What does stress do to our hair? Spot the signs

What does stress do to our hair? Spot the signs

If you’re spotting more hair loss than usual on your hair brush or inside the shower, then you may be wondering if your stress levels are to blame. You have probably heard about how stress affects your hair and body numerous times online. But, what’s the truth?

Whether you are running on fumes, feeling frazzled by work, relationships, emotional events like divorce or death in the family, it’s very natural for your mental health to take a tole especially your body and mind.

Stress has been built into us to be a normal part of our modern-day life. But we all know that stress is bad for us and we’re seeing a massive societal shift ensuring our mental health is at the forefront, now more than ever. Especially after going through a global pandemic. Where 59% of the UK population increased in their stress levels[1] during lockdown.

[1] Source: Mental health foundation - 2020

What you probably did not know is – stress in fact affects your entire body in different ways:

  • Your gut health might be compromised.
  • Your hair will start to shed even more.
  • Your skin might go through a hormonal breakout.
  • And, your scalp might flare up when your stress levels spikes causing it to be itchy, flaky or even oily.

So, what exactly is going on in your body, hair and gut when your stress levels spike? And what can you do about it? First let’s get to know the basics about stress and how it works.

What is Stress?

Long term stress and anxiety can be very detrimental for both your physical and mental health. Stress is caused by elevated Cortisol hormones (stress hormone) which is produced in the adrenal glands. It’s increased when we experience heightened anxiety or stress. When Cortisol levels rise, all our body’s energy goes into handling the stressors instead of regulating your other normal bodily functions like your immune or digestive system.

Cortisol normally helps to regulate your weight, appetite, body metabolism, blood pressure and glucose. But, when you’re under severe or chronic stress you can experience increased anxiety, headaches, memory problems, brain fog, digestive issues, weakened immune system, weight gain, insomnia.

Some other signs of stress you should keep an eye out for. We are all individuals and can vary person to person. But this is broadly speaking about common themes we have spotted from speaking to a whole host of women.

  • Insomnia
  • Eczema flare-up on your skin (body or hair)
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Digestive issues – or bloating
  • Getting ill more often than usual (weak immune system)
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss, irritated scalp.

Why does stress affect your hair and scalp?

There are several different types of hair loss you can experience whilst you are stressed, some are based on hormonal changes others could be due to environmental or emotional factors.

There are 3 different types of hair loss related to high stress levels:

Telogen Effluvium (TEL-o-jun uh-FLOO-vee-um)

I know it’s a mouth full to pronounce. But this condition basically is a common cause of temporary hair loss. Stress in this condition pushes hair follicles into a “resting” phase so that they don’t produce new hair strands. Overtime, this leads to hair falling out more easily. Even if you’re just washing, combing or touching it. This condition can also be caused by poor nutrition and changes in your hormonal levels such as menopause or post-natal recovery.

Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh)

If you have ever found yourself literally pulling out your hair when you’re stressed or anxious. It could be a sign of trichotillomania. In this psychological condition, people deal with negative emotions, like stress and anxiety, by pulling hair from the scalp, face and other parts of the body.

Alopecia areata (al-o-PEE-she-uh ar-e-A-tuh)

There are several factors that cause alopecia areata, possibly including severe stress. With this condition, the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles – causing hair loss.

There are other ways stress can impact your hair:

  • Hair thinning: We know stress can impact your hormone levels, when we are stressed, our adrenal glands produce more cortisol (our stress hormone) and adrenaline. Which in turn will raise our testosterone levels. And if you have a genetical predisposition to follicle sensitivity this eventually cause your hair to start thinning.
  • Produce more oil on your scalp – Increased levels of stress disrupts your scalp’s microflora balance, which often causes flaking and itching similarly to when your skin has a breakout when under stress. Many people find their flaky scalp increases when they are under a lot of stress.
  • Increased hair shedding – Stress reduced the body’s ability to digest the foods you eat and how it absorbs nutrients. And most of the time when you're stressed we tend not to eat as well as you normally do. If you skip meals or opt for foods with less nutritional value. Unfortunately for your hair, nutritional deficiencies often show up first in the form of hair shedding.
  • Weakened immune system – We all know stress has a very big impact on your immune system, it lowers your body’s natural defences and leaves you more susceptible to illness or being tired. When your body is under strain – it will divert extra energy and nutrients to your vital organs, leaving your hair to be last thing to be prioritised.

Hair loss from stress doesn’t have to be permanent. If you can manage your stress and bring it under control your hair will slowly recover and grow back. However, if you notice sudden or patchy hair loss which is more than usual when combing or washing your hair, talk to a doctor. Sudden hair loss can signal underlying medical conditions that would require professional treatment. If required your doctors might suggest a medical hair loss treatment.

What can you do to de-stress?

centred, stress, hair loss

I know managing stress is easier said than done, take it from a chronic stress survivor like me. But here are few of my favourite tips and tricks I have used over the years which has helped me combat some of the stressful moments in my life.

  • Eat a whole – food diet: Now we all know how hard it is sometimes to eat healthy. And sometimes we keep grabbing a quick sandwich or a chocolate bar as a pick me up when your busy working. And it's absolutely fine to do this once in a while. But diets which have a lot of added sugar and processed food will raise your cortisol levels and put you at a greater risk of higher blood pressure and diabetes. Make sure you get enough fibre in your diet as it helps to regulate your gut bacteria which in turn helps to regulate your hormones. Diet is really important and is about 80% of the battle.
  • Add supplements for enhanced effect: Supplements should never ever replace a well-balanced diet. But studies have shown magnesium helps to regulate cortisol levels. Vitamin B12, folic acid and vitamin C can help to support the metabolism of cortisol in your body.
  • Practicing meditation: There are numerous studies and books around the world which has stated meditation is a great reliever of stress. This age-old practice, which can take up in many forms. Whether its 5 minutes or 20 minutes you can spare. Meditation affects the body in exactly the opposite way that stress does by triggering the body’s relaxation response. 

It helps to restore the body to a calm state, helping the body repair itself and preventing further damage from the physical effects of stress. It helps to calm your mind and body by keeping your stress-induced thoughts at bay which keeps your body’s stress response not triggered.

  • Reduce your caffeine intake: Having one or two cups of coffee a day isn’t going to make your more stressed. In fact, several studies have shown about the positive effects of your morning cup of coffee can soothe and focus your mind. A US study from the Harvard School of Public Health says two-three cups of coffee a day can cut suicidal risk by 45% in both men and women.

However, over-consumption of coffee can lead to either adrenal fatigue which occurs when cortisol levels are off balance. It makes your mind and body often extremely tired, and we rely on more caffeine to get through the day. It’s a terrible cycle (one which I have been stuck in a few times).

Coffee also hinders the absorption of adenosine (a hormone which calms the body). So, with the combination of increasing cortisol, your adrenaline and dopamine increased, couple with the lack of adenosine can manifest in feeling of fatigue, mood crash and inability to sleep.

  • Get your sleep: Now, I have been guilty of scrolling through my social media in bed rather than going to sleep. Sometimes, you say it’s for five-minutes next thing you know you have been online for 30 minutes finding a new DIY project that I will probably be terrible at. 1 in 3 of us in the UK suffer from poor sleep, with stress, computers and taking work home is often blamed.

Adequate sleep is so important for your mental wellbeing - it’s the chance for your body to heal, improve concentration, regulates your mood and sharpens judgement. Lack of sleep can increase your chances of obesity, heart disease or diabetes and compromising your mental health.

  • Exercise regularly and consistently – Working out 30 – 50 minutes daily can help to increase the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, endorphins which contribute to relieving your body’s stress levels.
  • Journaling – Getting all your thoughts on paper can be helpful to understand your mind and help you organise yourself. It can help you relive some stressful thoughts and get you feeling more organised. Journaling has helped numerous people manage their work and stress load on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t have to be extensive but even a few bullet points about what your feeling can help your brain process your thoughts better.
  • Pick up a new hobby – Whether it’s an instrument, drawing, crafting, gardening, pottery or a group activity. It doesn’t have to be challenging but something that brings you joy and be a stress outlet for the busy week you have had.
  • Go outside and spend time in nature - Spending just 20 minutes connecting with nature can help lower stress hormone levels, according to a study in the April 4, 2019 (Harvard Medical school). It has shown to help improve your mood, boost your mental wellbeing and calm your nerves.
  • Have yourself some “me” time – The UK has one of the longest working hours in Europe, meaning we often don’t spend enough time doing things we really enjoy [1]. Whether it’s taking a five-minute break to do your skincare, or setting sometime to read before bed. Small rituals where you carve out your own time really helps to ground you and relax you to decrease your stress levels.

How our CENTRED products can help combat stress and hair loss every day. 

I know it can be scary when you start losing hair and you don’t know where to begin. I hope this comprehensive guide has given you some ideas, thought starters on what you can do in your life today to deal with stress from within.

One of the main reasons why CENTRED was started is because we saw how stress was the leading cause of hair loss, scalp issues and poor hair health. Our core belief as a brand has been always been to deal with mind + body when it comes to stress, as they are interlinked in many ways. All CENTRED products have been designed to reduce stress. From our Tender Love and Hair supplements which support your vital immune system functions, to our cult En-Root scalp treatment which helps you reduce your cortisol levels. Packed with potent essential oils and nutrients to support your health and well-being.

Here are some more benefits of our CENTRED range and how it will help you combat your stress levels: 

Tender Love and Hair supplements:

Our tender Love and hair supplement is a daily dose of targeted and effective nutrition specifically designed to address to the root cause of thinning hair and maximise hair growth. Backed by science, each capsule contains a unique blend of immune supporting ingredients to combat stress for shinier, healthier hair.

Here is a quick summary of our star ingredients in our Tender Love and Hair supplements:

centred, supplements, hair loss, haircare, scalp care

[1] Source : nhs.col.uk/mental-health

Key Ingredients of our Tender Love and Hair supplements which will help with hair loss and reduce overall stress levels:

  • Biotin- Plays a vital role in helping the body to convert nutrition, particularly Amino Acids which are the building blocks of protein and what hair is made of.
  • Aloe Vera– A powerful adaptogen known for its hair growth capabilities and anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe Vera is also one of nature’s finest healers. Repairs skin cells in the scalp, reduces anxiety and increases hair growth.
  • Zinc- vital for strengthening the immune system and is highly regarded from improving the health of hair, skin and nails. Zinc has shown to stabilise cortisol levels overtime. And zinc intake has shown to temporarily inhibit cortisol secretions.
  • Iron- Vital for the production of red blood cells. Lack of Iron can cause severe tiredness and lead to hair loss. Iron has shown to help manage consistent positive mood, memory, cognitive ability and concentration levels has shown to increase over time.
  • Vitamin C- A powerful Anti-Oxidant known for improving the body's ability to absorb nutrients, particularly Iron. It also helps to improve your overall mood and reduce stress hormones in the blood stream.
  • Bamboo extract - Silica found in Bamboo is a vital mineral for strong healthy hair, boosting strength, shine and suppleness.

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Our cult product En-Root Scalp treatment:

As we said before, we know your hair is the last part of your body to receive any nutrients to support beautiful soft, shiny and fuller hair. And when we are stressed, our scalps are more likely to be irritated, dry and flaky. With this in mind we created En-root scalp treatment.

We call it skincare for your scalp, our award winning En-Root scalp treatment is a scalp ‘facial for your scalp’ that includes skincare grade ingredients like Salicylic acid, tea tree essential oil to rebalance moisture levels, remove impurities and exfoliate dead skin cells.

Here is a quick summary of our star ingredients in our En-Root scalp treatment:

Key Ingredients of our En-Root scalp treatment which will help with hair loss and reduce overall stress levels:

stress, hair loss, centred, scalp treatment, haircare, hair oil, castor oil, hemp oil

  • Tea tree essential oil – Helps to stimulate hair follicle activity.
  • Salicylic acid – Exfoliates dead skin cells, un-clog pores, removes product build up, extends time between wash days.
  • Hemp oil – Prevents hair breakage, promotes hair growth, revives damaged hair and moisturises dry hair.
  • Lavender oil – Holy grail product for reducing stress and anxiety, calming your mind and making you feel more CENTRED.
  • Rosemary oil – Has anti-inflammatory properties, improve circulation and promotes hair growth. 

Our Squishy Scalp Massager:

We normally pair the En-Root scalp treatment with our squishy scalp massager which was designed to increase blood circulation to our head. Head massages have shown to decrease cortisol levels and tensions dramatically and is a big practice in Ayurvedic treatments in India. We have used the same principles to create a handy tool which is easy and practical to use.

Here is a quick summary of our star ingredients in our Squishy Scalp Massager:

Key Benefits of our Squishy scalp massager which will help with hair loss and reduce overall stress levels:

  • Designed to increase blood circulation
  • Exfoliates dead skin
  • Removes product build up
  • Stimulates your hair follicles
  • Reduces overall cortisol levels leaving you feel refreshed and CENTRED.

Our Unwind De-tangling primer

As we said before increased levels of stress can lead to higher levels of cortisol levels, and your hair is the last part of the body to get any nutrients. Stress can easily manifest in your scalp and one of the quick signs is your hair starts going brittle, dry or even more prone to breakage. That’s your body’s way of saying you’re too stressed. It’s one of the first responses you will recognise.

Our Unwind de-tangling primer spray, is a lightweight vitamin enriched formula which can help hydrate and protect your hair from heat. It can also help with creating a slip on your hair making it easier to brush or comb through especially when you are going through a period stress.

Here is a quick summary of our star ingredients in our Unwind De-Tangling primer

stress, hair care, centred, hair loss, detangling spray, wellness,

Key Benefits of our unwind de-tangling primer and how it will help with hair loss and reduce overall stress levels:

  • Glycerin - Retains moisture and adds slip and shine.
  • Vitamin E - Shields against sun damage (UVA)
  • Pathenol (Vitamin B) - Helps to ease tangles whilst by conditioning the hair fibre.
  • Chamomilla Recutita flower extract - soothing and hydrating for irritated or inflamed scalp, conditioning dry and brittle hair.

Aloe Vera - A powerful adaptogen known for its hair growth capabilities and anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe Vera is also one of nature’s finest healers. Repairs skin cells in the scalp, reduces anxiety and increases hair growth.

Our daily Calma shampoo and conditioner

I know how hard it is for you to recover from a stress and on-top, its even harder to find products that work for stressed out hair. But we’ve got you – our Daily Calma shampoo is a luxurious lathering, sulphate and silicone-free formula. That won’t strip your hair and scalp of its natural moisture.

Here is a quick summary of our star ingredients in our Daily Calma shampoo

stress, centred, hair loss, haircare, vegan, cruelty free, shampoo, calming, destress, wellness, citrus

Key Benefits of Daily Calma shampoo and how it will help with hair loss and reduce overall stress levels:

  • Aloe Vera - A powerful adaptogen known for its hair growth capabilities and anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe Vera is also one of nature’s finest healers. Repairs skin cells in the scalp, reduces anxiety and increases hair growth.
  • Chamomilla Recutita flower extract - soothing and hydrating for irritated or inflamed scalp, conditioning dry and brittle hair.
  • Orange Blossom – Moisturises, hydrates the scalp and hair and reduces cortisol levels.
  • Coconut derived cleanser – Gently removes daily build up whilst soothing the scalp.

Our award winning Daily Calma conditioner on the other hand is ultra-thick, making it the perfect pairing after shampooing your hair. Its deeply nourishing, restores strength and adds moisture to thirsty, dry and damaged hair.

Here is a quick summary of our star ingredients in our Daily Calma conditioner

stress, centred, hair loss, haircare, vegan, cruelty free, conditioner, calming, destress, wellness, citrus

Key Benefits of Daily Calma conditioner and how it will help with hair loss and reduce overall stress levels:

  • Hydrolysed Wheat Protein- Improves the strength and condition of dry damaged hair helping to lower porosity for increased moisture retention.
  • Camellia Japonica Oil- Anti-Oxidant rich oil with Anti-Ageing properties. Packed with Oleic acid (Omega-9) and vitamins A, B, D & E adding softness and moisture.
  • Squalane- Oils that are identical to the lipids produced by the skin for hydration.
  • Glycerin- Holds Moisture in the hair.
  • Orange Blossom – Moisturises, hydrates the scalp and hair and reduces cortisol levels.
  • Aloe Vera - A powerful adaptogen known for its hair growth capabilities and anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe Vera is also one of nature’s finest healers. Repairs skin cells in the scalp, reduces anxiety and increases hair growth.

I have given a whole host of tips, tricks and things you should watch out for when your body and mind is stressed out. Let us know if you have tried any of the tips and tricks we have suggested and follow and tag us using #CENTREDSeekers on our Instagram @wearecentred. We would love to see how you get along and we also share more tips on our socials!

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