Janelle asks…My mom and sister are big supporters of the theory that excessive use of hair products (E.g: Hairsprays, shampoos, gels, etc) are the reason why my hair is falling out/isn’t so thick. In general, can usage of these gels and hairsprays every day cause hair loss? I don’t shampoo more than twice a week, but I do use hairspray and gel on my hair every day. Are they correct, or is this an old wives tale?
The Beauty Brains respond:
Ah, Janelle. You are wise to ask us rather than just blindly believing what you’re told by “old wives.” (No offense to your mother and sister.)
Damage causes breakage causes hair loss
Hair care products can be involved in certain types of hair loss but that doesn’t mean they cause it. For example, shampoos and conditioners almost always involve the use of water which causes a swelling/contracting cycle that damages hair. This damage can eventually cause the hair to break. Also, if you use a hard holding hairspray or gel AND if you roughly drag a brush through your hair, then yes, you’ll experience some hair loss. (Because the hair is locked in place by the styling products and you’re yanking it out by the roots!) And of course, the use of towels or heat styling tools to dry your hair is also damaging.
In other words, the ingredients used in hairsprays, shampoos, gels, etc do not inherently cause hair loss even though the process of using these products may cause damage that could lead to hair loss due to breakage.
An exception to the rule
There is a special type of hair loss called “follicular degeneration syndrome” or “central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia” in which use of hair relaxer and similar chemicals permanents, and even heat processing, can permanently affect the follicle and result in hair loss. In these extreme cases, shampoos which dry the scalp or conditioning products which occlude the scalp and can cause irritation that can hair loss worse. However, this only occurs in African hair types.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
Anytime you wash and dry your hair or use a brush or comb you can be causing damage which can cause the hair to break. But there’s nothing special about the chemicals used in those hair care products that would cause your hair to just fall out. The exception is for certain medical conditions which can cause hair loss can be worsened by cosmetic ingredients That irritate the scalp.
Reference: UPDATE ON THE DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF COMMON CAUSES OF ALOPECIA AND POTENTIAL INTERACTION OF HAIR COSMETICS Elise A. Olsen, M.D. Duke University Medical Center, presented at annual SCC meeting, 2004.
Ladies, in your experience has excessive product use been detrimental? Share your experience!