Can Autumn’s Shorter Days Cause Hair Loss?
After the hot, muggy days of summer, crisp, cool autumn days are a welcome change! There's nothing better than kissing humidity and frizz goodbye for the year. Plus, there's football, cozy outfits and pumpkin spice lattes—yes, please!
But these changes aren't the only ones that come with autumn. Along with switching up your outfits and latte orders, it's also essential to update your summer hair-care routine for one better suited to autumn weather and its decrease in sunlight for hair growth. (You can check out our after-summer hair-care guide here.)
We know that we get less sunlight in autumn, but what is the effect of sunlight on our hair, exactly? Does it help or hurt our hair? And how do the sun's UV rays and vitamin D factor into sunlight's effect on our hair?
Not to worry—we've got you! We dug into the role of sunlight for hair growth, how shorter days can impact our hair growth cycle and even the benefits of drying your hair in the sun. (Yes, there are benefits!) Keep reading to learn more about the effect of sunlight on your hair and how you can have healthy, gorgeous locks this autumn!
First Things First: Let's Talk About the Hair Growth Cycle
Our hair grows in 4 stages and can take years to complete a full cycle. These phases are known as the anagen, catagen, telogen and exogen phases, and each one represents a different function and activity level for our hair follicles. Here's what happens during each stage:
- Anagen Phase: This is the stage where our hair follicles are most active. New hair strands appear during this phase, and our existing hair in the anagen phase continues growing. Roughly 90% of our hair is in the anagen phase at any given time.
- Catagen Phase: This is a brief transitional stage. During this phase, hair growth slows and hair strands separate from the follicles and ready themselves for the telogen phase.
- Telogen Phase: This is the resting stage of our hair cycle. We don't lose strands during this cycle, but they are no longer growing.
- Exogen Phase: Sometimes the exogen phase is grouped with the telogen phase, but the exogen stage of the hair cycle is the one that's most frustrating because this is when we experience hair loss and shed the strands that are at the end of their life cycle. And many variables factor into just how excessive our hair loss will be during the exogen phase.
Does the Sun Make Your Hair Grow?
The short answer is not exactly—sunlight itself doesn't make our hair grow in the same way it makes plants grow. Instead, the sun's effect on our hair is that it helps our bodies synthesize hair-healthy vitamin D more efficiently.
So, how does vitamin D impact hair loss and hair growth?
Vitamin D helps activate hair follicles to support healthy hair growth. This is big for mature hair follicles that tend to be less active and create less new hair growth as we age. And research shows that a deficiency of vitamin D correlates to hair loss. Reduced vitamin D causes our hair to stay in the exogen (shedding) phase of the hair growth cycle, making our seasonal hair loss and shedding more pronounced.
So it makes sense that spring and early summer to midsummer (when we typically get the most sunlight) correlate with less hair shedding, while the final days of summer into fall—when we begin to cover up more and we have fewer hours of sunlight—tend to bring greater hair fall.
Do You Lose More Hair in Autumn?
Yes, but while there are studies on this phenomenon, the exact reason isn’t widely understood. We tend to have more hair strands in the telogen phase of our hair cycle during the summer, which is the resting stage where hair growth stops. One theory is that we enter this phase where we hold onto more hair to protect our scalp from UV light. As these strands lie dormant, they eventually fall out in the exogen stage.
Factor in less sunlight for hair growth in autumn and this means less vitamin D, a key vitamin for hair health. A great way to support your hair during the autumn and winter months is to up your intake of vitamin D in your diet. Adding fatty fish and vitamin-fortified beverages like orange juice, dairy milk and plant milks to your diet will help boost your vitamin D levels.
For an added boost of vitamin D—plus loads of other hair-supporting nutrients like biotin, vitamin C and vitamin A—try Better Not Younger's Significant Other Hair, Skin & Nails Supplement. Our strawberry-flavored Significant Other gummies provide your body with the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs, like biotin and vitamins A and B, to support stronger-, healthier-looking hair while also improving nail and skin health!
A Few Notes About the Sun's Effect on Hair
Even though the effect of sunlight on our hair can be positive, it's important to protect aging hair from the sun's harmful UV rays. Without sun protection for gray or mature hair, the sun can cause damage to our hair strands. A good UV protectant for hair is a necessity before a day in the sun!
Our favorite product to protect mature hair from sun damage is our No Remorse Heat Protection & Taming Spray. This dual-action spray contains a proprietary blend of vitamin E and nourishing oils that shield strands from damage caused by heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit while smoothing frizz and flyaways!
Pro tip: Reap the benefits of drying your hair in the sun! As long as you use a good UV protectant on your hair—like No Remorse!—you can safely air-dry your hair in the sunlight to reduce its exposure to heat from a blow-dryer. And less heat damage from hot styling tools means less breakage, brittleness and hair loss. Plus, throwing your hair into a couple of low, loose twists or braids before they air-dry can give you bouncy beach waves sans salt water!
If you exposed your tresses to a lot of sunlight this summer without protection, switching to a repairing, moisturizing shampoo and conditioner will help address the not-so-positive effects of sunlight on your hair so your damaged locks look hydrated and healthy. A nourishing and repairing duo like our Second Chance Repairing Shampoo for Dry or Damaged Hair and Second Chance Repairing Conditioner for Dry or Damaged Hair heals overtaxed tresses with moisture from ceramides and plant-based oils!
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Better Not Younger knows that gorgeous autumn weather means a shortage of sunlight for hair growth! That's why we formulated our entire line of products to address the unique concerns of mature hair, including thinning, frizziness, slowed hair growth and hair loss. Whether you're searching for a frizz-taming spray, sun protection for gray hair or a vitamin D-rich supplement, we have all the products you need to protect your hair from sun damage and support healthy, gorgeous tresses no matter the season!