How stress affects your hair and what to do about it

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Hanna Ibraheem
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Not taking the time to decompress and relax could be having an affect on your hair and scalp. Here, a trichologist explains how.

Saying it’s been a stressful time may be a bit of an understatement. Despite measures around lockdown easing up, we still have a lot of questions: when will we be able to hug our loved ones again? What will the ‘new normal’ look like post-lockdown? When will nail salons reopen?

While stress can take its toll on your body and energy levels, it can also have a big impact on your hair, especially in relation to hair loss.

“Stress can wreak havoc on your hair growth cycle, and your scalp,” says Anabel Kingsley consultant trichologist and brand president at Philip Kingsley. “One reason for this is that stress can raise androgen (male hormone) levels, which can worsen or trigger female pattern hair loss if you have a genetic predisposition towards it. In fact, pattern hair loss occurs when hair follicles on your scalp are sensitive to even normal levels of male hormones.”

Kingsley adds: “Androgens can also increase your scalp’s production of sebum (oil) and lead to flaking and itching – which can also increase hair fall.”

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As well as raising androgen levels, Kingsley says that stress can affect our diet: “this can have a knock-on effect as hair growth and diet are closely linked”.

“Stress can make it harder for your body to absorb nutrients – and can also negatively impact the way you eat,” she explains. “Anxiety may cause you to reach for foods of low nutritional value, or even to skip meals.”

Of course, everybody deals with stress differently and to counterbalance the effects, it’s important to find a way to relax that works for you.

Kingsley has found her clients benefits from a range of tools, such as yoga, pilates and mindfulness apps. “My personal favourites being Calm and Headspace,” she says. If you’re looking for ideas on how to relax, read some of our stress-relieving techniques here.

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