Updated: Jul 9, 2020
There is, and always has been a lot of confusion when it comes to the world of hair loss. Some treatments work and others don’t. Some people get great results with one treatment and others get no results with several treatments. Articles conflict one another. The list goes on and on.
It can be very overwhelming trying to navigate through the sea of hair loss information. You may feel like a source is trustworthy and has accurate information only to later find out that none if it was true. It’s tough.
Often, people who are experiencing hair loss are desperate to find out what causes it and solutions they can use to treat it. This may lead them to believe information that is not backed by research (I am no exception), which is no fault of their own because there is plenty of it out there.
Although there is a lot of misinformation available on the web, there are some hair loss myths that pop up more often than others. The purpose of this article is to address five of the most common myths that you may come across, debunk them, and hopefully leave you with a better understanding of how you can take on hair loss.
Myth one: wearing hats causes hair loss
No, wearing a hat will not cause hair loss.
One argument that is commonly made for this is that wearing a hat restricts blood flow.
This may have gained traction because studies have shown a link between low blood flow and the onset of pattern hair loss. Fortunately, there is no evidence showing that hats decrease blood flow, but it may be plausible if the hat is worn extremely tight (this is easily fixable).
The other main argument people make is that sweat/chemical buildup on the inside of the hat can cause irritation that leads to hair loss.
But, again there is a complete lack of evidence supporting the notion that buildup on hats causes irritation, and subsequent hair loss. In fact, one study that examined several environmental factors of hair loss found that people who wore hats were less likely to lose their hair than those who did.
These are the two main claims that people make for hats causing hair loss. Neither have any evidence, and even if they did they are both easily fixable: loosen your hat and clean it.
The truth of the matter here is that pattern hair loss is ultimately caused by DHT: an androgen that attacks hair follicles (more information here). Any external factors (such as wearing a hat) likely have no effect on what is going on underneath your scalp.
Myth two: masturbation causes hair loss
There are several different misconceptions surrounding this myth. In short: there is no evidence supporting the notion that masturbation, or sex in general increases hair loss.
Some information that covers this topic may sound very convincing due to the use of scientific terminology and well written articles, but don’t believe everything that you read.
The most common claim made is that masturbation increases DHT levels. This is because when ejaculation occurs, hormones are released. Some people believe that testosterone is one of those hormones, which may make the claim sound more convincing since testosterone is converted into DHT, but this is not true.
In fact, scientific data not only doesn’t support this claim, it contradicts it. Several studies (1,2) have found that a person’s level of sexual activity has no effect on their testosterone levels, therefore debunking the myth.
Keep doing you.
Myth three: hair loss happens with age
This myth stems from the fact that as you get older, your chances of losing your hair increase. For instance, according to the American Hair Loss Association, by the age of thirty-five 66% of men will experience hair loss, and that number jumps to 85% by age fifty.
The unfortunate truth is that hair loss can occur at any age after puberty, sometimes even in your teenage years.
It all boils down to whether or not you have a genetic predisposition to hair loss. If you do, it means that your hair follicles are programmed in such a way that they are sensitive to DHT. This means that any time after puberty you could start losing your hair. It doesn’t matter what age, your body ultimately decides when your hair begins to become affected by DHT, and everyone is different.
If you notice hair loss at a young age it may be that you got a bad roll of the genetic dice. It is best to talk to your doctor right away if you suspect you are losing your hair, that way you can address the problem sooner and hopefully save more of your hair.
Myth four: taking vitamins can reverse hair loss
The notion that simply taking vitamins can help reverse pattern hair loss is all too common.
People may get this idea due to the fact that several vitamin deficiencies can cause hair loss. This makes the claim true to an extent because if you correct a vitamin deficiency you may see hair growth as a result. But, unless you are deficient, there is no evidence that taking vitamins A-E will do anything for hair loss.
Again, pattern hair loss is caused by DHT, which vitamins have no effect on (although finasteride can help block DHT, more here), we even wrote an entire article on why taking biotin, one of the most widely used vitamins for hair loss, likely won’t do anything.
The best way to find out if you are deficient is to get a blood test from your doctor. If it turns out you are then vitamins MAY helps your hair loss.
Myth five: pattern hair loss only occurs in men
Another common misconception.
Yes, hair loss is more prevalent in men because they have more testosterone, but women have testosterone too believe it or not. Whether you are a man or woman, if you are genetically predisposed to DHT sensitivity then you will experience hair loss. In fact, 30 million women in the U.S. alone are affected by androgenic alopecia.
One reason why this may be commonly misunderstood is because “hair loss” is inherently associated with the areas that men lose their hair in: the crown and temples. Women’s hair is affected differently by DHT as it targets the part line instead.
The unfortunate truth is that women’s pattern hair loss is much less understood by scientists than men’s is and there are much less treatment options (though that doesn’t mean there aren’t any at all). Just like with men, if women notice hair loss they should talk to their doctor right away because the sooner you take action the more hair you will save.
Trying to understand hair loss and how to treat it can seem like a daunting task for the uninformed. There is lots of misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding it and finding reputable sources can sometimes seem impossible. I encourage everyone reading this to do extensive research before you believe anything related to hair loss. Don’t be like me and believe every myth you come across, skepticism is your best friend here.