The state of your strands can reveal many things. There are the strictly surface-level signs–like parched ends–that indicate an obvious addiction to bleach or blowouts. And then there are the other signs–like sudden hair loss–that provide a window into your health. Let’s investigate.
If it’s really oily
Have you recently started, stopped or changed your birth control method? Depending on the type of contraceptive you’re using, your hair (and skin) might feel a bit greasier than usual. Talk to your doctor about switching to a low-estrogen or combination birth control pill–and in the meantime, work a shampoo with salicylic acid into your regular routine twice a week to help reduce oil on the scalp.
If it’s really dry
We’re talking brittle, always-on-the-verge-of-breaking strands here. If you’re obviously over-coloring or over-styling your hair, scale back and get thee a nourishing mask, stat. Otherwise, it could be a sign of an underactive thyroid. Your doctor can verify this for you through a simple blood test–and can also help you get it under control.
If it’s really dull
You might not be getting enough fat in your diet. Start incorporating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats–like oily fish and avocados–to nourish your strands and bring back some luster. Bonus: It will make your skin soft and supple, too.
If it’s thinning
You might not be getting enough protein and iron in your diet. If you’ve recently decided to become a vegetarian or vegan, make sure that you’re loading up on dark, leafy greens and legumes to supplement any deficiency. If nothing has changed in your diet, it could be a delayed reaction to extreme stress–usually caused by a major life change like a move or breakup. The good news is your hair will likely return to normal on its own within a couple months. If you continue to experience abnormal hair loss, see your doctor as it could be a hormonal imbalance.