Pandemic Hair Loss: What Gives?

It’s been almost 2 years since the Covid-19 pandemic started. It’s no surprise that it has affected stress levels worldwide. Huge life changes as well as changes in health take a toll on our lives, there’s no questioning that. The fact that stress can so tangibly manifest itself in our body, though, is becoming clearer and clearer in the world of medicine. (Hence, this blog!)

So, what’s the effect that stress has on our hair? Is the pandemic causing hair loss for men and women around the world? Is it exacerbating the hair loss we already experience?

Let me give you a brief recap of the hair cycle

Our hair growth cycle has four stages. The first is the anagen phase (i.e. when your hair grows from the root; the most active of the stages).

The second is the catagen phase (i.e. the transitional period, when the anagen phase ends and the hair detaches from the blood supply which helped it grow originally).

The third phase is the telogen phase, when the hair follicle no longer actively grows, but simply rests and slowly shrinks until it’s ready to come out of the follicle.

The fourth and final phase is the exogen phase, which is simply when the hair is released from the follicle and the anagen phase can begin yet again!

Image sourced from this article[1] about hormones and hair loss.

One last important thing to note about the hair cycle is that all of our hairs are NOT on the same schedule. Each one of our follicles (where the hair grows) is on its own independent schedule—or else all of our hairs would grow in at once and fall out at once! This is why you notice 50-100 hairs a day that you lose when brushing your hair, or sometimes by the shower drain.

Let’s talk about stress and its impact on hair loss

Stress is something that can impact our hair cycle. Just last year, a study[2] published in the National Library of Medicine led by Dr. Ya-Chieh Hsu of Harvard University concluded that stress indeed inhibits hair growth.

When they studied the effects of stress on mice, they noted that increased periods of stress actually kept hair in the third cycle of hair growth (the telogen phase, when hair no longer grows—simply rests). Conversely, when the mice were no longer experiencing stress, the hair growth cycle continued as normal. What we can conclude is this:

Stress can cause your hair to remain in the telogen (resting) phase for extended periods, inhibiting normal and regular hair growth. 

We can now see why so many people during 2020 and 2021 experienced what we’re calling pandemic hair loss. Witnessing a global pandemic, political unrest, supply chain issues, and dealing with job insecurity and/or losing loved ones due to Covid, it is no surprise that these factors can take a toll on the health of not only our mental health, but also our physical health. We have seen this with an influx of clients in our studios stating increased stress in their lives.

So, what are some ways to keep your stress levels lower?

It’s important to take care of ourselves, not only during a pandemic, but as often as we can. Balancing our stress levels is critical to staying as healthy as we can be. We may have different ideas of de-stressing—some may exercise, others may cook, sleep, meet with friends, take a nice bath, or do something artistic like painting. Here’s an article[3] published in the NIH (News in Health) which shows us some scientifically-proven ways to de-stress.

What are some ways that you can use alternative hair solutions when suffering with hair loss?

And what do you do if you’re experiencing pandemic hair loss? As mentioned above, it’s important to take care of yourself and try various methods of de-stressing. Everyone deals with stress differently, so we highly recommend you try various activities to see what works best for you.

As far as what to do aesthetically while you’re working on restoring your hair, you can consider alternative hair solutions, such as wigs, extensions, or hair pieces in order to keep your self-confidence up.

There are topical hair products as well which help minimize the shedding of your hair when going through a stressful period in life.

Your hair is one of the first things someone sees when they interact with you, so it’s no surprise that feeling self-conscious about thinning hair can affect how you interact with the world around you. We all know what it feels like when our hair is not looking its best. 

STRUT Hair Solutions was created with the intent of restoring women’s self-confidence by making them feel comfortable in their own skin again thanks to beautiful hair.  We know what it’s like to not want to date until your hair looks good, or to dodge family/friends photo opts because you don’t like your hair. We are here to help you and show you different solutions to fit your unique needs.

We’d love to get you strutting your hair with us.