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Dr. Justin Rome: Can Hair Gels and Pomades Cause Hair Loss in Men?

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Dr. Justin Rome

Styling your hair with a few products is a great way to show off your signature cut, but some people occasionally express concern about hair products causing their hair loss. From my experience, the risk of hair products being the root cause of hair loss is very low to almost non-existent, and this is basically one of those hair loss myths. However, for those of you that are concerned about the overall health of your hair while using gels and pomades, there are ways to use and choose hair products to help keep your hair and scalp healthier overall.

When choosing hair products, try to avoid ingredients like alcohol and polyethylene glycol, as these two tend to be very drying on the hair shaft.

While a few scattered uses of somewhat drying hair products are unlikely to make a difference, if these are going to be some of your everyday hair styling tools, you may find very dry, brittle ends over time if you keep a longer hairstyle. If you maintain a pretty close cut, this may be less of a problem as you are likely trimming off any dry ends regularly before they get the chance to become brittle and break off. Always be gentle when styling your hair, no matter which products you are using.

When brushing and styling your hair avoid repetitive pulling at the hair follicles or putting a strong tension on the hair, as this done over a long period of time can cause some hairs to pull out. For those of you opting for long hair, a tight “man bun” could be pulled so tightly that traction alopecia hair losses are seen along the hairline from the long-term tension placed on those hairs.

Lastly, it is necessary to properly and thoroughly wash off any hair products from your hair and scalp regularly. Even if your hair still looks good days later with product in it, your scalp can become irritated from caked-on styling products. Over time, residue from improperly washed-off products can lead to dry, itchy, and irritated skin on your scalp. If a very irritated scalp goes on for a long time, some hair losses could be seen due to decreased scalp health, although it is rare to progress that far without the issue being addressed.

Bottom Line

Hair products including gels and pomades are unlikely to cause hair loss, and if you are experiencing hair loss while using these products, it is more likely that something else is causing the hair loss. There are ways to choose hair products that are overall healthier for your hair and scalp.

Avoid alcohol-containing products that can be overly drying and lead to brittle, breakable ends. Style your hair gently as repetitive pulling and stretching of the hair can cause some to pull out. When you do use hair styling products, be sure to wash your hair and scalp free of the products regularly to avoid residue build-up which can irritate your scalp.

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