Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss? | Jae Pak MD

- Reviewed by: Dr. Jae Pak, M.D.

Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss? 

At Jae Pak MD Medical, we understand that hair loss is a multifaceted issue influenced by various factors, including lifestyle choices. Among these, smoking is a habit that raises concerns for general health and hair health. 

With smoking being a prevalent habit worldwide, its implications on hair loss have become a subject of growing interest and concern. In this article, we delve into the scientific exploration of the link between smoking and hair loss. 

By providing clear, evidence-based insights, we hope to shed light on this aspect of hair health, guiding those who smoke or are exposed to smoking toward informed decisions about their hair care and overall well-being.

What Is Hair Loss?

Hair loss, a condition that affects many, can be perplexing and distressing. At its core, hair health is influenced by the hair growth cycle, which includes the phases of growth (anagen), transition (catagen), and rest (telogen). 

Disruptions in this cycle can lead to various forms of hair loss, with factors ranging from genetic predisposition to environmental influences playing a role.

Common types of hair loss include androgenetic alopecia, widely known as male or female pattern baldness, characterized by a genetic sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) leading to hair thinning. Another type, telogen effluvium, involves an increased shedding of hair, often triggered by stress, illness, or hormonal changes.

What Causes Hair Loss?

Understanding the root causes of hair loss is essential in addressing this complex condition. Hair loss can be attributed to a variety of factors, each playing a distinct role in the health and life cycle of hair. 

Here are some of the primary causes:

  • Genetic Predisposition: Heredity plays a significant role in hair loss, particularly in androgenetic alopecia, where a family history of baldness can predispose individuals to similar patterns of hair thinning.
  • Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormones are a major cause of hair loss in both men and women. Conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and menopause can also trigger hair thinning.
  • Medical Conditions: Various medical issues, including thyroid disorders, anemia, and autoimmune diseases like alopecia areata, can lead to hair loss.
  • Medications and Treatments: Certain medications, including chemotherapy, blood thinners, and antidepressants, can have hair loss as a side effect.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Lack of essential nutrients, such as iron, protein, and vitamins, can weaken hair and lead to shedding or thinning.
  • Stress and Trauma: Emotional or physical stress can trigger types of hair loss like telogen effluvium, where hair prematurely enters the resting phase and falls out.
  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to harsh chemicals, extreme weather conditions, and pollution can damage hair and scalp health, contributing to hair loss.
  • Aging: As part of the natural aging process, hair naturally thins, and hair growth slows down.
  • Improper Hair Care: Overstyling, excessive heat treatments, and harsh hair products can weaken hair and contribute to hair loss.

We re Here to Help

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Jae Pak today.

Request a Consultation

What About Smoking?

Smoking and its impact on hair health is an area of increasing research interest. While smoking is widely recognized for its detrimental effects on overall health, its specific influence on hair loss is an area that merits closer examination.

The Link Between Smoking and Hair Health

  • Reduced Blood Flow: Smoking contributes to poor circulation throughout the body, including the scalp. Reduced blood flow can weaken hair follicles, depriving them of essential nutrients and oxygen needed for healthy hair growth.
  • Oxidative Stress: Cigarette smoke is known to increase oxidative stress in the body. This stress can damage hair follicles, leading to weakened hair and potentially accelerating the hair loss process.
  • Hormonal Disruption: Smoking may also influence hormonal balance. It can increase levels of DHT, a hormone implicated in androgenetic alopecia, exacerbating hair thinning and loss.
  • Impaired Immune Response: Smoking can impair the body’s immune system, potentially aggravating conditions like alopecia areata, where the immune system attacks hair follicles.

Research and Studies

Several studies have investigated the relationship between smoking and hair loss. Some of these studies suggest a correlation between smoking and an increased risk of androgenetic alopecia, particularly in men. 

However, the research is not entirely conclusive, and the extent to which smoking alone can cause hair loss remains a subject of ongoing study.

Individual Variability

It’s important to note that individual responses to smoking vary significantly. Genetics, lifestyle, and overall health play a role in determining how smoking impacts an individual’s hair health. 

For some, the effects of smoking on hair might be more pronounced, while for others, it might be a contributing factor among several others.

So, Can Smoking Cause Hair Loss?

While smoking is not the sole cause of hair loss, it is increasingly recognized as a contributing factor that can exacerbate hair thinning and loss. Its role in reducing blood flow, increasing oxidative stress, disrupting hormonal balance, and impairing immune function can collectively impact hair health. 

However, quitting smoking can improve overall health and potentially mitigate its negative effects on hair.

We re Here to Help

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Jae Pak today.

Request a Consultation

Can Hair Regrow After Quitting Smoking?

The question of hair regrowth after quitting smoking is one that interests many who are concerned about the effects of smoking on hair health. The ability of hair to recover after stopping smoking depends on various factors:

  • The Extent of Damage: If smoking has caused significant damage to hair follicles, leading to conditions like cicatricial alopecia, where scarring occurs, regrowth may be limited. However, in cases where the impact is less severe, there’s a better chance of recovery.
  • Overall Health and Nutrition: General health improvements following smoking cessation, such as better blood circulation and reduced oxidative stress, can create a more favorable environment for hair regrowth. 
  • Duration of Smoking: Longer durations of smoking can lead to more pronounced hair health issues, potentially reducing the likelihood of full regrowth. Conversely, if smoking is stopped relatively early, the chances of reversing its effects on hair health are higher.

What Is the Process of Hair Regrowth After Quitting Smoking?

The journey of hair regrowth after quitting smoking is a complex process influenced by a range of factors. 

Here’s an overview of what typically happens and how this process can be supported:

Improvements in Circulation and Reduction of Stress

Quitting smoking leads to improved blood circulation throughout the body, including the scalp. This enhanced blood flow can rejuvenate hair follicles, potentially stimulating new growth. Additionally, the reduction in oxidative stress, a consequence of smoking, lessens damage to the hair follicles, aiding in the recovery of hair strength and vitality.

Hormonal Balance and Hair Growth Cycle

Smoking cessation may aid in rebalancing hormones, notably by reducing DHT levels, which are often linked to hair loss. As hormonal levels stabilize, the hair growth cycle begins to normalize. 

The anagen or growth phase can become more robust, with hair follicles reactivating and initiating new growth. This normalization decreases the telogen phase, characterized by resting and shedding, leading to a healthier hair growth cycle overall.

Nutritional and Hair Care Support

A nutrient-rich diet is crucial for supporting hair regrowth. Proteins, vitamins, and minerals play a significant role in hair health, and supplements may be recommended under medical guidance. 

Adopting a gentle hair care routine, avoiding harsh chemicals and excessive heat, and using products that encourage hair growth can also promote hair health. Regular scalp care, such as scalp massages, can further support the regrowth process.

Consultation With Hair Restoration Experts

Consulting with hair restoration specialists like Dr. Jae Pak can provide a personalized assessment and treatment plan catering to individual hair regrowth needs. Advanced treatments like hair transplant surgery, low-level laser therapy, or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy can be explored for cases where natural regrowth is limited. 

These experts can also help develop a long-term strategy for maintaining hair health and managing any ongoing concerns related to hair thinning or loss.

Setting Realistic Expectations

It’s important to remember that hair regrowth is a gradual process, and visible changes may take several months to become noticeable. The extent of recovery varies based on individual health, the degree of hair loss experienced while smoking, and genetic predispositions.

We re Here to Help

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Jae Pak today.

Request a Consultation


In conclusion, while smoking is not the sole cause of hair loss, it’s increasingly recognized as a significant contributing factor. Its impact on blood circulation, oxidative stress, hormonal balance, and immune function can collectively influence hair health, potentially exacerbating hair thinning and loss. 

However, the possibility of hair regrowth after quitting smoking is encouraging. This recovery is influenced by the extent of smoking-related damage, overall health improvements, and the duration of the smoking habit.

At Jae Pak MD Medical, we understand that hair loss is a complex issue with numerous contributing factors, including lifestyle habits like smoking. For those concerned about the effects of smoking on their hair health, we advocate for a holistic approach, combining cessation of smoking with a healthy diet, appropriate hair care, and professional hair restoration treatments. 

Remember, the journey toward better hair health starts with informed decisions and a commitment to healthier lifestyle choices.


Hair Loss: Causes, Treatments and Prevention Options | Cleveland Clinic

Androgenetic alopecia | MedlinePlus Genetics 

HAIR LOSS: WHO GETS AND CAUSES | American Academy of Dermatology 

How Smoking Affects the Heart and Blood Vessels | NHLBI, NIH

Relationships among smoking, oxidative stress, inflammation, macromolecular damage, and cancer | PMC 

Cigarette Smoking and Effects on Hormone Function in Premenopausal Women | PMC 

Association between smoking and hair loss: another opportunity for health education against smoking? | PCM 

Find out if Hair Restoration is right for you.

Speak with Jae Pak, M.D. today!

Request a Consultation