Smoking and Hair Loss: Understanding the Connect Between the Two

smoking is bad for hair

Smoking is a personal habit that some of us have and it is no hidden fact that this habit is the root cause of several diseases such as – cancer, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory ailments. In extreme cases, it also leads to death.

As strange as it may sound, smoking does have an adverse effect on your hair. For instance, did you know that another risk of smoking is the thinning of hair and hair loss?

Before we proceed to understand how does smoking takes a toll on your hair, let’s understand the hair growth cycle.


Hair grows from follicles, located beneath the scalp. Each hair shaft or the visible portion of the hair grows from these follicles. Attached to the base of its follicle by a root (papilla), the hair shaft gets nourishments from blood capillaries. When new cells form at the root of the hair, the shaft gets pushed further and this is how the hair grows. Because the new cell generation occurs at the base, follicles are essential for both hair growth and hair regrowth.

Throughout its lifetime, hair goes through different stages of growth cycle. In its normal stage, your hair enters this cycle, which keeps repeating itself. These stages or phases of hair growth are:

  • Anagen or Growth Phase
  • Catagen or Transition Phase
  • Telogen or Resting Phase
  • Exogen or Shedding Phase

At any given point of time, your hair is in one of these stages.


A cigarette contains hundreds and thousands of toxic chemicals and tar. Needless to say, these chemicals damage various parts of the body and the hair. For instance, it starts damaging the circulatory system by harming the blood vessels. This, in turn, affects the blood flow to the follicles and hair growth. The hair eventually starts thinning and enter the shedding phase, paving the way for hair loss.

In addition to this, smoking also has negative effects on the immune system and makes the body susceptible to a number of diseases. Some of these diseases, especially autoimmune diseases, damage the hair or lead to hair loss.

Smoking also accelerates the ageing process. Signs of skin ageing such as – more lines and wrinkles on the face, crow’s feet, yellowing teeth and nails, drooping, dry and coarse skin, broken blood vessels and so on and so forth, are more glaringly visible in smokers as opposed to non-smokers. Add to this graying hair and hair loss. This is the exact reason why some smokers have a gaunt appearance.

Smoking may have a role in clogging the scalp pores. This along with excess sebum may cause diseases of the scalp like psoriasis and dandruff, which can trigger hair fall and hair loss.

Therefore, it is evident that the immediate solution to all these problems is to quit smoking. Easier said than done, the habit is hard to kick. But it is definitely worth giving a try. Here are some tips that will get you started.


    • Maintain a smoking journal.

Write down the reasons why you want to quit the habit. For example, you may want to quit it for a better health, having a youthful appearance, reducing the chances of passive smoking for your near and dear ones or simply because you want to live life to the fullest.

As the next step, maintain the journal by tracking your journey from being a smoker to a non-smoker and jotting down all your difficulties as well as achievements, no matter how big or small they might be.

    • Have a positive outlook.

Quitting smoking is not something that can happen in a short span of time and it can take years to get rid of it completely. It becomes more difficult, if you did try quitting before but didn’t quite manage it. But with a positive outlook, you can stick to your plan. This takes us to the next point.

    • Create a master plan.

Creating a master plan is one of the steps that will take you closer to quitting smoking. Set a date by which you are going to quit the habit and start a countdown. With your smoking journal and help from your near and dear ones, you’ll reach your goal!

Apart from these three tips, you can also join a local support group and keep yourself busy with various activities, which will take your mind off the craving. Include a healthy diet in the mix and you’ll be able to kick the habit before long.


While these were some tips to quit smoking and therefore, preventing damage to your hair, you also need to follow certain steps to maintain healthy tresses. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Stop plucking your hair, especially if you have gray hair. This damages your hair follicles.
  • Say no to inferior quality hair products that do more damage to your hair than good.
  • Invest in hair care products such as Hair for Sure, which is a clinically proven hair regrowth tonic and can be used to treat hair loss.
  • Don’t use hair styling tools and products too often as these are harsh on the hair.
  • Wet hair is prone to breakage and damage, therefore handle wet hair gently. Let it air dry if possible and use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers to detangle it.

In Conclusion

Smoking can indeed be a difficult habit to quit. But with practice and determination, you’ll eventually get there. And amongst the many benefits of quitting the habit, you’ll end up with beautiful, healthy hair. Cheers!