We know that hair loss can be a side effect of extreme stress. It’s even a medical condition known as telogen effluvium. The stress pushes the follicles into a dormant phase (known as the telogen phase), which can cause those hairs to fall out.
It happens because our hair is supersensitive to any kind of imbalance in our bodies, due to how fast those strands reproduce. So when our hormone regulators—specifically, our sympathetic nervous system and adrenal glands—are imbalanced (like, say, due to a global pandemic), our hair is one of the first things to take a hit. “Both of these hormone [regulators], if out of balance due to high stress, will create hair thinning and loss,” certified trichologist Penny James reminds us about hair loss in women.
And all the recent survey findings suggest that this is happening to men and women across the country: According to a recent survey of around 1,000 adults, nearly two in five of us have experienced hair loss as a result of quarantine-induced stress.
It may even be a symptom of COVID-19, according to some reports. In fact, a survey of 3,900 COVID-19 survivors done by Survivor Corps, a COVID-19 survivor support group, found that 32% of respondents reported hair loss. However, the researchers aren’t able to conclude if it’s an actual side effect of the virus, or simply as a result of going through stress associated with the virus. Read: there’s a connection there, but it’s not clear if it’s correlation or causation.
Hair experts agree: famed hair restoration specialist Lars Skjoth, Ph.D., lead researcher and founder of hair care brand Harklinikken, recently told us about seasonal shedding, “Certain people have been suffering from much more shedding because there’s been so much stress for so many people for so long. I truly believe COVID-19 and quarantine has been exacerbating the symptoms of hair loss dramatically.”
“Hair health and wellness” products have seen an uptick in sales, as well as search volume, according to the beauty site Glossy. They even reported that this summer, year-over-year searches for “hair loss” on Sephora’s site rose by 409%, while searches for hair-loss treatment ingredient biotin rose by 291% in the same time period on Ulta.
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