How To Combat Stress-Related Hair Loss

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How to Combat Stress-Related Hair Loss
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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 about how to stop hair thinning and 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."

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Home Remedies for Stress-Related Hair Loss

While anyone experiencing hair loss should first see either at dermatologist or trichologist to develop a customized treatment plan, there are a number of products you can use at home with proven results — both internally and topically.


While there are a number of supplement products on the market that claim to regrow hair, Nutrafol has become both the gold standard, as well as the number one dermatologist-recommended supplement for hair growth. Typically, consumers should take four pills daily for at least three to six months to notice results.

Nutrafol Women

hair growth supplements

"Our daily hair growth nutraceuticals are your foundational support and specifically address the multiple factors of hair thinning — including hormones, nutrition, lifestyle, and stress — with natural and clinically-effective ingredients," explains Dr. Arthen. "Taking these supplements consistently will help improve hair growth, thickness, and strength while also offering side benefits like reduced stress, improved skin, and nail health as well as sleep, metabolism, and mood."

Nutrafol offers a variety of formulas that are specific to both men and women's needs, as well as booster products, such as the Stress Adaptogen capsules, for additional support.

Hush & Hush is another popular brand that offers their own hair growth supplement called DeeplyRooted.

Hush & Hush DeeplyRooted

Hush and Hush
Courtesy Hush & Hush

The formula contains powerful ingredients, such as ashwagandha root extract, coconut water, organic Himalayan shilajot, horsetail extract, and saw palmetto. Together, they help relieve stress, reduce DHT levels, and increase blood flow to the scalp — all of which create a healthy environment for hair to grow.

Furthermore, clinical studies published in 2020 show that 91% of subjects reported improved overall hair growth after taking the supplements for three months.

Topical Products

In addition to supplements, Nutrafol now also offers topical products to increase overall scalp health and encourage hair growth.

"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.

Will Oil Blends Help to Regrow My Hair?

Maybe. But there's currently not enough clinical evidence for experts to give a definitive answer on whether or not popular oils like castor or rosemary oil will do the trick.

"The studies support it, but my general advice is that it's hard to know how much or in what medium," explains Dr. Bhanusali. "Just because an ingredient has been shown to help, doesn't mean you should apply any product to your body. The formulation is important."

However, the good news is that they likely won't do any harm if you give them a try. But it's still best to check in with a dermatologist before applying anything to the scalp in an effort to reverse hair loss.

"[Castor and rosemary oils] do contain anti-inflammatory properties that promote healing in the skin and scalp, which is a positive for the health of your existing hair," Dr. Ziering says.

Professional In-Office Treatments for Stress-Related Hair Loss

If supplements aren't doing the trick, or your dermatologist has recommended in-office treatments in addition to taking your daily regimen, there's no need to panic. There are plenty of safe options to help aggressively combat hair loss.

"We sometimes use intralesional kenalog — a steroid — in the short term off-label in order to see if we can minimize shedding. We also add in red light treatments as needed," says Dr. Bhanusali. "Once shedding is under control, we either use over the counter minoxidil or compound higher strengths via HairStim labs and craft specific formulations with ingredients like topical spironolactone and tretinoin for our patients. Some dermatologists add PRP off-label for growth."

Dr. Ziering's practice offers a plethora of devices, injectables, and surgical techniques to reverse hair loss — including ones specific to Afro-textured hair.

"Z-Factors is an effective in-office scalp injection treatment method that regenerates the hair follicle at the cellular level and promotes hair growth," he explains. "This therapy can help modify the body's immune response when it is not healthy and repair damage such as hair loss caused by stress. The Keralase Treatment is a simple, pain-free procedure performed in our hair restoration clinics that combines laser therapy with the unique, patent-pending KeraFactor® Serum. It is a clinically proven therapy for treating hair loss, improving scalp health, and stimulating hair growth. Finally, Laser Therapy helps promote thicker hair and restore hair growth by stimulating the follicles on your scalp. Laser Therapy is offered in-clinic and also with the Laser Cap which may be used at home three times per week for 30 minutes."

For Afro-textured hair in specific, Dr. Ziering confirms that Z-Factors, KeraFactor and Keralase treatments all work exceptionally well. However, if you're at the stage where a hair transplant has now become an option, he has specific harvesting techniques that work best for this hair type.

"Using MDEE Strip Harvesting or Follicular Unit Extraction/Excision (FUE) procedures, these patients often realize a more dynamic result with a smaller yield of harvested hair follicles," he shares. "Another option for treatment is Scalp Micropigmentation which is a complex tattooing technique that inserts pigment — or micro dots — beneath the epidermis. This creates the appearance of thicker, denser hair, and may be used in conjunction with hair transplant surgery or as a stand-alone treatment."

How Much Do Hair Restoration Treatments Cost?

We're going to be honest with you: it's not cheap.

Supplements typically start around $75 a bottle, while in-office treatments can go into the thousands, and transplants can cost upwards of $10,000 or more. However, if you are noticing bald spots, or that your hair has become thinner overall, your best bet is still to visit a trichologist or dermatologist, who can help develop a customized treatment plan to avoid causing further damage.

Plus, most offices can work with you to create an affordable payment plan.

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