Think about it for a second - you’re just as likely to experience hair loss as any guy you walk past in the street. Kinda scary, right?
It might seem strange, but 40-50% of men experience hair loss at some point in their life - 20-30% of men even get hit with it before they reach 30.
When hair starts falling out, most people want to deal with it - fast. In order to do this, however, you’ve first got to figure out the root of the problem (no pun intended). When there’s so much misinformation circulating online, though, that’s not always an easy feat. In this article, we’re going to take out 10 of the most popular hair loss myths and set the record straight.
1) Genetics - Your mum’s dad lost his hair? Well, say goodbye to yours.
This is the first of our myths that we’re going to debunk because we thought we’d cross a popular one off the list first.
Surprisingly, the fact that your mother’s father lost all of his hair doesn’t actually mean that you’re definitely going to. There’s very little scientific research to back this myth up and it’s near impossible to predict where your hair loss is going to come from based on your family tree.
“These myths travel alongside countless other genetic theories regarding how hair loss may be transmitted from one generation to the next.”, states Dr Bernstein, hair loss expert from NYC clinic Bernstein Medical.
“While it is clear that male pattern baldness [...] is genetically-based and that common baldness cannot occur without the presence of specific inherited genes, we now know that these genes can be passed to offspring from either parent.”
So there you have it. Although there is evidence that hair loss can be passed down in genes from your parents, it’s not clear which ones will give it to you and how. So, if your mum’s dad is bald, you don’t have too much to worry about.
2) Age - It’s a symptom of getting old - there’s not much you can do.
We wish it were true, we really do. The sad reality, however, is that hair loss can strike at any time. Regardless of your age, a number of factors can influence hair thinning and total hair loss.
Dr Jerry Shapiro, a New York-based hair loss specialist believes that the average age for hair loss is actually much earlier on in a person’s life:
“It starts in their twenties. And for the men who have the most severe hair loss, they have a very clear indication of that well before they're out of their twenties.”
The plus side, however, is that there is something you can do. There are a number of products on the market, such as Gofybr, that can help reduce hair loss and restore that crown and hairline to their full glory.
3) Lost all your hair? Try these supplements!
We’ve all seen the deceptively too-good-to-be-true ads lurking on the right-hand side of websites. Unfortunately, when something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Typically, hair loss supplements aren’t going to work if you’ve already lost all of your hair. For those in their younger years, certain supplements can reverse the effects of hair loss, but it’s not always possible.
4) Hormones are the heralds of hair loss hell
Although testosterone might be affecting a hell of a lot of other things in your body, hair loss isn’t one of them. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about balding and there’s little research to back it up.
Clinical Director and Trichologist Glenn Lyons confirms: “We’ve been looking at male hormones since the 1990s and have seen no evidence of raised levels of testosterone in connection with male pattern hair loss.”
Hair loss is an increasingly common issue among men aged 20 and older, but testosterone levels have in fact dropped over the past 30 years - some suggest by up to 20%.
The rumour actually has somewhat gruesome roots. It started in the 1940’s, when castration was still deemed medically okay for those with mental health issues. One day, Yale doctor James B. Hamilton operated on one of two twins.
Allegedly, the other twin decided that he was going to pay the doctor a visit some time after the operation. Dr Hamilton noticed that the second twin was bald, whereas his brother - who was no longer producing testosterone - had a full, thick head of hair. Bingo. Conclusions were jumped to.
Today, however, we know better. “Male pattern hair loss is down to a genetic predisposition as opposed to raised testosterone levels,” Lyons adds. So there you have it - the myth stuck, but there’s actually no scientific basis to back it up.
5) Stress is pulling your hair out
Sitting in your car amongst a wall of standstill traffic sucks. Despite popular belief, however, you’re probably not going to lose any hair because of it.
“Stress, can, through a convoluted route, cause hair loss.” says Philip Kingsley, qualified Trichologist and hair loss specialist.
Stress can result in hair loss, but it’s usually down to it causing more serious psychological and physiological conditions, such as alopecia.
Additionally, when you’re stressed you’re going to be less likely to take care of yourself as well as you usually would. This shift in your grooming routine might result in you losing a few extra hairs, as could a sudden change in your diet. Overall though, it’s not really something to worry about.
[Disclaimer: physically pulling your hair out as a result of stressful traffic does result in hair loss].
6) Losing large amounts of hair? Genetic baldness.
You guessed it - also false. Although your shower plughole might be collating hair to the point where it could easily be mistaken for a small gerbil, it doesn’t mean you should worry.
In fact, losing large amounts of hair isn’t actually always a product of genetic baldness. More often than not, sudden hair loss is caused by other conditions beneath the surface, such as alopecia.
“In contrast to popular belief, going bald is not due to massive amounts of hair falling out,”, says Dr Bernstein, “but rather by hair of normal thickness gradually being replaced by finer, thinner hairs -– a process called “miniaturization.”
He does agree on this point, however - if you suddenly start losing a lot of hair, it’s time to see a doctor.
7) Lower blood flow to the scalp causes hair loss
Sure, bald men or those experiencing hair loss are also likely to have a reduced blood flow to their scalp - this part is true. Where the misconception comes into play is why.
When you have a full head of hair, a strong blood flow is required to keep that hair healthy and growing. As your start to lose hair, less blood is required, so the flow reduces. Therefore, reduced blood flow to the scalp isn’t a cause of hair loss, but rather a result of it.
8) Losing your hair? Lose your hat.
Nope, not true either. Although a few strands might be plucked out, there’s little scientific evidence to suggest that wearing a hat causes hair loss.
Other people might believe that wearing a hat all of the time deprives hair follicles of their much-needed oxygen. Sure, if they don’t get oxygen, you’re not getting much hair, but oxygen actually reaches them via the bloodstream, so this isn’t a problem.
It’s a win-win. You can stay warm in the colder months and Hats & Caps LLC aren’t going to go out of business. Everybody’s happy.
9) Over-shampooing causes hair loss
When people start to lose hair, they often target over-shampooing as the first potential cause. In an attempt to combat this, they shampoo less often, which in fact they shouldn’t be doing.
This is because all of the hair that would usually be heading down the plughole stays on the head instead. When they next shampoo, even more hair comes out, confirming their opinions. It’s a vicious circle and it’s not pretty.
“Remember, hereditary baldness is not due to hair falling out, but rather by normal hair gradually being replaced by finer, thinner hairs”, says Dr Bernstein. “The simple solution is to shampoo every day and the excess hair in the tub will go away.”
10) Minoxidil is the only decent hair loss treatment
Minoxidil has surged in popularity over the past few years, being heralded as the saviour of hair loss sufferers worldwide. There is, however, a lot that people don’t understand about it. Namely, once you’ve started taking it, it’s not easy to stop. It also doesn’t come cheap.
“It does work” says Dr Rassman of the New Hair Institute in Los Angeles, “but the hair becomes very dependent upon the Minoxidil. If you stop, all the effects are lost.”
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