Stress Does not Cause Permanent Hair Loss

In my opinion, excessive stress can almost never cause permanent hair loss in humans. At worse, it causes temporary telogen effluvium hair shedding.

Stress effects the hair growth cycle.
Stress pushes hair into a resting Telogen phase.

Chronic Stress and Hair Loss

On March 31, 2021, researchers from Harvard University released findings (in mice) that chronic stress causes permanent hair loss. These findings were published in numerous newspapers around the world. The lead researcher was the respected Dr. Ya-Chieh Hsu, and the paper was published in Nature on March 4, 2021.

It was titled: “Corticosterone inhibits Gas6 to govern hair follicle stem-cell quiescence.” Chronic stress seems to increase levels of the corticosterone stress hormone in mice. This in turn prolongs hair follicle stem cell (HFSC) quiescence, resulting in hair follicles remaining in an extended resting phase.

The scientists believe that restoring Gas6 gene expression overcomes the stress-induced inhibition of HFSC activation and hair growth. Another summary from Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI).

“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.” — Dr. Hsu.

Ronald Reagan Hair
Ronald Reagan never had any hair loss despite insane levels of stress. But he was not a mouse of course.

Since that day, readers have regularly posted or e-mailed me links to newly published versions of the story. This has annoyed me, since I do not believe these findings hold much merit in humans. However, to avoid further e-mails, I am now writing my counterarguments.

Besides the fact that the research was done in mice, there are some obvious issues that the researchers have surprisingly failed to address.

Mice are not Humans

  1. Why do young people almost never go bald? In my whole life, I have seen just a handful of people younger than 14 being bald. And all of them seemed to have the rare condition of alopecia areata (or alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis). A few dozen people around the world also go prematurely bald due to progeria (Hutchinson-Gilford). I am of course not counting the few pre-teens who shave their head as a fashion statement.
  2. Major baldness is rare even in those who are younger than 20 years in age. And also not too common in those who are below 25. It is surely not believable that young people do not suffer from major stressful events!? If anything, stress is perhaps worst in those who are in high school and college. Permanent hair loss is almost always caused by male hormones (hence the term androgenetic alopecia) and NOT stress. More specifically, male pattern hair loss is usually due to a person’s genetic sensitivity to the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The latter in turn is converted from testosterone via the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme. Make sure to read my post on destroying the androgen receptor.
  3. Why do “pure” Native Americans never go bald? Are the Harvard Researchers implying that Native Americans never have chronic stress? If not, they should have at least posted a caveat that certain groups are genetically protected from stress induced permanent hair loss.
  4. The findings do not address why women are less likely to have significant hair loss in comparison to men. Especially in their younger years. Most news sources seem to suggest than women in fact have more stress than men. So if anything, they should have higher rates of baldness than men.
  5. Why does stress not seem to impact body hair growth? Or even nail growth. Most men get an increasing amount of body hair as they get older. I have never heard someone say that they permanently lost their body hair after prolonged stress. Nails are made from keratin, just like scalp hair. Yet stress does not seem to cause nail stem cells to go into a permanent “resting phase”. Even people over the age of 100 have to keep cutting their fingernails and toenails unfortunately.
  6. Mahathir Mohamad Hair
    95-year old Mahathir Mohamad has not lost any hair even with a lifetime of stress.

    Why do many people who go through tremendous stress in their lives still never go bald? Among the most famous examples of this are: 93-year old now deceased ex-US president Ronald Reagan. And 95-year old still living ex-Malaysian prime minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. These two men went through numerous periods of chronic stress during their long lives.

Stress and Hair Greying

The funny thing is that the same Harvard researcher (Dr. Ya-Chieh Hsu) and her team published a paper in January 2020 titled: “How stress causes gray hair.” At the time, I also ignored the work due to skepticism. Especially in regards to how findings in mice do not necessarily translate to humans. I did not even expand much on the findings in my regularly updated grey hair cure post.

Some of the same arguments I made earlier apply to these conclusions. Why do you almost never see children with grey hair? Young people often suffer from chronic stress. Yet I would guess that less than one percent of those below age 15 have prematurely graying hair.

I do think that the chances of getting more rapid development of grey hair after prolonged stress is at least somewhat possible in many humans. However, I do not believe that stress can cause permanent hair loss in almost any humans.

Male-to-Female (MTF) Transition Hair Growth

Even though I am not a transgender person, I have long been fascinated by men who become women. i.e., Male-to-Female (MTF) transsexuals. Note that nowadays, the term transgender seems to be preferred to transsexual.

Hair Growth During MTF Transition

My biggest reason for this fascination is due to observing how such MTF transitioning people get much better scalp hair. I am also curious to see how much body hair reduction happens in those who are transitioning. In particular, beard growth slowdown.

Scalp hair loss cessation and regrowth happens once MTF patients start estrogen, anti-androgen (e.g., Spironolactone) and other hormone replacement therapy (HRT) treatments. Some do not even take Finasteride or Dutasteride and still get much improved scalp hair growth. A select few get tremendous hair regrowth.

Many people assume that hair cannot regrow once it has been lost. Especially if the loss happened many years ago. However, reversing hair loss and regaining hair in totally bald areas of the scalp is possible.

If a MTF transgender person completes the full transition process, he will also get the orchiectomy testicle removal procedure. Thereafter, further androgenetic alopecia type hair loss stops entirely. This is due to the lack of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) production and drastic reduction in testosterone production.

Sona Avedian

Sona Avedin MTF Before After
Sona Avedian MTF Before After. Source: Facebook.

In the second half of this post, you can see some incredible before and after transformations of scalp hair in MTF trans persons. All have been verified as legitimate.

Previously, my favorite  MTF transformation was of Sona Avedian. Her before and after image on the right is astounding. Like many men with excess body hair, Sona also suffered from scalp baldness.

Many newspapers covered her story since she was a former US marine. However, according to one post on Sona’s Facebook page, she wears a hair system :-( So although not my favorite transformation anymore, Sona’s new look after transition is still astounding.

Side note: When a woman decides to become a man (FTM transsexual), the result can often lead to baldness. The testosterone supplements can cause hair loss in those that are genetically susceptible.

Caitlyn Jenner’s Hair

This week Caitlyn Jenner (previously, Bruce Jenner) is in the news again due to her running to be the next California Governor. And being misgendered.

At age 71, Ms. Jenner has phenomenal hair that does not look fake to me in the below recent video. I am nevertheless going to assume that it is not entirely real, especially the color and length. Some articles on the web suggest that she might have had a hair transplant or hairpiece in the past.

Spectacular Hair Regrowth in MTF Transgenders

Nowadays, societal norms make it much easier for a very young person to transition from male to female (or vice versa). In many cases, such young people reverse their hair loss and even regrow most of their recently lost hair. For middle-aged people such as Danielle Hallet, hair transplants are often required to get back a decent hairline.

Below are some of the best MTF transition hair regrowth examples that I have seen on the web. Make sure to click and scroll through the below links in their entirety for further closeup shots. Most of these people have a presence on Reddit as well as on Imgur.

The below person has more photos on Imgur:

I wondered if I would make it to 30, now I look forward to the future for the first time ever (1 year hrt) from transtimelines

The below person was almost entirely bald for 3-4 years, and the regrowth is real (not a hair system) per his comments. He was on HRT for 14.5 months.

I didn’t think this was going to work, but I think it is safe to say that it did. 14.5 months hrt. from transtimelines

The below person (Bree) has a detailed thread on HLT with a timeline of treatments and regrowth. You can swipe on the white arrow on the right to see all 14 images.

Hair loss recovery

The below person also has a lengthy thread on HLT regarding the power of super aggressive regimens. You can swipe on the white arrow on the right to see all 22 images.

View post on imgur.com

We live in a strange world and you never know what you will get.  For example, this muscular body builder decided to transition into a woman. The longer and thicker new scalp hair growth is impressive.

There are dozens of such examples on the web. Feel free to share the ones that you like the most. I am especially interested in a discussion of the treatment regimens that each of these MTF persons takes. Especially if they see great results before orchiectomy.

Hair loss news blog. Hair cloning for baldness.