Even though it’s a common misbelief, the answer is simple, no. Hair loss is caused by a number of other reasons. Some genetic, some hormonal. Nothing to do with whether you wear a hat, or go commando on your crown.
Nevertheless, it’s a common myth that if you wear hats regularly, you’ll be more likely to lose your hair. The origin of the myth is not entirely clear, but is believed to have emerged in the 1910s when soldiers returned home from WW1 and their partners noticed thinning hair.
The connection seemed obvious; the helmets worn in war must have caused their hair to fall out.
Like most myths, there’s no real science behind it. However, let’s take a closer look to help uncover the real causes behind hair loss.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Before we dive into the hat-question let’s do a quick recap on why hair loss occurs. For a more extensive and detailed background make sure to check out our article on male pattern baldness (also known as androgenetic alopecia).
In a normal healthy hair cycle, your hair grows from a follicle and last between three to five years. After that, hair falls out and the follicle stays inactive for about three months before the growth phase (anagen phase) starts over again. For men with male pattern baldness, the hair follicles progressively produce fewer, thinner and weaker hairs until the follicles stop producing any hair.
Male pattern baldness is predominately caused by a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which causes a change in the hair follicles. DHT is believed to reduce the growth phase of the hair cycle.
But why do I see hairs inside my hat every time I take it off?
It is normal to lose up to 100 hairs a day. Most of these will come out when you wash or brush your hair. However, a large part will also fall out as you go about your normal day and will go unnoticed most of the time.
Wearing a hat in itself has no influence on the production of DHT and is not a cause of male pattern baldness.
What about the soldiers?
About 30% of men show signs of male pattern baldness by age 30. The average age for soldiers enlisting in WW1 was 24 years old. The young men experienced thinning hair, not because of the helmets they were wearing, but rather because they were simply at an age where hair loss would often start to kick in.
However, there are indeed some factors, other than male pattern baldness, which can cause hair loss. An unhealthy lifestyle or a poor diet for example. These tend to be temporary causes and can easily be reversed.
When can hats cause damage to hair?
Whilst hats themselves do not cause male pattern baldness, there are a few things to watch out for to ensure your choice of hat doesn’t damage or irritate your scalp.
- Circulation: Very tight hats can cut off the blood circulation and pull on hairs that have already been weakened. Make sure to wear a hat that is comfortable and fits loosely on the head. Wearing a hat that is too tight could cause irritation to the scalp.
- Cleanliness: A dirty hat (i.e. from wearing while doing sports outdoors) can cause irritated skin to become infected. If left untreated it could lead to temporary hair loss. It is important to wash your hats regularly to prevent any negative effects.
Do I need to worry?
In short, no. Wearing a hat will not cause male pattern baldness. If you started noticing your hairline to retreat, it’s better to get clued up on how products like Finasteride or Minoxidil can help you. No need to leave your hat at home.