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Losing hair mid 20s? What’s going on?

Hair loss at a young age seems more than a little unfair, doesn’t it? No way would male or female pattern hair loss occur as early as in your 20s, right? After all, that sort of thing seems like an older person’s game.

Well, unfortunately for some of us, we may start seeing hair loss as early as our late teens and 20s, making for a very distressing discovery so soon after finishing school. For people who experience male pattern baldness, 25% will have hair loss by the time they’re 21. While hair loss in women is less common than in men, it’s estimated that 40% of women experience visible hair loss by the time they’re 40.

But why does hair loss happen in your mid-20s? Read on to find out more.

Table of Contents

Why am I losing hair in my mid-20s?

Androgenetic alopecia

Androgenic alopecia is the technical term for genetic pattern hair loss. This is known as male pattern baldness in individuals who were assigned male at birth or female pattern baldness in individuals who were assigned female at birth.

While there are many causes for hair loss, the most common cause is genetics. Individuals who suffer from androgenic alopecia are genetically predisposed to having hair follicles that are sensitive to DHT (dihydrotestosterone). For people who suffer from pattern hair loss, DHT can bind to androgen receptors in hair follicles causing them to shrink over time. As the hair follicles shrink, they eventually stop producing hair.

Informational graphic showing how hair follicles shrink over time due to DHT exposure and stop producing hair

Men have much higher levels of DHT than women in their bodies so baldness and hair loss is more common. However, hair thinning and even baldness can happen to women as well.

The best indicator of whether you will experience thinning hair in your mid-20s is to look at your parents. You are likely to follow a similar pattern to them in terms of when and how your hair might lose hair.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the well-worn myth about male or female pattern baldness coming from your mother’s father is just that – a myth. The gene can be passed down from either side of the family.

Male pattern baldness in 20s

Unfortunately, some men can start experiencing male pattern baldness in their 20s. This type of hair loss usually presents itself with light hair thinning around the temples then progressing to a receding hairline and crown hair loss.

Male pattern baldness progresses in a series of stages which can be seen in the Norwood Scale.

The Norwood Scale used to diagnose the stage of male pattern baldness
The Norwood Scale

Female pattern baldness in 20s

The findings are much the same regarding female hair loss in the mid-20s. If male or female pattern hair loss runs in the family, daughters are at risk too. Unlike male pattern baldness which is more distinctive, female pattern hair loss tends to be spread more evenly across the head resulting in overall hair thinning across the scalp.

Female pattern baldness progresses in 3 stages which can be seen on the Ludwig Scale.

The Ludwig Scale used to diagnose the level of hair loss in female pattern baldness
The Ludwig Scale

It should be noted that diagnosing women’s hair loss is often difficult, especially for younger women. So it’s important to speak to a female hair loss specialist who can help you find the right hair loss treatment for women.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss caused by the body’s white blood cells attacking the hair follicles. This results in patchy hair loss that can occur on the scalp, beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, armpits, and chest.

alopecia areata
Patchy hair loss due to alopecia areata

Telogen effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a type of temporary hair loss characterised by hair shedding that exceeds the normal 50-100 hairs that are lost per day.

Photo showing 100 hairs from a person with short hair (left) and longer hair (right).
Photo showing 100 hairs from a person with short hair (left) and longer hair (right).

Telogen effluvium can be triggered by stress, injury, illness, and various other hormonal changes (ex. hair loss due to birth control pills, postpartum hair loss, etc)

Hair loss due to stress and anxiety

Stress is another established cause of hair loss for men and women in their 20s. The pressure on young people today to perform well at work and compete in busy UK markets can have a serious effect on long-term stress levels which in turn may cause stress-induced hair loss.

A condition called trichotillomania is highly linked to stress [3]. Sufferers of trichotillomania nervously pull out strands of hair repeatedly when they are under pressure, which can lead to sustained hair loss.

Hair loss in women due to hormonal changes

Hair loss in younger women is also often attributed to hormonal fluctuations, though the trichological effects of hormones can be temporary. Contraceptive pills, pregnancy, and female health conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis can strongly affect hormone and stress levels, resulting in thinning hair and temporary hair loss.

If you’re worried that hormones or hormone treatment are affecting your hair loss,  speak to your doctor.

Hair loss due to styling

If you are losing hair in your 20s, you might want to take a look at your normal hair care routine. Heat-styling, hair dyes, and chemical treatments like perms and relaxers can damage hair leading to possible hair loss.

Furthermore, hairstyles like tight braids, tight ponytails, and hair extensions that pull can cause traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is a type of preventable hair loss caused by constant pulling and tension on the hair. This can cause hair to fall out and even damage the hair follicle if severe enough.

traction alopecia
Example of traction alopecia

How smoking affects the health of your hair

Many doctors now talk about the influence of our lifestyles and health choices on our hair follicles. It is now well-known that smoking causes hair loss, particularly in men. In fact, smoking more than doubles the likelihood of hair loss [1].

Since a high percentage of smokers — two-thirds of all smokers in the UK — start smoking in their teens, experts suggest there are strong links between hair thinning and smoking[2].

The impact diet and regular exercise have on hair growth

Diet is widely acknowledged as a cause for hair loss in your mid-20s. The media is full of articles and findings about diets, side effects, and the negative aesthetics of poor health choices. However, it’s very much true that if you’re not getting enough regular nutrients into your digestive system, you’re not getting them anywhere near your hair follicles either.

On the other hand, extreme dieting, anorexia nervosa or general physical trauma may also be a reason for hair loss in your mid-20s. Care should always be taken to ensure a balanced diet and maintain a gradual, healthy weight loss with the support of a dietician if needed.

Hair loss due to illness and medications

Illnesses and medication conditions such as thyroid disorders and lupus can also trigger hair loss. Additionally, hair loss can also be attributed to some medications. Learn more about what medications cause hair loss.

If you suspect that your hair loss is due to an underlying medical condition or medication, speak to your doctor or healthcare professional to discuss alternative medications and treatment options.

Is there anything I can do about hair loss in my 20s?

If suffering from hair loss in their mid-20s, most people tend to opt for non-invasive treatments to promote hair regrowth and prevent further hair loss.

Low-level laser therapy

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is an effective way to treat thinning hair. This hair loss treatment uses low-powered lasers to stimulate cell activity and encourage blood flow to the hair follicles, helping to promote hair growth.


Minoxidil (also known as Rogaine in the U.S. or Regaine in the UK) is a popular hair loss treatment used by both men and women to treat female pattern baldness, male pattern baldness, and a variety of other hair loss conditions.

Minoxidil works as a vasodilator, encouraging blood flow to the hair follicles which in turn stimulates hair growth. It is available in both oral and topical forms including sprays, foams, and topical solutions of varying concentrations and strengths.

DHT blockers

DHT blockers are drugs like Dutasteride and Finasteride that inhibit 5 alpha reductase enzymes from converting testosterone to DHT. Less DHT in the body means less hair loss and possible hair regrowth for individuals who have androgen-sensitive hair follicles.

Since this anti-androgen medication can affect hormone levels, it is not usually recommended for women.

Hair transplants

If you’re young, it may be too early to have a hair transplant. Many clinics prefer you to wait until you’re at least 25 to get a hair transplant. However, people of any age can have a hair transplant procedure done if their hair loss has progressed to the point of being widespread.

Hair transplants are a popular way to restore hair. The effects are completely natural-looking and involve hair restoration using hair from the patient’s own head. Hair transplants can be performed on both men and women. They are only impossible if alopecia totalis has already occurred (complete hair loss through the death of the hair follicles).

What the experts at Wimpole Clinic advise regarding hair loss in your mid-20s

As expert hair loss specialists for men and women who are losing hair in their mid-20s, we always advise speaking to a trichologist before taking any action.

A healthy diet and lifestyle will promote healthy hair growth. However, it’s important to get a definitive assessment of your hair loss so that any choice you make in terms of hair loss treatment will be the best one for you long-term.

The Wimpole Clinic, established in 1975, offers outstanding hair restoration procedures including hair transplants and laser hair loss treatments. Our specialist can be on-hand to answer any questions in your no-obligation hair loss consultation, so contact us now for expert advice or to hear about our success stories with mid-20s hair loss patients.

Losing hair mid 20s? What’s going on?, Wimpole Clinic

The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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