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Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss? Its Effects On Hair Health

As with many parts of the body, smoking habit has an adverse effect on hair too. Tobacco smoking can weaken the immune system, restrict blood circulation, increase oxidative stress and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) hormone, and trigger endocrine diseases. All of these conditions caused by smoking can lead to hair loss.

💡A 2020 study that aims to find the effects of smoking on androgenetic alopecia shows that androgenetic alopecia is more commonly seen in smokers than in non-smokers.

💡Another research published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology found that smoking can have an effect on the severity of androgenetic alopecia. 

💡Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology in 2020 shows that smokers are more likely to experience alopecia areata than non-smokers. 

 Let’s look at some of the key points from the article:

  • TOBACCO AND HAIR LOSS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH EACH OTHER.
  • HAIR LOSS FROM SMOKING CAN HAPPEN DUE TO SOME FACTORS SUCH AS ALTERATION IN THE BLOOD FLOW AND AN INCREASE IN DHT.
  • VAPING AND HAIR LOSS CAN BE RELATED.
  • SMOKING WEED CAN INDIRECTLY CAUSE HAIR LOSS.
  • QUITTING SMOKING CAN REVERSE THE LOSS OF HAIR.
  • EATING HEALTHY, USING HERBAL OILS, DOING SCALP MASSAGES CAN HELP TO IMPROVE HAIR REGROWTH.

Can Smoking Cause Hair Loss?

Yes, smoking can cause hair loss. The toxic chemicals in cigarettes can lead to hair fall by:

  • REDUCING BLOOD CIRCULATION
  • INCREASING DHT HORMONE
  • WEAKENING IMMUNE SYSTEM
  • INCREASING OXIDATIVE STRESS
  • TRIGGERING ENDOCRINE DISEASES


How do these points affect hair health? Let’s continue to discover its effect on hair, starting with blood circulation.

Blood Circulation

Smoking cigarettes can restrict blood flow and cause hair loss. The nicotine in the cigarettes makes the blood vessels become narrower. When the vessels become smaller, the blood cannot flow easily. The blood carries necessary oxygen and nutrients, which are essential for hair follicles to survive.

In a situation where blood vessels become narrower and can’t deliver enough blood to the hair follicles, the follicles can’t function properly, resulting in nicotine hair loss. 

Increases DHT Hormone

Smoking can increase the DHT (a sex hormone that can lead to hair fall) activity in the scalp and lead to hair loss.

Smoking stimulates free radicals (harmful molecules) in the body. These free radicals damage hair follicles and increase the activity of an enzyme called 5AR (5αReductase), which converts testosterone to DHT. The increased activity in the enzyme leads to the production of more DHT.

⚠️ High levels of DHT can alter the hair growth cycle, shorten the growing phase (anagen), make the follicles become smaller, and cause hair loss, especially in people who are genetically predisposed to hair loss.

Effects on Immune Response

Smoking weakens the immune system, which can cause hair loss.

A healthy immune system is required to have a healthy hair cycle. Immune cells play a role in the hair cycle by activating hair follicles and promoting hair growth.

If the immune system is not working correctly, the hair follicles can’t function properly. The hair cycle can get disrupted, causing hair loss. 

❗ Smoking can increase the chances of developing autoimmune diseases. One of the autoimmune diseases is alopecia areata, which is a hair loss disease that leads to patchy hair loss. In this hair loss, the immune cells attack healthy hair cells and cause hair fall.


⚠️ A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology found that
current smokers had an 84% increased risk of experiencing alopecia areata (an autoimmune hair loss condition) compared to people who never smoked throughout their lives. So, how does smoking cause hair loss?

Oxidative Stress

Smoking can increase oxidative stress, which can cause hair loss by damaging the hair follicles.

Oxidative stress refers to the situation when the antioxidants are not enough to fight free radicals in the body. This imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants can damage both the scalp and hair follicles, causing hair loss.

Psoriasis, dandruff, and seborrheic dermatitis are examples of scalp damage caused by hair loss.

Trigger Endocrine Diseases that Cause Hair Loss

Smoking can trigger certain endocrine diseases that can cause hair loss, which are:

  • DIABETES
  • POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS)
  • HYPOTHYROIDISM AND HYPERTHYROIDISM


Diabetes can cause hair loss by decreasing blood flow. PCOS can increase the androgen (male sex hormone) levels in the body and lead to loss of hair. Elevated thyroid hormones can alter the hair cycle and cause hair loss. 

Does Smoking Weed Cause Hair Loss?

Smoking weed may be causing hair loss, but there is no study that shows a direct connection between these two.

Only a study published in The FASEB Journal found that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a component of marijuana can hinder healthy hair growth.

Other than the THC connection, marijuana can increase cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body. High cortisol can lead to telogen effluvium, a type of temporary hair fall. These two points present a relationship between smoking weed and hair loss.

Can Vaping Cause Hair Loss?

Yes, vaping can cause hair loss. Most vapes contain nicotine, which can lead to hair loss. Nicotine makes the blood vessels become smaller. This makes blood hard to reach the hair follicles.

In a case where follicles can’t get enough blood, they cannot maintain hair growth and cause hair loss. Preferring the vapes that are nicotine-free can be safer if you don’t want to deal with hair loss.

Can Hair Loss from Smoking Be Reversed?

Hair loss from smoking can be reversed. Smoking is a habit, it is breakable and its effects on hair are not permanent. When you stop smoking, the body slowly regains its proper function. The hair follicles recover and start to grow healthy hair again.

What to Do to Reverse Smoking-Caused Hair Loss

Certain actions can help to reverse smoking hair loss, which are:

  • QUITTING SMOKING
  • EATING HEALTHY
  • USING HERBAL OILS SUCH AS ROSEMARY OIL
  • DOING SCALP MASSAGES


The hair before and after quitting smoking won’t be the same. Getting rid of the smoking effects on hair and supporting hair follicles with certain actions will make follicles grow healthy hair.

How Long After Quitting Smoking Does Hair Grow Back?

Hair regrowth after quitting smoking can be seen in about 6 months.

During this period of time, the scalp will start to have proper blood circulation, oxidative stress will start to be reduced, the immune system will recover, and other potential effects of smoking on hair will be lowered.

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