We all know how myths get started...someone passes off their ill-conceived opinion as fact, and the misinformation spreads like wildfire. Over time, myths gain traction as they become “common knowledge” - hearing them over and over only increases plausibility in our minds, prompting our mouths to perpetuate them. Back in the 50’s, a “credible source” meant the town doctor...but now, well into the 2000’s, “internet doctors” are everywhere - and thriving alongside them are the lies we’ve been taught.
Here at Boldify, we decided it’s time to trim the fictional fat and find the facts about hair loss. So we did some sleuthing, and have broken down the Top 5 Myths About Hair Loss and the truths behind them...because, you know - SCIENCE.
DISCLAIMER: We pulled out all the stops and used some pretty fancy words in this one. We’ve sourced this information from reputable entities within the online medical community, but we’re not doctors...the information contained herein is intended to be an informational resource only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or illness. But you probably already knew that.
Myth #1: All Hair Loss Is Created Equal
The common misconception that all hair loss is the same has been a hot topic of debate over the years...and the source of many a “snake oil” salesman hocking the latest and greatest chemical cure for what ails us.
The fact of the matter is that hair loss happens for a variety of reasons. For some, balding is genetically predetermined; for others, hair loss is the result of illness, malnutrition, medication, stress, hormonal imbalance, or even an affinity for certain hairstyles.
Hair loss isn’t the same for everyone...which is why hair loss mitigation looks different for everyone. Which brings us to...
Myth #2: There’s Nothing You Can Do About It
Like we said, sometimes balding is a matter of genetic destiny, and other times it’s a situational issue...but either way, there is always something you can do about it. (And no, we’re not talking about slathering your head in chemicals twice a day in an attempt to sprout new strands...drugs like Minoxidil make big promises, but they also come with big risks. Research, research, research!)
It probably goes without saying, but situational hair loss is most effectively remedied by - you guessed it - resolving the offending situation.
If you suffer from traction alopecia, avoiding hairstyles that pull hair taught will reduce inflammation and follicular damage, helping to regenerate lost strands over time.
Hair loss caused by illness or diet insufficiencies can be greatly reduced with an improvement in self-care...proper hydration and a well-balanced diet are vital for optimal scalp health.
Hormone imbalances and even some medications can cause thinning hair...but all hope isn’t lost! Talk to your doctor...they can help!
Stopping hereditary balding may not be an option...but slowing it down sure is.
Genetic hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) may be the #1 cause of balding, but that doesn’t mean you have to take it lying down! Taking care of yourself in general, and taking care of your scalp in particular, can help to reduce any situationally-charged fall that compounds genetic loss, effectively slowing the process and helping to ensure that you keep the hair you have for as long as you can.
There are styling hacks for men and women that can help to disguise areas of concern and help you live more confidently... and hey, there’s always the option to go boldly and unapologetically bald on your own terms, and just shave it off! (If ever you need a reminder that bald can be sexy, just google Dwayne Johnson. Seriously.)
Myth #3: Genetic Hair Loss Is A Guy Problem
There was certainly a time when this was believed by the masses...but as one of the “taboo” women’s issues that have been painstakingly dragged out of the shadows and into the light by braver generations, it’s become pretty widely understood that women are every bit as likely to suffer from hair loss as their male counterparts.
We’ll let the American Hair Loss Association break it down for you:
“By the age of thirty-five, two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss, and by the age of fifty approximately 85% of men have significantly thinning hair.” As for women, studies show that “80% will experience noticeable hair loss by the age of sixty”.
Outside of the average age of onset, there is one other distinct difference between hereditary male and female hair loss: the “pattern” in which it manifests.
For men, hair loss typically begins at the front of the head and the crown, the hairline receding backwards until the patches meet and they go partially or completely bald.
Women, on the other hand, tend to lose hair all over, causing an overall thinning effect that is most prevalent at the partline and temples.
Bottom Line: Hereditary hair loss does not discriminate based on gender.
Myth #4: Sun Exposure (UV Light) Causes Hair Fall
Do long days in the sand and surf come at a price? It turns out they don’t - not for your hair, at least.
Unprotected sun exposure is bad, mmmkay?! Burns, blisters, dehydration, and cancer are just a few of the nasty fates that await if you spend day after day in the rays without taking precautions.
But, with all of the problems UV exposure can cause, hair loss just isn’t one of them.
While a sunburned scalp can certainly be annoying (and, ahem, painful!), any follicle damage is generally temporary, and any strands lost due to excess skin sloughing and blistering is usually regrown once the scalp heals.
Thinning hair, however, definitely puts you at a higher risk of sunburn - because there’s not as much natural coverage (obviously). Luckily, this particular risk can be easily mitigated with regular application of a high-quality, non-comedogenic sunscreen - or even a hat. Which brings us nicely to our final falsity...
Myth #5: Hats Contribute to Baldness
What came first: the chicken, or the egg?
Hard telling, not knowing.
We DO, however, know that the balding very likely came before the hat.
Hear me out.
It’s easy enough to do...see enough balding dudes in baseball caps, and over time, our minds automatically associate hats with hair loss. But who decided that the hat caused the hair loss, rather than the hair loss prompting the decision to don the hat?
Maybe that’s not enough for the scientific-minded among us...after all, the scalp is covered with germs, dandruff, dirt and oil, so how unreasonable can it be to think that hats may have a tendency to suffocate the scalp with devices of its own creation?
Turns out, poor hygiene is the culprit you’re looking for.
Think about it logically...when do you tend to wear a hat? For me personally, I wear hats mainly when I work out, and when I can’t be bothered to style my hair. (Hello, Saturday morning trips to Starbucks!)
Which begs the question: how often do you wash your hair, and how often do you wash your hats?
Donning a cap at the gym or between shampoos isn’t inherently damaging, but it’s important to realize that proper hygiene matters! If your sweaty hair is constantly being mashed up against a dirty scalp, it’s not hard to come to the conclusion that you might end up with clogged pores and follicles - and from there, it’s just a hop,skip and a jump to folliculitis. (That’s an infection in the follicles that causes swelling, itching, and - in severe cases - pustules, by the way. Ew.)
Beyond that, keep in mind that the hat’s fabric is slowly absorbing all of that yuck...so washing your caps regularly is equally as vital in promoting a healthy, folliculitis-free dome.
It’s simple, really: Wash your hair. Wash your hat. Problem solved!
Well, there you have it...the top 5 most common hair loss myths - BUSTED. Sure, we covered the big ones, but there are definitely more out there...I hope this article empowers you to seek out facts from reputable resources rather than believing everything you hear from the guy down the block who’s cousin’s wife’s brother’s best friend lived to tell the story. The decision of when to save it and when to shave it lies with you, friends!