Is Your Hair Stressed Out?
(Yes, It’s really a “THING”.)
Anyone out there who has NOT been experiencing especially high levels of stress and anxiety since, say, February 2020? (Silence. No hands raised. Can you say pandemic?)
So, we all know that stress affects your body negatively and we feel and see the signs of it (inflammation in our bodies, hormone levels, heart palpitations, facial breakouts, emotional and psychological stress, etc.). But have you really thought about what it does to your hair?
I’ve noticed something interesting with nearly all my clients over the past six months. Most are coming to the salon with dry, brittle, dull-looking hair and are complaining of increased hair loss. No, they haven’t been vacationing nor has there been much exposure to the summer elements – sun, salt water, chlorine, etc., like we normally see during the summer, which can wreak havoc on your hair. Most people have been quarantined and/or are working inside in their air-conditioned homes. Most have had extra time on their hands to maintain and even enjoy “beauty routines” they normally find difficult to fit in their busy lives. So, what gives? I suspect it’s the effect of stress and anxiety on their hair.
When we think of stress, many of us think about ‘pulling out’ our hair. However, prolonged periods of stress can actually lead to chemical and physical changes in your hair’s color, texture, and body. Does your scalp itch and feel more sensitive when you’re under pressure? Do you notice more hair left in your brush during stressful times?
- Hair Loss and Compromised Scalp Health.[i] Telogen effluvium is a form of temporary hair loss that usually happens after stress, a shock, or a traumatic event. It usually occurs on the top of the scalp. This phenomenon can occur when a substantial amount of anxiety and stress can cause the hair follicles to resume a resting phase which can, over time, cause the hair to either fall out in clumps or weaken significantly in structure, causing it to break and look dull and lifeless. Thankfully, anxiety-induced hair loss is reversible — and you can start by dialing up your self-care, says Dr. Sood. “Focus on a healthy diet, exercise, good sleep, and relationships,” he advises. “Consider yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques like music, massage, coloring, gardening, or reading.”
“Stress causes an increased release of cortisol. This can cause increased shedding of scalp hair. In response to chronic stress, levels of male hormones, such as testosterone and DHEAS, also rise, leading to an increased oiliness of the scalp and greasiness of the hair as well as premature shedding of mature hair follicles,” said Dr. Rebecca Tung, Loyola University Health System. Regular exercise and extra sleep can help control the damage to your hair caused by stress. “Sometimes I will suggest nutritional support such as the vitamin biotin plus a one-a-day multivitamin,” said Dr. Tung.[ii]
Best Solution: Scalp massages with oil. A great way to speed up the hair growth process is to stimulate the scalp with an oil massage. Not only does this increase blood flow to the hair follicles, but it promotes the growth of healthy hair by providing necessary nutrients. Rub high-quality hair oil between your fingers to warm it up and then gently massage into the scalp in small circular motions for about 10 minutes. Wash the oil out in the shower with a shampoo and deep conditioner. Avoid getting conditioner on your scalp, as this may clog your hair follicles and prevent growth.
Alopecia areata is a condition that causes the hair to suddenly fall out in large clumps and affects approximately 6.8 million people in the USA. The condition occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles with stress and anxiety having a known effect on the various functions of the body, including the immune system. Hair loss may be limited to the scalp but can occur throughout the body and may, unfortunately, be a permanent fixture.
2. Weakened Hair. Your body’s hormones may fail you when you are under stress. A big result here is that it creates weakness in your hair. This may be due to the lack of normal sleep patterns. It can also mean that the immune system is not working the way it should. All of this leaves your hair weak and compromised. That means it is more vulnerable to toxins. It may fall out easier. It may lack that shine that you love.[iii] The good news is that Salon 1580 can help. Call today to arrange a consultation for a free, private, hair and scalp analysis.
Long periods of stress may cause your hair to grow more slowly than normal. Without new, fresh length, your hair may be more susceptible to breakage. If your scalp produces less oil when you're stressed, this will add to the breakage, causing your hair to take look and feel brittle.
Best Solution: Leave-in treatment. To prevent the ends of your hair from breaking and becoming damaged, apply a leave-in treatment when your hair is wet and let it air dry. Instead of using heat on your hair to style it, try an air-dry hairstyle. Limiting the amount of heat you use on your hair will help to conserve the health of your ends, which is usually where damage starts. Being gentle with your hair will help to minimize the damaging relationship between stress and hair.[iv]
More tips and tricks to benefit the health of your hair can be found in a blog post I wrote last September, and can be found HERE.Another blog post you may find helpful is THIS (“Is Your Hair On Drugs?”), especially if you have begun taking new medications.
3. Gray Hair.[v] The idea that acute stress can cause hair to turn gray is a popular belief. But until now, that link wasn’t scientifically proven. Indeed, stress can cause hair to gray prematurely by affecting the stem cells that are responsible for regenerating hair pigment. The findings give insights for future research into how stress affects stem cells and tissue regeneration.
Here are some solutions for stressed tresses I offer my clients to restore health and beauty to their hair:
Treatments - If
your hair is dull, and/or frizzy, kinky, damaged or unmanageable, you are probably
a good candidate for keratin treatments. Read all about them HERE.
- Olaplex Treatments for ultimate
breakage insurance – Both stand-alone treatments
and as an additive to any chemical service in the salon, plus take home
treatments. Read all
about them HERE.
- Hair Repair and Protection Treatments - Read more HERE about
affordable Extreme CAT Protein Reconstruction Treatments and
- Add a Deep Conditioning Treatment at the salon. There’s even a special
deep conditioning mask created just for blondes – the GKhair Hot Bombshell Mask.
- Craving More Shine? Add on a gloss or glaze treatment
during your color service.
- No One Likes Fading Color! How about color protection AND a hair-smoothing mini-keratin treatment all in one? Add a Color Seal mini-keratin treatment to any color service.
DE-STRESS your mind and body with hair-repairing pampering and a glass of wine or your favorite beverage. YOU DESERVE IT! Remember, great hair doesn’t happen by chance. It happens by appointment. 678-361-4247
[i] “The Negative Effect of Anxiety and Stress on Your Hair,” Mental Health Connecticut, March 13, 2018. Jane Sandwood. https://www.mhconn.org/uncategorized/negative-effect-anxiety-stress-hair/
[ii] "REVERSING THE DAMAGE CAUSED BY STRESS" By Mary Kay Kleist, Naperville Magazine, August 2014. https://napervillemagazine.com/2014/08/hair-repair-reversing-damage-caused-stress/
[iii] "STRESS AND HAIR LOSS- 4 WAYS STRESS AFFECTS YOUR HAIR," By Unique Hair Concepts, https://www.uniquehairconcepts.com/blog/309-stress-and-hair-loss-4-ways-stress-affects-your-hair.html#gref
[iv] "How to Take Care of Your Hair in High-Stress Times," It's a 10 Haircare. https://itsa10haircare.com/blogs/blog/how-to-take-care-of-your-hair-in-high-stress-times#:~:text=Long%20periods%20of%20stress%20may,take%20look%20and%20feel%20brittle.
[v] "How stress causes gray hair," National Institutes of Health, Feb. 4, 2020. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-stress-causes-gray-hair