There aren’t too many things in life more relaxing than a nice hot shower, but for many people, this soothing activity raises concerns regarding to, do hot showers cause hair loss and how it may (or may not) possibly promote female or male pattern baldness stages of hair loss. I don’t know about you, but I have had times where I’ve experienced hair falling out in the shower, and at times I have seen several strands of my hair in my hands after shampooing and rinsing. This was quite alarming when it first began to happen, so I set out on a journey to answer the question: “Do hot showers damage hair?” In this article from Stages of Balding, I’m going to share some of the most relevant information that I’ve gathered after doing extensive research on this very important topic.
Is Hot Water Bad for Your Hair?
It’s no mystery that hot showers are a great way to calm the mind and body, but whether they’re good for your hair is another subject altogether. The main culprit to be concerned with is not so much the water, but the temperature of the water. Hot water tends to weaken your hair, which can set off a chain reaction of effects that can end up impacting the health of your hair in a negative way. So does hot water cause hair loss? Well, the answer is a little more complex than a simple “Yes” or “No.” Let’s find out more.
(1) Hot Water Showers Can Dry Out the Scalp
Every single hair follicle on your head contains a built-in moisturizing unit known as the sebaceous gland. This sack-like gland releases an oily substance called sebum, which coats the hair shaft and prevents your hair from becoming too brittle. Hot water showers can strip these oils away, leaving your scalp more prone to dryness. When this happens, it’s easier for your hair to become weak, causing breakage. Not only that, but a dry scalp is an itchy scalp, and any time you scratch your scalp, you run the risk of damaging the hair roots, which can increase your risk of breaking off your hair.
(2) Hot Water Showers Can Increase Bacteria On the Scalp
Did you know that the skin on your scalp (and everywhere else too) has a natural barrier that protects against germs and bacteria? This barrier is made up of what are called epidermal lipids, which contain sebum as well as other fatty acids. Without this layer being present, it’s much easier for the scalp to dry out, producing weak, brittle hair. Hot water showers tend to dissolve or dilute this barrier, leaving your scalp dry and your hair more prone to breakage.
(3) Hot Water Showers Can Strip Away Keratin
Keratin is a fibrous protein that is found in your hair. Hot water showers can strip this vital ingredient away from your hair and scalp, damaging the structure and strength of your hair. This can potentially leave your hair weaker and more brittle.
(4) It’s All About the Long Term Effect
If you’ve ever asked yourself “Is it normal to lose hair in the shower?”, the answer is that if you consistently take hot water showers, it can boost the likelihood of you damaging your hair over time. While it’s true that hot water can open up and revitalize your pores, too much of a good thing can eventually be bad for you. We need to give our bodies time to replace those natural oils, lipids and other substances that preserve the moisture, strength and structure of our hair. If you’re constantly stripping away these things with frequent hot water showers, it’s going to be difficult for your body to replace them.
Will I Experience Permanent Hair Loss From Hot Water Showers?
It’s a somewhat unsettling question: “Does hot water make your hair fall out?” As you’ve already seen so far, the answer is not as straightforward as it might seem. Even if you experience some hair loss, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll never be able to grow it back. Think about it: Even though hot water showers tend to strip away the natural oils, keratin and lipids from the scalp, all of these vital substances can be regenerated by way of natural processes or even through supplements. You should also consider the fact that as long as your hair follicles remain intact, you will always have the potential to grow new hair. While all hair follicles have a certain life cycle, it’s not very probable that you can kill your follicles entirely just by taking a hot shower. Your hair follicles are pretty tough; they know how to adapt and continue doing their job even when conditions are not super-ideal. That being said, you want to stack the cards in your favor as much as possible. Let’s look at some practical ways to do just that.
(1) Shower Using Lukewarm Water
As we’ve already seen, water temperature can make or break your efforts to preserve hair health. When showering, try to keep the water temperature on the mild side, so that you won’t damage your scalp or hair follicles. Lukewarm water is still good for opening up your pores, but you won’t run the risk of stripping away those vital natural oils that keep your hair healthy and strong. Test the temperature of the water using the underside of your wrist–if it’s comfortable and doesn’t sting that tender skin, you’re good to go.
(2) Limit the Amount of Time Spent in the Shower
If you still want to use hot water, it’s best to keep your showering time on the shorter side. Strive to take no more than a 5-10 minute shower in order to minimize any potential damage to your hair from the hot water.
(3) Use a Conditioner
Conditioners are the unsung heroes of hair health. They provide much-needed protection to the hair cuticles, keeping them shielded from excessive dryness. Just make sure that when you work the conditioner into your hair, try to avoid applying it directly to the scalp; instead, apply it from the mid-section of the hair out to the tips of the strands. In addition, use more tepid water if possible, as this will preserve the natural oils and moisture in your hair instead of stripping them out.
(4) Give Your Hair a Rest
Avoid taking hot water showers every single day–your body needs that time to restore and regenerate the lost natural oils and keratin that keeps your hair nice and strong. Try alternating days where you keep the water on the lukewarm side versus using outright hot water every day.
Have You Already Lost Hair from Taking Hot Water Showers? Here’s What to Do
It can be quite unsettling to discover that you’ve lost some hair due to taking hot water showers. So what can you do about it? The first step would be to get an assessment of the health of your hair follicles to see how much damage (if any) has been done. Your best route for doing this would be to seek the counsel of a qualified dermatologist. I wouldn’t advise asking a hair stylist at a salon, because they may not have the professional training to assess the true condition of your scalp. The most viable option would be to rely on the expertise of a credentialed dermatologist, so that you can get a medically accurate opinion of the situation. By doing this, not only will you be able to explore various treatment options, but you’ll also have peace of mind knowing that you’re benefitting from the knowledge of a trained professional. If you’re concerned about potential hair loss from hot showers, seek the help of a dermatologist–your hair will thank you for it.