From quiffs to slicked back looks, hair gel helps you create all kinds of styles. But can hair gel cause hair loss or hair damage?
If you’re a regular hair gel user and you’re seeing high levels of hair loss, you’re probably wondering if your product is to blame. But most of the time, hair gel won’t cause or contribute to hair loss.
Let’s find out more about hair gel, and whether it can damage your hair.
Knowing what your hair gel contains can help you choose the best formula for your hair. Different formulations use different ingredients, though most fall into the following categories:
Hair gel is unlikely to cause hair loss. Most male hair loss is caused by a combination of genetics and hormones, and manifests as male pattern baldness. So your hair thinning is more likely to be caused by baldness genes than the hair gel you’re using.
The research into the effects of hair gel itself is fairly limited, though it’s unlikely that any of the commonly used ingredients will cause hair loss. One study found that PVP is safe for use in cosmetics .
However, using hair gel to style your hair into very tight hairstyles may lead to a condition known as traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is hair loss caused by excessive or prolonged tension on the hair follicles. Dreadlocks, tight ponytails, and hair extensions are all associated with traction alopecia.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to the ingredients in hair gel. If you’re prone to contact dermatitis, eczema, or other skin conditions, it’s a good idea to do a patch test before using a new product.
While hair gel is unlikely to cause true hair loss, it can be damaging to your hair, especially if you use large amounts. One study recommends that hairstyle fixation is achieved with a “tiny amount” of styling with hair gel, mousse, or spray .
Certain types of alcohol used in hair gel may cause your hair to dry out. Fatty or long-chain alcohols, such as cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and cetostearyl alcohol, are normally fine for use on your hair, but other types may dehydrate your hair . Dry hair can become brittle, making it more prone to breakage.
Using gel to style your hair into tight hairstyles can also cause damage, including split ends and broken hair strands (also known as trichoclasis).
The following ingredients which are found in some hair gels may cause unwanted side effects:
Dandruff is a relatively common scalp problem. It affects lots of people, regardless of whether they use hair gel or not.
However, hair gel can make dandruff appear worse. As the gel dries in your hair, it can flake off, which creates the appearance of dandruff, even if your scalp is health
Using a flexible hold gel and washing your hair every day may help reduce this effect.
There’s no research to suggest hair gel or hairspray will cause hair loss.
Hairspray is less likely to cause dandruff-like flakes than hair gel. However, they can both be used safely, depending on your hair type, length, and texture.
Hairspray tends to work best for those with longer hair. It’s lighter than hair gel, so it won’t weigh down your hair as much. Hair gel is more appropriate for those with short hair who need extra hold and lift.
There’s no harm in using hair gel each morning to style your hair. But if you choose to use hair gel this often, it’s important to wash your hair everyday. (Don’t worry — washing your hair everyday won’t cause it to fall out).
If you don’t wash your hair frequently, the gel can cause oil, grease, and flakes to build up in your hair. Long-term scalp build-up may lead to folliculitis and ultimately hair loss .
Hair gel doesn’t cause hair loss by itself, so there’s no need to worry about causing hair shedding, even with regular hair gel use. However, there are things you can do to minimise damage and side effects of hair gel use:
If hair gel isn’t working for you, there are a few other products that can help you style and hold your hair. These include:
Each type of product offers different benefits in terms of hair texture, hold, and appearance. If you haven’t used hair products before, experiment with a few different options before choosing your favourite.
If your hair is falling out in the shower, or you’re seeing more hair shedding on your pillow each morning, your hair gel probably isn’t to blame.
Instead, you’re likely to be one of the millions of men with hereditary hair loss. While male pattern baldness is common, it’s not always easy to deal with. Our resources are designed to help you navigate the diagnosis and treatment of hair loss. Read more:
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