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Alcohol and Hair Loss: Is There a Connection?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Sian Ferguson

Published 09/19/2021

Updated 05/19/2024

It’s no secret that heavy drinking isn’t great for your health — but can alcohol cause hair loss?  

The answer is a little complicated. While there’s no evidence that the occasional drink causes hair loss, heavy alcohol consumption may lead to issues like nutritional deficiencies that eventually cause your hair to fall out.

Further, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many possible causes of hair loss aside from alcohol. For instance, male pattern baldness is usually a result of genetics — so if you have a receding hairline or thinning on the crown of your head, your Friday pub visits likely are not to blame.  

Read on to learn more about the connection between alcohol and hair loss, and how other factors like genetics, hormones, and nutritional deficiencies can lead to increased hair fall. We’ll also cover some tips for treating hair loss and stimulating hair regrowth. 

Currently, there’s no scientific research that shows a direct link between moderate alcohol consumption and hair loss. 

That said, excessive alcohol consumption may indirectly contribute to hair loss. That’s because it can impact certain aspects of your health, some of which may have an effect on the appearance and health of your hair.

Here’s a look at some of the health factors associated with excess alcohol use, as well as how each factor can potentially affect your hairline and overall hair health. 

Alcohol and Nutritional Deficiencies

For your hair follicles to grow healthy hair cells, they need nutrients — just like any other tissue in your body. Countless micro and macronutrients are involved in hair growth, from essential vitamins for healthy hair like A, B12, C, D, and E, to minerals like iron and zinc. 

Many of these vitamins and minerals are found in food and dietary supplements, while some, such as vitamin D, are synthesized in your skin. 

While it's okay to drink a moderate amount of alcohol, alcohol can interfere with enzymes that are responsible for absorbing nutrients into the bloodstream. Continuous, heavy alcohol consumption can severely affect your nutrient absorption, to the point where you may develop nutritional deficiencies. 

On top of that, drinking heavily can also affect your appetite, causing you to eat less nutrient-dense foods in the first place. In a study that formed part of the FinDrink project, a study on alcohol use carried out in Finland, researchers found that men who were heavy drinkers were more likely to have a lower intake of fiber, calcium, iron, folic acid, and other essential nutrients.

For this reason, many people with alcohol-use disorders have nutritional deficiencies. Among other issues, this may lead to a lack of the vital nutrients your body needs to create hair.

Hair loss caused by nutritional deficiencies is categorized as telogen effluvium, a temporary form of hair shedding that can make your hair lose its normal thickness and scalp coverage.

Alcohol and Stress

Many people have the occasional drink to unwind after a stressful day. But heavy drinking can actually increase your stress level instead of lowering it. 

This is partly because alcohol addiction can lead to other issues, like social conflict, financial issues, and difficulty with day-to-day functioning. It can also affect your sleep patterns, which can wreak havoc on your cortisol levels.

Although stress doesn’t cause male pattern baldness, it can lead to telogen effluvium — the same type of temporary hair shedding associated with malnutrition. 

Because of the link between stress and hair loss, getting on top of your alcohol intake may benefit your hair as well as your overall health and well-being.

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Alcohol and Smoking

For many people, alcohol and cigarettes go together like burgers and fries. In fact, alcohol is recognized as a common trigger for social smoking.

Unlike alcohol, smoking damages hair directly. 

Research has revealed that people who smoke are more likely than non-smokers to show signs of hair loss, premature hair graying, and general poor hair health. These issues are likely caused by the damaging effects of cigarette smoke on the structure and DNA of human hair.

Interestingly, smoking has similar effects on skin. Researchers have found that regular smokers show greater signs of aging than their peers, with the effects most significant in people with long histories of smoking.

Of course, not everyone smokes when they drink. However, if you tend to itch for a cigarette whenever you drink, it may be a good idea to step back and consider how it’s affecting your hair (and your overall health).  

Drinking excessively doesn’t just impact your hair health — it also affects your overall well-being.  

Research shows that excessive alcohol consumption can either directly cause or increase your risk of developing the following long-term health issues:

  • Cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and liver damage

  • Cognitive problems, such as a reduced ability to learn and/or dementia

  • Mental health issues, such as depression and/or anxiety

Heavy drinking can also affect your immune system, which may increase your risk of becoming sick due to other illnesses.

Although alcohol may indirectly contribute to hair loss through its effects on your nutrient intake, it isn’t considered a major cause of hair loss. 

Instead, the most common form of hair loss in men — male pattern baldness — is caused by the effects of the androgen hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT

DHT can bind to receptors in your scalp. And if you’re genetically predisposed to hair loss, this can cause your hair follicles to slowly shrink and stop producing new hairs through a process called miniaturization.

However, male pattern baldness isn’t the only type of hair loss. Other forms of hair loss include:

  • Alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease where your immune system targets your follicles, damaging them and causing hair loss. 

  • Telogen effluvium. As mentioned above, telogen effluvium can be caused by nutrient deficiencies and extreme stress. It can also be caused by trauma, infection, surgeries or hormonal changes.

  • Traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is caused by constant pulling on your hair follicles, often from tight hairstyles or rough hair styling techniques.

  • Fungal scalp infections. Fungal scalp infections like tinea capitis (scalp ringworm) can damage your hair follicles, leading to hair loss.  

  • Certain illnesses. Some illnesses cause hair loss, including iron deficiencies, thyroid problems, and diabetes.  

It’s not always easy to determine the cause of hair loss on your own, so it’s a good idea to consult with a medical expert if you’ve noticed hair thinning.

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With the right medications and healthy lifestyle choices, hair loss treatment and prevention is possible for many forms of hair loss.

If you do have alcohol-related hair loss, it’s likely telogen effluvium, which is temporary. When you stop drinking and get your nutrient levels back to a reasonable level, your hair will slowly start growing back. 

Here’s what you can do to protect your hair from damage and maintain healthy hair growth as you get older. 

Limit Your Alcohol Consumption

Although alcohol doesn’t directly lead to hair loss, it’s worth evaluating your drinking habits. If you’re worried your drinking is taking a toll on your health, one of the best things you can do is to cut back.

Try to avoid excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking, and aim to stick to the CDC’s recommendation of two alcoholic drinks or fewer per day (for women, the recommendation is up to one drink per day). 

Finding it hard to cut back on drinking? Consider talking to your healthcare provider or therapist. They can provide support and helpful coping techniques.

If you have an alcohol use disorder, a healthcare provider might suggest an alcohol treatment program. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) can be a fantastic resource if you need help. 

Use Medication to Protect Your Hairline

If you’re starting to develop a receding hairline or other signs of male pattern baldness, you can stop your hair loss from worsening by using medication.

The FDA has approved two medications to treat hair loss in men: finasteride and minoxidil.

Finasteride is a prescription medication that works by stopping your body from converting testosterone to DHT. For this reason, it will only work to prevent male pattern hair loss (and not other forms of hair loss).

Minoxidil works at the scalp level by moving hair follicles into the growth phase of the hair growth cycle and improving blood circulation. This can stimulate healthy hair regrowth. This over-the-counter topical treatment is available in the form of minoxidil solution and minoxidil foam.

Science confirms that finasteride and minoxidil work well, especially when they’re used together to treat male pattern hair loss. 

In one study, a team of researchers found that 94.1 percent of men with hair loss who used both medications showed improvements in hair growth over the course of 12 months. 

Use a Hair Loss Shampoo

Keeping your hair and scalp clean is a non-negotiable if you want healthy, full hair. For bonus points, use hair care products that are formulated to prevent hair loss. When used alongside medications like minoxidil and finasteride, a hair loss shampoo can help reduce excess shedding.

Next time you stock up on shampoo, look for active ingredients like saw palmetto, a natural extract that may stop DHT from damaging hair follicles. Our hair thickening shampoo contains saw palmetto and a number of other hydrating ingredients. 

If you struggle with dandruff, try a high quality dandruff shampoo to keep your scalp clear and healthy. 

Additionally, practicing gentle hair care techniques, such as using hydrating products and styling your hair without heat, can reduce hair breakage and keep your hair looking glossy and healthy. 

Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet

A healthy diet can be your best ally in your quest for healthy hair. Try to eat a varied, balanced diet — think plenty of fresh fruits, green vegetables, lean sources of protein, and other nutrient-rich foods. 

Another option is to take a vitamin supplement. For instance, we offer biotin gummy vitamins formulated with a range of key nutrients for optimal hair growth.

Also remember that hydration is a key part of a healthy diet. It’s important to drink plenty of water — especially after a big night out, as alcohol is a diuretic (meaning it makes you pee a lot). Replenish these liquids with enough water and your scalp will thank you. 

Want to stock up on some hair-loving foods? Take a look at our list of the best foods to eat for hair growth.

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There’s no scientific evidence to show that drinking alcohol on a regular basis causes male pattern baldness or other forms of hair loss. However, heavy drinking can impact hair health. 

Here’s a recap of the key points on alcohol and hair loss:

  • Heavy drinking can lead to health issues, which can cause hair loss. Alcohol affects your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, so excessive drinking can cause nutrient deficiencies. This can lead to hair loss. 

  • But moderate drinking is okay. There’s no direct link between hair loss and moderate drinking — so go ahead and enjoy the occasional glass of wine.

  • It’s possible to recover from alcohol-related hair loss. Hair loss caused by nutrient deficiencies, stress, and dehydration can be temporary. You can start to regrow hair by reducing your alcohol intake and implementing healthy hair care habits. 

If you’re experiencing hair loss, it would be helpful to connect with a healthcare provider to determine the cause, and to help find a science-based hair loss treatment that works for you.

And if you’re struggling to cut down on drinking, know that you’re not alone. Consider joining a support group or speaking with a healthcare professional about a treatment program.

13 Sources

  1. Do You Have Hair Loss or Hair Shedding? (n.d.). Retrieved from
  2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (1993, October). Alcohol and Nutrition. Retrieved from
  3. Hughes, E.C. & Saleh, D. (2021, June 8). Telogen Effluvium. StatPearls. Retrieved from
  4. Fawehinmi, T.O., Ilomäki, J., Voutilainen, S. & Kauhanen, J. (2012). Alcohol consumption and dietary patterns: the FinDrink study. PLoS One. 7 (6), e38607. Retrieved from
  5. Social Smoking. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  6. Babadjouni, A., Pouldar Foulad, D., Hedayati, B., Evron, E. & Mesinkovska, N. (2021). The Effects of Smoking on Hair Health: A Systematic Review. Skin Appendage Disorders. 7 (4), 251-264. Retrieved from
  7. Ernster, V.L., et al. (1995, January). Facial wrinkling in men and women, by smoking status. American Journal of Public Health. 85 (1), 78–82. Retrieved from
  8. Alcohol Use and Your Health. (2021, May 11). Retrieved from
  9. Ho, C.H., Sood, T. & Zito, P.M. (2021, August 11). Androgenetic Alopecia. StatPearls. Retrieved from
  10. Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol. (2020, December 29). Retrieved from
  11. Zito, P.M., Bistas, K.G. & Syed, K. (2021, March 27). Finasteride. StatPearls. Retrieved from
  12. Badri, T., Nessel, T.A. & Kumar, D.D. (2021, April 13). Minoxidil. StatPearls. Retrieved from
  13. Hu, R., et al. (2015, September-October). Combined treatment with oral finasteride and topical minoxidil in male androgenetic alopecia: a randomized and comparative study in Chinese patients. Dermatologic Therapy. 28 (5), 303-308. Retrieved from
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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 





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