Woman wearing a beanie at sunsetWoman wearing a beanie at sunset

Do Beanies Cause Hair Loss?

If you’re having a bad hair day, tossing on a stylish beanie to cover up lackluster locks is a tempting plan. But you might hesitate if you’ve heard the myth that wearing a hat, especially a very tight hat, might cause hair thinning and even hair loss.

So what’s the truth behind the myth? Does wearing a beanie hat cause hair loss? What's more, is wearing a hat every day bad for your hair? Read on to discover how your beanie might be damaging your strands, and discover the products you should be using to stop hair thinning.

Do Beanies Cause Hair Loss? 

There has been extensive research done on the causes of male pattern baldness and other forms of gradual hair loss — including genetic hair loss and hair thinning conditions like male pattern hair loss — but very little of it has focused specifically on tight hats as a possible factor for why people experiencing hair shedding. 

However, there have been a few studies examining the issue, including one study that looked at twins experiencing androgenetic alopecia to see if various environmental factors, including hats, cause hair loss. The results? Subjects who consistently wear a hat did not experience increased hair loss. In fact, they were able to avoid hair loss more successfully than their twin.  

If you have a condition like male alopecia or female androgenic alopecia, you should seek professional medical advice, as your hat likely isn’t to blame. The most common cause of these conditions are hormonal changes impacting testosterone levels, which can cause alopecia areata.

Read More: What Causes Hair Loss? Every Trigger Explained

Why Your Beanie Habit Might Be Behind Your Bad Hair Day

So, beanies aren’t linked to genetic hair loss, but what happens if you wear a hat too much? While they won’t change your hormones or cause genetic hair loss conditions, constantly wearing a beanie still isn’t the best thing for your hair. Here’s why:

Tight Hats Can Cause Traction Alopecia

Experts believe that there is one way beanies could cause temporary hair loss — by causing traction alopecia.

“Wearing hats that are very tight — or very hot — could decrease blood flow to the hair follicles, stressing them and causing them to fall out,” said dermatologist John Anthony. “The hair loss would be temporary at first, but it could progress to permanent hair loss over time.”

Just like wearing a tight ponytail every day, relying on an extremely tight hat to cover up thinning strands will actually make the problem worse. Tight hats, like tight hairstyles, restrict blood flow, keeping your follicles from getting the nutrients they need. 

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Your Scalp Can’t Breathe Under a Beanie

For optimal hair health, it’s essential that your scalp is able to breathe. Exposure to oxygen helps your scalp grow stronger, healthier hair and encourages new growth as old, dead hair falls away to make room.

When your hair is packed tight under a beanie, your pores lack exposure to oxygen, leading to clogged follicles and impacted hair growth. 

Sweaty Hair Causes Breakage 

Beanies are designed to keep you warm, and that’s great if it’s a windy winter day. But under suboptimal conditions, that warmth turns to heat and leads to an unpleasant accumulation of sweat at the roots of your strands.

Sweat is bad for hair in several ways. First, there’s that same pore blocking, follicle-clogging effect caused by a lack of oxygen. But wet hair is also weak hair, meaning your sweaty strands are more prone to breakage and split ends as your strands rub against the fabric of your hat.  

Hat Hair is Flat Hair 

Last but not least, a cosmetic reason beanies aren’t your hair’s BFF: the constant danger of hat hair.

Although it might seem like an easy way to cover up lackluster strands, you’ll have to take off that beanie eventually. And when you do, your hair will look flatter than ever before! Wearing a hat, especially a tight hat like a beanie, robs all your careful layering and use of styling products of their power, leaving hair looking lackluster and with diminished volume.

Shop: Best Natural Products to Encourage Thicker, Fuller Looking Hair

How to Keep Hair Healthy (Even Under a Beanie)

Part of the reason people believe beanies cause hair loss is that people suffering from gradual hair loss might develop a reliance on beanies to cover up their hair shed, or telogen effluvium. But what starts out as a temporary solution could quickly become a crutch that could make the problem worse.

Instead of covering up a receding hairline, balding patches or other hair loss woes, try treating your hair loss problems with a holistic approach to hair care that keeps your scalp and strands happier and healthier than ever before, establishing the conditions they need to thrive. 

Shop: Phthalate-Free Hair Products

Stick To a Healthy Hair Routine

If you’re stressed out about thinning strands, starting a hair restoration routine is the key to solving your problem without developing an unhealthy beanie habit. Daily use of a natural hair serum shown to support the appearance of thicker-looking, healthier strands will be a game-changer.

If you’re using harsh, chemical-laden shampoo and conditioner, switch to a more strand-friendly shampoo and conditioner ASAP. Avoiding products that stress out and damage strands in favor of a daily healthy hair routine will help you maximize growth gains for your strongest, healthiest and fullest-looking hair yet.

Be Kind to Your Strands 

You can do a lot to prevent hair loss by cutting out physical stressors. Minimize the use of hot tools, such as curling irons, which can damage strands. Switch to gentle finger combing or using a wide toothed comb instead of roughly yanking a brush through tangled strands. Less breakage means healthier hair! You can also try DIY strand-repairing methods like hot oil treatments, which are designed to smooth follicles, leaving hair less prone to breakage. 

Switch to an Alternate Hat

No, you don’t have to throw out your beanie, but you might want to look for a loose hat to keep damage to a minimum. Not only do loose-fitting hats avoid pulling hair, they also have the added benefit of often having wider brims. Loose hats like bucket hats, classic straw hatsm and even head scarves are very much in fashion — and they do a lot to protect your hair from the sun. Overexposure to UV rays can damage strands, so switching to a hat that protects your hair instead of damaging it can make a big difference.

Bye-Bye Beanie 

Beanie lovers, don’t be distressed: We’re not saying you need to get rid of your go-to hat any time soon. In fact, as studies seem to show, there’s no long-term damage caused by wearing a beanie every once in a while. 

We are, however, encouraging you to switch it up. Expanding your hat collection beyond the beanie only gives you more opportunities to express your style, and means you’ll cherish your beloved beanie even more when it’s time to break it out on especially chilly days. 

Address Thinning Hair Holistically

If you’re concerned that your thinning hair will be exposed without your beanie to protect you, don’t be. Consider this an opportunity to invest in a holistic hair care routine that really works — and works for you — so you can have your best hair days yet, beyond the beanie. 


Photo credit: Patrick Tomasso/Unsplash

    Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.