Men are becoming increasingly experimental with their hair which means an increased use of styling products. According to international market research firm Mintel, between 2014 and 2015 sales of men’s haircare products came in at £85 million in the UK alone.
Good looking hair isn’t the only effect of this grooming trend, however as Mintel’s data reveals that 22 per cent of men who use styling products worry that they will cause hair loss.
Hair styling products and hair loss
We asked senior Belgravia hair loss specialist, Leonora Doclis whether there was any truth to this rumour. “No – no everyday hair products are known to damage hair or exacerbate hair loss. This is a concern voiced by many men visiting Belgravia for their first consultation but there is nothing to worry about as there is no basis to this myth,” she explains.
“The majority of widely available hair styling products have been rigorously tested, especially those from well known companies, since any complaint can ruin a brand overnight. The ingredients in styling products do not absorb into the scalp which limits their ability to cause damage, so the worst thing that could happen is that products make the hair look dull if they are not washed off regularly or properly.”
The misconception that styling products cause thinning hair may be due to the fact that overloading the hair with certain formulas, particularly gel or wax, can make the hair look greasy. Greasy or wet-looking hair tends to appear thinner because of the way it ‘clumps’ together often making the scalp more visible, similar to how the hair looks after a shower, particularly if you are affected by male pattern baldness.
Another reason people associate using styling products, or even brushing or washing their hair with shedding is connected to the fact that everyone – including people with no hair loss conditions – sheds around 100 hairs per day as part of the hair growth cycle. These hairs often drop as we are moving around so we don’t notice, however when you are doing something where the focus is purely on your hair – such as washing, brushing or applying product – your attention is drawn to those that come out as you agitate your locks, causing pre-shed hairs to fall. What you are doing is not causing hairloss, it’s simply making you more aware of this natural shedding.
So, even if you’re one of the 20 per cent of men who carry hair products with them for regular touch-ups throughout the day, you can rest easy knowing that – as long as you are washing your hair regularly to prevent build-up, this is unlikely to cause you any scalp problems or thinning issues. BUT… although using styling products, such as wax, hair gel or salt spray, is highly unlikely to lead to hair loss, there are other connected factors which can…
Care needed with heated appliances
Traditionally more of a female domain, hair loss from styling damage is a real issue and, as men become more focused on their look, it may well turn into more of a unisex problem.
This is particularly relevant to younger men as of the third of 16 to 24 year olds who claim to regularly use hair products and take time styling their hair every morning, 22 per cent said they also use heated styling appliances. The average for men in other age groups who admitted to using heated styling tools was notably lower at 12 per cent.
Heated hair tools such as hairdryers and hair straighteners can reach remarkable temperatures that can damage the hair easily. Some hair tools can reach temperatures in excess of 410°C, whereas, according to the product development team at GHD, the optimum temperature to heat style hair without causing it to melt or break is 185 °C.
Frequent over-use of scorching heated appliances can cause hair breakage where the hair snaps along the shaft. This can lead to thinner-looking, ‘frizzy’ hair and, in drastic cases can cause Traction Alopecia, a condition caused by applying too much tension and stress to the hair follicles. This form of hair loss is most often associated with tight hairstyles such as braids, dreadlocks and hair extensions, which tend to be the primary causes although ‘man buns‘ are another known cause. Luckily treatment for Traction Alopecia can often help to regrow hair as long as the cause of the tension is also removed.
Mintel’s study found that, perhaps due to the increasing awareness of the links between hairstyles and hair loss, women are moving away from ‘complex hair routines’. Forty per cent of the women surveyed who use haircare products advised that they had pared their look back and been less concerned with frequent styling during 2015 whilst half of the group had limited their use of heated styling tools during the same period.
Some people say you have to suffer for fashion but that definitely shouldn’t be the case when it comes to having good hair. If you are concerned that you are losing more hair than normal or believe your hairstyle may be making your thinning worse, have a professional assess you. They can provide you not only with a diagnosis and prognosis but also with hair loss treatment recommendations personalised to your specific needs and advice for how to care for your hair whilst the clinically-proven medications kick in.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.