A new study by scientists at hair loss treatment company évolis has discovered that 40% of Australians who have experienced hair loss have lost their confidence. Additionally, 1 in 5 admitted to feeling depressed as a result and 1 in 3 said it lowered their self-esteem.
Further statistics add to the conclusion that hair loss can lead to poor mental health and plentiful hair can increase self-perception and emotional wellbeing; 23% of Australian’s love lives are affected by hair loss, with 48% of people reporting that hair matters when looking for a romantic partner. An additional 1 in 5 Australians admitted they lost interest in people who are balding.
Chief Scientist at évolis, Dr Dominic Burg, explained the reasons behind the study to MiNDFOOD. “Hair loss affects a large number of people with well over 50% of men and up to 45% of women experiencing hair loss at some point in their lifetimes. We also know that hair is a really important factor for self confidence, and becoming increasingly so in the Instagram age,” he says. “Previous scientific studies from other countries have shown that hair loss can have a strong impact on mental health, particularly for women and younger men, so we wanted to survey the Australian population to probe the impact of hair loss on emotional wellbeing.”
The study questioned 1000 Australians aged 18 and over about their experiences with hair loss and mental wellbeing, how hair loss affected their interactions and how they perceived others based on hair. “Nationally representative quotas based on age, gender and location were applied,” explains Dr Burg. “The data was then weighted based on current Australian Bureau of Statistics population estimates to reflect the Australian population.”
Results revealed that hair loss can cause extreme distress to those affected, with 42% of women studied stating that the thought of it was terrifying. “Not only is our hair an extremely important factor in happiness and self-confidence, [it] impacts how we interact with others,” Dr Burg says. “When we’re happy with our hair, it gives us a confidence boost. However, when we’re unhappy with our hair, this can lead to being overly self-conscious and become a point of negative internal focus.”
As for the stigma around hair loss, Dr Burg says it comes down to an unconscious bias. “We tend to link good, thick hair, with youth and virility,” he explains. “Hair loss is often associated with poor health and this is because your body will tend to shut down hair and nail growth when you are unwell, in order to preserve energy for other bodily functions. So unconsciously, we assess the health and fitness of others, including potential partners by the appearance of their hair.”
There are multiple factors that can cause or contribute to hair loss, Dr Burg says. “The body’s control of the hair cycle is rather complex and like any other complex system it can be easy to upset the balance and this results in hair loss. Stress, diet, medications, illness, age and genetics can all impact the hair cycle, in part by promoting inflammation. This can result in shedding, a decrease in thickness and quality of hair and also a reduction in follicle density.”
Thankfully, there are numerous options for people who find themselves losing confidence or feeling down because of their hair loss. “ First off I would say to get more exercise, reduce stress and improve the diet,” recommends Dr Burg. “There are some synthetic drugs both topical and oral that have been around for some time [but] these are associated with a number of side effects and can’t be used by all people. Alternatively, there is a new option which works by correcting imbalance in the hair cycle; in particular the shortening of the growth phase that occurs in hair loss,” he says. “The évolis products specifically assists in hair loss by blocking a protein called FGF5. Our research has shown that topical use of évolis twice a day can help both men and women with early to mid-stage hair loss.” Dr Burg adds that évolis uses botanical extracts rather than synthetic chemicals.
Mental Health Week runs from 9-15 October. Head to Mental Health Awareness Week for information, resources and ways to contribute.
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