Can Vaping Cause Hair Loss?

  • 8th April 2024
  • 9 min read

Data released in 2023 by the Office for National Statistics found 4.5 million people in the UK vape, with many using it as a means to quit smoking [1].

While it’s widely known that smoking can lead to severe health consequences, with approximately 76,000 deaths per year in the UK attributed to it [2], vaping is considered less harmful, according to the NHS [3]. However, because vaping is a relatively recent phenomenon, its long-term effects remain uncertain. 

This uncertainty prompted the UK government to implement a ban on disposable vapes in January 2024 due to concerns about the increasing number of young people picking up the habit [4]. Research by Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) in 2023 showed a notable increase in vaping experimentation among young people, with 21% of 11 to 17-year-olds having tried vaping, up from 14% in 2020 [5].

One of the potential consequences of smoking is hair thinning or balding [6], and vape liquids also contain potentially harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke, leading us to ask: can vaping also cause hair loss? In this guide, we'll explore the evidence to find out.




What is vaping?

A vape – also known as an e-cigarette – is a device designed to mimic smoking. It works by heating a liquid, which usually contains nicotine, flavourings, and other chemicals, to produce vapour instead of smoke, which users inhale.


Does vaping cause hair loss or thinning?

Currently, there is a lack of extensive research into the effects of vaping on hair loss. However, some studies suggest similarities between vaping and smoking cigarettes, which are well-known for their adverse health impacts, highlighting potential concerns [2, 7].

Just like cigarettes, most vapes contain nicotine, and it may contribute to hair loss or thinning in these ways:

  • Constricting blood vessels – Over time, nicotine intake can narrow blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the hair follicles. This means less oxygen and nutrients reach them, hindering healthy growth [8, 9].
  • Oxidative stress – This occurs when nicotine increases molecules called free radicals in your body, throwing off the balance with antioxidants. Oxidative stress can affect cells in your hair follicles, causing them to release substances that interfere with the hair growth cycle [10].
  • Affects hormones – Some studies found that nicotine intake can increase androgens in the body. Androgens are hormones, like testosterone, that play a role in regulating various bodily functions, including hair growth. When androgen levels are elevated, it may trigger or worsen conditions like androgenic alopecia, also known as pattern baldness [11].


Is vaping as bad for your hair as smoking?

According to the NHS, vaping is less harmful than regular cigarettes and can even help people quit smoking [3]. Although there isn't much research, it's generally believed that vaping also has a reduced impact on hair health.

Vape aerosol doesn't contain tobacco – the chemical in cigarettes linked to cancer [12]. That's why some people switch to vaping when they're trying to quit smoking. Plus, vapes usually have less nicotine than cigarettes, which is a substance linked to hair loss [11].

Vapes also don't have some of the damaging substances that are in cigarettes, like hydrogen cyanide, which can impair oxygen supply to the hair follicles [13].

But here's the thing: even though vaping is considered less detrimental to your well-being, it still involves nicotine. And nicotine isn't great for your body – It's highly addictive and may have some serious effects on your health, including your hair.


Can nicotine-free vaping cause hair loss?

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and according to 2022 research by Public Health England, nearly 90% of vapers in the UK use products that contain nicotine [14]. However, it is possible to find 0mg options. In theory, this should reduce the risk of hair loss. 

However, due to the lack of research, it remains to be seen if there are other substances in vapes that may contribute to or trigger hair loss.

One study even discovered that the flavourings in e-juices can cause inflammation in a type of white blood cell called monocytes, potentially leading to lung issues and tissue damage [15]. This inflammation could disrupt normal bodily functions, including those involved in maintaining healthy hair follicles.

Further research is needed to answer this question definitively.


If I stop vaping, will my hair grow back?

The good news is, yes, it should! Just like with smoking, once you stop exposing your body to harmful substances, your hair follicles can start repairing themselves [6].

If you've stopped vaping and your hair hasn't grown back after a few months, there might be another reason for your hair loss that needs checking out.


Other causes of hair loss

If you’re experiencing hair loss or thinning, vaping might not be the primary factor. Here are some other potential reasons why you might be losing your hair:

  • Pattern baldness – This type of hair loss, also known as androgenic alopecia, is often hereditary and can affect both men and women. It affects 6.5 million men in the UK [16] and over 50% of women over the age of 65 [17]. This type of hair loss typically follows a predictable pattern, with hair gradually thinning on the scalp or receding from the temples in men and thinning of the hairline or widening of the part in women.
  • Stress – Emotional or physical stress can trigger a type of alopecia called telogen effluvium. This occurs when too many stress hormones like cortisol are released in the body, causing more hairs than usual to enter the resting phase and eventually fall out. The hair loss is often temporary and may resolve once the stress is alleviated. To learn more, read our guide on how to stop hair loss from stress.
  • Nutritional deficiencies – Poor diet or insufficient intake of essential nutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin D can impact hair health and lead to thinning or shedding. Adequate nutrition is vital for maintaining healthy hair follicles and supporting the growth cycle.
  • Medication – Certain medications can cause hair loss as a side effect. Examples include chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer, antidepressants and medicines for high blood pressure. 


Can I vape after a hair transplant?

It's usually best to steer clear of smoking or vaping during the first few weeks after your surgery, ideally for at least 30 days. This is because chemicals like nicotine can reduce blood flow to your hair follicles [9]. 

Blood transports vital nutrients and oxygen to the follicles, playing a critical role in their healing and growth. So, by abstaining from smoking or vaping, you're giving your newly transplanted hair grafts the best chance to thrive.


Learn more about FUE Clinics

Vaping may potentially contribute to increased hair loss or thinning. However, there could be other factors at play – especially if you've stopped vaping and hair loss persists. 

Quitting vaping can be challenging due to its addictive nature, but it's worth monitoring if your hair loss improves when you stop. While shedding 50-100 hairs daily is normal [17], any reduction in hair loss might indicate vaping as a potential trigger.

If you have a permanent condition like male-pattern baldness, a hair transplant could be a permanent solution to restore your hair and boost your confidence. Check out our guide to learn if you're the right candidate.

At FUE Clinics, we offer two transplantation methods, including Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transfer (FUT). Both involve extracting healthy hairs from the donor site and implanting them into balding or thinning areas.

Explore our range of hair loss treatments, take a free online consultation or contact us to speak to a transplant specialist and find out if you're the right candidate. Or, head over to our FAQs or blog for more information.




















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