dad's hat image by Kenneth Summers from

The Covered Dome

A simple question deserves a simple answer, right? Of course it does. The question: Does wearing a hat cause hair loss? The answer: No, it does not. This is as clearly as we can state it. Read it again if you feel so compelled, and show it around to all of your friends who insist that your Yankees cap is going to leave your head shiny and glistening by the end of your 30s.

Where did this (admittedly persistent) "fact" come from? We think it probably has something to do with the general public confusing cause with effect. As a method of concealing their baldness, many men take to wearing caps. A lot of bald men walking around wearing baseball caps have led a misinformed public to believe that the hats themselves were the cause of the baldness, when in fact it was the other way around.

It's All in the Genes

We have known for a long time that the most common form of hair loss (and the kind most men worry about the most), androgenic alopecia, is 100 percent determined by your genetic code. That is to say, if it's going to happen, it's going to happen. You can slow it down (sometimes) with products such as Propecia and Rogaine, but there's not much you can do to prevent it. Likewise, if you don't have the gene for this type of alopecia (also known as male pattern baldness, or MPB), there's nothing you can do to bring it about (such as wearing a hat).

It used to be believed that this gene came from the mother's side of the family. Men would take a look at their maternal grandfather, note the full head of hair and think they were in the clear. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The genetic code for MPB can come from either side. If your father is bald, and your father's brother is bald, you may not want to get too attached to a particular hairstyle.

But Is There Any Truth to the Hat Thing?

While wearing a hat or a baseball cap may do nothing to cause hair loss of the permanent kind, there are some drawbacks to wearing one on a regular basis. This is especially true for those who wear hats when they are sweating, such as in the summer or while performing physical activities such as sports or manual labor.

While dermatologists recommend a hat with a brim to protect the face from sun damage, that same hat can cause damage to the scalp by preventing the proper amount of air circulation. Without it, sweat can clog up the pores in the scalp and cause hair growth to slow down or even stop. So if you want a thick, healthy head of hair, it might be best to go the sunscreen route for sun protection and leave the hat wearing for the cooler months.

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