The 10 Biggest Myths About Hair Loss You Need to Stop Believing
Discover the truth behind these common hair loss misconceptions.
Losing your hair can be a very emotional and stressful experience, and there are so many different reasons behind why it happens. Whether it's due to your health, age, styling habits, or something else entirely, hair loss affects millions of people around the country. In fact, according to dermatologist Jerry Shapiro, MD, of NYU Langone Hospital, more than 80 percent of men and nearly half of women experience significant hair loss in their lifetime. But even considering how common hair loss is, there are still many misconceptions about the matter. These are the 10 biggest hair loss myths doctors say you need to stop believing, stat.
Hair loss is only really a problem for men.
Hair loss is mostly thought of as a condition that only affects men. Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, of Vibrant Dermatology in Boston, Massachusetts, says she hears this myth almost daily in her dermatology practice, and it couldn't be further from the truth.
"Many women and men think that hair loss only affects men, but it's very common in women, too," she says. "Women can experience female pattern hair loss, similar to male pattern hair loss."
Biotin prevents hair loss.
Anytime someone is experiencing any sort of hair loss, they tend to reach for biotin—the supplement that's branded as a miracle solution for all hair health issues. Unfortunately, though, it probably won't do much good, according to Imahiyerobo-Ip.
"Despite public perception that biotin is effective for hair loss, there isn't much scientific evidence to support this," she says, noting that there's more evidence it's helpful for nail disorders. "In general, I always take a detailed medical and nutritional history in my hair loss patients. Biotin deficiency is rare and unlikely to be contributing to hair loss."
If your maternal grandfather is bald, you will be, too.
Has anyone ever told you that your hair is in trouble based off of what your mother's father's follicles look like? Well, don't believe what you hear—this is just another incredibly widespread hair loss myth. Though Imahiyerobo-Ip says that "when it comes to hormonal hair loss, genetics matters," it's not just the genetics on your mom's side that you have to contend with. "If you have a family history of hair loss on your father or mother's side, you may be at an increased risk of hereditary hair loss," she says.
Wearing hats causes hair loss.
You can wear as many hats as you want, whenever you want—they're not going to cause hair loss or balding. "People wear hats to cover hair thinning, but it's not causing it. You either have the genetic predisposition to hair loss/thinning or you don't," says hair restoration specialist Angela Phipps, DO, a HairClub medical advisor in Raleigh, North Carolina. "There can be other conditions that can cause hair loss, but it's definitely not from wearing a hat."
Too much testosterone causes hair loss.
Many people think the amount of testosterone someone has plays a role in hair loss. In reality, whether their testosterone levels are high, low, or normal, there's no actual link. "While the hormone that causes hair loss in men is derived from testosterone—dihydrotestosterone (DHT)—it's whether or not the hair follicles have the genetic predisposition to be sensitive to the DHT that determines if one will lose their hair," Phipps says.
Excessive shampooing can cause hair loss.
Just because you love shampooing your hair on the regular doesn't mean you should be worried about hair loss. According to Phipps, washing your hair causes dead strands to fall out—something that's totally normal, as people lose up to 150 hairs a day. A certain percentage of that just so happens to occur while you're in the shower, not because of any hair loss issues.
"The physical act of shampooing simply removes hair shafts that have already detached from the follicle that's under the skin and is ready to come out because the follicle root is starting to produce a new hair shaft," Phipps says. "Also, conversely, not washing your hair enough doesn't cause hair loss either."
Your diet has no impact on your hair health.
What you eat every day doesn't just play a role in the health of your body—it also affects the health of your hair. Imahiyerobo-Ip says her patients are always surprised to learn nutritional deficiencies can contribute to hair loss.
"Whenever a patient presents with hair loss, I always check labs," she says. "Deficiencies in iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and thyroid abnormalities have all been linked to a specific type of hair loss called telogen effluvium, or excessive hair shedding. Vitamin deficiencies can be easily corrected with the assistance of your dermatologist."
Ponytails are totally safe.
Your slicked back ponytail or top knot might look great, but the problem is they can sometimes result in unintended hair loss. "A specific type of hair loss called traction alopecia results from wearing hair styles that put too much tension on the hair, such as heavy hair extensions and tight ponytails," Imahiyerobo-Ip says. This condition can result in scarring and permanent hair loss.
And so is hair coloring.
It's not just hair extensions and tight hairstyles that can cause hair loss—it's coloring your hair, too. "Excessive hair coloring and processing can result in increased hair fragility and breakage," Imahiyerobo-Ip says. Because of that, if you're experiencing hair loss, she recommends working with your hair stylist and dermatologist to determine hairstyles that won't contribute to the problem.
You can't feel hair loss.
You probably didn't know that hair loss can hurt. According to Imahiyerobo-Ip, experiencing scalp pain should always warrant a trip to the dermatologist because it could be a sign of inflammation, which can ultimately lead to hair loss.
"Several types of inflammatory diseases can affect the scalp, including scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, AKA excessive dandruff," she says. "There's also a specific type of inflammatory hair loss that affects women of color called central cicatricial centrifugal alopecia. Scalp pain is often associated with all of these types of inflammatory hair loss."