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Hormones and Hair Loss – How Cortisol Affects Hair Growth

6 Min Read

Medically Reviewed by


Hair loss is often caused by an imbalance in hormone levels. One of the hormones most closely associated with hair loss is cortisol. Understanding how hormones and hair loss are connected, and how to regulate the effects of it, can help lead to healthier hair.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is a hormone made by the adrenal glands in response to both good and bad stress. While it gets a lot of negative press, Cortisol actually does several good things for the body. It helps the body efficiently turning fat and sugar into energy, and it helps manage stress.

Cortisol and the Flight-or-Fight Response

One of the main triggers that tells the body to release cortisol is stress. This is known as the flight-or-fight response. Historically this happened when, for example, a tiger was chasing our ancestors. Today it can happen when you are already late for work and get stuck in traffic, when you fight with your spouse about chores, or when your in-laws are visiting. However, the difference is that when the cortisol levels were raised in our ancestors it led to physical action. The stress of today is normally not followed by flight or fight, which makes Cortisol levels build up in our bodies, and that can be damaging.

How Hormones and Hair Loss are Connected Through Stress

Extended stress leads to extended periods of high cortisol levels. While the Adrenal Glands are busy making extra cortisol, they make less of the hormones that support healthy hair growth. Sustained high cortisol levels can also lead to other health problems, including a decrease in cell regeneration, impaired mental function, decreased metabolism, and a weakened immune system

Reducing Stress

One of the best ways of bringing down cortisol levels is by making lifestyle changes. Reducing your stress and improving your health starts with small steps. You can actually reverse the unhealthy relationship between hormones and hair loss! Choose one or two things to focus on at a time, or make small changes in each category to methodically reduce your stress and cortisol levels.

Aerobic activity can also help burn off the cortisol with a simulated fight response. Choose something you can easily work into your schedule most days, and that you enjoy, otherwise it might promote more stress.


Put comedy shows on your Netflix list and consider it part of your stress reduction plan. Anything that makes you truly laugh has the potential to reduce stress hormone levels.

Nutritional Supplements

Supplying your body with the necessary vitamins and minerals to support hormonal balance and a healthy metabolism can promote adrenal health and lower cortisol levels. Some supplements are specifically formulated to reduce the effects caused by stress. But other supplements, like Nutrafol, work on the whole body with a focus on rejuvenating your hair.


Exhausted people respond to stressors in their lives less effectively. Being well rested will make it easier to cope with daily life in a way that doesn’t tell your body it is time for flight or fight.


Mindfulness is the newest take on meditation, and both are great for reducing stress levels. Focus on what is, rather than what could be. People are better able to assess the threat potential (stress) of a given situation.

Your doctor can check cortisol levels with a blood or saliva test  Learning if cortisol levels are too low or too high can help determine which of the lifestyle changes could be effective in counteracting the imbalance between hormones and hair loss.


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