Strands Hairdressing

Stressed tresses: How stress affects your hair

In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, stress is a constant companion for many of us. Its impact extends beyond our mental and emotional well-being, directly affecting our physical health, including the condition of our hair.

As April is Stress Awareness Month we asked Emilie to explain how stress affects our hair and scalp, and what we can do to minimise its impact.

Breaking point for hair and scalp

Stress can wreak havoc on your hair several ways, explains Emile.

Hair shedding is one of the main effects of stress on your hair. It’s important to note, says Emilie that stress doesn’t usually cause hair loss and thinning immediately. Most hair loss happens between 6-12 weeks after a stressful event, due to the nature of the hair growth cycle.

High stress levels can push hair follicles into a resting phase of their growth cycle, preventing new hair from growing. Normally hair spends around 85% of its life in the “anagen” growth phase, but acute stress causes the hair to prematurely enter the “telogen” resting phase. This condition, known as telogen effluvium, can trigger noticeable hair loss and thinning.

Thinning hair often impacts badly on our self-image, and therefore our self-confidence and self-esteem. It’s yet another blow if you’re already feeling low and stressed. The good news is that hair loss due to stress is not permanent, and your hair will grow back once you have removed the stress. I look at some ways of reducing stress later in this blog.

As well as hair shedding, chronic stress can lead to a dry, itchy scalp, exacerbating conditions like dandruff.

The increased production of stress hormones can also affect the nutrient balance in your body, depriving your hair of the essential nutrients it needs to stay healthy and strong. As a result, hair is more prone to breakage and damage.

From stressed to best

Let’s look at how you can reduce these effects with a targeted haircare routine:

[1] Gentle cleansing and conditioning

Choose mild, sulphate-free shampoos and nourishing conditioners that don’t strip your hair of its natural oils says Emilie. I like Redken ABC, Maintaining a healthy scalp environment is key to preventing stress-induced hair issues.

[2] Nutrient-rich hair treatments

Incorporate hair masks or serums enriched with vitamins and minerals into your routine, says Emilie. Products containing biotin, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids can improve hair strength and condition. Aim for weekly treatments to replenish nutrients and moisture, vital for stress-damaged hair.

[3] Scalp care

A regular scalp massage not only feels incredibly relaxing but also stimulates blood flow to the hair follicles, encouraging healthy hair growth. “This simple practice can be a powerful tool against stress-related hair problems,” advises Emilie.

Ask your stylist about adding a regular scalp detox, such as Redken’s Cleansing cream shampoo into your routine to remove product buildup and skin flakes. And if you’re prone to dandruff an increase in stress can make the scalp produce more oil which may upset its microflora balance. Try Redken soothing balance to reduce flaking and relieve itching.

[4] Minimise styling damage

High stress can make your hair more susceptible to damage from heat and styling products.

Emilie suggests reducing your use of heat styling tools if possible, turning down the heat dial and always use a heat protectant before styling.

[5] Hair Food

Hair supplements can be a great help in combating thinning  hair says Emilie. 

GLOWWA the original hair food supports optimum hair health and wellbeing from this inside out, restoring thinning hair, and improving scalp health. 

Another way to protect fragile strands is to avoid hairstyles that pull tightly on the hair, such as ponies and sleek, tight buns.

And relax…

Try these to de-stress mind and body:

[1] Breathing exercises

“When you learn to breathe better, you calm yourself down,” says Emilie. “Inhale for three counts, hold for four, and exhale for five. Repeat five times. This technique can instantly reduce stress levels, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.”

[2] Relaxing head massage

Ask your stylist for an extra-relaxing head massage at the back wash. At home, treat yourself to a firm but gentle massage – it takes just minutes in the morning, but you’ll feel the benefits on your stress levels.

[3] Mindful relaxation

Dedicate time to activities that relax both your mind and body. Yoga, meditation and spending time outdoors in nature can improve your stress management and positively affect your hair health.

[4] Healthy lifestyle choices

Eating a healthy balanced diet and avoiding ultra-processed food, as well as getting plenty of sleep, can reduce stress and support hair growth.

While regular exercise can help lower levels of your stress hormones and help take your mind off the cause of your stress.

A helping hand

We understand the profound connection between stress and hair health. Book a consultation with us for personalised advice and treatments tailored to combat the effects of stress on your hair. Remember, self-care is not just a luxury – it’s a necessity. Embrace self-care as an essential part of your routine, and let us help you reveal your healthiest, most vibrant hair yet.