Stress Can Sabotage Female Hair Growth

Read about how stress can affect female hair growth and what to do to combat it.

With a never ending ‘to do list’, a busy work and family life, it is no wonder that over 75 percent of us feel continually stressed and often experience physical symptoms like anxiety, illness and exhaustion. 

However, there is another physical symptom that is totally unexpected at times when we’re already ‘pulling our hair out’ with stress. That is of course, our hair; or rather, the lack of it.

Some hair loss is completely normal, and the majority of us lose up to 100 strands a day, but in times of stress it is not uncommon for that number to increase substantially. While it seems completely unfair to add another worry to our already stressed-out selves, it can help to know the phases of hair growth to understand what is really going on.

Our hair passes through three main phases: growth, rest and shedding. The growth phase is known as anagen, and usually lasts from three to five years. After anagen, each hair goes into the catagen stage where the hair follicle shrinks a little bit and cuts the hair off from the blood supply. Finally, the telogen phase begins and the hair that is no longer growing falls out. 

This cycle is ongoing and explains why we lose around 100 hairs a day under normal circumstances.

However, periods of both physical and emotional stress can disrupt this cycle by forcing more hairs out of the anagen phase prematurely, and in greater numbers, and causing them to fall out at a faster rate.

Stress can be a pretty broad term and can encompass both physical and emotional trauma in many and varied degrees. And each of us reacts differently to stress and its effects on our wellbeing. 

Some of the stressors that have an effect on hair growth include, but are not limited to:

  • Major surgery, illness or trauma to the body
  • Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight
  • Divorce
  • Moving house, especially interstate or overseas
  • Death of a loved one

Periods of stress can sometimes be quite short term; even so, if the body decides to stop working on the hair growth cycle during that time, the damage will occur. However, due to the cyclical nature of normal hair growth, it can be up to three months before the disruption to the hair cycle is noticed. 

Kurt Stenn the author of the book Hair: A Human History says that it’s almost like clockwork: ‘It’s a rule of thumb that if a patient comes into a dermatologist’s office worried about hair loss, the first thing they’ll ask is, “What happened three months before?”’

The good news is that if the stress is resolved, in time the hair growth cycle may also be restored.

It can take from three to six months for the cycle to correct itself and another six to twelve months before a substantial amount of hair has regrown, or for any result from the removal of the stress to be noticeable.

This means if the stress is continual, so too will be the hair loss. For the sake of our health and our hair, we need to learn to manage our stress better. 

Making sure we’re getting enough sleep and rest, making time for exercise and ensuring a nutritious diet with enough vitamins and minerals to support our body and healthy hair growth are all a good start.

It may also be advisable to talk to a doctor about identifying the root of the stress, and make sure there aren’t any other underlying conditions that are impacting overall health and hair loss. 

Losing excessive hair due to stress can be quite upsetting and can take a while to resolve. In the meantime there are always steps we can take to ensure some healthy hair habits to help minimise the effects. Avoid excessive heat and styling, be careful not to rub viciously with a towel nor use a fine comb or brush on wet hair. When hair is wet, it is particularly elastic and prone to breakage, so use a microfibre hair towel and a wide toothcomb.

Switch to chemical free hair products as much as possible and add oil to your daily regimen.

If the visibility of your scalp is worrying you, then there are special volumising products and shake in fibres, like BOOSTNBLEND, that can instantly thicken hair and help restore some of the confidence that can be lost as hair becomes sparser. BOOSTNBLEND was developed by women with thinning hair themselves, specifically for women, and is available from

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