Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss?

Updated on & Medically Reviewed by Dr Lalitha
Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss?

There are various health risks that are caused due to smoking! From respiratory illness, heart diseases, to sagging skin, smoking plays a vital role in messing with your health. Similarly, if you have been experiencing hair loss, then smoking certainly is the cause of it. Want to know how and why does smoking causes hair loss? We have every answer to all the questions popping in your mind. 

Does Smoking Really Cause Hair Loss?

While there are various factors from heredity to lack of nourishment that contribute to hair loss, smoking is also one of them. Smoking cigarettes have an adverse effect even on your hair just as it has on your skin. The chemicals in the cigarettes can affect your hair follicles and tend to damage them. These thus lead to hair thinning and extensive hair loss. Smoking can also make your hair brittle and prone to easy breakage. 

Major Effects of Smoking on Your Hair

  • Smoking tends to cause premature graying of your hair.
  • It depletes the collagens and moisture from your hair which leads to reducing naturally inducing hair oils. It leaves your hair dehydrated and dry.
  • It boosts excess sebum secretion and makes your scalp oily and greasy, thus clogging hair shafts.
  • It hampers the endocrine system which leads to disruption of healthy hormone production. This leads to a lesser supply of nourishing nutrients to your hair follicles.
  • The hair strands from your hair follicles will appear thinner.
  • It may cause inflammation of the scalp and can even lead to bald patches.

Additional Factors to Smoking that Lead to Hair Loss

While smoking leads to hair thinning and hair loss, there are other additional factors that can aggravate it further. Below are some reasons that work as an add-on to smoking that leads to hair loss –

Disrupted Blood Circulation

Your hair sees changing phases in the growth cycle – the growing phase, the transitional phase, the resting phase, and the usual shedding phase. However, when the right amount of nutrition isn’t produced or supplied to the blood vessels and hair shafts then your hair’s growing cycle goes under stress.

When these minerals, nutrients and oxygen are not supplied properly to your follicles, they enter a permanent or prolonged resting phase and fail to produce healthy hair. As a result, the hair strands continue to shed at a similar rate, however, the follicles cannot replace them due to lack of nourishment. In fact, the toxins present in a cigarette can, not only affect the blood circulation, but also shrink blood vessels, and impede blood flow thus preventing proper functioning.

Pollution and Other Environmental Factors

While most of the time hair loss is genetic, various researches have linked thinning hair to environmental factors. Every time you smoke, the fumes of smoke released in the air can easily be soaked up by your hair. This causes damage to your hair and can lead  to hair loss. The harmful pollutants like cotinine and nicotine released from cigarettes can lead to permanent damage to your hair structure. 

These toxins get accumulated in your hair follicle and hair shaft and can make your hair fall out. And if the toxins have alkaline elements, they can also disturb the pH level of your scalp which can affect your hair growth. While nicotine can reduce blood pressure across your scalp and damage blood vessels causing your hair to clot more often and causing breakage.

Weak Immune System

Your immune system is most certainly hampered due to extensive smoking. It goes without saying that smoking makes your body more prone and vulnerable to infections and illness. Be it the slightest cold or any other disease, a weakened immune system ensures that even the slightest of flu lingers on longer than usual. In fact, a poor immune system may also increase your chances of fungal or bacterial infection on the scalp. These infections could restrict the follicles from producing healthy hair and lead to hair loss.

Increases The DHT Production

DHT, that is dihydrotestosterone is a type of hormone that is usually affected due to smoking. The DHT usually determines the hormone levels in males and helps in enhancing their masculine traits amongst other effects. In fact, it is also highly believed that DHT plays a key role in affecting the hair growth cycle in both male hair loss and female hair thinning.

When it comes to smoking, it can take a huge toll on the body’s endocrine system which thus leads to high DHT levels. This hormonal change or increase in DHT leads to made pattern baldness. [1]

In fact, the increase in DHT products due to smoking can also lead to hair follicle shrinkage thus stopping new hair growth. The growing phase of the hair shortens with passing time, the follicles then stop growing the hair through the skin. As a result of this, the hair thinning aggravates with each hair growth cycle making them brittle, weak and more prone to breakage and falling.

[ Read: 13 Best DHT Blocking Foods for Healthy Hair Growth ]


One of the major factors that most people claim why they smoke is stress. Often people smoke when under a lot of stress and anxiety. Stress itself is known to cause hair loss and when the factor of smoking is added to it, it only aggravates further. It causes a rise in blood pressure levels, increases heart rate, and even tenses up your muscles. Thus when these two factors – smoking and stressing come together, it usually disrupts your hair cycle and causes hair loss. 

[ Read: How Stress Causes Hair Loss? ]

Does Quitting Smoking Help Hair Growth?

Yes, hair loss caused by smoking can stop and even be reversed once you quit smoking. Quitting smoking is not only the best thing for your hair, but also for your overall health. The hair thinning damage that happened when you were smoking, can eventually be reversed once you stop. As and when your body gets accustomed to the fact that you have stopped smoking, slowly your hair will start receiving the nutrients that were previously disrupted. It surely is a slow process, but with consistent nutrients being supplied to your hair, your hair is sure to grow back healthier and stronger. 

Will Your Hair Grow Back if You Quit Smoking?

Hair loss caused by smoking can be reversed and is also treatable. Once your body starts recovering from the effects of smoking, it starts to function normally. However, this might not be the case for those who have been long term smokers. But the long term smokers can opt for hair treatments such as hair grafting or hair transplant. 

For those who are not long term smokers, you will also notice that once your body starts healing, the hair fall will reduce, and so will the premature aging and drying of your scalp. It is a slow process, but there sure is a possibility of healthy hair growth after you quit smoking. 

How to Treat Hair Loss Caused Due To Smoking?

Smoking can not only cause hair loss and thinning but can also lead to conditions like alopecia areata and androgenic alopecia. However, there are a few treatments that can help you contain and manage the severe effects. You may not find any instant results, but these treatments are surely effective and help you reduce hair loss that is caused by smoking.

1) Minoxidil

Rogaine, or its generic form, minoxidil, is a US FDA approved and proven medication for hair regrowth that is easily available over-the-counter in the form of sprays, creams, serums, and shampoos. Suitable for both men and women, Minoxidil  helps in dilating the blood vessels & increases blood flow to the area for prompt and faster hair growth. It is also believed to boost your hair out of the resting phase and induce stronger and healthier hair growth.

In fact, there are various hair growth products that contain Minoxidil which one can start including to boost hair growth and supply nutrients superficially. The Minoxidil Topical Hair Growth Solution is one such amazing product from the For Men range. This hair growth serum is formulated with Minoxidil which makes sure that it prevents hair thinning and hair falling. This Minoxidil 5% Topical Solution is a prescription-based vasodilator solution that also helps in stimulating and boosting hair growth while slowing down the hair follicle shrinkage that causes hair thinning. It provides oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the hair follicles, opens blood vessels and opens potassium channels to promote new hair growth.

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2) Finasteride

Yet another USFDA approved prescribed oral medication, Finasteride is deemed for its ability to reduce prostatic DHT (dihydrotestosterone) levels by preventing testosterone from breaking down. When DHT is under control, it prevents hair loss that is caused due to hair follicle shrinkage which leads to hair thinning. As DHT is responsible for increasing the hair resting period, Finasteride helps in preventing the conversion of hormone testosterone into DHT.

3) A Healthy Balanced Diet

Apart from the hair supplements and medication, there is one thing that is sure to help your hair in more than one way. A healthy and balanced diet, according to Ayurveda helps in healing and strengthening your body.  

For healthy and stronger hair growth, and reducing hair fall, it is best to include super foods that are rich in Vitamins like A, B, C, D, E, K, zinc, iron, proteins, folic acid, etc. Foods like Amla (Indian gooseberry), turmeric powder, jeera, curry leaves, almonds, coriander, fenugreek, and funnel have immense hair health benefits. These super foods strengthen your hair to prevent hair loss or thinning, while also maintaining healthy new hair growth.

4) Regular Hair Oiling

Along with a balanced diet, regular or weekly hair oiling plays a key role in strengthening your hair from its roots to prevent hair loss. When weekly hair oiling is coupled with a good diet and lifestyle, the problem gets addressed from all ends. Regular oiling hydrates your scalp and stimulates hair growth and prevents brittle hair.

5) Hair Transplant

If all of the above-mentioned treatments are taking too much time to work in your favor, then you can always turn to a hair transplant. This procedure includes taking your hair follicles from the sides and back of the head and transplanting them to the area where there is drastic hair thinning. It works seamlessly for men, however, it is best to quit smoking a little prior to opting for this procedure.

All About Smoking and Hair Transplant

Hair transplant usually has a 100% chance of success. And for best result, here is all you need to know about smoking and hair transplant –

Smoking before and after hair transplant

Most doctors advise you to quit smoking at least a week prior to the surgery. It is also best to avoid smoking two weeks post the treatment as the harmful compounds in cigarettes damage the newly treated area and grafts which is likely to cause failure to the entire treatment.

How does smoking affect hair transplant?

The open wounds of new grafts require a long time to heal which makes them more susceptible to infections. The harmful elements from cigarettes can turn out to be threats to a successful hair transplant. These elements cause cabs and crusts on the scalp which results in scarring of tissue formation and failure of the transplant procedure. Also, as smoking narrows the blood vessels and slows circulation, it is best to quit smoking after hair transplantation as your newly transplanted sensitive hair follicles do not get enough blood for healthy sustainability. 

There are many reasons for hair loss, and they can often be interrelated. However, smoking is a major factor that leads to a lot of damage to your health, while damaging your hairline and hair density. In conclusion, the easiest way to prevent hair loss caused by smoking is to quit! Prevent hair loss, thinning, or premature graying by including healthy habits, regular exercising, and quitting smoking.


Q: Does Smoking Cause Gray Hair?

A: Yes, smoking does lead to premature graying of hair as it accelerates the process of hair aging. 

Q: Can Giving Up Smoking Help in Reversing the Gray Hair

A: Unfortunately, no. Giving up on smoking might not reverse the already caused graying, however, it may definitely stop further premature aging and graying of your hair.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a healthcare professional.

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