Vaping is often seen as a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco, but the habit comes with its own negative long-term effects. One question you likely have is: does vaping cause hair loss? Before diving into that question, let’s unpack exactly what vaping is and why it can be so harmful.
What is Vaping?
Vaping is when a person inhales the vapours of a liquid through an e-cigarette or vape pen. The liquids come in a wide variety of flavours, with many liquids containing nicotine, the highly addictive stimulant that’s also found in tobacco. It’s incredibly popular among younger generations, and many older adults have also turned to vaping to help them stop smoking.
When Did Vaping Become Popular?
Vaping appeared as an alternative to smoking in the mid-2000s and reached greater heights of popularity during the 2010s, with 16% of school students using vapes by 2016. Nowadays, you can find vapes everywhere – walk along a high street in the UK, and you’ll notice at least one vaping shop open.
Is Vaping Good for You?
No – there are zero health benefits to vaping. However, vaping can help a person quit or cut back on smoking, in turn reducing their chances of getting lung cancer. It’s generally accepted that vaping is better for you than smoking tobacco. So, while it doesn’t directly improve your health, it can help you avoid other more harmful habits.
What is Hair Loss?
Your hair goes through a natural cycle in which 50-100 hair follicles fall out every day. This is normal, and your head can account for that. Hair loss is when you lose more than 100 hair follicles each day, which usually results in finding excessive hairs in your hairbrush and shower drain. Eventually, you may begin to notice the hair on your head is thinning, typically beginning at the front of your head and the crown.
Can Vaping Cause Hair Loss?
So, to the all-important question: can vaping cause hair loss? Vaping and hair loss have been linked in recent years. While there haven’t been as many studies into the phenomena as there have been between smoking tobacco and hair loss, there is the potential for vaping to cause your hair to fall out, especially in people who vape constantly.
Why Does Vaping Cause Hair Loss?
The reason vaping may cause hair loss is that there are toxins within the vapor that could damage hair follicles, such as acrolein, acetone, and formaldehyde. Vapes containing nicotine have an even higher chance of losing hair. The addictive stimulant can stop blood flow to the scalp, meaning the hair follicles don’t get the oxygen they need. In turn, this leads to nicotine hair loss.
It’s important to note that vapes are relatively new to the market – especially compared to smoking tobacco, which has been around for many years. As such, there aren’t as many studies into the effects of vaping. Some of the effects may not be known for another few years, and we may still be waiting on conclusive evidence on the connection between vaping and hair loss.
What Are the Side Effects of Nicotine?
When you use a vape containing nicotine, you inhale the highly harmful, addictive substance, which is also found in tobacco, so it’s reasonable to wonder, does nicotine cause hair loss.
As well as potentially leading to hair loss, there are other negative side effects of nicotine, including:
- Increased blood pressure
- Risk of blood clotting
As you can see, nicotine is far from risk-free; any doctor will tell you to try coming off it. Nicotine is also extremely addictive. Once a person starts consuming nicotine, such as through a vape, they will find it difficult to stop. That’s why it’s always best to avoid smoking and vaping altogether.
What Are the Other Effects Vaping Has on the Body?
Even vapes that don’t contain nicotine can potentially harm your body over time. Other side effects of vaping include nausea, coughing, dizziness, and fatigue. In the long term, you might also experience yellowing of the teeth (due to the vaping liquids) and bad skin health.
One of the biggest concerns surrounding vaping is that it may damage the lungs, and there’s even a potential for lung injury caused by vaping, known as EVALI. In the United States in February 2020, there were over 2,800 hospital admissions due to EVALI, of which 68 cases were fatal. It’s clear that vaping is definitely not without its risks.
What to Do If You Experience Hair Loss from Vaping?
Noticing that your hair is falling out is always disheartening. It can happen to anyone at any time – even younger people experience hair loss. It’s much more common in men, with the higher testosterone levels leading to more excessive balding. Still, it can also affect many women (and does), and vaping can trigger hair loss in either gender.
If you experience hair loss from vaping, the absolute best thing to do is quit vaping altogether. Of course, that is very difficult, but it’s worth pursuing for your long-term health as well as the growth of your hair. Other things you can do include living a healthier lifestyle and looking into hair restoration treatments.
How to Protect Your Hair When Vaping
Your overall health has a massive effect on your hair’s growth. The good news is that you can protect your strands even while vaping, reducing the chances of experiencing hair loss. Here are the healthy habits to instil in your life to keep your hair full of hair:
- Eat a well-balanced diet full of essential vitamins and minerals
- Keep your scalp in good condition
- Take supplements
- Reduce stress
- Exercise regularly
Of course, the best way to avoid hair loss from vaping is to quit it entirely. It’s a hard endeavour but so worth it. The best way to succeed when kicking the habit is to create a plan and think positively. Know your triggers, and have a solution in place for when they hit. For example, chewing gum might be a good enough distraction when you suddenly crave that hit. It’s also important to have people around you who fully support your decision to quit – you don’t want to be around anyone who will purposefully tempt you.
If you’re struggling to quit vaping and you don’t know where to turn, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor.
If I Stop Vaping Will My Hair Grow Back?
There are no absolutes here. The only definite is that vaping can reduce blood flow to the scalp, and quitting will reverse that, which could mean you get your strands back. Plus, there are many instances where people grew their hair back after quitting cigarettes – just look at these images of hair before and after quitting smoking. If hair regrowth happens after quitting smoking tobacco, it’s likely the same occurs when quitting vaping.
What Other Factors Contribute to Hair Loss?
There are tons of hair loss factors aside from smoking and vaping – if you’re experiencing thinning hair, there’s a high chance the cause is something else. Here are some of the most common causes of hair loss:
- Male Pattern Baldness
- Female Pattern Baldness
- Telogen Effluvium
- Alopecia Areata
Knowing what causes your hair loss is the first step to finding a solution.
Hair Loss Solutions
Have you quit vaping and adopted a healthier lifestyle, and your hair still hasn’t grown back? Thankfully, there are plenty of solutions for hair loss these days, from medications to surgery. Each solution has its own benefits, and the one you pick will depend on your level of hair loss and lifestyle.
There are two main medical treatments on the market to target hair loss: Minoxidil and Finasteride. Both have excellent results, with many people happily reporting a head full of hair after years of hair loss when taking these.
Laser therapy works by targeting the hair follicles to stimulate hair growth. It is more effective in some people than others.
Wigs have come a long way – where once they used to be very obvious, now you wouldn’t be able to tell when a person is or isn’t wearing a wig or hairpiece. If you’ve experienced extreme hair loss and want a non-invasive solution, a wig might just be the best route for you.
Just like wigs, hair transplants have come so far over the years, with the FUE hair transplant providing patients with natural results and a head full of hair. All kinds of people enjoy the benefits of hair transplants, including both men and women. Of course, there are factors that make you a better candidate for a hair transplant. To be suitable for a hair transplant, you should have a healthy section of the hair that can be used as the donor area.
While there’s no absolute evidence, that can vaping cause hair loss? It’s known that vaping can restrict blood flow to the scalp, meaning your hair follicles don’t get their much-needed oxygen.
Stopping vaping would be the best way to reverse hair loss caused by vaping. However, that might not work for everyone – especially if there are other factors contributing to hair loss, such as natural ageing. In this case, a hair transplant may be your best option. If you’re interested in beginning your hair transplant journey, take a look at our patients gallery to see just how fantastic the results can be. A hair transplant might just be the ticket to the restoration of your confidence (and locks!).
- E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General
- Can vaping damage your lungs? What we do (and don’t) know
- Are there more bald men than women?