When you’re working out or in a hot environment, you might feel like your hair is also working harder. The strands might look more stretched and tightly packed than usual. This can lead people to worry that sweating and heat are causing hair loss or accelerated hair thinning. But does sweating cause hair loss?
There are many sweat-related myths out there that have little-to-no factual basis. While it’s true that sweat has been known to accelerate the thinning of hair among individuals with lupus, this is not a common side effect of regular sweating.
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In fact, there is no scientific evidence at this time linking sweating to accelerated hair loss in healthy individuals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4908440/
Let’s take a closer look at why this might be the case, as well as some tips for keeping your locks safe when you start to break a sweat.
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What is the relationship between sweating and hair loss?
When you exercise regularly, your body temperature naturally increases as the blood flow to your muscles increases.
This is a normal physiological process and is required to see any kind of results in your body. As your body temperature rises, sweat glands in your skin produce sweat as a way of cooling you down.
This is why you see a lot of people working out in the heat wearing sweatbands and gloves. Sweat is mainly made up of water with many trace minerals such as sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium. https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html
While the exact cause of hair loss is unknown, it’s believed that sweat may cause hair to break or fall out during or after intense workouts. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hair-loss/symptoms-causes/syc-20372926
It’s important to note, however, that hair loss from exercise is extremely uncommon. With that being said, research does show that excessive sweating does lead to hair loss.
So what exactly happens when you sweat?
How does sweating cause hair loss?
When your body temperature rises as a result of exercising, your hair follicles can be damaged due to the increased level of cortisol in the body.
Since your hair grows from a follicle, any damage to these can lead to hair loss. During exercise, your body releases cortisol, an enzyme that aids in metabolism. Cortisol is also known to increase inflammation in the body, including hair follicles.
Excessive sweating can affect hair growth when the level of cortisol in the body rises above normal. Hair follicles are particularly sensitive to high cortisol levels, which can cause hair loss and prevent future growth.
Why does sweat lead to hair loss?
When sweat mixes with hair, it can cause a chemical reaction that can cause breakage. In addition to minerals, sweat also contains urea, a natural byproduct of the breakdown of amino acids in the body. This can make hair brittle and break easily.
Sweat has a pH level of around 5.0, which is slightly acidic. When this combines with hair, it can lead to hair damage. In addition to minerals, sweat also contains urea, a natural byproduct of the breakdown of amino acids in the body. This can make hair brittle and break easily.
Due to the increased pH level in the sweat, hair that has been caught in this liquid may lose its structure and break. Sweat may also get trapped in your hair and clog your pores, which can lead to hair loss.
Plus, sweat can cause a bacterial infection in your hair and scalp, which can lead to hair loss as well.
Ways to Prevent Hair Damage Caused by Sweating
In addition to regularly washing your face and hair, you can also prevent hair damage caused by sweating by applying a light moisturizer on the scalp and taking breaks from working out. Because sweat is made up of water, oil, and salt, it is a natural conditioner.
However, when it accumulates and drips down to the roots, it leads to over-drying and dehydration. This leads to the breakage of the hair shafts.
While regular shampooing will remove excess oils that cause buildup, frequent sweating can lead to build-up at the root level. This causes the hair shafts to be pushed out of position which eventually leads to split ends and breakage.
A good way to prevent this is with a regular moisturizing routine at home. You can also invest in a hair serum that will help keep your strands in good shape while preventing breakage.
Bottom line: Does sweating cause hair loss?
As we’ve seen, excessive sweating can damage the hair follicles and lead to hair loss. But does this mean that people who sweat less will experience less hair loss? Unfortunately, no.
Hair loss from exercise is extremely uncommon, regardless of how much you sweat. With that being said, excessive sweating does lead to hair loss, so you’ll want to avoid sweating excessively when exercising.
Keep in mind that your hair and scalp can get easily clogged with sweat. To prevent this from happening, you want to make sure to hydrate properly before and during your workout.
Use a sports drink or water with electrolytes to replenish your body with the minerals it loses during exercise.
Wearing a sweatband to keep your hair off your face and a hat to keep it off your neck when you’re indoors can also help prevent sweat from damaging your hair.
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Try to avoid wearing hair ties or clips that pull your hair too tightly when exercising because this can cause breakage as well. If you notice your hair shedding more than usual, you may want to see a dermatologist to rule out any underlying medical condition that may be causing it.
Can exercise help prevent hair loss?
Exercising regularly has many health benefits and is recommended for everyone, including people experiencing hair loss.
Exercising can help improve circulation to your scalp, which in turn will encourage hair growth by providing much-needed nutrients to your hair follicles.
Frequent exercise can also help reduce stress, which is also known to cause hair loss.
Finally, exercise can help improve your self-esteem and boost your confidence, which can make you feel more comfortable with your appearance.
If you’re experiencing hair loss, it’s a good idea to incorporate exercise into your daily routine to promote hair growth. Choose an activity that you enjoy and that you can do consistently, such as 15-30 minutes of walking at least 3 times a week or 20-30 minutes of swimming.
Excessive sweating can lead to hair loss, but this is very rare. It’s important to note that your hair can break or fall out during or after intense workouts.
To prevent hair loss, make sure to hydrate properly before and during your workout. Choose an activity that you enjoy and do it consistently. You’ll not only stay fit and healthy but also boost your self-esteem!
Claudia Faucher is a full-time fitness training expert and lifestyle blogger. She is also been a certified Les Mills BodyPump instructor for the past 5 years and a fitness instructor for over 20 years. Claudia is a personal trainer and creates fitness training programs for seniors and people of all ages. She likes to use her skills and experiences to help others on their fitness journeys.
Last update on 2022-08-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API