spotlight

how does stress affect your hair?

09.16.2019

for some, fall can be a very exciting time of year. the weather is cooling down, pumpkin spice lattes are back at starbucks and halloween is on its way. but for others, fall can be full of stressors. at this point, most summer vacations are over and some of us are heading back to school. this stress can be hard on your body – both physically and mentally. but did you know that being under chronic stress can have severe effects on your hair?

why does stress impact your hair?

basically, stress sends your hormones out of whack and you produce much more of the stress hormone cortisol. cortisol, when active in your hair follicles and builds up in your hair. you know how people use hair for drug testing? well with cortisol, you can use hair for stress testing. doctors can even figure out how much stress a woman was under during her pregnancy by analyzing the levels of cortisol in the hair of her new baby!

ways stress can impact your hair

one of the most common effects of stress is an overproduction of oil. it’s bad enough that this affects your scalp and causes your hair to become oilier, but it can also affect your skin! the end result can be bouts of acne.

stress can also cause hair loss but don't fret if you see a few strands in the tub or on your hair brush. it’s perfectly normal to lose as many as 100 hairs a day.

sometimes stress can cause a condition called telogen effluvium that produces severe hair loss which means losing as much as 70% of your hair. this is due to hair follicles stopping their growth phase.  you might not see this hair loss until one to three months later and it can take up to six months for you to regrow your hair.

dandruff can be another result of stress. just like the bacteria in your gut, you also have microbes on your scalp that can be disrupted when you are subjected to high levels of stress.

ways to reduce your stress level

while you may not be able to easily rid yourself of some stressors (like work), you can take steps to improve your levels of stress.

one way is to increase your resilience to it. while it’s common people to brag about how little sleep they get, not getting enough can do a number on your system. inadequate sleep, particularly a lack of deep sleep, can significantly increase your levels of stress.

exercise is another factor that can help you resist the effects of stress. even 30 minutes a day twice a week of moderate exercise can help. 

and don’t forget a healthy diet! it’s especially important to eat high levels of protein to maintain the health of your hair.

taking these steps to address your stress can help you maintain the beautiful hair that you worked so hard for.

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