Smoking and hair loss

Smoking can have an adverse impact on all different parts of your body, the way it works, and how it appears. We’re all more than aware of the increased risk of certain cancers, strokes, heart disease, and respiratory illness in smokers. Most of us are aware of the impact smoking can have on our skin, teeth, and even nails. But is smoking bad for your hair? And could there be a link between smoking and hair loss? We’re here to talk you through the impact that smoking can have on your hair health and hair loss.

Impact of smoking on your hair
Smoking can damage hair from a variety of different angles. Reduced circulation of blood around the body can mean the hair and hair follicles aren’t getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to grow healthily. Smoking damages DNA, which can also affect the hair follicles – damaging the hair at the root and the hair growth cycle. Each time you smoke a cloud of fumes surrounds your hair, this can be soaked up by the hair, causing damage and giving hair a smokey smell.

These side effects of smoking can cause:

Brittle hair – this is because a lack of nutrients to the hair can mean the hair becomes dry and brittle and in many cases snap off.
Greying – the toxins in smoke can damage hair follicles and the hormones in the body. These changes can cause early greying or lightening of the hair.
Hair loss – research on men suggests that smoking 20 cigarettes a day can increase the risk of hair loss. This is again because of the damage done by smoking to the hair follicles which control the hair growth cycle.
How does smoking promote hair loss?
Blood flow to the hair follicles is key for healthy hair growth. Hair follicles need oxygen, nutrients, and minerals which are supplied by the blood flow to keep the hair healthy and continue growth.

The hair has 3 phases of growth:

Anagen: growing phase
Catagen: transitional and resting phase
Telogen: shedding phase
A restricted flow of nutrients might mean that hair remains in the resting phase of its growth for longer, meaning the hair falls out at the same rate as normal (50-100 hairs per day), but they cannot be replaced at the same speed. This means that hair loss/balding may occur quicker than in those who do not smoke.

Smoking also damages the DNA, meaning the hair follicles and cells which look after growth are also subject to damage. This causes damage to the hair at its root, again leading to an increased risk of hair loss.

Will my hair grow back if I stop smoking?
Stopping smoking will help your hair health and help restore the natural healthy growth cycle. With increased blood flow to the hair follicles and nutrients, hair is likely to be thicker and more hydrated. Restoring the natural hair cycle might mean you see more hair growth, as the natural cycle of growth is no longer being damaged.

The toxins in cigarette smoke can impact the levels of estrogen in women. This can result in thinning hair. Giving up the habit is likely to see your hair grow back stronger and thicker

Men who stop smoking and find they’re losing hair, maybe experiencing male pattern baldness. This is a natural part of the aging process for some men and there are treatments you can use to help slow hair loss and in some cases promote regrowth.

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