Enjoy those weekend nights having drinks with your friends? Robert Dorin — MD, hair specialist, and medical director of True & Dorin Medical Group — warned that excessive alcohol consumption can negatively affect our hair in multiple ways, leaving it prone to more loss and breakage (source: byrdie.com).
Excessive drinking can be defined as consuming more than 6 drinks per week for women and more than 14 drinks per week for men (source: vertavahealth.com). Although alcohol itself does not cause hair loss, drinking it excessively greatly contributes to some factors that affect hair growth.
HUM nutritionist Alex Caspero, MA, RD, RYT confirmed that excessive alcohol intake can lead to deficiencies or mal-absorption of certain nutrients — in particular zinc, copper, and protein, which can lead to thinning hair and hair loss (source: byrdie.com). For example, inadequate zinc weakens the protein structure of the hair, therefore resulting in hair breakage and hair loss.
In some cases, people who drink excessively may not eat enough nutrients due to their poor diet. In other cases, the lack of nutritional intake can be attributed to how alcohol interferes with the way the body processes and uses food during digestion (source: healthline.com).
Men and women who drink are at an even higher risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. These include vitamin B12, zinc, and calcium (source: hairguard.com). You can also read our post about is a tomato is good for hair growth.
Dehydration Can Cause Dry, Brittle Hair
Water makes up 55% to 75% of human body weight and it’s used to keep various bodily systems working and healthy hair growth. Since alcohol can be defined as a diuretic, which means it increases the production of urine and dehydrates the body, it explains why hangovers can be particularly painful in the morning after a night of heavy drinking.
Improper hydration of the skin can cause a loss in strength and elasticity, which can lead to long-term damage to the follicles and hair shaft (source: hairguard.com). In addition, it may even promote dry skin that can lead to itching and therefore an even more damaged scalp. We also shared about the side effects of using the hairdryer in a separate post.
I’m sure most of us are aware that long-term heavy drinkers are susceptible to liver damage. But did you know that even short-term excessive drinking can put a strain on the liver?
The liver does not have the capacity to process out alcohol completely. Instead, numerous damaging by-products are produced during the metabolism of alcohol in the liver, which could, therefore, mean long-term health implications even for short-term excessive alcohol use.
In addition, dehydration from heavy drinking can make the liver work even harder because, with less water present in the body, toxins will be plaguing the body in higher concentrations.
So how exactly does liver damage affect the hair? For hair loss sufferers, alcohol can induce inflammation in the body, and inflammation of the hair follicle can lead to miniaturization, which further promotes hair thinning leading to greater hair loss.
In addition, the liver also produces bile that helps with the digestion of food. This means damaging the liver from excessive drinking can cause poor digestion and reduced nutrient intake. With fewer nutrients present in the body, the hair would take a longer time than usual to grow out (source: hairguard.com).
After undergoing any sort of surgical procedure, patients are told to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. This is because alcohol will slow down the healing process and weaken the immune system.
Studies have shown that alcohol consumption leads to a lack of quality sleep, which could leave you feeling stressed out. Nobody likes to feel that negative feeling of stress, especially since stress has a strong connection to hair loss.
Stress can enhance neurogenic inflammation, as well as cytokine imbalance that can lead to further inflammation if not handled properly. High levels of stress may also be linked to poor intake of oxygen and this can lead to reduced amounts of oxygen available for the hair follicles, leading to worsening overall health conditions of the hair. Besides sleep, we also share can bad posture causes hair loss.
Some of you might find this shocking — studies have shown that alcohol consumption has been linked to increased levels of the female sex hormone estrogen in women and men. You heard me. Both women and men.
Higher levels of estrogen in the male body can cause hair follicles to become weak thereby promoting hair loss while women tend to experience hair growth problems when their hormone levels are higher than usual (source: thesun.co.uk).
In 2012, researchers from China discovered that increased estrogen promotes hair cycle retardation in mice. Essentially, higher levels of estrogen in the male body can cause the follicles to prematurely enter the catagen phase and even result in telogen effluvium. (source: hairguard.com)
Acidity Levels In The Body
Dr. Clare Morrison from MedExpress found that when the body becomes too acidic, it does all it can to reduce the acidity levels, and one of the ways it tackles this concern involves using protein stored in the body.
The body may use a protein called keratin to reduce the acidity levels, which is the key protein required to build hair follicles and make them stronger. Excessive alcohol intake essentially means that the body uses more keratin than usual, which causes the hair to feel damaged and brittle, and ultimately leads to hair loss (source: thesun.co.uk).
I’m sure most of us are fully aware and knowledgable about how badly our body can be affected by excessive alcohol consumption. Our hair would not be an exception to the adverse effects of this bad consumption habit as well.
For those of you who are currently dealing with hair loss problems like me, I would encourage you to cut down on your alcohol consumption significantly. Looking at the above side effects of excessive alcohol consumption, no amount of visits to the hair specialist or application of hair growth products would help you overcome your hair concern unless you take the necessary steps to mitigate the damage you’ve placed upon your hair through drinking alcohol.
So what exactly does this mean? Does alcohol consumption directly cause hair loss? No. Instead, there are many side effects of drinking alcohol which are the perfect recipe for hair thinning and lost hair.
It’s perfectly normal to shed between 50 to 100 strands of hair from your head every day. However, if you find yourself losing much more hair than the ‘normal amount of hair shedding’ or notice areas of hair loss, I would recommend you drink in moderation and start making positive changes to your lifestyle and diet which can promote better health condition and growth of hair.