Common Hair Loss Myths

Hair Loss Myths Related to Baldness & Causes of Hair Loss

For centuries there have been many 'lotions' and 'potions' promoted as the miracle treatment for losing hair or going bald. Many of these myths are still around today, so you need to understand the facts about the causes of male pattern baldness, female hair loss, alopecia and what type of hair loss treatment, procedure or hair transplant may be right for you. First, let’s explain the myths and the truth.

Myth: Hair loss is passed down from your mother's side.

For years, people have thought that hair loss is inherited from the mother’s side of the family. This myth is FALSE. While the primary baldness gene is on the X chromosome (which men get from their mothers), many other factors come into play. For instance, research suggests that men who have bald fathers may have a higher chance of developing male pattern baldness than those who don’t, despite the hereditary factor being slightly more dominant on the woman’s side. Studies have shown that in 54 sets of sons and fathers, 81.5% of balding sons had balding fathers. This result was greater than expected from an autosomal dominant inheritance and implicated a paternally inherited gene or the involvement of a gene that can be paternally imprinted. This was a radical change from the genetic engineering method which was used hundreds of years ago in which scientists embraced a single gene approach and therefore found that hair loss was passed down from a specific side of the family. However, as suggested above, it has since been found that hair loss is a complex trait that can be traced from both sides of the family and can be exacerbated as a result of medications, drugs, medical conditions, age, nutritional factors, stress and hormone levels.

Myth: You only become bald when you’re old

Male pattern baldness affects at least 50% of men over the age of 50, however, the age that hair loss starts is different for everyone and just because you’re balding, doesn’t mean you’re old. So that myth is FALSE. For some men, balding can start as young as 20 but the most common age that male pattern balding starts is between the ages of 25 and 35. The first stages of male balding are often noted by a distinctive ‘M shape’ known as the ‘receding hairline’. After that, hair is often lost from the crown before eventually forming a ‘horseshoe’ shape on the sides and back of the head.

For women on the other hand, balding is most common after menopause, although it can start as early as puberty. About 13 in 100 women start balding before menopause but after 65 years of age, 75% of women note a degree of hair loss, most commonly at the crown. Many women also experience hair loss after pregnancy or following the discontinuation of birth control pills. Hormonal change is one of the main culprits in such cases and even if you brush your hair 100 times a day, that hair won’t grow back!

Myth: Wearing hats and wigs can cause hair loss

For all you hat enthusiasts out there, do not despair. The idea that wearing hats and wigs can cause hair loss is a fallacy. It’s a MYTH. Some people believe that hats and wigs cause hair loss due to the lack of sunlight your hair is exposed to. As we all know, sunshine boosts our vitamin D levels which in turn can aid hair growth. However, while sunlight can make your hair thicker, you are not a plant and therefore, your hair will not die off without this exposure. Another belief is that the friction caused by hats can cause hair to fall out. This is also untrue. The amount of force it would take for hairs to be removed by friction to the scalp would be so uncomfortable that the person would not be wearing a hat on a daily basis. Traction alopecia is much more common in women through practices such as braiding and tying one’s hair up in tight buns or ponytails on a regular basis as the pulling force can damage the follicles. The idea that a tight hat can cause oxygen loss to the follicle, thus depriving the scalp of natural nutrition is completely false. The connection between hair loss and wearing a hat is ONLY experienced by some people in hot or humid climates. In the heat, hats can contribute to the excretion and accumulation of sebum (a waxy substance) and oil on your hair which means that the pores in the scalp can often ‘clog up’ as a hardened sebum plug can form. As oxygen circulation to the hair follicles stops, hair can sometimes fall out and become a breeding ground for bacteria, again contributing to hair loss. However this is very rare and it hardly even happens to professional sportsmen who wear sweaty caps every day!

Myth: Brushing your hair 100 strokes a day will make it healthier

It has long been believed that brushing your hair 100 strokes a day will make your hair healthier and grow faster. This is FALSE. The main problem is that frequent brushing causes friction on the hair, thus damaging the hair’s cuticle, leading to eventual breakage. This not only makes your hair fall out but it can also make your hair extremely frizzy, something most of us try and avoid! Instead of stripping your hair’s cuticle by over brushing, brush your hair minimally, only when needed, and use the right tools, avoiding bristle brushes which are especially harsh on the hair strands and scalp. It was long believed that frequent brushing helps distribute the natural oils from the scalp. Gentle infrequent brushing however will achieve better results, distributing the hair’s natural oils throughout the hair shaft, removing impurities and stimulating blood flow, which in turn nourishes hair follicles and keeps them healthy. So remember, 100 strokes a day is overkill!

Myth: Frequent shampooing causes hair to fall out

You were probably brought up to believe that washing your hair regularly makes it fall out. However, shampoo has nothing to do with baldness. It’s a MYTH. Hair loss is not caused by hair washing whether this washing is frequent or infrequent. But all those hairs in my shower plug you say?! Well, those hairs are dead hairs that the shampoo has removed. Hairs that are removed with shampoo are in the ‘telogen’ phase of hair growth, the resting phase. These hairs would soon fall out in any case as they are the hairs ready to leave the follicle. The only other hairs which are falling out are those affected by health, stress, poor diet or other causative factors and so not washing your hair for fear of it falling out would be counterproductive as your hair still benefits from the removal of dirt, oil and dead skin cells. So wash your hair when you need to, but remember, don’t wash it too often as it can strip your hair of its natural and essential oils, drying it out and making the hair overly porous.

Myth: Washing your head in cold water can cure baldness

According to some, washing your hair every morning in cold water can cure baldness as it can boost blood circulation. This is FALSE. Washing your head every morning in cold water may boost blood circulation, cool you down in summer, wake you up in the mornings or de-stress you, but unfortunately, it won’t cure baldness! The main idea here seems to be one of increasing blood circulation beneath the scalp but unfortunately blood flow has no effect on reducing or curing hair loss. So although many stylists swear by the cold water rinse for the purpose of improving circulation and sealing cuticles to promote shiny hair, it won’t be much more than a hair-raising experience!

Myth: Losing hair everyday means you’re balding

If you notice that you are losing hair every day, do not panic. Losing your hair everyday doesn’t mean your balding. It’s a MYTH. The average human head has about 100,000 hair follicles. Blondes have approximately 140,000 hair follicles, redheads have about 90,000 and brunettes/those with black hair have an average of 110,000 follicles. With that much hair it’s completely normal to lose about 100 strands a day! Even if you feel like you lose more than that, do not panic when you collect a handful or two out of the shower or hairbrush. The only time you need to see someone about hair loss is when you start to notice the visible thinning of your hair or bald spots on your scalp. Otherwise, it’s completely natural! The amount of hair we loose on a daily basis differs from person to person. The denser your hair, the shorter your anagen cycle (the active growth phase of hair follicles) and the more hairs you will normally lose per day. So while losing 150 hairs a day regularly may be normal for one person, it may be excessive for another so it really comes down to the individual and remember, these hairs will grow back!

Myth: Cutting your hair can help prevent hair loss 

To those who believe that a weekly trip to a salon will assist in preventing hair loss, I hate to say this, but it’s a MYTH. Cutting your hair regularly does not prevent hair loss and the only thing it will do is make your hair shorter. Your hair is not a lawn and although regular trims are a great way to keep your.