Does Wearing A Hat Make You Go Bald?

Here's what the experts have to say.

While researching for a story, we came across a very frightening statement made by GQ in their explainer on hair loss.

In an article titled "Everything You Need To Know About Your Thinning Hair," Liza Corsillo lists likely ways in which a man can lose his hair, explaining that wearing a hat is "the worst problem."

"Guys that are wearing a hat all the time are creating their own male pattern baldness. They're not allowing the sweat glands to breathe, and they're clogging the follicles, which prevents hair growth. You need oxygen in order to produce the oils that help your hair grow."

"Gasp," we said, flinging our baseball hats across the newsroom and e-mailing our expert, Dr. Alan Bauman, a board-certified hair restoration physician. Thankfully, he assured us that this myth is far from the truth.

"Wow, a 1970s flashback!" he wrote back. "Sorry for being blunt, but this statement is completely, 100-percent bogus and false in so many ways. It is a great example of the myths associated with hair follicles and male pattern hair loss that continue to be perpetuated by the uneducated."

Androgenic alopecia (or male pattern hair loss), he explained, is caused by the "progressive miniaturization of hair follicles that are sensitive to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a breakdown product of the male hormone testosterone."

This miniaturization is hereditary and can start to happen at any time after puberty.

Wear a hat. It has nothing to do with your chances of going bald.
Thanasis Zovoilis via Getty Images
Wear a hat. It has nothing to do with your chances of going bald.

"Under the influence of DHT, the follicles which are sensitive to it start to miniaturize, producing progressively thinner, shorter and less pigmented hair over time, resulting in a loss of coverage in a highly-recognizable pattern: recession of the frontal/temporal hairline and baldness in the crown/vertex areas," Bauman said. Eventually, the follicles stop producing hair altogether."

In fact, this myth has been debunked online for years. "Your baseball cap would have to be on your scalp so tight that you couldn't wear it in order for it to cause any type of traction or damage," according to Men's Journal.

The U.S. News & World Report says hats don't cause any harm, but points out that a dirty hat can lead to a scalp infection.

And if you're worried about traction alopecia, or what happens when you exert repeated and severe stress on your hair follicles (by tight pony tails or braids, for example), LiveScience says that hats don't provide enough pressure for that to happen.

Sorry GQ, while you often get things right about how to live well and dress sharply, you were wrong about this one -- guys should wear that hat proudly. They won't make you bald.

In fact, as Bauman said, many people who experience hair loss "turn to wearing hats because they like the way it reframes their face in a youthful way, reminding them of how they used to look before their hairline receded. When they look in the mirror, facial proportions look similar to the frame of their youthful hairline."

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