can assure you that what you put in your body makes a much larger difference than what you put on it.


People who subject themselves to very low calorie diets should expect hair loss, as should people who put themselves on high protein diets where less than 30% of their daily calories come from carbs. As your body needs a certain amount of calories to run, it also expects a certain amount of carbohydrates to give it what it needs to run everything properly. And, by “what it needs,” that means vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, gut flora, and everything else that helps your body run its internal processes optimally. Without the right amounts of carbs, basic things like brain function and mood control become impossible, thereby making you moody and leaving you feeling like your brain is stuck in quicksand.

The same things that control the moods and the quicksand feeling…. are the same things that affect healthy hair growth.

Certain nutrients have been deemed essential for healthy hair growth, but if you pay close enough attention, you’ll hear just about every nutrient listed, every vitamin named, and every macronutrient identified as a key component for healthy hair. Vitamins A, E, and K, vitamin B complex, vitamin c, healthy fats, beta carotene, vitamin D, zinc, protein, iron, biotin exclusively…before you know it, you’ve listed just about every known nutrient… and maybe some extra stuff, too. (Sulfur?)

Lots of people take supplements to affect their hair loss, but if you’re at the point where you’re already losing hair, supplements won’t help you regain your equilibrium to the point where you both stop hair loss and begin to encourage hair growth. Not to mention, supplements aren’t an entirely sustainable way to grow and maintain healthy hair. If you lose your job and money eventually becomes tight, you’re probably going to cut the supplement budget. If you get tired of taking that pill every day, you’re probably going to… stop taking those pills every day. If your diet is so lacking that your hair is falling out, and you stop taking those pills, the only thing that’ll happen at this point is all of your growth will start to suffer.

Luckily, there is something you can do to stop hair loss, make your hair grow healthily, and retain length and fullness. It’s not a pill, it’s not a hair product – though I do presume that they can help a bit – and it’s not an expensive regimen.

Your diet plays a much larger role in the health of your hair than anything else. The protein your hair needs to be strong, the vitamins it needs to grow healthily, the healthy fats it needs to help it remain moisturized and to help you utilize the fat-soluble vitamins you need, the iron and zinc and magnesium and [insert everything else]… all of that is found in a healthy diet with a wide variety of fresh produce. Its literally that simple.

Don’t deprive yourself. Not only do you inhibit your body’s ability to run optimally, you’re screwing with your hair, skin and nails on top of your brain. Find out how many calories you need, split that up so that anywhere between 40-50% of your daily calories come from fresh produce, get in your healthy fats, quality protein, and stay on top of your water consumption. Pick a good hair moisturizer, and use it regularly. Wash your hair more often – your hair wants the water! And, incorporate a little castor oil into your hair care regimen. It’s great for caring for spots where hair growth has been stagnant. I swear by it.

It also can’t be stressed enough, that going to a dermatologist who partners with a registered dietician should be an option. They’ll help you ensure that there isn’t something else going on and affecting your hair growth, and will be able to work together to ensure that you’re healthy and happy.

Lastly, and this is most important – leave your hair alone! All the constant styling, pulling, tugging, twisting, yanking, braiding, drying, and heating on a regular basis causes damage, especially on an already-frail head of hair. Learning how to healthily and safely detangle your hair, learning how to straighten your hair with minimal heat, and learning how to do protective styles that allow you to leave your hair alone will allow it the chance to grow strong with minimal damage. I promise you – keeping these tips in mind when you recreate your hair regimen will have you with a big, healthy head of hair in no time!

What tips do you have for healthy hair? What kind of protective styling do you use? What are your favorite resources for healthy hair care, especially for active people?

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Alexis August 14, 2014 - 9:12 AM

Thank you so much for this post! It has become a joke in my familly that mmy hair was thicker when I was fatter. I just assumed that my body liked being overweight and having borderline hypertension but since I found that I loved feeling strong, I have just dealt with the thinning hair. Guess its time to redo the diet and figure out how to add the good stuff without adding calories 🙂

Felicia November 8, 2014 - 4:47 PM

Sometimes hair loss is related to thyroid issues (also related to weight). I have found coconut oil (topical) and primrose oil (supplement) have helped me. I am natural as well.

Your hair is fab by the way.

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