Stress related hair loss is not a new concept. In fact, interest in the topic piqued during the pandemic. This was largely due to the physical stress brought on from COVID itself, as well as the heightened anxiety around loss and lockdown. These were major stressors that kicked off what’s called telogen effluvium.
But it’s not just big stressors (like illness, loss, and so on) that can affect hair growth—new research indicates that low-level, chronic stress has the same potential.
“There’s some growing evidence that low levels of chronic stress, so we’re talking day-to-day stress, can actually elevate our stress hormones like cortisol, which can in turn gradually shorten the hair growth cycle and ultimately turn off our hair follicles,” says Nathan.
So high-pressure jobs, burnout, and anxiety-inducing personal circumstances can all lead to increased hair loss over time—thanks to their cumulative effect on our cortisol levels.
Just another reminder that it’s critical to find stress management that you can practice regularly. Nathan recommends meditation (her personal modality), time outside, exercise, and connection. “Eat well, prioritize sleep, take walks, and foster really close friendships. Those are the keys to health, happiness, and beauty,” she says.