Hair loss is an issue that’s been part of human culture since ancient times. It’s also remarkably common, with an estimated 53 percent of men experiencing moderate to extensive hair loss by their late 40s.
In the thousands of years since the first documentation of male hair loss came about, countless myths about why and how hair loss happens have come and gone.
While some of these myths are harmless, research has found that some myths may have a real negative impact by preventing people from seeking treatment.
Below, we’ve looked at 10 of the most common myths about hair loss and hair loss treatments, as well as the science (or lack thereof) behind each one.
We’ve also discussed the proven, science-based hair loss treatments that are available if you’re starting to lose your hair and want to prevent it from getting worse.
There are numerous hair loss myths out there, ranging from beliefs that are somewhat plausible to theories that just aren’t supported by any real scientific evidence.
Below, we’ve listed and busted 10 of the biggest myths related to hair loss, from misconceptions about the relationship between hormones and hair to scary stories about popular treatments for male pattern baldness.
Although hair loss is usually associated with men in their 40s, 50s, 60s and above, it’s possible to start losing your hair at any age, including in your 20s and 30s. Some men even start to lose hair in their teens.
According to research published in the journal Dermatologic Surgery, approximately 16 percent of men aged 18 to 29 have moderate to extensive hair loss.
Put simply, you’re never too young to start losing your hair. If you’re genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness, you may notice the early signs of balding years or decades before you expected to.
The (kind of) good news is that if your hairline is beginning to recede or the hair at your crown is starting to thin, it usually isn’t indicative of any serious health issues. Instead, it’s far more likely to just be your genes.
If you notice your hair thinning relatively early in your life, it’s important to start treating your hair loss as soon as possible.
This can help to prevent your hair loss from worsening and, in some cases, help you to regrow hair in certain areas of your scalp.
We’ve listed science-based treatment options for hair loss a little further down the page, as well as additional tips that you can use to protect your hair.
Legend has it that bald guys are victims of their own elevated testosterone levels. They also have more sex with a plethora of partners.
They’re Hollywood stars, MMA legends, war heroes, and Mr. Clean. All of that testosterone is too much for their effeminate hair follicles to deal with, so their hair gives up resisting and falls out.
While there is a link between some androgens (male sex hormones) and hair loss, the theory that bald guys have more testosterone and thus lose more hair is false.
Male pattern baldness, the most common form of hair loss in men, is caused by a combination of your genes and the effects of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
Your body converts a small percentage of your testosterone into DHT.
While DHT is important during childhood and puberty, in adulthood, it can bind to receptors in your scalp and, if you’re genetically prone to male pattern baldness, damage your hair follicles.
While research shows that men with male pattern baldness are more sensitive to the effects of DHT in the scalp, there’s no evidence that bald men have more testosterone.
Hair loss has been observed in both high and low testosterone males. We’ve gone into greater detail about the hormones behind male pattern baldness and their effects on your scalp in our guide to DHT and male hair loss.
In short, it’s not quite as simple as more testosterone equals more hair loss. While testosterone -- or, more specifically, one of its byproducts -- does play a role in hair loss, losing hair shouldn’t be viewed as a sign that you have higher-than-normal testosterone levels.
Which came first? The hat or the receding hairline? Popular (translation: internet) science often claims that wearing a hat can suffocate your hair follicles and increase the speed at which your hair falls out.
There are several variations of this myth. One common one is that wearing a hat that’s too tight can reduce blood flow to your scalp and damage your hair follicles.
The actual scientific research to support this myth is, like with other hair loss myths, incredibly scarce.
While wearing a hat that’s overly tight or heat constrictive might theoretically affect the amount of blood that’s able to flow to your hair follicles, there’s no reliable scientific research to support this theory.
Interestingly, one of the few scientific studies on this subject looked at 92 pairs of identical twins and found daily hat use actually appeared to reduce the risk of going bald.
Wearing a hat has lots of benefits, from protecting your eyes from the sun to reducing your risk of getting sunburned.
Since hat wearing doesn’t seem to play any role in hair loss, it's best not to let this myth put you off wearing one when you’re outside in sunny weather.
This myth is actually partly true, although many people misunderstand the type of hair loss that stress can cause.
Most hair loss in men is caused by male pattern baldness -- a form of permanent hair loss that, as we’ve covered above, is related to the effects of DHT on your hair follicles.
Stress doesn’t cause male pattern baldness. However, high levels of stress can potentially lead to a form of temporary hair shedding called telogen effluvium.
This type of hair loss is also linked to other health issues, including hormonal changes, illnesses that cause fever, major infections, surgery and trauma.
Unlike male pattern baldness, it usually causes diffuse thinning rather than a receding hairline or single bald spot.
Telogen effluvium is reversible, usually by treating the underlying condition that caused the hair loss.
This could mean using options like meditation to relieve stress or simply recovering from a temporary illness.
If you’ve searched for information about preventing hair loss naturally, you may have heard that washing your hair too often can worsen hair loss.
While washing your hair too frequently can wash away sebum (a natural oil-like substance that’s produced by your skin) and dry out your hair, there’s no evidence that shampooing regularly can affect your DHT levels or contribute to male pattern baldness.
On the contrary, washing your hair regularly -- especially with a hair loss shampoo -- could help to protect your hair from DHT-related damage.
So, how often should you wash your hair? According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, there’s no “right” amount of time that everyone should wait in between washes.
Instead, it’s best to wash your hair based on the amount of oil your scalp produces. If your hair and scalp feel oily, you may need to wash it every day.
If your hair isn’t very oily, you may only need to wash it every few days.
If you’re African American, it’s better to wash your hair less frequently. The AAD recommends washing your hair with shampoo once every one to two weeks to stop hair care products from building up and causing your hair to dry out.
A good sign you’re washing too frequently is a dry, irritated and itchy scalp, as well as hair that feels brittle and breaks easily.
Love to slick back your locks or add 360-degree waves? Can’t resist the temptation to lather on some wax, mousse or gel?
Well, fear not, because common hair styling products like wax, gel and mousse generally aren’t associated with male pattern baldness.
As we mentioned earlier, male pattern baldness is caused by a combination of your genes and the effects of DHT.
Since over-the-counter hair care products don’t have any effect on either of these, you can safely style your hair without having to worry about damaging your follicles.
Now, with this said, it’s important to understand that some styling products, when applied a little too aggressively, may cause you to shed hair due to tension placed on your hair follicles.
This form of hair loss is referred to as traction alopecia, and it’s caused by hairstyles that pull on your hair roots.
If your styling habits pull on your hair (for example, you have dreadlocks or use a lot of wax and style your hair into a tight, slicked-back pattern), this could cause long-term damage.
We’ve talked more about this type of hair loss, as well as the steps you can take to prevent it, in our guide to traction alopecia treatments.
There are countless myths about the negative effects of masturbation, from the belief that it can cause blindness to theories that masturbation can cause erectile dysfunction (ED) or lead to the growth of hair on your hands.
Just like the other masturbation myths, there’s no scientific evidence that masturbating has any effect on your hair.
In fact, masturbation often produces real health benefits, including releasing sexual tension and reducing stress.
We’ve talked more about this myth, as well as other popular masturbation misinformation, in our guide to masturbation and hair loss.
If you’ve ever asked a friend or family member about hair loss, you may have heard that it’s an entirely hereditary phenomenon that’s passed down from your mother’s side of the family.
Like other hair loss myths, this one is half true. While hair loss is hereditary and the genes you inherit from your parents likely play a major role in the hair loss process, there’s no research to show that your mother’s genes (or your mother’s father’s genes) are uniquely responsible.
In fact, researchers still haven’t worked out which genes are responsible for hair loss, although some studies have found that the AR gene is strongly associated with male pattern baldness.
Minoxidil, a topical medication that you apply directly to your scalp, is one of the most popular and effective treatments for male pattern baldness.
However, if you search for information about minoxidil online, you may notice comments from men claiming that minoxidil worsened their hair loss.
This is a common misunderstanding based on how minoxidil works, as well as the effects that often occur during the first few weeks of treatment.
Minoxidil works by moving hairs from the telogen (resting) phase of the hair growth cycle into the anagen (growth) phase.
As your hairs move from one phase to the next, it’s common to experience mild, temporary hair shedding.
This shedding isn’t permanent. After a few months, you should notice your hair returning to its normal state and, over the long term, improvements in your hair’s thickness and appearance.
Finally, a common myth about hair loss is that any hair you lose -- whether it’s from male pattern baldness or other forms of hair loss -- is gone forever.
Like other myths, this one is partly true. Over the long term, the effects of male pattern baldness are permanent, meaning the hair you lose from around your hairline or crown won’t grow back if it’s left untreated for a long period of time.
However, if you respond to male pattern baldness quickly using science-based medications, it’s often possible to regrow some of the hair you’ve lost.
As for other forms of hair loss, while some are permanent, others usually only cause temporary hair shedding.
For example, it’s almost always possible to regrow hair that’s fallen out due to telogen effluvium -- the form of hair loss linked to stress, illness or trauma.
On the other hand, many other types of alopecia, such as alopecia areata, severe tinea capitis and chronic traction alopecia, can cause permanent hair loss.
Since it can be hard to tell the different forms of hair loss apart, it’s important to respond quickly when you notice your hair falling out to prevent permanent damage.
Most forms of hair loss are treatable. If you’re affected by male pattern baldness, which is the most common form of hair loss in men, there are several treatments that you can use to stop further hair loss and, in some cases, regrow some or all of your “lost” hair.
As we mentioned above, the first of these treatments is minoxidil -- a topical, over-the-counter medication that works by stimulating blood flow to your hair follicles.
The second treatment for hair loss is finasteride. This prescription medication works by stopping your body from converting testosterone into DHT, the hormone that causes baldness.
We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Research shows that finasteride and minoxidil are more effective when they’re used together to treat hair loss.
You can purchase both medications together, along with other products for preventing hair loss, in our Hair Power Pack.
Male pattern baldness can be frustrating to deal with, especially when it starts to affect you early in your life.
If you’re starting to lose your hair, it’s important to understand that there are safe, science-based options that can help you to protect your hair from further shedding.
Our guide to male pattern baldness proves more detail about how and why this form of hair loss occurs, common symptoms and the steps that you can take to stop your hair loss for good.