Numerous myths have been shared over the years about what causes hair loss, and unfortunately, many people believe them. They panic and wonder why they are still losing their hair?
Let’s take a look at some of these popular hair loss myths and the truths behind some of them.
1. Washing Your Hair Too Much Leads To Hair Loss
They say cleanliness is godliness, so why would shampooing your hair make your hair fall out? You may notice some strands of hair coming out in the shower, but not to worry—it is actually normal to lose between 100-150 hairs every day. Showering does not accelerate hair loss. Regular shampooing removes excess grease and dead skin cells, and a good scalp massage with your shampoo can actually stimulate hair growth.
2. Hair Loss Genes Come From Your Mother's Side
Genes do contribute to our physical makeup, and hair is no exception. However, hair loss is polygenic. While the primary baldness gene is on the X chromosome, which men get only from their mothers, research suggests that a man whose father is bald is more likely to develop male pattern hair loss. Therefore, your extended family members on both sides determine whether you will experience androgenic alopecia or not, not just family members on your mother's side.
3. Younger People Do Not Lose Hair
The belief that only older people lose their hair is, unfortunately, a myth. On the contrary, hair loss can strike in the teens and is common among 20- and 30-year-olds. The earlier it begins, the more severe it will likely become.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible for us to stave off baldness and hair thinning until we reach old age. In fact, about a fifth of men will experience significant hair loss by the time they turn 20, but that percentage does grow as you get older, increasing your likelihood of displaying baldness in your 30s and 40s. The most common time for men to begin noticing signs of hair loss is between 25 and 35, while about half of women experience hair thinning or loss before they turn 50, with many women reporting that loss worsened after menopause.
4. You Will Grow Multiple Grey Hairs If You Pull One Out
It is a fact that continuously pulling hair out can damage your scalp and prevent hair from growing in a certain area. However, hair does not multiply in the place you pluck one out.
5. Stress Can Cause Hair Loss
Yes, stress and hair loss can be related.
Three types of hair loss can be associated with high stress levels:
- Telogen effluvium. Significant stress pushes large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase. Within a few months, affected hairs might fall out suddenly when simply combing or washing your hair.
- Trichotillomania. This an irresistible urge to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows, or other areas of your body. Hair pulling can be a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, tension, loneliness, boredom, or frustration.
- Alopecia areata. A variety of factors are thought to cause alopecia areata, possibly including severe stress. With alopecia areata, the body's immune system attacks the hair follicles — causing hair loss.
Stress and hair loss do not have to be permanent. If you get your stress under control, your hair should grow back within a few months.
6. Wearing A Hat Can Cause Hair Loss
While dermatologists recommend a hat with a brim to protect the face from sun damage, that same hat can cause damage to the scalp by preventing the proper amount of air circulation. Without it, sweat can clog up the pores in the scalp and cause hair growth to slow down or even stop. If you want a thick, healthy head of hair, it might be best to go the sunscreen route for sun protection and leave the hat wearing for the cooler months.
7. Excessive Exposure To The Sun Can Lead To Hair Loss
Vitamin D from the sun is good for the body, including hair growth. You must, however, remember to put on sunscreen while in the sun to prevent sunburn on your scalp. Long-term exposure to UV rays may damage your hair, leaving it dry, brittle, and more prone to breakage and split ends. It’s important to condition your hair on a regular basis.
8. Birth Control Pills Make You Lose Hair
Birth control pills can cause hair loss in women who are especially sensitive to synthetic hormones or who have a family history of hormone-related hair loss.
Hair normally grows in cycles. Anagen is the active growth phase. During this phase, your hair grows from its follicle. This period can last for two to seven years. Catagen is the transitional stage when hair growth stops. It lasts for about 10 to 20 days. Telogen is the resting phase. During this phase, your hair doesn’t grow. Between 25 and 100 hairs are shed daily in this phase, which can last for up to 100 days.
Birth control pills can cause the hair to move from the growing phase to the resting phase too soon. This form of hair loss is called telogen effluvium and can cause large amounts of hair to fall out.
9. Too Much Testosterone Can Cause Hair Loss
Too much testosterone does not cause hair loss. Rather, it is the body's sensitivity and reaction to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which derived from testosterone, that causes genetic hair loss. DHT is what cause a process called miniaturization where, over time, the hair follicles grow thinner and thinner hair. Eventually, if DHT is not blocked from the androgen receptors of the hair follicles, the hair becomes so thin and weak that, once it falls out, the follicles “die” and are unable to regrow hair.
10. Vitamin Supplements Can Reverse Thinning Hair
Taking multivitamins is beneficial for your overall well-being, but they don’t thicken or regrow lost hair. Studies suggest that food supplements can only boost your hair if the hair loss is caused by a deficiency in your diet.
If you are not seriously vitamin deficient, there is little chance that supplements can change a single thinning hair on your head. In fact, there is research showing that overuse of supplements that contain selenium, Vitamin A, or Vitamin E might make hair loss worse!
If you are truly vitamin deficient, consult with your physician to find out which vitamin(s) you are lacking. Blood tests can show if you are low in vitamin D, zinc, or iron, all of which are related to hair growth. Getting these nutrients back within the normal range can improve your well-being and possibly increase the density of your hair.
11. Dandruff Causes Hair Loss
Some studies suggest that dandruff doesn’t cause hair loss directly; rather, constant and aggressive scratching is the real culprit. As you scratch your scalp to relieve itching, it weakens your hair roots and causes your hair to fall out.
Some studies have found that hair growing from a dandruff-irritated scalp is already more damaged than hair from a healthy scalp – and that is before you start scratching. The weakened cuticle surface provides less protection to the hair fiber as it grows and could leave you more likely to experience hair loss due to breakage.
12. Hair Care Styling Products Can Cause Hair Loss
Sometimes, this misconception stems from the fact that certain styling products, particularly gel or wax, make the hair look greasy, which can make hair appear thinner.
Everyone – including people with no hair loss conditions – sheds around 100-150 hairs per day as part of the normal hair growth cycle. These hairs often drop as we are moving around so we do not notice them.
However, when you are doing something where the focus is purely on your hair – such as washing, brushing, or applying styling product – your attention is drawn to those hairs that come out as you agitate your locks. What you are doing is not causing hair loss, you are just causing hairs already about to shed as part of the normal hair growth cycle to fall all at once.
13. Constantly Combing Your Hair Boosts Hair Growth
Proper hair brushing can assist with hair growth, while improper brushing can accelerate it.
Running a brush or comb too hard through your hair causes a lot of physical stress on the hair fiber, and it can cause the cuticle to flake and strip away. Aggressively brushing while your hair is wet is also problematic, as it can lead to excessive pulling and breakage.
Your hairbrush is a simple, necessary tool to tame tresses into your desired style. However, the type of brush you use and how you use it can influence the overall health of your hair.
For example, brushing with a boar bristle brush has been found to stimulate the capillaries, which increases blood circulation in the scalp and transports oxygen and nutrients to the hair stem, root, and bulb. It also helps to balance the sebaceous glands by stimulating them and allowing them to breathe while retaining natural oils. Sebaceous gland imbalance is often to blame for hair loss, as overproduction and underproduction of sebum cause weakening and undernourishment of the scalp.
14. Air-Dried Hair Grows Faster
Although a hair dryer is a hair accessory most of us use regularly, it may not be entirely harmless. If the question “does a hair dryer cause hair loss?” pops up in your head, the answer is that it largely depends on the frequency of usage and your hair drying technique. Opinions are divided on whether hair dryers can cause permanent hair loss, but they can be associated with substantial damage to the hair fiber over time.
Improperly blow-drying your hair can cause damage, but so can air-drying. One study found that while the heat of a dryer can cause damage, using a hair-dryer at the right distance and temperature can actually cause less damage than letting hair air-dry. That is because hair swells when it is wet. The longer the swelling (say, the 2 hours it takes for hair to air-dry), the more pressure it puts on the delicate proteins keeping the hair intact, which can lead to more damage.
Whatever method is used, moderation is essential when drying hair.
15. Hair Loss Is Only Suffered By Men
Hair loss is more common in men than it is in women, with approximately 85 percent of men experiencing significant hair thinning by the age of 50, according to the American Hair Loss Association. But it’s also extremely common in women, affecting approximately 30 million women in the United States. In fact, about half of all women will experience noticeable hair loss at some point in their lives. While male pattern hair loss tends to get a lot of attention, female pattern hair loss is a big deal, too.
Like in men, the No. 1 reason why women lose their hair is because of genetics. Called female-pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia, this type of hair loss is caused by an increase in androgen activity and other hormone fluctuations in the body. As you probably know, hair loss in women is more common after menopause, when estrogen is lost. Other contributing factors for women include pregnancy, follicle damage due to certain hairstyles (called traction alopecia), and extreme stress, among other things.
Women can and do suffer from hair loss. And women do experience hair loss differently than men. Male pattern hair loss typically starts at the top of the head with a receding hairline and continues until only a ring of hair is left around the back of the head.
Women do not typically have receding hairlines, but rather experience thinning hair more evenly across the entire scalp.
16. Shampooing Your Hair Too Often Causes Hair Loss
How often you wash and shampoo your hair has no effect on overall loss or growth of hair. You may simply notice the hair that is falling out more acutely while you’re in the shower washing it, but this is hair that would have fallen out anyway.
At any given time, a portion of our hair regenerates itself by falling out, going dormant for a while, and growing again. This is a normal cycle. When baldness sets in, hair that falls out can no longer be replaced because the hair follicles die off.
17. Massaging Your Scalp Will Help With Hair Loss
There is no direct effect of any physical stimulation of the scalp on the hair follicles, although prolonged massaging may cause frictional damage to hair.
Hopefully, with a better understanding of the truths underlying some of these common hair-loss myths, you have a better idea of how to help prevent hair loss and grow the thickest, fullest, and healthiest hair possible.