Hair Loss Myths
Hair loss comes from the mother’s side of the family.
At one time, this was believed to be true. We now know that there are multiple genes for “pattern” hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) and that they can come from either side of the family. (Or both, if you’re particularly unlucky!)
Wearing hats makes you go bald.
This is a very common, but usually false, belief. It’s usually the other way around: going bald makes you wear hats! An exception would be the hair loss caused by wearing tight turbans.
Stress makes your hair fall out.
Yes and no. Major life stress—death of a loved one, major illness or surgery, divorce, loss of a job or a home, major financial stress, etc.—can trigger “telogen effluvium” and result in marked, generalized thinning. But even severe stress doesn’t cause pattern baldness in either men or women, and the good news is that telogen effluvium is reversible. Everyday stress—“my job/wife/husband/mother-in-law/kids,” etc.—are driving me crazy” doesn’t make your hair fall out.
Shampooing your hair too often causes baldness.
Any hairs lost in the course of shampooing would have fallen out anyway. The frequency of shampooing does not determine whether or not you lose an excessive amount of hair.
Diet can affect hair growth or loss.
This is partly true, but mostly myth. Poor nutrition, severe caloric restriction, and crash dieting to lose a large amount of weight rapidly can cause hair loss (and dull, brittle hair). But apart from poverty and eating disorders, the typical American diet contains sufficient amounts of protein, B vitamins (including biotin), iron, and trace minerals to ensure healthy hair and prevent excessive shedding.
No one else in your family is bald, so you won’t be.
Even if you have no bald family members on either side, you may still have inherited one or more genes for hair loss. Unfortunately, it’s just the luck of the draw.
Losing your hair is a sign of poor scalp circulation.
Not true. Your scalp has plenty of blood flow.
You can always spot a hair transplant because they just don’t look natural.
This used to be the rule with hair transplants back in the old “plug” days (prior to the mid-90’s). While it is still possible to have an unnatural looking transplant done today (especially if you are bargain hunting), the results achieved by an experienced and skilled surgical team should fool your own family, friends, and coworkers. (See the numerous examples in the “Before & After” section of this website.)
Propecia (finasteride) and Rogaine (minoxidil) only work in the back of the head (crown).
Despite the wording on the package inserts for these products, any hair loss expert will tell you that they can be effective all over the head—as long as there is some hair left to work on. (Just ask a woman whose facial hair grew while using minoxidil on her scalp.) The confusion results from the fact that the drug companies (Merck and Upjohn, respectively) set up the original clinical trials to evaluate results strictly in the crown; thus, the FDA could only approve the drugs for that limited use.
Once your hair falls out it won’t grow back.
It depends on the cause. Some types of hair loss are permanent, but some hair loss is temporary (for example, we all lose 50-150 hairs a day as part of the normal follicular growth cycle, but absent any other cause of hair loss these hairs will grow back).
You don’t have to worry about losing your hair if you’re taking natural hair supplements.
Most hair loss supplements contain a number of healthy nutrients, including biotin, which is part of the vitamin B complex. But while these nutrients can contribute to healthier hair, and a deficiency can lead to hair loss, true deficiencies are rare and there is rarely anything to be gained from taking a supplement. Taking supplements—including biotin and saw palmetto–will not prevent your hair from thinning or falling out if it is due to genetics.
Cutting your hair makes it grow back thicker.
Only older people lose their hair.
Just look around you. Sadly, there are many men—and women—who begin losing their hair in their ‘teens and 20’s. And the younger you are when you first start losing hair, the more likely you are to become very bald unless you take preventive measures.
If you pull out a gray hair, two will grow back.
Though you may notice more gray hairs after you’ve been plucking them out for awhile, that’s because you’re turning gray and the process is ongoing. Remember, any hair you have growing on your head is a good hair, so don’t pull it out! If you keep doing that, you may find that your hair is getting thinner over time, not thicker.
A persistent myth across many cultures is that masturbation makes your hair fall out. This is absolutely, unequivocally not true. If it were, hair loss would be even more common than it is!