How drinking alcohol affects your hair health

After all the indulgences of the festive season, many people partake in Dry January, cutting out alcohol for the month – or even longer – to help their bodies recover and reset. Studies have noted physical and mental benefits such as better sleep, weight loss and reducing blood pressure from a few weeks off the booze.

But did you also know that winding back on the wine can also have a positive effect on your hair health too? Dr Greg Vida, senior surgeon at Harley Street Hair Clinic explains how heavy alcohol overindulgence can contribute to hair breakage and hair loss, and therefore why cutting back may help to look after your locks.


It’s no secret that drinking alcohol makes you dehydrated – but this can do more than just give you a fuzzy-mouth feeling the next morning. “A lack of body fluid can cause your hair to become dry and brittle, and make it prone to damage,” explains Dr Vida.

*Depleting levels of key minerals

Zinc and iron are two important minerals needed to maintain strong, healthy hair, explains Dr Vida, and alcohol can prevent them from being absorbed properly. “An iron deficiency can also lead to the hair loss condition telogen effluvium,” he says. “This triggers hair to prematurely enter the resting stage of the hair growth cycle. The hairs then lie dormant for 90 days until shedding, and causing hair loss.”

*Emotional stress

Drinking can also have an impact on your mental state (hence the term “hangxiety”), and this can in turn affect your hair. “Stress and changes in mood can trigger hormonal imbalances and increase the number of hair follicles entering the resting stage of the hair growth cycle,” says Dr Vida. “This can lead to thinning hair and hair loss.”

Luckily these issues, if alcohol-related, should be temporary. “If you have noticed your hair is getting dry, brittle and thin due to excessive drinking, we recommend assessing your daily intake and sticking with the guidelines of the recommended units,” advises Dr Vida (or drinking none at all, if you’re being strict about the Dry January rules). “Your hair should then get back to its normal healthy state within a couple of months.”

Of course, hair thinning and loss may be caused by a number of reasons, and if you have concerns, speak to your doctor or a trichologist.

But if you’re choosing to reduce your alcohol intake this month – or any time – your hair may thank you for it.


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