From breakage and fallout to super slow growth — learn how stress affects your hair, and what you can do about it.
Noticing more shedding and breakage than usual? Is your hair feeling thinner and growing in slo-mo? Stress might be the culprit. Hormone imbalances and inflammation caused by chronic stress have many negative effects on our bodies, including our hair. Let’s break down the science behind how stress affects hair health, and talk solutions for getting stressed-out tresses back on track.
Hair Growth 101
Hair growth is a complex process that involves multiple stages. The hair follicles are continuously cycling through three phases: anagen (growth phase), catagen (transition phase), and telogen (resting phase). Each hair strand grows for 2-6 years before entering the resting phase, where it stays for about 3 months before falling out and being replaced by a new hair strand. Then the growth phase begins again.
On average, we shed between 50 and 100 hairs per day, which is a normal part of the growth process. But the natural balance between growth and shedding starts going sideways when stress enters the picture.
How stress messes with hair growth
When we experience stress, our bodies release cortisol — a hormone that's been linked to hair loss. Cortisol can interfere with hair growth by shrinking the follicles, reducing blood flow to the scalp, and causing hair to enter the resting phase prematurely, resulting in excess shedding. A shorter growth phase also means that hair loses its ability to grow stronger over time, resulting in hair that’s thinner, weaker, and more prone to breakage.
High levels of cortisol can also cause the adrenal gland to produce more androgens, which are male hormones that both men and women have. Androgens can shrink hair follicles, further contributing to hair loss. This is a reason why some women notice hair thinning after pregnancy and around menopause, when the body produces fewer female hormones and more androgens.
In addition to wreaking havoc on our hormones, stress can also trigger inflammation in the body, which can damage follicles and cause the hair to become dry, brittle and dull.
How to support stressed-out hair:
- Start with the stress part: find healthy and sustainable routines to help you manage your stress like exercise, meditation, talking to a therapist or simply slowing down. However you find peace of mind is the perfect place to start!
- Eat a balanced diet: make sure your diet includes plenty of nutrient-dense whole foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes, and try to cut back on processed foods. Seek out sources of iron, zinc and biotin in your meals, which are important for hair health. Think eggs, spinach, beans, avocados and salmon!
- Take supplements: hair supplements are key in filling in the blanks left by our diets. Our Hair Pill combines stress-fighting adaptogens and a complex of essential vitamins and minerals that support hormonal balance and healthy hair growth.