Strands of identity

Strands of Identity: The stigma, trends and emotional landscape of hair loss

In a world where personal appearance holds significant sway, the loss of one's hair can be a deeply personal and emotional journey. Hair loss is something that transcends age, gender, and background and affects millions of individuals worldwide, reshaping not just their physical appearance but also their psychological well-being. According to global statistics, approximately four out of five men will experience some form of hair loss by age 70, while around 40 percent of women will experience thinning by age 50, underscoring the pervasive nature of this issue.

The emotional toll hair loss can take is often underestimated, impacting self-esteem, perceived attractiveness, and even social acceptance. To shed light on the gravity of this issue, our latest study seeks to unravel the often-overlooked role that hair plays in our daily lives, shedding light on the impact it can have on people, with the research highlighting an urgent need for education, understanding, and action across the UK to both treat and normalise hair loss.

The daily impact of hair loss

Our survey of over 2,000 people across the UK found that 54% of those questioned have experienced some degree of hair loss. Notably, the rates are remarkably similar across genders, with 58% of men and 51% of women grappling with the effects of some form of hair loss.

But how does this impact people? According to our research, general confidence takes a substantial hit, with 54% reporting a significant impact on their self-esteem. Mental health follows closely behind, with 38% acknowledging the toll on their psychological well-being, while 25% feel the weight of hair loss on their social lives.

The repercussions extend into the realm of romantic relationships and intimacy, as 32% of Brits express concerns about negative impacts on their love lives, whether that be romantic relationships (13%), their sex lives (10%), or their libido (9%).

Comparing hair loss to other dramatic or major life events also stresses the high regard we hold for our hair. When asked to rank the emotional impact of certain life changes, more people said that losing their hair would have a detrimental impact on them (63%) than the loss of a friendship (60%), divorce (61%), and the potential decline in their sex lives (51%).

Impact of hair loss vs other life events

The price tag on perfect locks

So while some value their hair more than even some important personal relationships, what is the monetary value people assign to their locks? According to our research, just 8% of people place “no value” on the appearance of their hair, compared to the 86% who do, which also aligns with the amount of time the nation spends styling their strands.

We found that most people (44%) spend between £1 and £20 per month on their hair, while 26% spend £21 to £60 monthly, whether that be on haircuts, shampoo, or even hair loss treatment and vitamins to prevent thinning hair. Overall, the average monthly amount spent by Brits on their hair is £34.65, which over the course of a year equals £415.80, and over a lifetime is over £30,000. Unsurprisingly, this differed between men and women, with women spending an average of 33% more on their hair than men.

Spending time to perfect the hair is also high on the agenda. On average, individuals spend 17 minutes each day perfecting their locks, which accumulates to a staggering 103.42 hours, or 4.3 days a year. Over a lifetime, this amounts to an impressive 345 days—a testament to the profound importance placed on hair in our daily routines.

Digging deeper into the data, it appears that younger generations are the most dedicated to their hair care rituals. Individuals aged 16-24 invest 23 minutes daily, closely followed by those in the 25-34 age group with 21 minutes. Meanwhile, individuals over 55 spend the least time on hair styling, dedicating a modest 13 minutes each day.

Where are Brits spending the most on their hair

Considering the time and money put into our hair, it’s understandable that people are trying to look after it as best as they can, and our research shows a noticeable trend towards exploring natural remedies for hair loss, reflecting a broader movement away from invasive treatments such as hair transplants.

Our survey showed that around 30% say they are likely to follow hair care trends they see on social media, and an analysis of regional search trends for big TikTok hair tips and trends found that the vast majority of regions have seen big year on year increases in search demand. Trends such as the use of apple cider vinegar rinse, rosemary oil, and glycolic acid, among others, all saw big rises, with an average rise of 58%. Liverpool were most taken by the trends, with an 117% increase, followed by London at 96% and Sheffield at 80%.

As is always recommended, speaking to a professional about trends like these is crucial, and we spoke to the UK's leading celebrity hair transplant surgeon and surgical director, Dr. Matee Rajput, who analysed the effectiveness of all of the hair trends we researched. While some are proven to work, he said that eight out of the fourteen trends we showed him he would not recommend to his patients, or that the science behind their benefits have not been proven.

However, while those natural home remedies for hair loss have seen big rises, the opposite is true of searches for hair transplants, with an average decline of -22% across regions, including a -58% drop in Nottingham and -49% in Cardiff. So while our survey reveals that 38% of those in the UK have either undergone hair loss treatment or are open to it, the interest in this procedure seems to have dropped in the last year.

Most popular hair care trends on tiktok

Breaking down hair loss stigma

Stigma surrounding hair loss is another element that may fuel the drive to treat hair loss, along with the reported impact on health and wellbeing, and according to our findings, age-related stereotypes are what people consider to be the main course of stigma. This is followed by societal standards (29%), gender stereotypes (28%), and lack of education (20%) was also cited as causing negative attitudes towards losing hair.

Indeed, one in two people has experienced negative treatment or comments due to their hair loss. However, this negative experience does not seem to translate into relationships. Our survey reveals that hair loss does not impact someone's overall attractiveness, with the majority of Brits (65%) saying that someone losing their hair would not make a difference, and 6% even said they would find them even more attractive.

Knowledge gaps

With 1 in 5 people considering lack of education on hair loss to be a big cause of stigma, we tested the UK’s knowledge on the topic, asking which causes of hair loss they believe to be true. We found that 70% are not aware that nutrition plays a key role in hair loss, and 96% do not know the potential correlation between birth control and hair loss. Meanwhile, 61% of Brits cite hair loss from stress as the main cause, despite this being one of the least impactful causes.

Superdrug Online Doctor’s specialist, Dr. Babak Ashrafi, answered some frequently asked questions online to dispel misinformation about hair and to help put minds at ease on certain topics:

How can nutrition play a role in hair loss?

“Nutrition definitely plays a vital role in preventing hair loss, as deficiencies in key nutrients can negatively affect hair health. Iron, protein, and vitamins are the three primary nutrients that support healthy hair growth. Iron deficiency can lead to hair shedding, which can be prevented by consuming iron-rich foods such as lean meats and beans.”

“Hair is primarily composed of protein, and a lack of protein can contribute to hair loss. Ensure a diet rich in sources like lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, and nuts. Vitamins are essential for various biological processes, including those related to hair growth. A balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can provide these vitamins.”

Can too many products have a negative impact on hair health?

“Using excessive hair products, such as styling gels, mousses, hairsprays, and heat styling tools, can have detrimental effects on hair health. Product buildup can lead to dull, heavy, and greasy hair, while harsh chemicals and sulphates in some products may strip the hair of its natural oils, causing dryness, damage, and hair loss.”

“Overuse of heat styling tools can contribute to breakage and split ends, making hair weaker and more prone to shedding. Giving your hair breaks from styling and heat can contribute to overall hair health.”

How do you reduce hair thinning in men?

“Men can take proactive steps to reduce hair thinning by prioritising a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients like iron, protein, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and biotin. Adopting a gentle hair care routine with mild shampoos and conditioners, avoiding harsh chemicals, and protecting the scalp from sun damage also play a vital role in reducing the rate of shedding.”

"Medications like minoxidil and finasteride, prescribed by healthcare professionals, can promote hair regrowth and inhibit further thinning. For persistent issues, consulting a dermatologist or healthcare professional for personalised advice based on the specific causes of hair thinning is recommended.”

Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Development
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Development


In a world where self-image holds significant influence, the journey through hair loss proves to be a personal and emotional one, with our research revealing a striking impact on confidence, mental health, and even intimate relationships, highlighting the emotional toll that is often underestimated.

Unravelling the stigma around hair loss further emphasises the urgent need for education and understanding, with individuals placing a higher emotional value on their hair than on certain personal relationships, yet knowledge gaps still persist, with hair misconceptions prevalent. Addressing these gaps and dispelling misinformation is crucial, with a call for a more informed and supportive approach for those navigating the complex landscape of hair loss.

If you need help with your hair, you can order from a range of medications that can treat hair loss. From Finasteride and Propecia, to Regaine for Men and Regaine for Women, there are plenty of options to help aid in maintaining or regrowing a healthy head of hair.

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