How Stress Leads to Hair Loss

While the first day of Spring has passed and the season of blooms and bunnies is underway, the month of April also marks a less cheery (but critical) focus—stress. April is recognized as Stress Awareness Month, spotlighting the negative impact of stress and tools for how to best manage it. At Greenwich Medical Spa, we see the effects firsthand—specifically stressed skin and thinning hair. This month we examine both issues, starting with stress as the root of hair loss.


How Does Stress Cause Hair Loss 

It wasn’t until just a few years ago that researchers studied a mouse model and determined exactly how chronic stress impaired hair follicle stem cells. By subjecting mice to mild stress over many weeks, a team led by Dr. Ya-Chieh Hsu of Harvard, observed increased corticosterone levels (AKA stress hormones) and reduced hair growth. Hair follicles remained in an extended resting phase.1

“This result suggests that elevated stress hormones indeed have a negative effect on hair follicle stem cells,” Hsu said. “But the real surprise came when we took out the source of the stress hormones.” By removing the adrenal glands which produce key stress hormones—corticosterone in rodents and cortisol in humans—the researchers observed rapid cycles of hair regrowth. “So even the baseline level of stress hormone that’s normally circulating the body is an important regulator of the resting phase. Stress essentially just elevates this preexisting ‘adrenal gland-hair follicle axis,’ making it even more difficult for hair follicle stem cells to enter the growth phase to regenerate new hair follicles,” Hsu said.2

What constitutes significant life stress? Think major, negative life event (i.e., loss of a loved one, divorce, financial setback). Sure, there may be the occasional bad day at work but it is severe and prolonged stress secondary to the Covid-19 pandemic, for instance, that could certainly qualify.

The Activator Treatment

Struggling with hair loss can take an emotional toll on your psyche and leave you feeling self-conscious, frustrated, and stressed. If you’re looking for a solution, book a complimentary consultation with one of our clinicians to discuss our hair loss treatment, The Activator. A combination of microneedling, serum injections, and an at-home regimen, The Activator promotes thicker, denser hair and is an ideal solution for men and women.

The Activator Homecare System includes an Illumiflow Hair Growth Cap, Nutrafol Hair Vitamins, and Arieed MD reActivate 10% Minoxidil Solution, our prescription strength formula. 

Minoxidil for hair loss

An instrumental part of of our hair regrowth treatment, we use Arieed MD reActivate 10% Minoxidil Solution. Minoxidil 10% is a hair loss treatment that helps prolong the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle3 . That means your hair follicles continue to produce hair for longer, before eventually entering the telogen (shedding) stage of the natural hair growth cycle. To promote regrowth, we recommend applying Arieed MD reActivate Hair Solution (Minoxidil 10%) to the scalp starting the night of treatment and every night thereafter. Let hair air-dry. 

Vitamins for hair loss

We are also big fans of Nutrafol vitamins for hair loss and have seen visible results when paired with The Activator treatment. Specially formulated with clinically effective ingredients, Nutrafol vitamins are proven to improve hair growth, strength, and thickness. These are a few of the results for women. 


  • Visibly thicker volume5
  • Visibly less shedding5
  • Hair that grows faster, stronger, and longer4,5

Women also reported:

  • Visibly thicker lashes and brows
  • Reduced feelings of stress and supported sleep quality5

By pairing The Activator Treatment with our at-home regimen, you will start to see a difference in a matter of months, right around the time your series of microneedling and injections has been completed. To that we say—more hair, less stress. 

1Erin Bryant. How stress causes hair loss. National Institute of Health. April 2021. Source
2Jessica Lau. How chronic stress leads to hair loss. The Harvard Gazette. March 2021. Source
3Jessica Lau. How chronic stress leads to hair loss. The Harvard Gazette. March 2021. Source
4Ablon and Kogan. J Drugs Dermat. 2018. Source
5Stephens et al., JCAD 2022/Nutrafol Data on File, 2020. Source