8 hair loss myths explained
Losing your hair can be a pretty traumatic experience, especially if you don’t know what’s causing it or what to do about it. To get some clarity on what’s going on at the thinning end of the wedge, MH spoke to Anabel Kingsley, consultant trichologist atPhilip Kingsley, to sort fact from fiction and help keep a lid on hair loss.
Hair loss is inherited from your mother’s side
False, sort of. In fact, says Kingsley, regardless of whether or not your mum is bald, hair loss can come from either parent, as well as grand and even great-grandparents. So, while it’s true that baldness can skip a generation, it’s also not certain that it will. Time to start checking the family tree.
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(Related: 10 ways to thicken your hair)
Bald men tend to have higher testosterone levels
Sadly, this isn’t strictly true either, says Kingsley, robbing bald men everywhere of their favourite consolation quote. “Hair loss is caused by follicle sensitivity to testosterone,” says Kingsley, “so it’s a common misconception that balding is caused by an excess of it. That being said, testosterone does cause the hair on your scalp to become finer and your body hair to get thicker.” The exact opposite of what you want, then.
Stress can make you go bald
True...ish. “Hair loss tends to be genetic," says Kingsley. “In practice, that means you might already be more sensitive to the effects of something like excess testosterone and then a stressful situation triggers a reaction. If you have that genetic predisposition and you’re really stressed, it can make hair loss worse so if you notice it thinning, it’s best to act quickly so you can stop it in its tracks."
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If your hair is falling out, you ARE going bald
False. “There’s an important difference between your hair falling out and actually going bald,” says Kingsley. “Hair thinning is a very gradual process but hair shedding, caused by factors including stress or a poor diet, can reduce your hair’s density very quickly. It’s the sort of hair loss you will notice in the shower or on your comb whereas thinning hair can take 5 years to become noticeable.”
Wearing hats can cause baldness
Good news trilby fans: hats don't cause hair loss. "If you wore an extremely tight hat, you would pass out long before it had a chance to affect hair cell production." says Kingsley. This myth likely stems from WWI and WWII, when men returned home with thinner hair and blamed it on hats. However, incredibly high stress levels, surges in adrenaline, and poor diets during war-time, coupled with men of conscription age losing hair naturally, will have impacted their hair.
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(Related: Eat your way to better hair)
Overstyling can damage your hair
This one is true but it won't cause proper hair loss. "Instead," says Kingsley, "straighteners, blow drying and rough brushing can cause hair breakage. To ascertain whether your hair is 'breaking' or falling out, check the ends. New hairs will have a tapered end, while broken ones will be blunt or split. However, styles that place traction on the hair follicle, such as super tight ponytails or buns, can cause true hair loss or ‘traction alopecia’. If a hairstyle makes your scalp sore, it will likely be damaging your hair." Loosen up, bro.
Using steroids can lead to hair loss
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kingsley confirms that "certain steroids may exacerbate a reduction in hair volume (aka male pattern hair loss) if you have a genetic predisposition whereby hair follicles on your scalp are sensitive to circulating androgens [male hormones]." But keep in mind that if you are taking steroids due to an illness, "you also have to remember that the illness itself might be causing extra hair fall.
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