If your shampoos, conditioners and hair serums that promise thick and luscious hair do not seem to be working, your hair issues might run deeper than you think. While external factors like sun exposure and sleeping with wet hair are easily recognised and preventable, internal factors are much harder to identify. Stress is a common intrinsic cause behind lacklustre hair. Here are six ways stress may be ruining your locks without you knowing.
Stress induces the constriction of peripheral blood vessels so that more blood can be directed to your central organs. Vitamins and nutrients will be directed to your heart, lungs and brain, rather than to your hair to cope with the stress. Without the required nutrients, your hair will fall out more easily and this may lead to hair loss either throughout your scalp or in clumps.
While hair typically starts to turn grey due to age or genetics, stress can accelerate the onset of grey hair. Melanocytes are cells that produce the pigment melanin to give your hair its colour. Research from New York University revealed that stress hormones may contribute to premature greying due to the lack of pigment in your hair follicles, causing your tresses to lose their colour faster.
Stress may not be the direct cause of dandruff but it weakens your body’s natural defenses against naturally-existing microbes in your scalp. This will lead to dryness, flakiness and itching of your scalp. Flaking will also lead to hair loss.
Stress produces a hormone called cortisol. The rise in cortisol levels causes the sebaceous glands in your scalp to go into overdrive, to release excess sebum and cause oil build-up. This will result in the roots of your hair to become greasy.
Slower hair growth
Research published in the Psychosomatic Medicine journal revealed that stress will lead to an increased intake of sweet and fatty foods. Essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium form the nutritional basis for full and thick hair – all these a sugar-based diet fails to provide. Now you know why your hair is taking forever to grow that half an inch.
Bad hair habits
Stress commonly triggers repeated and excessive tugging of hair or scalp scratching. These bad habits will damage hair follicles and reduce the overall quality of your hair. Even the simple act of twirling your hair may cause brittle strands of your hair to break.
This article was first published on Shape.
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