How alcohol impacts the hair

Sponsored Content 26 May 2022

We all know how alcohol can impact our bodies.

From sore heads to feeling dehydrated after a night of heavy drinking, nobody likes a hangover. But how many of us know how alcohol consumption impacts our hair? With Google searches for “hair and alcohol” seeing a 319.4% uplift in the last month, and as summer is getting closer – meaning we’re all more likely to enjoy an alfresco cocktail or two, Cliphair reveals how drinking alcohol impacts your hair and advises on how you can keep it looking its best.

By hair care expert Brenda Lee Intignano from Cliphair

Brittle to breakage

Alcohol is a diuretic. As the enzymes in the liver process it, alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde – a substance that, in large doses, is toxic to the body. As a result, the body drives to remove it as fast as possible from the system, causing it to get rid of liquids faster than usual via the bladder.

Vasopressin is the body’s natural antidiuretic hormone that dictates how much urine the kidneys produce. Alcohol suppresses the production of vasopressin, leading to dehydration.

Dehydration can majorly damage the hair and scalp just as much as it would with the rest of your body. When the body becomes dehydrated, the moisture that it does have is directed to the body’s essential organs, leaving the hair and scalp to fend for themselves.  A strand of hair is one-quarter of water, so without sufficient moisture, it grows dry and brittle, causing excessive breakage. Severe dehydration, in the long run, can also contribute to hair loss.

If your alcohol intake is increased throughout the summer months, ensure that you increase your water intake accordingly. Prolonging the use of a hair conditioner will also help each hair strand to lock in the moisture.

A heightened likelihood of dandruff

Alcohol can contribute to dandruff, with white wine and champagne acting as the main culprits. The root of dandruff is often found in a person’s diet as its often caused by yeast overgrowth in the body. White wine and champagne trigger an overproduction of yeast which can therefore cause dandruff. Cutting back on an alcohol intake and adopting a diet that promotes healthy gut bacteria will work to curb dandruff.

Goodbye keratin 

Alcohol is acidic. When the body becomes too acidic, it works to reduce acidity levels through its protein keratin. Keratin plays an important role in building the hair follicles and ensuring that they are strong. The more alcohol the body digests, the more it draws on keratin, removing it from the hair. This leads the hair to break and even shed.

Catching less ZZZZZs

It’s a common misconception that alcohol leads to a person obtaining a heavy sleep. Quite the opposite, really; alcohol leads to disrupted sleeping patterns. Consuming up to 6 units of alcohol per night reduced the likelihood of rapid eye movement, an important restorative stage in the sleep process. 35% to 70% of people that consume alcohol regularly claim to suffer from insomnia.

As part of the normal functions of a biological clock, the body produces the sleep hormone (called melatonin) as it witnesses darkness. Melatonin works to regulate sleeping patterns and ensure a good night’s rest. On top of that, melatonin has also been proved to contribute to healthy hair growth. If your body decreases its levels of melatonin, the speed at which hair grows can rapidly reduce.

Stress

Alcohol is a stimulant and an excessive and prolonged assumption of alcohol can lead to an increase in one’s stress levels. A high level of stress can result in telogen effluvium hair loss. This is when a build-up of stress causes the hair follicle into an early resting state that leads to it shedding early. Telogen effluvium causes the hair to thin and can even lead to balding patches over the scalp.

To keep your hair in its optimal shape this summer, remember to stay hydrated and use the correct products to seal moisture in your locks, protecting it from the sun and seawater too.

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