Hair gel can be a fantastic friend when it comes to styling your mane, but is it actually healthy for your hair? There’s lots of speculation around this topic, so let’s take some time to set the record straight. If you’ve ever wondered, “Does hair gel cause balding?”, the information stages of balding presented in this article should help settle the debate.
So does hair gel cause hair loss? Well, the answer is–it’s complicated. While hair gel by itself does not directly cause any of the 7 stages of balding, there are certain ingredients contained within various types of hair gel that can clogged hair follicles up and/or cause irritation of the scalp. As a result, the hair can become weakened, often resulting in breakage, or even outright hair loss.
Check Your Hair Gel: Potentially Harmful Ingredients to Look Out For
Some of the ingredients and chemicals in hair gel have been shown to be potentially harmful to human hair. If you want to ensure that your hair remains healthy, vibrant and strong, try to avoid hair gels that contain the following ingredients, and instead choose a more natural option:
Sulfates are an extremely common ingredient found in shampoos. In fact, sulfates are found in a variety of hair care products, and hair gel is no exception. The most common role that sulfates play is basically that of a foaming agent. While this is no doubt a noble cause, sulfates carry the unfortunate side effect of being very drying on your hair as well as your scalp. One of the reasons for this is that they tend to strip away the naturally occurring oils in your hair, which can sometimes lead to irritation, itching and redness. Fortunately, there are several sulfate-free hair gels on the market that are more gentle on your hair.
Not all alcohols found in hair gel are harmful to your hair, but isopropyl alcohol is definitely one to avoid whenever possible. Often referred to as rubbing alcohol, isopropyl alcohol is a harsh astringent, and is more likely to dry out your scalp than other types of alcohols. Not only can it cause an itchy, dry scalp, but it can cause the strands of your hair to become more brittle and prone to breakage. This ingredient is found in many hair gels, so do your best to be on the lookout for it when shopping for hair products.
It’s kind of wild to think that propylene glycol, an emulsifier commonly found in various hair gels, is also a chemical found in house paint, antifreeze, and brake fluid. Billed as an ingredient for softening and hydrating the skin, propylene glycol actually does quite the opposite, as it has been shown to actually strip the hair shaft of its moisture, drying it out and leaving it dull, dry and brittle. If used too frequently (or in copious amounts), it can eventually cause significant damage to your hair.
Does Hair Gel Make Your Hair Fall Out?
So can using hair gel cause hair loss? Is gel bad for your hair? While the mere use of hair gel does not mean that your hair is automatically going to fall out, it’s worth it to avoid some of the alcohols and other chemicals in certain hair gels that are truly doing your hair no favors. Let’s dig a little further into why some of the alcohols found in hair gel are potentially harmful and should be avoided.
Alcohol Can Make Your Hair a Dry as a Desert
Certain variants of alcohol found in hair gel can be extremely drying to the hair and scalp. Truth be told, even some of the “good” alcohols can cause excessive hair and scalp dryness. As we mentioned earlier, isopropyl alcohol should be on your “no-go” list, as it can cause the type of dryness that can lead to dandruff, and possibly hair loss as well. If you’ve been using a hair gel that contains isopropyl alcohol and you begin to notice any itching, dryness or redness of the scalp, you might be experiencing an allergic reaction, and it would be a good idea to back off from using that product until things level out a bit. Hair gel can also cause dryness in the hair itself, which can lead to breakage as the hair becomes more brittle.
In addition, alcohol can alter the pH of your hair, which can weaken the hair follicles and dry out your hair strands, If you have gray hair in particular, avoid hair gels containing alcohols whenever possible, as gray hair is typically drier and even more prone to damage and/or breakage.
Let’s Talk About Clogged Follicles
If you’ve ever asked the question “Does gel damage hair?” an important thing to consider is the effect that gel buildup can have on your hair follicles. These tiny tunnel-shaped indentations in the skin are where the “magic” of hair growth happens, but they are quite fragile, which means they can be susceptible to clogging due to product build-up. Some of the ingredients found in hair gel can act as clogging agents, preventing the follicles from forming new hairs. It’s important to note that if you use hair gel too frequently or keep it in your hair overnight without washing it out, you stand a greater chance of experiencing clogged follicles. Use a clarifying shampoo to help remove that build-up and allow your follicles to breathe again. In addition, excess sebum–a naturally occurring substance that moisturizes your skin–can also cause clogging of the follicles.
Would I Get Any Side Effects If I Use Hair Gel?
The answer to this question is somewhat of a qualified “No”. So what do I mean? Well, if you use hair gel in the right way, you’re much less likely to experience any side effects that could potentially cause hair damage or hair loss. In other words, it’s not so much the idea that you need to stop using hair gel altogether, but rather that you should use it in the right way for optimal results. Below are some tips to help you do just that.
Curl Defining Gele
* Use hair gels that contain natural moisturizers, such as olive oil or coconut oil. These ingredients are far more gentle on your hair, and will help it retain moisture and good pH balance.
* Try not to apply hair gel directly onto your scalp. Instead, gently work it into your hair from the top down. This will help mitigate the risk of clogging your follicles, and can prevent you from getting an itchy or dry scalp.
* Wash your hair regularly with a sulfate-free shampoo. This will help you keep those follicles clean and clear, free from product build-up. After all, if you leave gel in your hair for too long, it can harden and actually make the hair feel brittle or “crunchy”, which can lead to breakage.
* Consider using a shampoo that contains naturally occurring essential oils. They do a great job of nourishing your hair, while also restoring moisture and vitality. Coconut oil is a top ingredient to look for in these types of shampoos.
* When styling your hair with gel, avoid pulling it back into any tight styles such a ponytail or tight bun. This will relieve pressure from the scalp, as well as keeping your hairline intact.
What Are Some Other Causes of Balding?
When it comes to tracing back potential causes of hair loss, hair gel isn’t the only game in town. In fact, there are a myriad of factors that can contribute to this condition, including:
* Genetic or hereditary conditions
* A nutritionally deficient diet (e.g., lack of proper vitamins and minerals, excessive junk food consumption, etc.)
* Prolonged or chronic stress (A very subtle yet highly common culprit!)
* Issues with the thyroid gland
* Various health complications or medical conditions
* Iron deficiency
* Side effects from certain medicines
While hair gel–and specifically, some of the harmful ingredients found in it–can play a part in contributing to hair loss, it’s rarely ever the sole reason why you might be experiencing this troublesome condition. To stay on the safe side, be sure to consult your physician, as they may be able to identify the root cause(s) of the issue, and hopefully provide you with viable action steps to help you mitigate or even remedy the problem.
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