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Marijuana & Hair: Can Weed Cause Hair Loss?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Steph Coelho

Published 09/05/2021

Updated 01/25/2024

More and more folks are becoming cannabis-curious when it comes to weed for medical conditions. Researchers, too, are hopping on the cannabis caboose to look into claims about this supposedly potent plant-based drug.

Evidence suggests that compounds in cannabis known as cannabinoids (these include THC and CBD) may have real effects on certain types of pain and mental health conditions like anxiety.

Still, just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s totally free of side effects. Smoking cannabis might make you feel good, but what impact does it have on your hairline?

If you’re noticing signs of balding, you might wonder if your weed habit is helping or hindering.

Can weed cause hair loss? Or conversely, can weed make your hair grow? We’ll answer your burning questions below.

We’ll also cover how to treat hair loss, including effective treatments and lifestyle tweaks that may help with male pattern baldness. And we’ll briefly touch on a few non-marijuana-related factors that might contribute to excess shedding.

Can Weed Cause Hair Loss?

Here’s the thing: We know smoking nicotine cigarettes can negatively impact your skin and hair. Both smoke and nicotine break down fibers in the hair follicle, impacting hair growth. Smoke can also damage DNA and affect the hair growth cycle.

Going bald aside, there’s evidence that smoking might even cause premature graying.

A 2013 study involving 207 participants looked at two randomized groups of people. One group included folks who went gray prematurely (before age 30), and the other group included people with a typical graying pattern.

What did the researchers find? Cigarette smokers were more likely to experience premature graying than non-smokers. However, the study didn’t differentiate between those who smoked regularly and those who smoked occasionally, leaving us in the dark on the link between smoking frequency and hair graying.

All that said, it’s not clear whether smoking marijuana has the same effects on hair health.

One older study from 2007 suggested that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the active ingredient in cannabis that gets you high — might negatively impact the protein content of hair follicles.

Another study based on survey data from over 1,500 males found that testosterone levels were higher in men with more recent marijuana use. High testosterone levels translate to higher levels of the by-product DHT (short for dihydrotestosterone), a sex hormone linked to hair loss.

But having higher levels of testosterone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined to go bald. Read more about the link between DHT and hair in our guide to DHT and hair loss.

That’s about all the evidence there is to support a connection between marijuana and hair loss.

Still, it’s not a leap to conclude that any smoke — whether from nicotine or the ol’ jazz cigarettes — might damage your hair. So, if you’re worried about bald spots, consider switching from smoking weed to edibles — gummy is yummy, after all.

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Can Weed Make Your Hair Grow?

Emerging evidence suggests that cannabinoids have health-promoting effects — and these might extend to your hairline.

Wait — what the heck are cannabinoids? Cannabinoids are compounds, like THC and CBD, that come from the cannabis plant.

But did you know the body also has an endocannabinoid system (ECS), including cannabinoid receptors? Your body actually produces endocannabinoids similar to the cannabinoids in cannabis.

Cannabis produces its effects because it works on your body’s built-in cannabinoid highway. Think of cannabis compounds like the glass slipper for your body’s endocannabinoid receptors: They fit just right, potentially producing beneficial health effects — at least, according to emerging research.

Okay, back to hair. Can weed give you Fabio-esque locks? Probably not.

But some research indicates that cannabinoids might help with inflammatory conditions that cause hair loss. This includes alopecia areata (when the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles) and telogen effluvium (a condition brought on by extreme stress that causes sudden, severe hair loss).

There’s also some evidence that cannabinoids help with skin conditions like eczema — which sometimes involves hair loss.

It’s important to point out that there may be a difference between ingesting cannabis orally and smoking it. Smoke itself might be bad news for your hair.

And ultimately, more studies are needed before healthcare professionals start prescribing weed for excessive hair shedding.

What You Can Do About Hair Loss

Noticing more hair around the shower drain than usual? Don’t panic.

There’s no conclusive evidence that weed can help with hair loss, but proven treatments are available.

Here’s how you can address hair thinning and balding.

Use Hair Loss Treatments

While research doesn’t back cannabis use to treat androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness, these FDA-approved medications can help:

  • Finasteride. Finasteride is specifically formulated to target and lower levels of DHT, a male sex hormone linked to male pattern baldness. It’s available in both oral and topical forms.

  • Minoxidil. Minoxidil is another proven treatment for male pattern baldness that comes in oral and topical forms, like minoxidil foam and liquid minoxidil solution.

Try Hair Growth Shampoos

Quality haircare products can help protect your hair follicles, too. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Volumizing shampoo and conditioner. Volumizing shampoo and conditioner inject a dose of life into your hair to help camouflage patches of thinning hair.

  • Thickening shampoo with saw palmetto. Thickening shampoo is designed to promote fuller-looking hair. It contains saw palmetto, which may help block DHT.

  • Dandruff detox shampoo. This dandruff shampoo contains pyrithione zinc 1% and salicylic acid. These active ingredients don’t necessarily help with hair growth, but they can help reduce build-up that leads to limp, lifeless locks.

Will you join thousands of happy customers?

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Explore Lifestyle Tweaks to Reduce Hair Loss

The way you treat your scalp can impact your strands (or lack thereof).

To promote a healthy head of hair and prevent hair loss, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends:

  • Using high-quality shampoo

  • Avoiding over-washing your hair

  • Using conditioner to prevent dry and damaged hair

  • Heading to the salon for regular trims

  • Skipping heat treatments and chemical styling

  • Stopping harsh towel drying post-shower

  • Skipping tight hairstyles to avoid pulling on — and possibly damaging — your hair follicles

Follow these tips for a few months to see if you notice any improvement in the condition of your hair.

Address Other Factors That Can Cause Hair Loss

Your haircare routine isn’t the only factor affecting hair thickness and shedding. A few other things that might cause male hair loss include:

  • Too much stress. Chronic stress is a trigger for telogen effluvium. If you feel like you’re always on high alert, it may be time to think about creating a cooldown routine for your mind — whether that’s a morning yoga sesh or finding time during the day to walk in nature.

  • Nutritional deficiencies. It’s true: your diet can affect your hairline. Lacking certain nutrients, like iron, can trigger temporary shedding. Learn more about foods for hair growth in our blog.

  • Some medications. Some prescription medications that cause hair loss include high blood pressure meds and beta-blockers. Don’t just stop your meds cold turkey, though. Tell your healthcare provider about your recent hair loss and ask if another medication might be an option.

  • Health conditions. Hair loss can also happen with certain medical conditions, like autoimmune conditions and thyroid disease.

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The Connection Between Marijuana and Hair Loss

The jury’s still out on whether weed is good or bad for your hair.

If you’re experiencing hair loss, you don’t necessarily need to quit weed. However, you’re probably better off opting for a proven, FDA-approved hair loss treatment like finasteride or minoxidil.

What do finasteride and minoxidil have in common? Let’s break it down:

  • They stimulate hair growth. Finasteride and minoxidil help promote hair growth — but they go about it in different ways. Minoxidil targets the blood vessels in your scalp, helping to promote blood flow. Finasteride helps inhibit DHT production.

  • They’re FDA-approved. Both treatments are approved to treat male pattern baldness.

  • They’re effective. These two hair loss treatments are backed by a ton of research.

The bottom line? There’s way more evidence to back up the effectiveness of these medications compared to marijuana. Bonus: research shows that they don’t seem to produce any adverse effects — even with long-term use.

You might not be able to completely reverse male pattern baldness, but hair loss treatments are available.

Our guides on how to make hair grow faster and how to cover up bald spots are full of helpful info and tips. And our biotin gummies are chock-full of essential nutrients to promote healthy hair growth.

Need something a bit stronger than a gummy? No, we’re not talking about weed. You can access prescription-strength hair treatments online through Hims.

If you want a real solution for hair loss, reach out for a free online consultation today.

13 Sources

  1. Vučković, S., Srebro, D., Vujović, K. S., Vučetić, Č., & Prostran, M. (2018). Cannabinoids and pain: New insights from old molecules. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 1259. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6277878/
  2. Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, 12(4), 825–836. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/
  3. Trüeb RM. Association between smoking and hair loss: Another opportunity for health education against smoking? Dermatology. 2003;206(3):189-91. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12673073/
  4. Zayed, A. A., Shahait, A. D., Ayoub, M. N., & Yousef, A. M. (2013). Smokers' hair: Does smoking cause premature hair graying?. Indian dermatology online journal, 4(2), 90–92. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673399/
  5. Telek, A., et al. (2007). Inhibition of human hair follicle growth by endo- and exocannabinoids. The FASEB Journal, 21(13), 3399–3771. Retrieved from https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1096/fj.06-7689com
  6. Thistle, J. E., Graubard, B. I., Braunlin, M., Vesper, H., Trabert, B., Cook, M. B., & McGlynn, K. A. (2017). Marijuana use and serum testosterone concentrations among U.S. males. Andrology, 5(4), 732–738. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5660879/
  7. Kupczyk, P., et al. (2009). Cannabinoid system in the skin – a possible target for future therapies in dermatology. Experimental dermatology, 18(8), 669-679. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1600-0625.2009.00923.x
  8. The endocannabinoid system: Essential and mysterious. (2021, Aug 11). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-endocannabinoid-system-essential-and-mysterious-202108112569
  9. Lu, H. C., & Mackie, K. (2016). An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system. Biological psychiatry, 79(7), 516–525. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4789136/
  10. Hair loss types: Alopecia areata causes. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/types/alopecia/causes
  11. Hughes, E. C., et al. (2023). Telogen effluvium. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430848
  12. How to stop damaging your hair. (n.d.). https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/insider/stop-damage
  13. Yanagisawa, M., et al. (2019). Long-term (10-year) efficacy of finasteride in 523 Japanese men with androgenetic alopecia. Clin Res Trials. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337105943_Long-term_10-year_efficacy_of_finasteride_in_523_Japanese_men_with_androgenetic_alopecia
Editorial Standards

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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