Many of us can’t live without our morning coffee. But you may wonder what your daily cup of coffee is doing to your hair. Is coffee good for the hair? Can coffee even cause hair loss? We’ve got the answer.
Written by Nicola Sloan
There is no evidence to suggest that drinking a moderate amount of coffee causes hair loss. However, drinking too much coffee can have negative effects on health, and some of these health issues can potentially lead to hair loss over time.
Coffee and Caffeine
Caffeine helps to prevent tiredness and keep you alert by stimulating the brain and central nervous system. Because of its effects on the brain, it is referred to as a psychoactive substance.
Caffeine works by attaching to the adenosine receptors in your brain and blocking the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that relaxes your brain and helps you to feel sleepy.
Caffeine also works fast. It reaches your bloodstream in as little as 20 minutes and reaches full effectiveness in about an hour.
Is Caffeine Bad For Your Hair?
There is little evidence to suggest that caffeine is bad for your hair. In fact, the reverse may be true, if applied topically.
So a cup of coffee consumed each day will not have bad effects on your hair and health, but drinking too much can lead to health problems caused by the caffeine. This may lead to thinner hair and increased loss of hair.
Studies have shown that caffeine can stimulate hair growth and thicker hair when applied topically. It can also help prevent loss of hair.
The stimulant effects of caffeine can also increase blood circulation to hair follicles, helping hair to grow faster, stronger and thicker.
You can benefit from these growth-boosting qualities of coffee by doing a coffee rinse on your hair.
Since drinking a lot of coffee is bad for your health, it is best to apply coffee topically to the hair to get these results. To get the same results just from drinking coffee, you would need to consume about 50 to 60 cups of coffee a day!
The FDA recommends only drinking about 4 cups of coffee a day – which is about 400 milligrams of caffeine each day.
But some people are more sensitive to caffeine and may need to drink less, or even cut caffeine out completely.
Also Read: Can Water Softeners Cause Hair Loss?
Is Coffee Causing My Hair Loss?
Coffee in general does not directly cause hair loss.
That said, drinking too much coffee can lead to health problems which may contribute to loss of hair.
For example, caffeine inhibits iron absorption into the blood, so over time excess consumption can lead to iron deficiency anemia.
This is especially true for women, who need higher levels of this vital mineral due to loss of iron during their period.
Caffeine can also increase feelings of stress and anxiety, particularly for those who are sensitive to its effects. Stress can contribute to weakening hair follicles which may stun hair growth.
The FDA recommends that an average healthy adult drink no more than 400mg of caffeine a day, which is roughly four cups of coffee.
This amount will need to be adjusted depending on the size of the serving and strength of the coffee, and your own personal tolerance to caffeine.
Is Coffee Good Or Bad For Your Health?
Caffeine has some health benefits but it also has some side effects too. It seems to very much depend on the individual and their personal tolerance to caffeine.
Health Benefits Of Coffee
Some possible health benefits of coffee include:
- Improved mood
- Improved brain function
- May boost metabolism and fat-burning
- May enhance exercise performance
- May protect against diabetes and heart disease
- Can decrease the risk of premature death
- May reduce the risk of some types of cancer
- May reduce the risk of developing gout
- May improve gut health
Side Effects Of Coffee
Coffee can cause negative side effects in some people, including:
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Increased stress
- Sleep disturbances
- Irregular heartbeat
- Headaches and migraine
- High blood pressure
- Heartburn and acid reflux
- Complications in conception and pregnancy
Some people will find that they need to reduce their intake of caffeine if they are troubled by the above side effects. Some people, however, find they feel better if they cut out caffeine completely.
How Many Cups of Coffee Is Too Much?
The FDA recommends that an average healthy adult drink no more than 400mg of caffeine a day, which is roughly four cups of coffee a day, depending on the serving size and strength of the coffee.
Drinking more than this can cause undesired side effects.
The FDA advises that rapid consumption of high amounts of caffeine, around 1,200mg to be exact, can cause toxic effects such as seizures.
General Causes Of Hair Loss
The most common cause of hair loss is genetic. Androgenetic alopecia is a condition that affects many men and also women in middle-age, though for men it can start as early as 21.
For men, it is characterized by a reduction in hair growth, a receding hairline and loss of hair on top of the head.
For women, it tends to show itself as a widening parting and general thinning of the hair all over the head due to weakened hair follicles.
This kind of genetic balding is caused by the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a by-product of testosterone.
Hair follicles are sensitive to DHT and exposure to this hormone for a long time can cause the hair follicles to shrink and eventually stop growing hair.
For women, another influencing factor is also the drop in estrogen levels during menopause.
Lifestyle and health factors can also contribute to hair thinning and loss. Some common culprits include:
Coloring your hair and having it permed or relaxed can weaken your hair follicles, decrease hair growth and cause hair to break and fall out.
Washing your hair too frequently and using vigorous styling practices can cause excessive hair shedding.
Regular heat styling, rough brushing and toweling can also cause your hair to fall out, as can using harsh hair products and product buildup.
Frequently having your hair up in a tight ponytail or in other tight hairstyles like cornrows can cause hair thinning by tugging on your hair and breaking it from the follicles, causing thin spots.
Not Getting The Right Nutrients
Not getting enough of the right nutrients in your diet can stun hair growth and cause hair to fall out. For example, iron, zinc, and folic acid all help your hair to grow naturally strong and healthy.
Too Much Stress
Experiencing too much uncontrolled stress in your life leads to a rise in stress hormones like cortisol that may cause your hair to shed at a faster rate. Stress-related hair pulling (trichotillomania) is also, naturally, a cause of hair loss.
An Underlying Medical Condition
If you’re dealing with thinning hair and aren’t sure why it’s best to visit your doctor to see if an underlying medical condition may be the culprit. Conditions such as thyroid disease, alopecia and scalp infections like ringworm can cause hair loss.
As well as menopause, other hormonal changes that can cause hair loss include pregnancy, childbirth, and discontinuing the use of birth control pills.
Ways To Combat Hair Loss
There are a few ways to manage thinning hair yourself at home. Here are some techniques you can try for thicker, stronger hair.
A simple way you can encourage hair growth is to gently massage your scalp while washing your hair in the shower.
While shampooing, gently rub your fingertips into your scalp to encourage blood circulation to the scalp. This will help your hair grow and also help to remove any product build-up, which also impedes hair growth.
For even better results you could purchase a handheld scalp massager.
Thickening shampoos give the hair more volume, so it looks thicker. They also contain nutrients that are key to maintaining a healthy scalp, to promote hair growth over time.
Depending on your needs, you can also get prescription-strength versions of thickening shampoo.
It may be worth getting a blood test from your healthcare provider to see if you’re deficient in any nutrients. Hair needs the right vitamins and minerals in order to grow strong and healthy. Deficiencies in iron, folic acid, and zinc are particularly bad for your hair’s health.
A multivitamin may help if you fall short in many key areas. However, it’s not necessary to take multivitamins if you don’t need them, and current advice suggests that doing so may be harmful.
Better known under the brand name Rogaine, minoxidil is an FDA-approved hair loss treatment you can get over the counter.
When applied to the scalp twice a day, you should see improved hair growth in areas where your hair is thin. Use consistently for best results.
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