If you've been noticing more hair in your brush than usual or finding that your ponytail isn't as full as it used to be, you're not alone. It's estimated that more than 50% of women will experience considerable hair loss in their lifetime.
Losing hair can be a very emotional and stressful experience, and there are several reasons behind what could be causing it. For women, the most common cause of hair thinning and hair loss is female pattern hair loss, which affects approximately 30 million women in the United States alone. But other factors like age, nutrition, styling habits, and even your geographical location can play a massive part in your falling strands. Unfortunately, considering how common hair loss is, there are a lot of misconceptions about the subject. These are the top 8 biggest women's hair loss myths dermatologists want you to stop believing.
Myth 1: Hair thinning only occurs with age
Most women over 40 years old experience hair thinning at a higher rate, but factors like bad styling habits and stress are the leading cause of hair fall out in women in their 20s and 30s. Female pattern baldness can begin at any point during the reproductive years; some severe cases have even been noted during early puberty. If you're genetically predisposed to hair fall, it can also begin as early as your teens.
Myth 2: Wearing hats too often causes hair loss
There is no reputable research that suggests hats cause hair loss or balding. Technically, if you wear an incredibly tight hat daily, there is a chance you could develop traction alopecia, a gradual hair loss resulting in the repetitive tension of the hair follicles. Luckily, the chances are slim that you could even find a hat that tight. Wearing a hat regularly can protect your scalp from damaging UV rays that may cause hair loss. If you are wearing a hat often, make sure it fits comfortably and keep it clean to avoid bacteria and buildup that could cause infection to the scalp.
Myth 3: All hair loss is permanent
While female pattern baldness is an irreversible genetic condition, not all hair loss is caused by this ailment. If hair loss is caused by external factors like stress, diet, or over-styling, lifestyle changes can often rectify it unless the follicles have been severely damaged. Telogen effluvium, a common cause of hair loss in women, is the excessive shedding of hairs in the telogen phase (resting phase) after trauma, shock, or extreme stress to the system. This type of hair loss is temporary. With proper hair care and hair products, strands will often grow back within a few months. The available methods to help promote hair growth include:
- Topical minoxidil treatments
- Plant-based scalp treatment serums
- Hair loss treatment shampoos
- Hair regrowth supplements for women
Myth 4: Frequent trims make your hair grow thicker and faster
Haircuts do not affect how thick or fast your hair grows. Hair strands grow from the follicles in the scalp; the rest of the strand is composed of dead skin cells. Whether you chop your hair short or let it grow out, the rate at which the cells renew themselves has nothing to do with your hairstyle.
By getting a trim every six to eight weeks, you proactively prevent split ends from splitting the strand further up the shaft. It'll keep the hair from looking stringy and can make the appearance look more full and healthy.
Myth 5: Washing your hair daily causes it to fall out
How often you shampoo your hair does not affect your hair strands' overall growth or loss. So while you may notice the hair is falling out more acutely while you're washing it, it's hair that would have fallen out of the scalp anyway. If your hair is excessively greasy, it's best to clean it regularly to stop excess sebum (oil) from blocking up the follicles.
While your showering habits won't necessarily cause hair loss directly, it's essential to use gentle products and washing techniques on the scalp and hair to prevent damage and irritation.
Myth 6: Plucking gray hairs will stimulate new hair growth
Pulling out gray hair will only cause new gray hair to grow in its place. Only one hair can grow per follicle; the surrounding hairs will not turn gray until their follicles' pigment cells die. Therefore, what you do to one strand or follicle will not affect the surrounding ones. Plucking hairs can traumatize the follicle and, if done repeatedly, can lead to infection, scar formation, and even permanent damage that can lead to bald patches of hair.
Myth 7: Hair loss is determined only by your mother's side
It was believed for decades that genetic hair thinning came from the maternal side of the family. However, there are over 200 genes that contribute to the regulation of hair loss. So, it's not just mom's side that is causing the condition. If you suspect your hair loss is genetic, take a look at the family tree from both your mother and father's side and evaluate their hair history.
Myth 8: Taking specific vitamins will stop hair loss altogether
If your hair loss results from certain vitamin deficiencies (often B-vitamins like folate, biotin, riboflavin, and vitamin B12) and minerals including iron, zinc, or selenium, you should take oral supplements to replenish the essential vitamins and minerals. Interestingly, some studies show that oral supplements can help improve natural hair regrowth in people with specific vitamins or minerals deficiencies. Check this link for more info.