When it comes to male pattern baldness, there are many different rumors, old wive’s tales, and misconceptions about the specific causes for this natural occurrence.
One such rumor, and one that is commonly believed to this day, is that hats can expedite baldness in men.
But is this true, and if not, where did it come from?
Hats & Baldness
First and foremost, it is important to say that, generally speaking, there is little to no evidence that wearing a hat makes any difference to the rate (or age) a man loses his hair.
While scientists generally support the belief that hats do not cause hair loss, they also admit that very little research has been conducted on the subject – or at the very least, not enough to gather sufficient data one way or another.
Because of these, many leading medical experts attest that, if a person were to wear a tight fitting, non-breathable hat for long periods of time every single day of their lives, then it stands to reason that they may in fact experience some degree of thinning or hair loss.
However, this is considered to be in extreme cases, and should still not be considered the norm – or a general rule of thumb – for every single man on the planet.
The Reason Why
Scientists acknowledge that, without proper access to fresh air, and blood flow, the hair could start to show signs of thinning on the top of the head in those who wear hats in this way.
This is, however, only a speculation.
What Are The Main Causes?
It is also worth pointing out that hair loss in men can be caused by a multitude of factors.
Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is the most common form of hair loss in men, and can start as early as the late teenage years.
This is based on the genetic composition of the male in question, and has links to family history, hormone levels (namely testosterone), as well as environmental factors and medical history.
Using hair dyes and colorants, hair sprays, gels, waxes, and even shampoo and conditioner (regularly) can cause the hair to become brittle, starved of oxygen and moisture, or simply put until so much strain that the follicles die off.
Similarly, hairstyles that put strain on the scalp can also cause balding in both sexes – such as dreadlocks, cornrows, braids, ponytails, and slicked back/scraped back hair styles such as the pompadour.
Diseases like cancer and heart problems can cause hair loss as a symptom, as can some severe infections, fevers, and flus.
These do have some ties to an individual’s genetics, and are not uniform to every single person.
So, What Damage Can Hats Do?
While the chance of restricted blood flow and oxygen are quite rare, there are certain non-genetic forms of hair loss that hats could cause or worsen.
This is perhaps the most likely form of hair loss caused by hats, but it is by no means common, and is not solely linked to headwear.
Traction alopecia is a non-genetic form of hair loss, and falls under the same category as the more damaging aspects of physical grooming, such as hair products, strained hairstyles, and harmful colorants.
Traction alopecia occurs when specific portions of the hair are placed under extreme pressure, and where, as the name suggests, traction (or friction) is placed on those areas, causing hair to fall out.
By this reasoning, it is possible that wearing an ill-fitting hat that is too tight for the head could cause traction alopecia, particularly if the wearer has poor genetics or a predisposition to hair loss in the first place.
So, Where Did The Myth Originate?
Seeing as this is still considered an urban myth, particularly amongst scientists and hair experts, where did this originate, and why is it still persistent?
Sweating & Hair Loss
In the late 1970s, there were several tests conducted on men with facial hair, and the temperature of the head.
It was believed that men with hair and beards generated too much heat for their head, which caused the hair to thin as a natural means of cooling.
Now, this is obviously ridiculous by modern standards, and there was no proven correlation between a man’s internal head temperature, and the rate at which they experienced hair loss.
But perhaps remnants of this flawed theory persisted within society?
Bald Men & Hats
One possible origin for this myth could be the fact that bald men commonly wear hats, either as a fashion accessory, to disguise their thinning hair, or to protect themselves from the heat or the cold.
Perhaps this association between baldness and hats – which is a symptom, not the cause – was misconstrued as being a direct cause, instead of a post-hair loss choice.
How To Avoid (Non-Genetic) Hair Loss?
Avoid Harmful Chemicals
Protecting the health of your hair is another great way to hang onto it, and this means avoiding harmful chemicals found in dyes, hair products, and shampoos.
The best way is to use natural products with minimal ingredients, or embrace a natural look free of products.
Being gentle with your hair is also important.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to treat it like it’s made of glass, but it does mean that to avoid things like traction alopecia, you should avoid rough, heavy combing from the roots, friction or excessive rubbing of the hair, and other unnecessary actions.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about the relationship between hats and hair loss.
Remember that, when it comes down to it, your particular relationship with hair loss depends on your genes, health, and lifestyle, but to avoid unnecessary damage, try to be gentle and sensible with your hair care routine.