Did you notice something odd about your hair texture? The natural curls you carried so elegantly are suddenly straightening themselves out! If that is the case, you’re not alone. Many curly-haired people experience puzzling changes in texture—seemingly out of the blue—that leave them wondering what happened to their curls.
While factors like humidity, damage, and product use can affect curl patterns, the only culprit behind the sudden straightening of your curly texture is most likely a hormonal imbalance.
How Hormones Impact Hair Shape
Getting to the root cause of your curl change (quite literally) requires some digging into what’s happening internally.
The texture your hair is gonna take is determined by the shape of the hair follicle, which gives hair its characteristic curve or curl as it grows out of the scalp. The shape of hair follicles is controlled in large part by hormones in the body, including androgens like testosterone and DHT, estrogen, thyroid hormones, and insulin.
When hormone levels fluctuate or fall out of balance, a change in the hair follicle structure and therefore your hair texture is often a noticeable symptom.
This is why events that dramatically alter hormones, like puberty, pregnancy, and menopause commonly lead to surprises in the hair mirror.
What’s Causing Your Hormonal Levels to Go
As you age it’s common for your hormonal levels to decline, but the rapid shifts and fluctuations generally happen due to a set number of reasons, some of them influenced by your choices (and hence, can be reversed) and some biological (nothing much you can do about these).
1. The Lifestyle Choices Behind Your Hormonal Fluctuations
The foods we eat and the way we live provide important cues to our endocrine system, shaping hormone output. Some dietary and lifestyle factors that can throw hormones off balance and impact curly hair include:
Yo-Yo Dieting Does a Number on Hormones
Repeated cycles of quick weight loss followed by regaining pounds are infamous for messing with hormones. Restricting calories and losing weight rapidly stresses the body, suppressing reproductive hormones. This can lead to temporary shedding of curly hair or changes in texture.
Yo-yo dieters are also prone to insulin resistance and thyroid dysfunction, which as we know, can contribute to curl loss. If you’ve been on the weight loss rollercoaster, hormonal side effects may be diminishing your ringlets.
Not Enough Fat Is Killing The Healthy Hormones
While you’re slaying with that gym bod the cost of maintaining that low BFP is the disruption of your hormonal levels.
Consuming too little dietary fat disrupts the production of key hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Very low-fat diets have been linked to disappearing curls in women. Make sure to get adequate monounsaturated and omega-3 fats from foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish. Fat supports both your hormones and hair!
Overexercising is Counterproductive
While regular exercise has benefits, overdoing it can jack up stress hormones and suppress estrogen. Excessive cardio and heavy weight lifting promote higher testosterone too. This one-two hormonal punch can potentially straighten curly hair over time.
Aim for a moderate, balanced exercise plan. Long-term consistency beats short bursts of extreme exercise when it comes to benefits for both hair and hormones.
Give Your Adrenals a Break!
Chronic stress from overwork, poor sleep, anxiety, and other sources can drain the adrenal glands, causing hormonal chaos. High cortisol suppresses the reproductive axis, leaving hair follicles deprived of their curl-inducing hormones.
Make stress relief a priority through relaxing activities like yoga, meditation, and massage. Your adrenals and your curls will thank you!
2. The Biological Cues Behind the Volatile Hormone Levels
these are the ones you have no control over most of the time. Luckily these are temporary most of the time and you can rest assured that you’ll gain back your bouncy curls over time.
Fluctuating Estrogen Levels Can Bring About Changes in Your Curly Texture
Estrogen levels often fall for curl changes as estrogen is key for maintaining those helical hair follicles. During menopause, plummeting estrogen is linked to the onset of mixed curl patterns and gradual straightening of previously curly hair. This steady depletion of estrogen allows more androgens like testosterone to bind to receptors in the follicle, causing it to become straighter over time.
However, estrogen isn’t the only curl-impacting hormone. The interplay of multiple hormones keeps hair in its curly state, which is why many factors beyond menopause can lead to a loss of curl.
Androgens, Thyroid, and Insulin Also Influence Your Curl Patterns
While androgens like testosterone and DHT are villains in male pattern baldness, they can also bind to hair follicles in women and alter curl patterns:
- Elevated androgens may increase, diminishing estrogen’s protective effects against curl frizzing
- Suppressed androgens from medications can potentially cause temporary curl relaxation
The thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are also essential for follicle health. Issues like hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can lead to changes in hair shape, sometimes quite suddenly.
Finally, insulin imbalances related to diabetes, PCOS, and metabolic syndrome can also impact the hair follicles, causing loss of elasticity and curl.
In many cases, no single hormone is fully to blame—it’s the intricate dance between them that keeps our hair bouncy and coiled. When this balance shifts, the follicle pays the price.
Isolating and Treating the Root Cause Is the Key to Reverse The Texture Change
Got limp locks where once there were spirals and coils? Don’t panic – with a little TLC, you can coax those curls back to life. Follow these tips for a hormonal makeover:
Get Your Levels Tested
Dig into those hormonal drivers of curl loss. Ask your doctor to test your thyroid, blood sugar, estrogen, testosterone, and stress hormones. Knowing where your imbalances lie will solve half the problem of getting yourself reinstated in the league of curls.
Balance Those Hormones
Work with your doctor to optimize hormonal health through lifestyle changes, diet, medications, or even hormone replacement therapy if needed. Bringing your levels back into alignment can restore the hair follicle’s curly shape.
Give Your Thyroid Some Love
If thyroid issues like hypo or hyperthyroidism are dragging your curls down, get that butterfly-shaped gland back to its happy place. Medication, supplements, diet, and stress relief help revive thyroid function and your fabulous furls.
Consider the “Curly Girl” Method
While you work on the inside, nourish your strands from the outside too. Limit heat styling and follow the Curly Girl Method using tons of conditioner, curl creams, and gels to hydrate those coils back to life.
Take Hair-Happy Supplements
Biotin, collagen, omega-3s, and zinc provide building blocks to support hormonal balance and healthy follicles. Pop a few each day to help your curls pop too.
Lastly, be patient and persistent, as it can take 3-6 months for new growth to show texture changes. But for many women, nurturing their natural hormones and metabolism helps revive their spirals.
The Takeaway: It’s Not You, It’s Your Hormones!
The sudden straightening of curly locks is hormonally driven almost all of the time. Working with your doctor to balance hormones and optimize health can help coax curls back. With time and a holistic approach, your hair’s natural texture can thrive once more.
Hair changes can certainly be distressing, especially when they seem inexplicable. But try not to panic—your curls are likely not gone for good. And if some straightness persists, enjoy a chance to experiment with new looks. Our hair texture may evolve over our lives, but we can still look fabulous through each transition. Work with your body, not against it, to bring out your unique beauty.