Mindfulness apps such as Headspace and Calm have been a runaway success over the past few years – but what may be surprising is that these and similar tools may be reducing people’s chances of hair loss.
According to new research from the Carnegie Melon University in Pennsylvania, mindfulness meditation apps can categorically help to lower stress levels – and stress plays a part in a number of different hair loss conditions.
Stress and the hair growth cycle
Stress frequently correlates with thinning hair which sheds diffusely from all over the scalp and can seem quite sudden, despite being triggered around three months before the hair fall becomes noticeable. This is called Telogen Effluvium and is a temporary form of shedding which lists stress as one of its triggers.
Alongside a number of other factors, including nutritional imbalances, a change in medications and overly-strenuous fitness regimes, stress can sufficiently jolt the body into making a greater than normal number of hairs prematurely enter into the telogen (resting) phase of the growth cycle. Though it tends to last for no longer than six months, it can affect as much as 70% of the hair so may be incredibly troubling when it develops.
Stress can also play a part in the genetic conditions male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss. In people who are already genetically predisposed towards these, long-term or extreme stress – whether physical or emotional – can both speed up their onset and make existing conditions worse. Whereas telogen effluvium causes hair fall from the whole scalp, male and female pattern baldness only affect the follicles located around the top of the scalp and hairline. This condition is, however, permanent.
Importantly, the 2017 research from Carnegie Mellon found that acceptance training was a vital component in reducing stress levels during mindfulness practices. Researchers developed three separate programs which they then tried out on 144 stressed adults over two weeks. Each day for 20 minutes one third of the group received training in monitoring the present moment with acceptance; another third were coached in training in monitoring the present moment only; the final third were tutored in active control training.
At the end of the trial, each participant was placed in a stressful situation while cortisol levels and blood pressure were measured.
According to the university’s website, the results show that the participants in the combined monitoring and acceptance program had reduced cortisol and systolic blood pressure reactivity. Their blood pressure responses were approximately 20% lower than those in the other two groups. More impressive still, their cortisol responses were more than 50% lower.
The findings suggest that using the right kind of mindfulness app can lower stress responses in the body – and while the medical benefits of this were not explored in the study, it stands to reason that there could be many health-related positives, a reduction in the risk of certain types of hair loss among them.
That is not to say that spending longer on your phone will prevent hair loss. Whilst it is possible to minimise the chances of developing Telogen Effluvium, when it comes to hereditary hair thinning this is simply a case of not making things worse.
If you have an active genetic predisposition towards male or female pattern baldness, then signs can develop from any time following puberty. Whilst traditionally men tended to lose their hair earlier than women – generally from their 30’s onwards, whilst women would normally develop thinning hair from their 40’s onwards – these timelines are shifting.
Now, it is far from uncommon to see young men and women in their 20’s experiencing pattern hair loss. The reason for this trend towards increasingly premature hairloss is widely considered to be the effects of rising stresses of modern life.
Stress has a drying effect on the hair, so one of the first signs may be strands becoming dull and lifeless. Should excessive hair loss follow, there are a number of steps that can be taken but the most important is the first one – getting a professional diagnosis. Once the problem has been identified, if the shedding is due to a hair loss condition, then advice and treatment recommendations can be provided, and combining an established medical approach with an holistic one, including relaxation and mindfulness techniques, can certainly be helpful.
At Belgravia personalised courses are devised by each client’s dedicated specialist based upon their unique factors, including pattern and extent of shedding, medical profile and lifestyle requirements. Custom hair loss treatment programmes are a popular, convenient non-surgical option featuring clinically-proven medications to help promote hair regrowth and prevent baldness.
Complementary hair growth boosters, designed to be used alongside the pharmaceutical treatments, often form part of these personalised regimens. These range from home-use LLLT via the FDA-cleared LaserComb and Hair Vitalics supplements for healthy hair growth developed exclusively by Belgravia’s hair experts. In addition to providing a wealth of key nutritional support, featuring premium vitamins, minerals, amino acids and botanical extracts known to benefit the hair, the Men’s and Women’s formulations also include elements shown to reduce serum levels of DHT – the hormone responsible for causing thinning hair in cases of genetic hair loss.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.