The hormone-hair connection
August 25, 2023

The hormone-hair connection

Dive into hair growth cycles, how to nourish your hormones and more tips for vibrant locks.

Everything to know about hormones and your hair

Picture this: you're standing in front of the mirror, running your fingers through your hair, and suddenly, you’re in panic mode. Your once-luscious locks are slowly but surely bidding adieu. The culprit? Health conditions or stressors aside, hormones might be to blame. With that in mind, we’re deep diving into all things hair and hormones. If you’re worried about hair loss, thinning, and overall hair health, read on.

What is the hair growth cycle?

To set the stage, hair growth occurs in cycles: anagen (growth), catagen (transitional), and telogen (resting). Hormones influence the duration and intensity of these cycles.

  • Anagen phase: This is the active phase of hair growth. The duration of the anagen phase varies from person to person, but it generally lasts between 2 to 7 years. During this phase, the hair grows steadily.
  • Catagen phase: This phase is a short transition between the growth and resting phases. It lasts for about 2 to 3 weeks. The hair follicle shrinks and detaches from the blood supply during this time.
  • Telogen phase: In this phase, the hair follicle is at rest. The old hair remains in place while new hair begins to grow beneath it. The telogen phase lasts around 3 to 4 months.

Keep in mind that the timing and duration of these phases are influenced by factors like genetics, age, overall health, and hormonal fluctuations. Additionally, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause will impact your hair growth cycles.

What hormones play a role in hair health?

  1. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT): This derivative of testosterone is a major contributor to hair loss. However, this is typically more common in men! In essence, high levels of androgens—including DHT—can shrink your hair follicles, causing hair to grow out looking thinner and more brittle (as well as fall out faster). DHT can also make it take longer for your follicles to grow new hairs once old hairs fall out.
  2. Thyroid hormones: Thyroid imbalances (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism) can disrupt the hair growth cycle, resulting in hair thinning or loss.
  3. Estrogen and progesterone: Changes in these hormones (such as during pregnancy, menopause, or hormonal treatments) can impact hair growth and texture.
  4. Cortisol: Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels may lead to hair shedding by pushing hair follicles into the telogen (resting) phase.

How to achieve hormonal balance for healthy hair

First and foremost, consider working with your healthcare provider or an Integrative Medicine / Functional Medicine practitioner to receive a full bloodwork panel. This will give you a thorough understanding of your thyroid health, testosterone levels, cortisol, etc. Given that all of these play a significant role in hair health, don’t overestimate the power of comprehensive blood work.

In the meantime, hone in on your nutrition. Prioritize a diet rich in high-quality protein (the building block for hair), as well as foods high in B vitamins (these encourage hair cell rejuvenation)—legumes, egg yolks, organ meats, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, and avocado. Additionally, ingredients with zinc and iron support hair health, too! A few favorites: pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, and pastured meat.

Next: stress management. Practices like meditation, yoga, and moderate exercise can all help regulate cortisol levels. Adaptogens can support a healthy stress response as well. Ultimately, keeping cortisol within a healthy range helps keep inflammation at bay. Last but not least, be gentle with your hair! Avoid excessive heat and styling, which can exacerbate hair damage. And if you haven’t done so already, you may want to switch to a silk pillowcase

Colostrum for hair growth

Worried about hormone-related hair loss? It might be time to try colostrum—yes, colostrum. This magical elixir is known as liquid gold for a reason. If you’re a mom, IBCLC, neonatal nurse, or pediatrician, you know the life-changing benefits of colostrum. It’s an unrivaled nutrient powerhouse.

Although it’s traditionally associated with newborns and infants, adults can reap its rewards as well. From enhancing athletic performance to improving gut health, colostrum is a versatile supplement worth the shelf space—especially if you’re on a hair growth mission.

Speaking of, colostrum supports all aspects of hair health: reactivate hair follicle stem cells, support the hair microbiome, and work to combat hair loss. This supplement helps reverse inflammation and block chemical-induced damage to the follicle. Our go-to colostrum supp is ARMRA. The brainchild of Dr. Sarah Rahal, MD, ARMRA’s bovine colostrum comes from sustainably sourced grass-fed cows. Enjoy it in a cool beverage or pour the powder directly into your mouth!

A few favorites from this week. 

Well-balanced blood sugar is critical for healthy hair and hormones. Try incorporating fiber + fat + protein with all your meals.

Our favorite way to give our hormones some love every single day is with beeya. This is Kaya’s yogurt bowl topped with phase 2 seeds!

Savor your seeds

Yes, seeds support hair health! Specifically, flax and chia seeds. First and foremost, they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These help maintain a healthy scalp and improve blood circulation—ensuring your follicles receive proper nourishment. These seeds are also anti-inflammatory, which can help reduce scalp inflammation (which can interfere with hair growth). Lastly, seeds are rich in essential nutrients, including B vitamins, zinc, and protein. All of these aid in hair tissue repair and growth. 

Sprinkle your seeds on a bowl of yogurt, blend them into smoothies, incorporate them into nourishing treats, or use them as crunchy toppings for salads. Need more recipe inspo? We have you covered

Our seed cycling blends can help you feel and do your best

Did you know that seed cycling can support more regular periods? The nutrients in the seeds can help gently nudge hormones into a balanced rhythm! Try it out here.