If you're starting to recognise the early signs of balding and you've got a pal on the same journey then chances are he's told you every tip and myth under the sun. I bet some of the things he has said are wildly unbelievable like "when shampooing your hair, always work it in a clockwise direction," ummm, what? In between all the rubbish he spews there is probably a few gems of knowledge that you've thought "that's not the dumbest thing I've ever heard, I'd actually believe that".
One myth that falls into the "not the dumbest thing I've ever heard" category might be that you shouldn't wear hats because they cause hair loss. Even I admit, on the surface this doesn't seem absolutely insane but like you should always do with knowledge from a mate like that is do your own research. I guess that's why you're here now so let us clear that up a little and give you the info you need to cut through the bullsh*t!
We can't be certain exactly where this myth comes from but we do know it's one that has been passed on through generations. If your hair is thinning out, the first thing you want to do is chuck on a hat, cap, beanie or whatever you can get your hands on and cover up, I totally get it.
In short, the primary cause of hair loss in men is genetics. If you have a family history of male pattern baldness then chances are you're destined for baldness too. A hat won't suddenly cause you to have the baldness gene if you don't already have it. Essentially the hand you've been dealt is the hand you have, so what you wear on your head won't change that.
The only argument that supports wearing hats is a study in 2013 which looked at identical twins and a number of factors including smoking, drinking, wearing hats and their effect on male pattern baldness. They found that the twins that wore hats actually experienced marginally less hair loss than the ones who didn't wear a hat. Crazy huh? This one single study isn't enough to go out and buy every hat at the servo and be the hat guy in your friends, I also wouldn't recommend buying your hats from a servo unless you like Von Zipper and flames on your fedora.
While there isn't enough information on wearing hats to prevent hair loss, there is no research out there that say hats cause baldness. You're more likely to just irritate your scalp and feel uncomfortable rather than going completely bald.
Researchers found that wearing a hat while exercising can trap your sweat which will affect your hair follicles and your scalp. It doesn't necessarily cause your hair to fall out however the trapped sweat clogs your follicles which will irritate your scalp and in the long run may cause damage. If you love your hats, don't freak out and swear off exercise, just make sure you wash your hair thoroughly after pumping some iron.
Now, if you wear your hat so tight that it cuts off circulation to the hair follicles and your brain, then this myth would be true for you. For it to cause your hair to fall out you'd have to be wearing it so tight that the pain would be unbearable. I'm talking having a Sam Burgess sized head (for those that don't follow Rugby League, imagine the largest watermelon sized head possible) and then trying to fit that enormous head into a hat for ants. For one, that just wouldn't be possible and two, if you wear your hats this tight I think you got a few more issues than just hair loss.
There are a number of things you can do to prevent hair loss but swearing off hats is not one of them. If you are noticing your hairline receding the best bet is to educate yourself about why you're losing your hair and then have a look at the many hair growth treatments available including DHT blocker shampoos, minoxidil and hair growth vitamins.