I get a lot of emails asking me about variables that would make a person's hair shed more. One of the common variables that I'm often asked about is having long hair. Some common comments are things like: "I notice that my hair sheds more when it's longer," or "does the weight of long hair make for more shedding or fall out?;" or "if I cut my hair shorter, would it shed less?" I'll answer these questions in the following article.
Hair That Is In The Resting Phase Is Going To Fall Out Whether It's Long Or Not: When a strand of hair is going to fall out, it goes from the growing phase (in which it is actively being nourished and is deeply embedded into it's follicle) to the resting phase (in which it is essentially dead hair waiting until it is pushed out or shed.) This coming out usually just happens with time or with scalp manipulation like washing or styling. I suppose that the weight of super long hair could cause it to come out earlier, but the truth is, it would've come out eventually no matter what. There is really no benefit to preserving hair in the resting phase because it's days are numbered anyway. The real benefit is finding out what is causing so many hairs to go into the resting phase and fixing that destructive process.
Long Hairs That Shed Are More Noticeable And Look Like Much More Loss: If you took say 100 long shed hairs and 100 very short shed hairs and viewed them side by side, which pile is going to look like a more drastic loss? The longer hairs of course. If the hair is very lengthy, the pile will look like maybe 3 - 4 times as much as the short pile, when in actuality the loss is the same. Shedding longer hairs is going to be much more noticeable because these show very prominently on your clothes and floor and in the drain. Frankly very short hairs are easily able to go down the drain and aren't nearly as noticeable on your clothing, so that you don't see or count them. This gives the perception that less is coming out when in fact that may not be an accurate perception at all.
Does Short Or Long Hair Camouflage The Shedding Better? Should I Cut My Hair?: I get this question a lot and the answer really depends upon the texture of your hair and the pattern of the loss. If your hair is too fine to maintain a layered or short cut or if the loss is patterned so that you would see scalp with a short cut, you may be better off leaving some length. However, it's not advisable to wear your hair so long that it looks stringy or sparse at the ends. Most women do well with a modified blunt bob (which can be shorter or longer) and men and women both do well to add some waves, curls, or color to the hair to give the illusion that there is more of it.
But, these considerations are really just band aids and camouflage. It's optimal to figure out why you are shedding and fix that. Sometimes, in cases of TE (telogen effluvium or temporary loss) this is really just waiting it out. But other times, there are issues of inflammation or androgens that must be addressed of fixed because these issues rarely go away on their own.