Summer And Hair Loss: Debunking Top 4 Myths of Summer Hair Loss
As the summer season approaches (we are still 10 days shy of the summer solstice which is on June 20 in the northern hemisphere this year), we have to protect our skin and hair from the intense heat. Why hair, you ask? Is there even a connection between summer and hair loss? Some say there is, while others say it is just a myth! Let’s take the top 4 myths of summer hair loss and see if we can debunk them.
Aside from talking about the myths, I will provide you with tips on how you can protect your hair and scalp from the sweltering temperatures this summer!
Everyone wants to be outdoors in the sun, whether it is sitting by the pool, having a picnic by the beach or even a fun BBQ in your backyard! The list of outdoor activities during the summer months can just be endless!
Especially since we have been in on-again, off-again lockdown restrictions all through the past year, being outside is a natural desire for all of us. But being outside means wearing sunscreen to protect our skin from the harmful UV rays.
So, what about our hair? The summer sun surely creates havoc on our hair in more ways than we know. But does it actually cause hair loss?
According to Dr. Marc Avram, who is a harvard-trained board certified dermatologist and hair loss and transplant specialist practicing in the Upper East Side of New York City, “No clinical evidence exists demonstrating that the sun has any negative effect on our hair loss.
Despite what doctors say, there seems to be a lot of hair loss myths linked to the summer season.
Personally, I typically notice a reduction in my hair loss during the summertime than other seasons throughout the year. This may not be the case for everyone; this is just my own experience during the sunny days.
Top 4 Myths of Summer Hair Loss
Okay so what are these ‘myths’ associated with summer and hair loss? Let’s get right into talking about the top 4 misconceptions people have about hair loss in the summer months.
1. Wearing A Hat Causes Hair Loss
Most people think wearing a hat in the summer causes a lot of hair loss. This isn’t necessarily true. In fact, there isn’t any evidence to substantiate this statement, which is why it is considered a myth. But why do people create this association of hats with hair loss?
Oftentimes, people choose to wear hats to cover up bald spots or hair thinning. When they are seen without their hats, people assume that the bald spots are caused by the hat. This is a simple association that is simply incorrect.
Another reason for why hats are associated with hair loss is because hat wearers tend to see strands of hair stuck to their hats as they remove the hat from their head. This makes them think that hats are causing hair loss.
In reality, a hat that is too tight and is worn every day for long hours leads to decrease the blood supply to the hair follicles, causing traction alopecia. Here’s the kicker: this type of hair loss is only temporary! Hair usually grows back when you stop wearing a tight hat.
Debunking The Myth:
While hats don’t generally cause hair loss, wearing them tends to protect the hair and scalp from harmful UV radiation. They also prevent your face and eyes from excessive sunlight exposure. Wearing a hat is literally like wearing sunscreen, but for hair!
Hats on a sunny day can easily make your scalp sweaty. This is problematic because an unwashed hat can mix with sweat and irritate the scalp, causing inflammation and infections. But this can easily be avoided by washing your hat frequently.
So as long as you wear a clean & hygienic hat and make sure the straps of that hat are adjustable, ain’t nobody stopping you from enjoying your summer!
2. Soaking Up The Sun Leads To Hair Fall
After being out in the sun for a couple of hours, don’t you feel like your head is actually on fire? This is what makes most people feel like they have “fried” their hair while basking in the sun for too long and think that all the hair fall they see is a result of sunshine overdose.
By “fried” I mean, hair feeling dry, brittle, and devoid of any moisture or shine. Why is this so?
Excessive sunlight can change the structure of the hair shaft. It degrades the proteins and the pigments within the hair, which results in weaker hair and duller looking hair color. Sunlight also deprives the hair of its moisture, which is what makes it feel drier, frizzier, and rough to touch.
Debunking The Myth:
While there is ample truth behind why hair feels this way after being overexposed to sunlight, it is not a direct cause of hair loss.
Truth be told, sunlight actually provides the body with all the nutrients it needs in order for hair to complete its hair growth cycle. Vitamin D is the main benefit derived directly from the sun and a study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice has shown that a vitamin D deficiency can lead to hair loss.
Vitamin D helps the body create new follicles and also helps treat scalp acne by slowing the growth of skin cells. However, this only works in the right doses of UV rays and you can always get Vitamin D from sources other than the sun like foods and supplements.
Somewhere between 10-30 minutes of sunlight exposure is all your hair needs. If you plan on staying outdoors longer, be sure to don a hat and use hair products with UV filters (Yes, they surely exist!).
Also, try to stick to shaded areas when possible and avoid sun exposure from 10 am to 4pm as the sun rays are the strongest then.
3. Pool Water Causes Hair Shedding
The most favorite way to enjoy summer is to cool off from the heat by jumping in the pool. But wait! Pools are filled with chlorinated water that lead to hair shedding!
Well, half of that statement is false. Pool water does contain low amounts of chlorine to keep it sanitary and chlorinated pool water is definitely considered bad for human health, especially skin and eyes.
But what does it do to hair? Does swimming in the pool under the sun (or even no sun) cause increased hair shedding?
Debunking The Myth:
The simple answer is: No. Normal exposure to chlorine (especially one we get from being in pools, public or private) does not cause hair shedding.
A study that was published in the Journal of Dermatology was conducted with 67 professional swimmers and 54 non-swimmers to see the effects of chlorinated water on hair loss. The results showed that although the swimmers showed signs of chlorine-induced damage (dryness & coarseness), they did not experience increased rates of hair loss.
Extremely high concentrations of chlorine are needed to make the scalp dry and agitated enough to lead to hair shedding. Good news is you are never exposed to such high levels of chlorine just from being in the pool.
Neither does chlorine directly change the color of one’s hair. Prolonged exposure to chlorine does add a greenish tint to blond hair but that is due to the oxidized metals in the water, like copper. This tint is easily removed with chelating shampoos, as they ‘chelate’ the metals from hair.
Wearing a swim cap can protect your hair from chlorine. Alternatively, you can reduce and prevent chlorine damage by just rinsing your hair with fresh water before you jump in the pool. Also, shampooing your hair after leaving the pool can help remove the pool chemicals.
4. Swimming At The Beach Leads To Baldness
When you want to stay away from swimming in the pool due to fear of chlorine damage, another common place you can go to swim is the beach! But swimming in the ocean can leave you with swimmer’s hair that can then lead to baldness, right?
Wrong. This again is nothing but a myth.
If you love spending your days at the shore, you must be wondering what could be so bad with taking a dip in the ocean? Well, for starters, sea water has a high quantity of salt which could be detrimental to your hair.
Salt water in the sea is known to wreak havoc on the hair. It makes hair feeling dry, tangled, damaged, and difficult to manage and style. This is called “swimmer’s hair”. Swimming in the ocean for a long duration may also cause split ends and lead to hair breakage.
But is this breakage enough to make you go bald?
Debunking The Myth:
Absolutely not. In some ways, salt water from the sea is actually therapeutic to your scalp and hair, believe it or not. It is healing because it contains high concentrations of minerals and vitamins that get absorbed into the skin and scalp to soothe itchy, dry, & flaky spots.
Surprising, isn’t it? There’s more!
The other benefit of salt water on hair is that it actually helps to remove excess grease from the scalp and acts like a scalp exfoliant. For this reason, some people actually equate sea water with a “natural shampoo”. Personally, I wouldn’t go that far!
Although salt water helps to remove scalp buildup, prolonged saturation of hair in this type of water can make scalp dry and hair brittle. Salt water crystals add volume to hair but they also lift up hair cuticles, making it susceptible to moisture loss.
So before you spend all your summer days soaking in the sea, make sure to treat your hair with a moisturizer or a deep conditioner before getting into the water, without the fear of going bald!
You can even apply DIY hair masks for deep conditioning your hair further post-sea swimming.
Truth Be Told
And there you have it- the top 4 myths around summer and hair loss debunked! Now that you know the truth, why not plan your next BBQ or pool party or even a long day at the beach?
As long as you take the appropriate measures to protect your hair from the sun, there is no reason why you must fear summer hair loss.
Let’s recap quickly how you can soak up the sun without harming your hair:
Wear a hat or a ball cap with adjustable straps
Use hair products with UV filters
Stay out of direct sun from 10am-4pm
Wet hair with fresh water before and after jumping in the pool
Use a chelating shampoo to remove water mineral buildup
Deep condition hair to retain moisture
Aside from these tips, make sure you stay well hydrated and eat a diet rich in hair-healthy nutrients. Alternatively, you can take hair vitamins or herbs that grow hair faster.
What did you think of these myths?
Have you heard of any of these before?
I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below!