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Do hats cause hair loss? What the evidence says

The short answer: No. But there are some considerations you should take with your headgear.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jan 15, 2024 • 11 min read
Medically reviewed by Camille Dixon, PA-C
Wearing Hats Causing Hair Loss
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jan 15, 2024 • 11 min read
Medically reviewed by Camille Dixon, PA-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

In this article

Do hats cause hair loss? 
More

Summary

  • Based on scientific evidence, wearing hats isn’t a major cause of hair loss. 

  • One study found that wearing hats may even protect against hair loss.

  • The major contributors to hair loss include age, genetics, hormones, medical conditions, and nutrition.

  • If you choose to wear hats, make sure they’re not super tight, dirty, or made from materials you’re allergic to.

Whether it’s a baseball cap, fedora, sun hat, or beanie, hats can add a lot to a look. And beyond aesthetics, they also serve as protection from the weather, protecting your scalp and face from sun damage. But, could your favorite hat make you lose your hair? 

There are many reasons you could be concerned about this. You may have noticed a few hair strands in your hat after removing it and wondered whether your hat was the cause. Or your concern could stem from the way hats flatten the hair. The fact that people with hair loss tend to wear hats also fuels many folks’ suspicion. 

It’s important to find and avoid potential causes of hair loss. But is wearing hats one of them? Or is it all in your head? Allow us to explain.

Do hats cause hair loss? 

Hair loss is a major concern for many people. And while there are several factors that contribute to hair loss, wearing hats isn’t one of the major causes. That said, there hasn’t been a lot of research on the link between hats and hair loss.

Based on one 2013 twin study, wearing hats may actually protect from hair loss.¹ Participants who wore hats often experienced less hair loss at the temples. According to the study, genetics and age were the strongest contributors to hair loss. Other contributing factors were smoking, dandruff, increased duration of exercise, drinking more than four alcoholic drinks per week, and stress.²

So wearing hats regularly likely won’t contribute to hair loss. But it could seem so if you always find stray hairs in your hats. What’s likely is that your hat just gathered the hair you shed that day! It’s normal to shed about 50 to 100 strands of hair each day.³ 

Additionally, hair loss probably comes first in the hat-related hair loss puzzle. Folks experiencing hair loss tend to start wearing hats as one of the ways to cope with hair loss.⁴

If not hats, what causes hair loss on the scalp? 

Wearing hats is unlikely a major cause of hair loss. But if you’re concerned about hair loss, here are some more common causes: 

Aging 

Many folks between the ages of 50 and 80 experience overall hair thinning.⁵ This form of hair loss is known as senescent alopecia or age-related hair thinning. It occurs because of a reduction in the number of hairs on the scalp. This could happen with or without pattern hair loss or a scalp disease.⁶

Genes

Your genes play a major role in determining whether you’ll experience hair loss and where it occurs.⁷ While there’s no particular gene responsible for hair loss, this trait is likely a feature produced by variations of the genes for the hormones, enzymes, and receptors responsible for normal hair growth. These genetic variations often lead to pattern hair loss.⁸

Hormones

Testosterone and di-hydro-testosterone (DHT) are associated with male-pattern hair loss. Levels of these hormones in the blood and their interaction with receptors inside the hair follicle determine the nature of pattern hair loss.⁹

Female pattern hair loss is associated with a drop in estrogen levels after menopause. This drop in estrogen levels is also associated with hair loss after pregnancy and childbirth, which is known as telogen gravidarum.¹⁰ Hyperthyroidism and the early stages of hypothyroidism are also associated with hair loss due to imbalances of thyroid hormones.¹¹

Curology’s Hair Formulaᴿˣ contains ingredients like finasteride and spironolactone, which help improve male-pattern baldness by counteracting the effects of DHT on scalp hairs. Get started with Curology to get a personalized hair treatment from a dermatology provider.

Nutritional imbalances

Loss of hair can be one of the signs of deficiencies of:¹²

  • Iron 

  • Vitamin D

  • Biotin (vitamin B7)

  • Folate (vitamin B9) 

  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

  • Vitamin C

  • Zinc 

Hair loss can also occur due to excessive intake of:¹³

  • Vitamin A 

  • Vitamin E

  • Selenium

Medical conditions

Several medical disorders can cause hair loss, including:

  • Alopecia areata¹⁴

  • Ringworm (tinea capitis)¹⁵

  • Trichotillomania¹⁶

  • Scalp conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff, and scalp psoriasis¹⁷

  • Diseases like kidney or liver failure, hepatitis C, and rheumatoid arthritis¹⁸

Medical treatments and drugs

Hair loss can be caused by:¹⁹

  • Chemotherapy agents such as cyclophosphamide, nitrosoureas, and doxorubicin

  • Drugs like tamoxifen, allopurinol, levodopa, bromocriptine

  • Toxins like bismuth, arsenic, and gold

These medications cause a form of hair loss known as anagen effluvium. This form of hair loss is widespread and immediate, occurring days to weeks after exposure to the medication. Hair usually starts growing back after one to three months after the drug is stopped.²⁰

Stress 

Stress has a complex relationship with hair loss. Stress has been shown to cause hair loss because the stress hormones, cortisol, and corticotropin-releasing hormone, interfere with proper hair growth.²¹ This may lead to telogen effluvium, which involves widespread loss of clumps of hair 3-5 months after a stressful event. Hair loss usually stops after two to six months if stress is dealt with; otherwise, telogen effluvium can last for years.²² Also, losing hair could serve as a stressor that causes more hair loss.²³

Smoking

Smoking has the potential to affect hair quality and growth, leading to hair loss and early hair graying.²⁴ Smoking may increase the risk of pattern baldness and can worsen pattern baldness among those who have it. Nicotine from tobacco smoke can accumulate on the surface of the hair. This can affect blood supply to the growing hair, cause inflammation, alter normal hair growth, and destroy the hair follicle, leading ultimately to hair loss.²⁵

Hairstyles and hair care products 

Certain hairstyles, styling methods, or harmful hair products cause trauma to the hair, which contributes to hair loss. These include:²⁶

  • Heat styling

  • Excessive brushing

  • Tight hairdos

  • Scratching the scalp

  • Certain shampoos

  • Bleaches

  • Dyes 

  • Relaxers

  • Perming

  • Excessive exposure to salt water

The wrong hats could contribute to hair loss

While wearing hats isn’t the most likely cause of hair loss, wearing the wrong hats may contribute to hair loss.

Tight hats

If you tend to wear tight hats a lot, you stand the risk of developing traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is hair loss due to excessive tension, friction, or pulling of the hair. Excessive tension damages the hair follicles and causes inflammation, redness, and bumps. In the long term, this tension causes hair loss.²⁷ 

It’s possible that constantly wearing really tight hats can produce excessive tension on your hair shaft and root, which can lead to traction alopecia. In one study of 199 South Korean nurses, seven nurses experienced traction alopecia at the site where pins were used to secure the nurses’ caps.²⁸

Dirty hats 

It’s important to always keep your hats clean to help prevent hair infections. For instance, the fungi that cause ringworm can stay for long periods on caps if not cleaned properly. This can encourage the spread of ringworm or reinfection.²⁹

Hats you’re allergic to

Avoid hats made with materials you’re allergic to. For example, rubber used to make hat bands causes allergic contact dermatitis of the scalp among people with rubber allergies.³⁰ Scalp contact dermatitis causes scalp itch and hair loss, as well as rashes on the hairline, around the ear, and neck.³¹

Get started with Curology’s hair loss formula

There are various factors that contribute to hair loss, even though hats may not be one of them. If hair loss concerns you, Curology is here for you. Our hair loss formula, designed by our expert dermatology providers, contains ingredients scientifically proven to combat hair loss. What’s more, the ingredients in our hair loss formula are of prescription strength which makes them more effective than over-the-counter products. Hair loss treatment can take time, but our dermatology providers are there for you throughout the process! 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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At Curology, you are paired with a personal dermatology provider who will design a treatment based on the root cause of your hair loss and accompany you through your treatment journey. Get started with Curology by completing a hair quiz so we can learn about you and your hair goals. Then you’ll be matched with your personal dermatology provider to design your hair treatment. 

FAQs

Will wearing a hat make you bald?

No, wearing your regular hats won’t make you go bald. In fact, in a small study among twins, wearing hats was protective against hair loss.³²

Does wearing hats cause hair thinning?

Although wearing a hat can flatten your hair, it is unlikely to cause hair thinning.

Will wearing a tight hat every day cause hair loss?

It’s best to avoid consistently wearing extremely tight hats. These kinds of hats can cause friction and tension that pulls the hair and damages the hair follicles, leading to traction alopecia.³³

What are the benefits of wearing a hat?

Depending on the kind, hats can keep you warm in the cold or protect your scalp, face, neck, and even shoulders from the sun.

What is the most common cause of hair loss?

The most common cause of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, whereby hair loss is caused by a combination of genes and hormones. Androgenetic alopecia affects about 80% of men and 50% of women.³⁴

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to: 

  1. Gatherwright, J., et al. The Contribution of Endogenous and Exogenous Factors to Male Alopecia: A Study of Identical TwinsPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery. (May 2013).

  2. Gatherwright, J., et al. The Contribution of Endogenous and Exogenous Factors to Male Alopecia: A Study of Identical TwinsPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Ibid.

  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Do You Have Hair Loss or Hair Shedding?(n.d.).

  4. Aukerman, E.L. and Jafferany, M. The Psychological Consequences of Androgenetic Alopecia: A Systematic Review. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. (2022, April 25).

  5. Monselise, A., et al. What Ages Hair? International Journal of Women’s Dermatology. (2017, February 16).

  6. Monselise, A., et al. What Ages Hair? International Journal of Women’s Dermatology. Ibid.

  7. Trüeb, R.M. Understanding Pattern Hair Loss—Hair Biology Impacted by Genes, Androgens, Prostaglandins and Epigenetic Factors. Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery : Official Publication of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India. (2021, December 14).

  8. Trüeb, R.M. Understanding Pattern Hair Loss—Hair Biology Impacted by Genes, Androgens, Prostaglandins and Epigenetic Factors. Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery : Official Publication of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India. Ibid.

  9. Hasan, R., et al. Effects of Hormones and Endocrine Disorders on Hair Growth. Cureus. (2022, December 20).

  10. Hasan, R., et al. Effects of Hormones and Endocrine Disorders on Hair Growth. Cureus. Ibid.

  11. Hasan, R., et al. Effects of Hormones and Endocrine Disorders on Hair Growth. Cureus. Ibid.

  12. Gokce, N., et al. An overview of the genetic aspects of hair loss and its connection with nutrition. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene. (2022, October 17).

  13. Gokce, N., et al. An overview of the genetic aspects of hair loss and its connection with nutrition. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene. Ibid.

  14. Phillips, T.G., et al. Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatment. American Family Physician. (2017, September 15).

  15. Phillips, T.G., et al. Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatment. American Family Physician. Ibid.

  16. Phillips, T.G., et al. Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatment. American Family Physician. Ibid.

  17. Trüeb, R.M., et al. Scalp Condition Impacts Hair Growth and Retention via Oxidative Stress. International Journal of Trichology. Ibid.

  18. Gokce, N., et al. An overview of the genetic aspects of hair loss and its connection with nutrition. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene. Ibid.

  19. Phillips, T.G., et al. Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatment. American Family Physician. Ibid.

  20. Phillips, T.G., et al. Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatment. American Family Physician. Ibid.

  21. Hasan, R., et al. Effects of Hormones and Endocrine Disorders on Hair Growth. Cureus. Ibid.

  22. Phillips, T.G., et al. Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatment. American Family Physician. Ibid.

  23. Gokce, N., et al. An overview of the genetic aspects of hair loss and its connection with nutrition. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene. Ibid.

  24. Babadjouni, A., et al. The Effects of Smoking on Hair Health: A Systematic Review. Skin Appendage Disorders. (2021, February 24).

  25. Babadjouni, A., et al. The Effects of Smoking on Hair Health: A Systematic Review. Skin Appendage Disorders. Ibid.

  26. Phillips, T.G., et al. Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatment. American Family Physician. Ibid.

  27. Billero, V. and Miteva, M. Traction alopecia: the root of the problem. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. (2018, April 6).

  28. Hwang, S.M., et al. Nurse’s Cap Alopecia. International Journal of Dermatology. (2001, December 25).

  29. Al Aboud, A.M. and Crane, J.S. Tinea Capitis. StatPearls. (2023, August 8).

  30. Aleid, N.M., et al. Common Allergens Identified Based on Patch Test Results in Patients with Suspected Contact Dermatitis of the Scalp. Skin Appendage Disorders. (2016, December 17).

  31. Aleid, N.M., et al. Common Allergens Identified Based on Patch Test Results in Patients with Suspected Contact Dermatitis of the Scalp. Skin Appendage Disorders. Ibid.

  32. Gatherwright, J., et al.

     The Contribution of Endogenous and Exogenous Factors to Male Alopecia: A Study of Identical TwinsPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Ibid.

  33. Billero, V. and Miteva, M. Traction Alopecia: The Root of the Problem. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. Ibid.

  34. Gokce, N., et al. An overview of the genetic aspects of hair loss and its connection with nutrition. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene. Ibid.

Camille Dixon is a certified Physician Assistant at Curology. She received her Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL.

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Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
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Camille Dixon, PA-C

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