There is often a link between hair loss and alcohol consumption.
While you may enjoy partying, dinner and drinks with friends or throwing back some brews at a sporting event, you need to be aware of the impact that alcohol has on your hair.
Alcohol is a vitamin thief. Yes, indeed, scientists have discovered and proven that alcohol robs the body of several vitamins absolutely essential for healthy hair such as water-soluble B complex and C vitamins.
The more drinks you have, the more potential vitamins your body loses. While alcohol loss of B and C adds to the potential for that foggy, headache laden day-after hangover, if you love your tresses, there is more bad news.
Over time, heavy alcohol consumption has been proven to accelerate hair loss.
How is that possible? Alcohol has an overall drying effect on all of the body's living cells. Even as much as 2 glasses of wine per day consumed on a constant basis can potentially lead to cellular dehydration and follicle damage.
Some experts believe that alcohol's drying effects can be damaging to the scalp.
To grow lush, healthy tresses, the hair follicles need a constant flow of necessary nutrients and proteins to be received from the body's cells. Alcohol consumption can impede that nutrient pipeline.
Moderate Or Heavy Drinking?
Most people who make a nightly pilgrimage to the neighborhood watering hole may only have one of two drinks. However, the weekly consumption of just those two drinks could jeopardize your strands over time.
It's been conclusively proven that alcohol not only weakens the immune system and can cause a range of illnesses, it can also help to accelerate hair thinning and loss in a susceptible candidate.
Low Body Weights
The less you weigh the more strand damage your risk. This is because the lighter in weight that you are, the smaller your liver will tend to be.
As a result, this means that when you do drink, there will be a much higher concentration of alcohol that will find its way to your liver. Of course this is why people who weigh less get drunker faster on fewer drinks than on someone bigger and heavier.
If the thought of dinner without a glass of wine or a TexMex feast without frozen margaritas makes you cringe, there are things you can do to help overcome the potential alcohol strand killer.
Of course if you indulge heavily this antidote may not work.
When you plan to enjoy that fine wine, after dinner drink of bubbly, pop a C and B complex vitamin right before you enjoy your liquid refreshments.
Depending on how many drinks you plan to have you may need more of less of the replacement vitamins.
Hair Loss Concerns
If thinning or receding hair is not currently a problem for you or you have good family genes that blesses you with thick, lush locks, you may not have the same worries as other who do not share your good hair fortunes.
Older folks that have been drinking alcohol on a regular basis or to excess have likely accumulated long term liver damage and/or slight to heavy liver inflammation. A long history of regular and heavy drinking may be effecting the body's primary systems to such as extent as to be impeding the body's ability to absorb the necessary vitamins and nutrients to counter hair thinning or loss.
If hair loss or thinning is currently a problem you may wish to rethink your drinking habits.
Alcohol consumption, especially as some levels may also retard natural growth patterns. This means that if you are trying to grow your strands but they seem stalled, part of your hair's slow growth may be related to the amount of drinks you are pouring into your liver.
Minoxidil & Alcohol
Ironically, many popular hair loss topical formulations such as Minoxidil or Rogaine, Nioxin and Nisim to name a few of the popular products, are known to be formulated in a ethanol or alcohol base because it is an superior solvent for dissolving compounds like Minoxidil that is known for being difficult to dissolve.
Not all hair loss products are dissolved in alcohol since the inventors or hair loss solutions avoid it if possible.
While alcohol is essential to help transport the properties of Minoxidil which is widely sold as Rogaine into the follicle cells, this does not mean that ingesting alcohol for recreational purposes if encouraged.
In the case of using alcohol based Minoxidil on the scalp is to encourage the absorption of the product into the cells.
Ethanol, which can dissolve both organic and inorganic substances, can act as a carrier to transport these substances into cells.
The makers of minoxidil and other topical preparations would probably avoid using it if other comparably priced solvents were as effective. Of course no one can speak for the manufacturers.
Everything in life is a trade-off. While alcohol may damage cells, if it is needed to get minoxidil into those cells, you accept the potential damage for the greater good minoxidil provides.
Alcohol In General Hair Care Products
While it's important to avoid drinking too much alcohol you should also, when possible avoid using it on your hair.
Hair care products which contain a high percentage of alcohol may potentially cause hair to become dry, brittle and prone to breakage over an extended period of time.
If you use a lot of products which contain a high concentration of alcohol or Propolyne Glycol you may potentially be adding to your hair thinning challenges.
A percentage (perhaps as many as 10%) of patients have an untoward reaction to propylene glycol, resulting in redness, itching, flaking and/or scaling of the scalp.
If you are one of those people that have a reaction to propylene glycol, you should avoid any products or topical medications which are formulated with propylene glycol.
It should be noted not all hair and beauty experts agree that drinking alcohol (or applying it to the scalp or hair follicles) can cause any damage or hair loss. However, many experts do believe it can have a measurable impact.
If you are concerned about a receding hairline or growing lush, gorgeous hair, you may want to rethink whether you should drink alcohol or not.
Ultimately you will need to make your own determination of the effect of alcohol on your own tresses.
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- Revised Publication Date: 05/13/11