Alcohol and Hair Loss: Are They Related?

Yes, excessive alcohol can cause hair loss. But you can halt or reverse it through behavior modification. It’s mostly a matter of figuring out your priorities.


No one likes to hear of new reasons to cut back their consumption of alcohol. But not too many people like hair loss either. So while it’s true that excessive drinking can lead to hair loss, understanding the science can at least put it into perspective.

Hair is a part of human biology and yet the body treats it as expendable, “nice but not necessary.” In times of stress, starvation, hormonal imbalances, aging, or when subject to toxic substances (radiation, medications that kill before they cure, etc.) a person’s hair can fall out. Some of it is temporary, some permanent.

A professional hair loss treatment clinic can tell you what sort of hair loss condition you have, whether the condition is temporary or permanent, and how to treat the condition if it can be treated. Treatments include hair loss surgery, laser hair loss therapy, medications and topicals and more. For some conditions the clinic may recommend seeing a physician.

Where it comes to the effects alcohol, there are several reasons why hair and booze are not a good pair. They include:

Reduced blood circulation. When this happens, blood flow to the scalp is reduced along with everything else in the body. Blood brings nutrients to the scalp and to hair roots. It would be like putting your hair on a diet.

Dehydration. If you’re waking up with cotton mouth after a night of Jell-o shots and Jaegerbombs, it also means your hair is wishing for some water as well. It weakens hair growth and increases hair shedding.

Nutritional deficiencies. Alcohol tends to deplete the body of Vitamin D, the B vitamins, zinc, and iron. These are some of the most important nutrients for hair health. So too is the protein keratin, which fortunately is not affected by alcohol unless you’re someone who thinks substituting booze calories for dinner calories is genius. It is not.

Chronic inflammation and hormone imbalances. Any type of body irritant (excessive sunshine, chemicals, radiation, etc.) can adversely impact all parts of the body, including your unnecessary hair follicles. The hormones – changing levels of DHT (derived from testosterone) in particular – can cause miniaturization of hair follicles, shortened hair growth cycles, and inflammation. None of this promotes thick, healthy hair.

It’s important to realize this is not what happens from that glass of wine with dinner, the single artisanal bourbon, or one (perhaps two) mugs of a finely-crafted IPA. These effects are from excessive drinking, and the longer one does it the greater (worse) the effects.

By the same token, if your hair is thinning and you are a mid-level drinker, you might benefit by reversing things. Drink lighter and less, but also do the kinds of things that have the opposite effect.

That can include adding cardio exercise that increases blood flow. Eat a more balanced diet that contains essential hair nutrients. And if you experience stress in your life, do what you can to reduce its effects: exercise, meditation, quit a toxic workplace job, and learning to just let some things go might be your prescription.