Many are well-aware of the profound impact high levels of stress can have on both mental and physical health, but what is less widely known is the damage that it can do to our hair and scalp.
It’s important to realize that as hair is non-essential tissue, it is one of the most sensitive barometers to physiological and psychological health, and therefore to stress. During every consultation at our London and New York Clinics, we ask if the client has recently been under, or is currently under, stress - and more often than not, the answer is ‘yes’. It can be a vicious cycle as hair loss and scalp issues in themselves can be incredibly stressful to deal with.
Due the nature of the hair growth cycle, the effects of stress will not be noticeable on your hair until 6-12 weeks later, so people do not always connect the two events. However, stress can impact the scalp much faster. In all cases of hair and/or scalp issues, treatment should be holistic and involve using the right products and making relevant changes to diet and lifestyle – and this commonly and increasingly involves targeting stress.
Stress commonly triggers and/or worsens flaking and itching of the scalp – especially if you are already prone to dandruff. This is because stress can affect hormone levels, and this in turn may disrupt the micro-flora of the scalp. Flaking can cause hair loss, and scratching may result in further irritation and even abrade the surface of your scalp, so it’s important to tackle it ASAP.
· Use soothing anti-microbial products, like Philip Kingsley Flaky Scalp Shampoo ($40, 250 ml) & Flaky Scalp Toner ($36, 250 ml). These should be used daily until symptoms clear, and then every other day for another 10 days. If you find your scalp gets itchy and irritated throughout the day, you can apply Flaky Scalp Toner as needed. It comes in a handbag friendly 75ml size to help keep your scalp calm on-the-go. To aid in the removal of dead skin cells, use Philip Kingsley Exfoliating Scalp Mask ($30, 75 ml) once to twice a week. We apply this trio to the scalp during treatments in our New York Clinic with fantastic results.
· Set aside time each day to clear your mind – now that the sun is out, head to a local park during your lunch break or on your way home from work. You can also make effective use of your commute by listening to an audiobook – Audible has thousands of titles and offers a 30-day free trial.
· If you find yourself reaching for creamy, comfort foods, like cheese and cream, try substituting with a healthy alternative. Full fat dairy products, as well as white wine and champagne, can make dandruff worse.
If you are stressed, you may find that your roots get limp and greasy faster than usual. This is because stress can, through a convoluted route, raise androgen (male hormone) levels – which in turn can increase your scalp’s production of oils.
· Apply Philip Kingsley Scalp Toner ($34, 250 ml) to your scalp each morning. It contains witch hazel, an effective astringent that helps to soak up excess sebum. If you find your scalp is greasy and your roots limp by the end of the day, use One More Day Dry Shampoo ($26, 200 ml) – our dry shampoo with scalp benefits. It contains Zinc PCA to regulate flakes and oil production, as well as soothing Allantoin and Bisabolol.
· Try to shampoo your hair daily – healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp! If you’re already going to the gym, take that as an opportunity to cleanse your hair and scalp when you shower. Alternatively, if you’re going for a swim, there’s no excuse – but do remember to apply Philip Kingsley Swimcap ($25, 75 ml) to protect your hair from chlorine damage.
Stress can impact the hair growth cycle if it disrupts your eating habits. You may find you reach for comfort foods with little nutritional value, you may eat sporadically, or you might lose your appetite and skip meals all-together. A balanced diet is vital to the health of your hair, so it’s important to be mindful that you incorporate all food groups into your daily routine – proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and fresh fruits and vegetables. Protein is especially important, as it is the substance your hair is made of. We suggest having at least a palm sized portion at breakfast and lunch. Great examples are fish, eggs, lean meat and low-fat cottage cheese. For vegetarians and vegans, tofu, quinoa, nuts and beans are good options.
· If you find it difficult to eat properly when you are stressed, it’s often useful to give your hair a helping hand by supplementing your diet with relevant nutritional supplements, like Philip Kingsley Tricho Complex Multi Vitamin and Mineral Supplement ($79, 90 tablets) and PK4 Hair Protein Supplements ($44, 120 capsules).
· Even though you might be busy at work, do set aside time to eat. Also, have healthy snacks at hand, like almonds, fresh fruit and crudité. If you need a helping hand, sign up to a Graze box who will deliver wholesome and delicious snacks right to your desk!
Stress can impact the body in many ways, one being that it can impede the absorption of vital nutrients, cause stomach problems and, as a result, deplete your body. This in turn can disrupt the hair growth cycle.
· Take PK4 Hair, a soy protein that is easily absorbed. Have two with breakfast and two with lunch when hair cells need the most nutrients.
· Try a light form of exercise, like yoga or Pilates – the MindBody App is an excellent resource for finding local fitness classes
· Have a massage to help manage stress levels – it works almost instantly. LivingSocial orGroupon are great places to look for offers and discounts in your local area.
· If you are concerned about your diet or nutrition, make an appointment to see your GP or a nutritionist. You can also ask your doctor for advice on a fitness regime that suits your individual needs.
Stress can have a negative impact on general health - and this can have a knock-on effect on your hair. Again, this is because hair is non-essential tissue. Very commonly, people find that their hair comes out in excess 6-12 weeks after a period of stress. You may notice more hair in your shower and brush, when you style and on your clothes and pillow.
· Take daily nutritional supplements to give your hair internal support, like Tricho Complex, Biotin and PK4 Hair.
· Get yearly medical checks. If stress symptoms progress or if you are concerned about your health, make an appointment to see your GP ASAP.
· To help promote a healthy scalp environment, apply Tricho 7 stimulating Scalp Drops ($89) to the top and front of your scalp each morning after washing and towel-drying your hair. These help to create the optimum scalp environment for healthy hair growth.
· Try to get your stress levels under control by incorporating some “me” time into your daily routine. Try a meditation app, like Headspace or Calm, to use in your own time. A session can take as little as 10 minutes and can place you in a more positive mindset for the rest of the day. Best of all, both apps give you 10 sessions free.
· Sleep deprivation can have a negative effect on stress levels and your overall wellbeing so try to get more! If you need help drifting off, try a generous mist of the Deep Sleep Pillow Spray by thisworks, set aside your phone and laptop and read a book before bed, or try some deep breathing exercises.
REDUCED HAIR VOLUME
Stress can, through a convoluted route, raise androgen (male hormone) levels. And this can be an issue for people who have a genetic predisposition whereby hair follicles on their scalp are already sensitive to normal levels of male hormones. When this sensitivity is present, follicles gradually get smaller with each passing hair growth cycle and produce hairs of a thinner diameter and shorter length, resulting in an overall reduction in volume. While stress is not the sole cause of reduced volume, it can certainly make it worse.
· Apply Tricho 7 Scalp Drops to the front and top of your scalp each morning after shampooing and conditioning. These are stimulating and anti-androgenic and so help to protect the hair follicle from the damaging effects that male hormones can have.
· Diet is incredibly important to the hair growth cycle, so be mindful of what you eat. To help make eating the right foods easier, keep your fridge and cupboards stocked with hair healthy proteins, like eggs, smoked salmon and almonds, as well as energy dense nibbles, such as whole wheat crackers and peanut butter.
· If local to or visiting New York City, have a Consultation with a Trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Clinic, 16 East 52nd Street, to ease your worries, address your concerns, and to get the best treatment possible. Follow with a blissful Coconut Breeze Hair Spa Treatment by one of our Trichotherapists.
Women may play with their hair when they are stressed, and often they are not conscious of it or aware of the extent to which they are doing it. The act of hair twiddling is usually harmless, but if done roughly or frequently, may break strands, and can even pull them out.
· If you find you are pulling or playing with your hair, try distracting your hands by squeezing a stress ball, playing with worry beads, or colouring in an anti-stress book or a colour therapy app.
· Apply Elasticizer ($51, 150ml) once to twice a week to strengthen strands.
· If you think you pull on your hair when you sleep, put it in a bun, or cover with a slippery cream that also does your hair some good, like Elasticizer.
All above mentioned Philip Kingsley products are available for purchase at www.philipkingsley.com.