When it comes to having a head of thick, healthy hair, what you don’t do is just as important as the things you’re doing.
This isn’t just about hair products; your hair’s health is linked to every part of your body, so stress levels and food intake, among other factors, actually impact your hair’s health.
Want to know which of your daily habits may be impacting your hair? Read on for 6 surprising causes of hair loss!
Before taking any OTC or prescription meds, always make sure to read the possible side effects. Any medication that involves changes in the hormones, such as birth control pills, or estrogen pills can have an impact on your hair’s growth. Even steroids or acne medications can be culprits of sudden hair problems.
How drugs usually interfere with hair’s health is by disrupting the growth cycle of your follicles.
Hair usually switches between anagen (the 3-4 year period when hair grows) and telogen (a shorter time period of about 3 months when hair stops growing to rest) phase.
Some medications, especially those directly affecting hormones, are such a shock to the body that they cause hairs to rapidly enter the telogen phase. In a normal hair cycle, only about 10% of hair is in telogen phase at any given time.
However, some medication causes this percentage to rise up to almost 30% which causes hair to stop growing for 2-4 months before falling off completely.
#2. Stress Levels
If you’re always on the brink of pulling at your hair from all the stress, here’s another reason to relax: High stress levels can contribute to hair loss. Once again, hormones are at play here. Soaring stress levels signal the body to release cortisol and other hormones.
These sudden changes can cause a shock in your body which can result in a condition called Telogen Effluvium. This condition is when an abnormal number of your hair follicles (as much as 30%) suddenly go into the telogen phase, wherein they stop growing and eventually fall out.
Other cases wherein stress levels are strongly correlated with hair loss is when severe stress in a person triggers a type of baldness that is caused by the immune system attaching hair follicles. In rarer cases, stress related issues also cause people to develop the habit of pulling out their hair out of habit to deal with increasing pressure.
When stress levels start to mount, take a timeout and indulge in a scalp massage. Not only does it do the trick to relax you, it promotes hair growth as well. Now that’s a win-win right there.
While some dermatologists say that a limited amount of caffeine is good for the hair, too much of a good thing still has its consequences.
Consuming cup after cup of joe takes its toll on your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients and vitamins in your food. When less nutrients get into your blood steam, this means that your hair follicles are starved of what they need to make healthy hair.
If you think you’ve heard enough about the side effects of smoking, add ugly (and foul-smelling!) hair to the list. Smoking directly affects your circulatory system, so not enough oxygen would be reaching your hair follicles to allow it to grow.
Plus having your hair trapped in a permanent cloud of smoke doesn’t just cause hair to stink, the many toxins that cigarette smoke releases also sticks to your hair and dries it out.
Other ways smoking and hair loss are connected? Smoking can weaken your immune system which can make your body susceptible to a host of diseases, and some of them can lead to hair fall.
#4. Your Sweet Tooth
Generally, any hormonal imbalance can have a negative effect on your hair growth. Insulin resistance, which results from eating high glycemic foods which causes the body to overproduce insulin has been repeatedly shown to positively correlate with hair loss.
Insulin resistance leads to high blood sugar levels, which lead to higher cortisol levels and inflammation in the body. Men and women with higher cortisol and insulin in their system are more susceptible to genetic alopecia, than those in the normal range.
Another way that your candy chomping may be affecting your hair’s health is if carbs are taking the place of protein in your diet. Since hair is made up mostly of protein, it needs a great deal of protein to continue growing and to repair itself. If you’re filling up your meals with carbs, chances are you’re not getting the amount of protein you need.
This one is a no-brainer. Constant exposure to harmful chemicals (in hair straightening treatments and dye jobs), coupled with those tight buns and braid you sport every day, tend to build pressure on the roots of hair causing it to break off. Extreme heat from blowdrying or curling irons can also change the pH of scalp and hair, which can make it less conducive for hair growth.
Constant exposure to heat can also affect hair cuticles by removing pieces of the overlapping scales that compose the cuticle, which increases hair’s porosity so it becomes easier for debris and other substances to latch on to the hair and weaken it.
#6. Extreme diets
Any dire changes in your body can adversely affect hair, including crash diets. Make sure your body is always getting enough nutrition and protein, since those are the building blocks of healthy hair.
Sudden changes in diet can also cause hormonal imbalances which also tend to trigger hair loss. To truly understand how hormones affect hair loss, let’s go back to the endocrine system. Think of the endocrine system as a control tower for most bodily functions, it secretes hormones to trigger certain effects within the body including how our hair grows (or doesn’t).
Now extreme diets (as well as stress that comes from extreme dieting) can impact your body’s ability to regenerate hair follicles by causing changes in your endocrine system. A prime example is fluctuating testosterone levels.
A nutritionally-deficient diet can cause low testosterone levels which increases dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of testosterone. DHT shortens the growth cycle of your hair and increases the resting cycle so that over time, hair grows less until it stops growing altogether and eventually falls out.
If you’re on a calorie-restricting diet, then at the least take a hair-healthy multivitamin – something that is comprehensive and contains biotin. This one is great.