mixed race woman with curly hair with fingers on forehead temples taking a breath
Hair Thinning

Combating Hair Loss Due to Stress and Anxiety

Professionally reviewed by
Lorraine Turvey MITThe Institute of TrichologistsDirector

Are you concerned about the negative effects of stress on your life and the damage this is having on your hair? You’re not alone. Work and family demands that put us under huge amounts of strain daily, which can have dramatic effects on our general health and well-being.

Hair loss due to stress and anxiety are closely related. In fact, almost two thirds of people cite stress as the number one reason for their hair’s lack of volume and thickness – ahead of age, hormonal changes, illness and medication. Hair health is instrumental to your confidence and happiness. That’s why NIOXIN is the #1 globally selling salon brand for thicker, fuller-looking hair* developed specifically for thinning hair, working to ensure you can live your life to the fullest.

What Is Stress?

Stress is the body’s response to either physical or emotional stimuli that it finds threatening. These symptoms over a prolonged period of time leads to chronic stress. Small daily annoyances add up, too: an argument with your partner, feeling overwhelmed at work or even prolonged hunger can begin to trigger an acute reaction in your body. When you experience stress, hormones and chemicals including cortisol are released into the body. These provide you with the adrenalin spike required for a "flight or fight" response1. However, chronic stress causes continuous production of these hormones, which has a two-fold negative effect: the hormone level in your blood reaches a point where it cannot be brought back under control, and your organs are prevented from producing other important substances—including those which promote hair growth.

How Do Stress and Anxiety Affect Hair Loss?

There are six main reasons that people are affected by hair thinning, with stress and trauma believed to be second only to genetics. Stress disturbs your entire body chemistry: it throws your hormones out of balance, irritates the skin, and affects the general scalp health. One of the most common forms of stress-related hair loss is telogen effluvium, where high levels of stress alter the hair’s natural life cycle. Where normally hair spends 85% of its life in the "anagen" growth phase, sufferers’ hair instead prematurely enters the "telogen" resting phase which in-turn triggers premature shedding. Telogen effluvium causes shedding across the entire scalp, but it may be particularly noticeable in certain places, such as a thinning hairline2. Stress can be a trigger for the hair-shedding autoimmune disease Alopecia areata. If you are experiencing alopecia areata stress, professional advice from a Trichologist or dermatologist is essential.

Can Covid-19 Cause Hair Loss?

Telogen effluvium can also be triggered after a severe illness, and this has been observed by those recovering from COVID-19. When your body is fighting an infection, it will ‘re-route’ nutrients away from the hair follicles, affecting the hair growth cycle. This will cause more shedding in a short space of time, leaving many feeling uneasy and ever more stressed. But even those who are not infected with coronavirus might feel like their hair is falling more then usual. Other stresses that have appeared due to the pandemic, such as being in lockdown, job uncertainty and financial trouble can also lead to hair loss.

How Do I Treat Stress-Related Hair Loss?

The psychological impact of losing hair has a direct relationship with our self-image, and therefore self-confidence and self-esteem. Much as there is no concrete means of diagnosing stress-related hair loss, there is no guaranteed solution for its treatment. A doctor may be able to provide creams or medicine to help relieve the most severe side-effects. If you are experiencing thinning hair during a time of extreme emotional distress or anxiety, it is important to try and improve your mood and ease the tension you are feeling. An in-salon hair thinning treatment with Nioxin could also speed up the process and help you to get thicker, fuller looking hair. The good news is that hair loss due to stress is not permanent and that your hair will grow back to normal once you have removed the source of your anxiety. A healthy lifestyle is one of the most crucial factors in hair health. Eating well and staying hydrated give your body the nutrients for optimum activity. Regular exercise reduces stress and tension, and sleep is essential for cell renewal and repair. These steps must be taken alongside your hair care regimen.

How Does a Skin Care Regimen for Hair Look?

Stress related thinning requires more than diet and exercise for treatment—fortunately NIOXIN is by your side. With thirty years of industry expertise under our belt, our experts have targeted the key means of promoting better hair health from simple fixes to targeted solutions, built around NIOXIN’s guiding principle that healthy hair grows from a healthy scalp. These five simple steps—anchored by NIOXIN’s Care System Kits—offer an easy-to-maintain baseline haircare regimen that takes the guesswork (read: stress) out of scalp health.


Start by removing the buildup from your scalp with NIOXIN’s Purifying Exfoliator that leaves you with a refreshing, minty sensation you can actually feel working.


Keep your scalp clean with NIOXIN System Kit Cleanser Shampoo. Use daily with cool to warm water, and you’ll be looking at the best results for your scalp.


Apply NIOXIN System Kit Revitalizing Conditioner from roots to ends to keep a healthy moisture balance.


Massage 6-9 pumps of the NIOXIN System Kit Treatment to your entire scalp to refresh and add volume without the need to rinse.


One of the best treatments for your scalp is low heat to avoid dryness and damage. When you start to blow-dry, turn down the degrees and go easy on yourself. Adding NIOXIN Anti-Breakage Strengthening Mask to your daily hair regimen adds protection and strength to minimize breakage. If things are more dire, consider using NIOXIN Night Density Rescue, a leave-in treatment with blended antioxidants to neutralize free radicals on the scalp and boost density while reducing hair loss.

How Important Is Scalp Care?

The limits for assessing the scalp’s health goes beyond skin deep. A healthy scalp should have normal moisture balance, zero buildup, and no flakes and zero redness, itching or tenderness, and no odor. Instead of in-office appointments, which may be limited or unavailable to patients for weeks to come, below are our recommendations for at-home scalp treatments.

What NIOXIN Products Should I Use for Scalp Health?

Assess First

To begin, take an assessment of your scalp. Analyze the color, sensitivity, and comfort level of your scalp by letting down your hair and massaging the scalp for discomfort or woes. Next, snap a close-up photo of your scalp. Simply part the hair in an area where you’re feeling discomfort, hold the camera a few inches away, and take a picture with the flash on. Based on these two steps alone, you should able to treat the following symptoms from the comfort of your home.


If you have irritation, look to your hair care routine first. Have you introduced any new products or ingredients that you may be causing a reaction? Try eliminating any suspected culprit(s) and assess a week or two later to see how the hair is reacting.

Scalp Buildup

If you scratch your scalp and have product buildup, you may want to increase the frequency of washing. You may also want to introduce a product to get rid of the excess buildup, which can lead to inflammation, irritation, and compromise both the rate and caliber of the hairs. NIOXIN Scalp Relief Cleanser or Purifying Exfoliator will be your best bet. Also, reconsider the rest of your routine. If you’re using products that buildup on the scalp, like dry shampoo or silicone-containing products, you’ll want to have a physical scrub to help remove debris. NIOXIN’s Purifying Exfoliator is perfect for removing buildup.

Dry Scalp and Flakes

Worried your scalp dryness might be linked to a condition like dandruff or psoriasis? If you have dryness, flakes, and you’re itchy, you may be looking at dandruff. If your scalp is itchy and tender, it may indicate dermatitis or chemical reactions to styling. But fear not! There are plenty of products that can address flakes right at home. If you think that you have dandruff, look for products that will soothe and reduce inflammation, like zinc. NIOXIN’s Scalp Recovery Kit has 1 percent pyrithione zinc to relieve and prevent scalp issues. Also, as contrary as it might seem to exfoliate an irritated scalp, gentle scrubs can greatly benefit dandruff and other scalp conditions. If your scalp issues persist, it’s worth it to check in with a medical expert.

Be (and Don’t Be) Aggressive

Exfoliators are a scalp-saving product, but with great power comes great responsibility. It’s possible to err on either side of caution with exfoliants. Some users believe it will harm their hair and underuse them or don’t use them at all. Meanwhile, others utilize exfoliants too often, like clients with ultra-fine hair who hope to increase volume and lift. When used appropriately, the benefits are certainly worthwhile. The NIOXIN Purifying Exfoliator is an ideal option, as it is gentle enough for sensitive scalps, but effective enough that it’s only meant for once-a-month treatments.


  1. https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/what-is-stress#1

  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321590#symptoms


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