Any time my brother wears a hat around our grandma, she tells him to take it off. Not for reasons of etiquette. And not because she thinks he looks better without it. But because, she insists, “You’re going to go bald.”
She’s said it enough throughout my lifetime that it’s certainly something I think about every time I attempt to cover up a bad hair day with a baseball cap. “How long does it take before this hat starts murdering my hair follicles one by one?” I wonder.
Reddit, of course, is awash with posts from different people asking if their hat is contributing to their hair loss. “I know that baldness is probably mostly genetic, but it seems like people who have obviously been wearing a hat every day of their life have a unique sort of hat-induced baldness,” one redditor writes. “Also, I remember learning most body heat is lost through the top of your head so a hat kind of seems like plugging a chimney to me. Any truth to this?”
Another redditor chalks it up to maybe a “circulation thing.”
Whatever the theory, it’s definitely not true. “Wearing a hat does not cause baldness,” Carlos Wambier, a hair research specialist, says definitively. If anything, Wambier tells me, it might prevent it by protecting the scalp and its thin hairs from being destroyed by the sun. “Using a hat protects the scalp in the same way that a thick layer of hair does,” explains Wambier, thereby keeping the sun’s ultraviolet rays from destroying hair stem cells, especially those that have already been degraded by the scourge of male-pattern baldness.
All of which is to say, it’s the genetics I inherited from my grandma that are much more likely to dictate how long hair remains atop my head, not her fear of hats.