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Can Marijuana Cause Hair Loss? Thoughts From an MD

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Steph Coelho

Published 09/05/2021

Updated 04/18/2024

More and more folks are becoming cannabis-curious about weed for medical conditions — or otherwise. But can weed cause hair loss?

Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s free of side effects. Smoking cannabis might make you feel good, but it might also impact your hairline.

Below, we dig deeper into the research and answer your top question: Does weed cause hair loss? We also cover how to treat hair loss, including effective treatments and lifestyle tweaks that may help with male pattern baldness.

One thing we definitely know is that smoking nicotine cigarettes can negatively impact your skin and hair. We know you may stick to weed and stay away from nicotine, but we promise this is relevant.

Both smoke and nicotine break down fibers in the hair follicle and hair shaft, which impacts hair growth. Smoke can also damage DNA and affect the hair growth cycle.

And even if you keep your hair, there’s evidence that smoking might 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 included people with a typical graying pattern.

The researchers found that 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.

Okay, nicotine = bad. But what does smoking weed do to your hair?

It’s not clear whether smoking marijuana has the same effects on hair health as nicotine.

One older study from 2007 suggested that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the 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 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. If you’re curious, read more about the link between DHT and hair in our guide to DHT and hair loss.

Those few studies are about all the evidence there is to support a connection between marijuana and hair loss.

Still, based on those studies we mentioned first, it’s not a leap to conclude that any smoke — whether from nicotine or the ol’ jazz cigarettes — might damage your hair. If you’re worried about bald spots, consider switching from smoking weed to edibles for the same high with less hair damage.

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Emerging evidence suggests that cannabinoids have health-promoting effects, which might extend to your hairline.

But let’s back up and explain some of the jargon. Cannabinoids are compounds, like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), that come from the cannabis plant.

But fun fact — the body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which includes cannabinoid receptors. Your body produces endocannabinoids, which are similar to the cannabinoids in cannabis.

Cannabis works on your body’s built-in cannabinoid highway to produce its effects. Think of cannabis compounds like Cinderella’s glass slipper for your body’s endocannabinoid receptors: They fit just right. 

And when they do, they potentially produce beneficial health effects — at least, according to emerging research.

Okay, back to hair. Is weed good for your hair? Can it give you Fabio-esque locks? Probably not.

However, some research indicates cannabinoids might help with inflammatory conditions that cause hair loss. These conditions include 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 involve hair loss.

It’s important to point out that there may be a difference between ingesting cannabis orally and smoking it since, as we mentioned, 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.

If you’re noticing more hair around the shower drain than usual — whether or not you’ve been smoking weed — 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 Medical Hair Loss Treatments

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

  • Finasteride. Finasteride is specifically formulated to lower levels of DHT, which is the main cause of male pattern baldness. It’s available in both oral and topical forms.

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

  • Hair transplants. If you’re experiencing severe hair fall and medications don’t help, you may want to consider talking to a healthcare professional about hair transplantation.

Try Hair Growth Shampoos

Quality hair care 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, which can 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 regrowth but can help reduce build-up that leads to limp, lifeless locks.

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Explore Lifestyle Tweaks to Reduce Hair Loss

How 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 that you:

  • Use high-quality shampoo.

  • Avoid over-washing your hair.

  • Use conditioner to prevent dry and damaged hair.

  • Head to the salon for regular trims.

  • Skip heat treatments and chemical styling.

  • Stop harsh towel drying after you shower.

  • Skip 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 to walk in nature.

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

  • Certain medications. Some prescription medications, like high blood pressure meds and beta-blockers, can cause hair loss. Don’t just stop your meds cold turkey, though, even if you’re seeing bald patches. 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 because of certain medical conditions that cause hormone imbalances and undue stress on the body, like autoimmune conditions and thyroid disease.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

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 differently. 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.

So while you might not be able to reverse male pattern baldness completely, 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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