Hair Health

Do Hats Cause Hair Loss?

Young man wearing hat to hide hair loss.

Thinning hair can mean that your scalp requires greater protection from the sun, as well as the need for more warmth in the winter, making hats an ideal fashion choice for hair loss sufferers. But could wearing hats also be making your hair loss worse? 

We set out to get to the bottom of the theory that hats cause hair loss, including input from Dr. Christina Han, a board-certified dermatologist based out of Vancouver, Canada and XYON’s medical director.

Do hats cause hair thinning?

It is unlikely that wearing a hat is the cause of your hair thinning. In fact, hats can often be a beneficial form of protection against the cold and the sun. But we asked Dr. Han to weigh in:

“No, it’s a myth that hats cause hair loss. Unless a hat/headgear is on too tightly and restricts blood flow to the scalp, wearing a hat does not cause hair loss.”

What is traction alopecia? 
Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss caused by constant pulling or tension on the root of the hair (Billero & Mativa, 2018). This is typically caused by habitually wearing a tight hair style, such as a slicked-back ponytail. In a similar way, using a hat to pull your hair out of your face also has the potential to cause traction alopecia. But as we mentioned above, the hat would need to be very tight to maintain enough traction to produce hair loss, so it is very unlikely.

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Does wearing a hat cause a receding hair line?

In short, wearing a hat will not directly cause a receding hairline.

A receding hairline refers to the thinning and loss of the hair at the front of the scalp, particularly at the temples, which gives the appearance of your hairline moving further back. It is a typical sign of androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as male pattern baldness.

It’s the most common cause of hair loss in men and women and is caused by factors beyond our immediate control. For example, if your parents have experienced androgenetic alopecia, then you may have a genetic predisposition to the condition, making you more likely to develop the same type of hair loss. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a hormone thought to be the primary culprit in this type of hair loss and high levels of DHT and/or increased sensitivity to DHT in those that are genetically susceptible, can cause the hair follicles to shrink, resulting in thinner, and miniaturized hair strands. This can lead to baldness over time.

Whilst wearing a hat will not cause male pattern baldness, it has the potential to speed up the shedding process. The act of putting on and pulling off the hat may cause hairs to fall out more quickly than they naturally would, especially where the follicles have undergone shrinkage and the anchoring of the hair to the scalp is weak.

Is wearing a hat everyday bad for your hair?

Although we know that wearing a hat is unlikely to lead to hair loss, it could affect our scalp hygiene. The scalp naturally produces an oily substance called sebum, so it is important to regularly wash your hair to prevent any buildup, which can lead to irritation on the scalp. Wearing a hat that hasn’t been washed regularly may harbor oils and bacteria that can also negatively impact your scalp and hair growth.

We asked Dr. Han to weigh in on the topic:
“If somebody wears the same hat regularly for long periods of time, a buildup of sweat, oil and bacterial overgrowth might occur on the scalp. This can make you more susceptible to inflammation and infections, which can ultimately result in an itchy and flaky scalp, as well as shedding and hair loss. 
However, if hats are worn within reason and are regularly washed (as well as regularly washing the scalp), there should be no impact on scalp hygiene.”
How does scalp hygiene impact hair growth?
Scalp hygiene is important and it might have a bigger impact on your hair health than you think. Regularly washing your hair and scalp can reduce your risk of developing some scalp conditions that can lead to hair loss. We asked Dr Han why scalp hygiene is so important and what impact it has on hair growth, and she said the following:
“Scalp hygiene is a very important aspect of maintaining healthy hair. A healthy scalp can be defined as one free from inflammation, excessive flaking and excess oils.
The scalp is where the hair follicles reside, amongst other important structures like blood vessels, nerves and glands, all of which contribute to a healthy, non-inflamed scalp. Practicing good scalp hygiene will involve the basics, such as using shampoo, but the health of the hair itself can also impact the scalp.
Scalp conditions caused by poor scalp hygiene, can impact the follicle and lead to premature breakage, shedding and suboptimal growth.”
Are there any hair loss or scalp conditions that can be worsened by wearing a hat?
Dandruff occurs when the skin on the scalp becomes flakey and it is often accompanied by itchiness and redness. It can be caused by several different factors, including infrequent hair washing and poor scalp hygiene. Whilst wearing a hat is unlikely to cause dandruff, it may exacerbate the condition. Dr. Han explains that some underlying scalp conditions may be worsened by wearing a hat:
“Underlying conditions that involve inflammation around the hair follicle as part of the primary process, can be potentially worsened by hats. Some rarer and scarring forms of hair loss, where there is a strong likelihood of inflammation around the hair follicle, may also be impacted by wearing a hat.”

Hats and hair loss: Takeaway

Although it is unlikely that hats will directly cause hair loss, it is important to maintain good scalp hygiene if you are a frequent hat wearer, including washing the hat regularly to avoid bacterial overgrowth. If you suffer from a scalp condition that involves inflammation around the hair follicles, you might find that wearing a hat worsens the condition.

The general takeaway is that hats are unlikely to impact your hair health and can be a great option for protection from the sun. If you wear hats every day and have begun to develop hair loss, it is unlikely that the two are related and we recommend seeking a professional opinion to ensure appropriate steps are taken to your hair loss.


References List
Billero, V., Miteva, M. (2018). Traction alopecia: the root of the problem. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 11, 149-159. 

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