Things are not looking good, guys — and it's been that way (at least in our lifetime) since 2020.
Between dodging multiple disease outbreaks and witnessing whatever atrocities are filling the news cycle, it's fair to say that even if your life is seemingly perfect in every other aspect, trying to live everyday life without being triggered has become an extreme sport.
So, if you've been feeling a little more stressed out than usual, that's perfectly normal. But if the stress has started to take a toll on your hair — specifically the number of strands you're losing a day — then that can definitely be a problem.
"There are direct and indirect relationships [between stress and hair loss]," says board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Medicinals Dr. Dhaval G. Bhanusali, FAAD. "As stress increases, your cortisol level increases, which can lead to long-standing hair loss."
Thankfully, there are a number of solutions when it comes to combatting stress-related hair loss — and we tapped four experts to share everything you need to know to get your strands back on track.
What Is Stress-Related Hair Loss?
"Stress impacts everyone differently, and it's important to understand that its impacts on hair are cumulative," explains Dr. Anya Arthen, Director of Naturopathic Doctors and Clinical Education at Nutrafol.
The ND goes on to explain that chronic stress, such as the daily grind and endless to-do lists can cause a slow burn when it comes to hair shedding. However, acute stress can lead to significant hair loss after a traumatic or unexpected event.
"When a major acute stressor occurs, like in an instance of a death of a loved one or a major break up, it can manifest in a huge shift in our hormonal and neurochemical balance," Dr. Arthen shares. "This shift in stress hormones can signal a significant percent of hair follicles to prematurely shift from the growth phase (anagen) to the resting phase (telogen)."
Dr. Craig Ziering, D.O., F.A.A.D, dermatologist, hair transplant surgeon, and owner of Ziering Medical adds, "[These types of events can] cause the hair to either fall out in clumps or weaken significantly in structure, resulting in hair breakage and giving hair a dull, lifeless appearance."
It's also good to keep in mind that hair tends to fall about three months post-acute stressor. So be sure to monitor your hair density and see a dermatologist who specializes in hair loss should you start to notice symptoms. However, there can always be exceptions to the general rule.
"With my own patients, I've seen it much quicker, often days to weeks after — or even during —stressful times," explains Dr. Bhanusali.
How to Prevent Stress-Related Hair Loss
Preventing stress-related hair loss can be tricky, considering that everyone responds to stress differently and there are various ways in which it can physically manifest. However, learning to cope with difficult situations in a healthy manner is key.
"After a distressing event, it's important for patients to not suffer in silence," shares Dr. Bhanusali. "They should see their dermatologist as soon as they notice more than the typical 100 hairs lost per day. Especially when hair is coming out in clumps. It's much easier to keep the hair you already have than to regrow it."
"The Growth Activator — a first of its kind topical serum formulated with Ashwagandha Exosomes — is a good option for those looking to address the immediate signs of hair thinning on the scalp surface like hairline changes, excess shedding, and large parts," explains Dr. Arthen. "[We also] introduced the Scalp Microbiome Support collection earlier this summer, featuring three essential products for scalp health based on consumers' specific needs."
The collection includes the Root Purifier, Build-Up Blocker, and Stress Reliever Essence.
"It's important to note that these products are not designed to grow hair but rather balance the protective scalp microbiome to cultivate the optimal ecosystem for healthy scalp and hair," the ND adds. "We recommend using them alongside our daily hair growth supplements for optimal hair health."
On the other hand, Dr. Ziering created the Follicle Cleanse and Follicle Sustenance shampoo and conditioner duo that can help promote hair growth. "Whether your aging hair follicles need more TLC or your thinning hair needs a restorative cleanse and conditioning, Follicle Cleanse and Follicle Sustenance are proven solutions to add to your daily hair care routine to promote hair health and regrowth," he shares.
There's also Harklinikken, a Scandinavian hair loss brand backed both by science, and '90s talk show queen Ricki Lake. The magic is in Harklinikken's Extract, which is custom-made for every patient.
"Every person is unique, and so are the many combinations of causes and patterns of their hair thinning. Therefore, our clients can achieve much thicker and healthier hair with our tailor-made regimen focused on the individual's specific needs at any given time," shares Lars Skjoth, founder of Harklinikken. "Customization of the Extract is based on gender, ethnicity, age, scalp condition, oil production, environment, hair type, and level of hair thinning."
While everyone's formula will differ, all ingredients used are naturally-derived and generally contain a mixture of burdock root, marigold, cow's milk, and apple, along with a few other ingredients.
"The Harklinikken Extract activates dormant hair follicles, normalizes hair shedding, and thickens existing hairs," Skjoth adds.
By using the Extract consistently, patients can start to see results in as early as two months. However, "maximum potential is achieved in one to three years, depending on the level of hair thinning," says Skjoth. But it is important to note that hair may return to its original condition if the patient stops using the custom formula.