Yikes: This Is What Drinking Alcohol Does to Your Hair

We spoke with a hair specialist and nutritionist to tell us more.

Woman drinking cocktail

 Jacalyn Beales / Unsplash

We already know that a night of cocktailing isn't exactly the best thing for our skin—the sugary and dehydrating properties of alcohol leave us prone to dryness and puffiness, among other things. But here's another not-so-fun fact: Experts say drinking can actually mess with your hair, too. It makes sense, but… ugh. Keep reading to find out why.

Meet the Expert

  • Robert Dorin, MD, is a hair specialist and the medical director of True & Dorin Medical Group in New York City.
  • Alex Caspero, MA, RD, RYT is a dietitian nutritionist and plant-based chef.

Is Drinking Alcohol Bad for Your Hair?

"Alcohol can negatively affect our hair in multiple ways," Robert Dorin, MD, hair specialist and medical director of True & Dorin Medical Group in New York City, told us. "Our hair requires constant nourishment, and healthy hair relies on how hydrated our bodies are. Consuming excessive alcohol can leave hair dry and brittle." This is probably pretty in-line with everything you've ever known about alcohol: it dehydrates you. It's why water is the only real way to prevent a hangover (although sometimes, depending on how much you're drinking, it can't be helped). Not only should you be using masks to restore your dry hair, you should be using hair oils and other moisturizing products to keep it from drying out. Once it's already dried, there's only so much you can do.

Does Alcohol Make You More Prone to Hair Loss?

And, because our nights out don't exist in a vacuum (as much as we wish they would sometimes), temporary dryness isn't the only problem drinking can present for your locks. There are longterm effects, too. Our strands rely on zinc and folic acid to maintain their strength and thickness, and alcohol can negatively affect these nutrient levels, which, according to Dorin, leaves us prone to more loss and breakage. The reason you feel depleted of nutrients the day after drinking is because you are, and your hair suffers for it.

HUM nutritionist Alex Caspero, MA, RD, RYT confirms that increased alcohol consumption can lead to deficiencies or malabsorption of certain nutrients, in particular zinc, copper, and protein, which can lead to thinning hair and hair loss. This is where all those hair-enhancing pills and vitamins you see advertised all over Instagram and YouTube come in handy—they restore the essential nutrients hair needs.

"I'd recommend HUM's Hair Sweet Hair supplement for overall hair health," Caspero says. "Hair Sweet Hair has a unique combination of clinically researched nutrients for stronger, healthier hair including: biotin, b12, zinc, PABA (helps maintain hair color), folic acid (supports cell growth), and fo-ti (a root used in Chinese medicine for healthy hair)."

Hum Nutrition Hair Sweet Hair Gummies
Hum Nutrition Hair Sweet Hair $25
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Whether you're someone who drinks or not, most people can benefit from taking a supplement since it can be challenging to ensure your body gets all of its nutrients from food. With this new information, are you willing to switch up your happy hour cocktail? Caspero has a few suggestions that can help combat dehydration and keep you from ingesting too much sugar.

"Anything that dilutes [the] alcohol and increases water consumption is going to be better than straight booze," says Caspero. Try a sparkling water-based cocktail or a spritz but watch the sugar. "A study out of Finland found that men with insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes, were more likely to have significant hair loss or be bald. So, when considering cocktail mixers, the lower sugar option will be best for overall health," she tells us.

Is All Alcohol Bad for Your Hair?

According to the FDA, silica helps in feeding our follicles thus resulting in thicker, healthier hair growth. And it's been known to treat hair loss, as well. This is why beer is actually considered a good type of alcohol for your hair, because it is rich in silicon mineral. If you were to consume one small beer during a night out, it would be more than enough for healthy hair growth.

The Final Takeaway

Of course, the obvious best solution is to drink in moderation, but there are a few other things that can help in conjunction with this. "It is also important to eat a balanced diet consisting of proper nutrients, vitamins, and protein, and to also drink plenty of water," says Dorin. Although no one was questioning it, it turns out everyone was right about that one glass of water per drink ratio. "Hydration is key to healthy, shiny, hair." You should also take your supplements regularly, and chase a night out with a hydrating hair mask for good measure. It's an act of self-care that will make your hangover a little more bearable.

Captain Blankenship Mermaid Hair Oil
Captain Blankenship Mermaid Hair Oil $34
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Made with a combination of plant-based oils, this can be used on damp hair before styling or on dry hair to smooth flyaways.

Agave Restorative Hydrating Mask $38
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Finding the best mask for your hair is fairly simple when you know what your hair needs. For hydration, elasticity, and frizz, this restorative mask is one to try.

Amika Soulfood Nourishing Mask
Amika Soulfood Nourishing Mask $28
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No matter your hair type, Amika's jojoba seed oil and vitamin C-infused mask conditions and repairs damaged hair.

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