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Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss? 7 Negative Effects Smoking Can Have on Hair

Is smoking harmful to your hair follicles? Learn about 7 ways smoking can be damaging to your hair health.

Read on

It’s no secret that smoking cigarettes can have a negative effect on your lungs, but it turns out that the damage can go much further than that.

Smoking can have a negative effect on your circulation, cardiovascular system, oral health, increase your risk of other diseases like diabetes, and even take a toll on your skin and hair.

Below, we will cover just a few of the negative effects that smoking (or being around smoke all the time) can have on your strands. Basically, if you are looking for thick, healthy, and pigmented hair long-term -- it’s time to ditch the smokes.

1. Chemicals from smoke can accumulate in the hair shaft

Even if, say, you don’t smoke, but you happen to frequent smoke-filled venues or hang around with people who smoke in close proximity to you, your hair may protest.

Smoke contains a plethora of chemicals, not just nicotine, and some of those chemicals can lodge themselves in your hair strands.

Not surprisingly, these chemicals tend to have negative consequences on even the most well-maintained and pampered heads of hair. 

Excess exposure to cigarette smoke swirling around can mean that your hair is more dry and brittle, more prone to breakage, and have a dull appearance.

2. Increased follicular inflammation

Inflammation is a normal bodily response that signals an injury or damage to tissues. This signal is then meant to alert the body to set about a cellular cascade of addressing the issue and promoting healing.

But, if inflammation is chronic and long-term, there are normally negative consequences.

Smoking can increase follicular inflammation, and this inflammation maintained over time can mean that hair follicles struggle to produce healthy hair strands.

With time, this can mean that hair growth is slowed, the hair produced looks and feels less healthy, or the follicle can stop producing hair altogether.

3. Smoking can cause premature hair graying

One study looked at the incidence of going gray prematurely in smokers vs. non-smokers.

Premature hair graying, or PHG, is loosely defined as going gray before the age of 30. And, for most people, it is not the look they are going for before they are even out of their 20s. PHG can cause reduce confidence levels and increase social stress for some.

The study found that smokers were 2.5 times more prone to develop premature hair graying than their non-smoking counterparts.

4. Increased oxidative stress around the hair follicles

Smoking can increase the oxidative stress around the hair follicles, meaning that there are more free radicals swirling around the hair follicles, with the potential for DNA damage of the cells.

Over time, this may mean that the hair follicles produce less healthy hair, grow hair more slowly, or become too damaged to continue producing a hair at all.

5. Impaired blood circulation to follicles

Good circulation is the key to the optimal functioning of all parts of your body, including your hair follicles.

Your scalp is already faced with the challenge of gravity when attempting to receive adequate blood circulation. So, when smoking is added to the mix, the vessels become constricted and blood flow to the scalp can be reduced.

Without a steady supply of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood via your vessels, hair follicles can slow down, produce less healthy hair, or go dormant.

6. Increased cortisol levels long term

Smoking may feel relaxing at the moment, but long-term cigarette smoking leads to increased cortisol levels over time.

Increased cortisol levels don’t just leave you feeling stressed and frazzled, they can culminate in increased hair shedding called Telogen Effluvium. And, if you are already dealing with a genetic predisposition to alopecia areata or androgenetic hair loss, increased stress hormone levels can make these situations worse.

7. Estrogen levels can decline in women

Smoking can affect the enzymatic conversion of certain estrogens, leading to lowered estrogen levels in women.

In women, healthy estrogen levels can play a role in keeping hair thick, healthy, and fast-growing. So, by reducing your normal estrogen levels by smoking, your hair may end up looking a little worse for the wear.

Bottom line

In case you needed another reason to cut out smoking, add keeping your hair healthy to the list.

Smoking can ramp up androgenetic alopecia, premature hair graying, and damage otherwise healthy hair follicles.

The first step to increasing your hair health is to stop smoking, and after that, you may benefit from topical or oral medications meant to help preserve your existing hair and potentially regrow some lost hair in some users.

Talk to your doctor about the next steps in recovering your hair health and appearance if you are experiencing negative hair effects from smoking.

Strut Health Hair Loss Prescriptions Online

Here at Strut Health, we carry hair loss medications for men and women, for a range of hair loss situations.

We offer innovative compounded formulations featuring Finasteride, Dutasteride, Spironolactone, and Minoxidil. For men, we have oral and topical formulations to help suit your application preferences.

If you are interested in seeing if a hair loss prescription product is a good choice for you, you can have a free online questionnaire-based consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors in 10-15 minutes.

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