The excitement you might feel after first getting engaged often dissipates quickly when you realize all the planning, decision-making, and money that goes into having a wedding. Combined with all the normal day-to-day tasks of working and having a personal life, the time leading up to your wedding is often incredibly stressful. For many brides, increased stress levels could lead to hair loss and excessive shedding, which is the last thing a bride wants to experience before the wedding.
"The most common cause of hair loss in women, just as in men, is androgenic alopecia, which is a hereditary form of hair loss. Certain diets/weight loss, stress, and other medical conditions can also cause hair loss," says Dr. Gary Linkov, a New York City-based board-certified facial plastic and hair surgeon.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Gary Linkov is a board-certified facial plastic and hair surgeon at City Facial Plastics in New York City. He is a member of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery and he has extensive experience and expertise in treating women’s hair loss cases.
The good news? Stress-induced hair loss is often temporary, and there are solutions out there that can help your hair recover faster and even come back stronger—all before you walk down that aisle. With the help of Dr. Linkov, we’ve put together a guide to help you understand why stress-induced hair loss may occur and what you can do about it before your wedding day.
Causes of Hair Loss
If you’re experiencing sudden hair loss, you are not alone. According to Dr. Linkov, 40% of women experience hair loss before the age of 40. After a year of lockdown, career changes, and health scares, the stress and uncertainty many faced in the last year has caused an uptick in hair loss cases, which Dr. Linkov can attest to.
"There has been a lot of hair loss in the past year, and maybe some of that has to do with COVID," explains Dr. Linkov. "Any viral illness can cause physiological stress on the body that may manifest as telogen effluvium, which is a shift in the hair cycle toward a more resting phase for the follicles, which leads to temporary shedding."
Dr. Linkov recommends seeing a doctor who specializes in hair loss at the first sign of trouble. While it’s easy to blame your sudden hair loss on pandemic-related stress, hereditary hair loss is the most common form of hair loss and has to be treated differently than stress-related hair loss.
Hereditary hair loss won’t grow back without medical intervention, unlike stress-related hair loss, which can get better with time and a few over-the-counter products.
"These stress-induced types of hair loss are almost always temporary, they start a few months after the stressor, and can take up to a year or longer to recover. On the contrary, hereditary hair loss almost never recovers on its own, without any medical therapy or nutritional change."
How to Treat Hair Loss
Hypothetically, let’s say it’s a year before your wedding and you notice your hair is thinning. We asked Dr. Linkov for the best pre-nuptial treatment plan for brides suffering from hair loss. He recommends a two-pronged approach for best results.
"It would be best to be on two modalities of medical therapy to optimize the chances of hair growth. Clinically proven options include biotin-based, B-complex vitamins such as Viviscal, topical minoxidil (Rogaine), spironolactone, low-level laser light therapy, or platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Spironolactone and platelet-rich plasma have the greatest chance of bolstering hair growth before the wedding."
Aside from the treatments above, Dr. Linkov also recommends a few lifestyle changes to fast-track hair growth. He recommends eating healthy, reducing stress, and washing your hair regularly but not too often. Avoid tight hairstyles, using excessive heat, and using frequent straightening/coloring chemicals.
How Long Does It Take to See Results?
Hair growth is naturally slow—on average, about 0.5 inches per month, but factors like stress, genetics, and diet can play a huge role in the rate of hair growth. If you’re on a treatment plan to stimulate hair growth, Dr. Linkov says you can expect to see results in 3-6 months. "This is largely due to the hair cycle, which cycles through growth phases and resting phases," he explains.
Can certain hair products promote hair growth?
No. Bond repair products made for your hair like Olaplex and K18 work to repair damaged hair by using ingredients that naturally occur in hair strands including peptides and amino acids, particularly after bleaching or coloring. However, in terms of encouraging new hair growth, these products are not a replacement for medical therapies.
How long will hair loss treatments work?
If you’re on any of the medically prescribed treatments like Viviscal, platelet-rich plasma, or spironolactone, the results you see will only continue as long as you continue treatment.
Treating hair loss is not as simple as a course of antibiotics or a one-time steroid shot. "It is important to bear in mind that because these are medical therapies they must be continued in order to sustain results. So if a bride decides to stop taking vitamins or getting PRP after the wedding, the hair loss/thinning will likely return with time," says Dr. Linkov.