Does Hair Gel Cause Hair Loss?

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One question that many men and women wonder, especially if they’re susceptible to hair loss, is whether their daily use of styling products will have an effect on their hair. Should you avoid hair products like pomades and gels if you hope to prevent hair loss or slow down shedding?

This article will answer that question, as well as others related to hair products. This will include a look at how to properly care for your hair to prevent hair shedding and loss.

Does Hair Gel Cause Hair Loss?

Here’s some good news for hair gel enthusiasts: The short answer to the question of whether hair gel causes hair loss is no.

The longer answer, of course, is a bit more complicated.

Hair gel is a styling product with the goal of “freezing” the hair in place. It achieves this with the help of polymers which binds hairs together and, as the polymers dry, “locks” the hairs into the desired position.

A fear for many people, but especially teenagers and young adults, is whether regular use of hair gel and other styling products can cause hair loss.

As mentioned, the short answer is no. The longer answer is that it’s very unlikely to do so, though improper use of gels and other hair styling products can be unhealthy for your scalp and hair.

It’s very unlikely that daily use of a hair gel will lead to thinning hair, receding hairlines, etc. If the hair gel isn’t washed out on a regular basis, though, it may create an unhealthy scalp environment.

Hair gels, and really any other hair styling products, should be washed out daily. If not, they can cause a buildup on the scalp. This buildup can become itchy and irritating to the scalp, and it may also cause the scalp to appear dirty or unkempt.

The buildup is unlikely to be harmful (except perhaps if it was left in for weeks on end). The results of that buildup, though, such as itching and flaking, may be detrimental to your hair health in the long run.

What Really Causes Hair Loss?

If you’re concerned that your use of hair styling products is causing hair loss, then you may be experiencing some troubling symptoms such as hair thinning, excess shedding, a receding hairline, etc.

As mentioned, gel and other hair products are unlikely to be the cause of such hair loss. So what could be causing your issues?

The most common cause of hair loss is Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA), also known as pattern baldness. The condition is genetic, which means it’s most likely to occur in those with previous familial occurrence.

For decades it was thought that the trigger for pattern baldness was the presence of the androgen hormone DHT. While it’s true that sensitivity to DHT is the reason that the tell-tale signs of pattern hair loss occur, it’s not the trigger. The real trigger is scalp tension.

Scalp tension is chronic tension within the various layers of the scalp’s tissues. The presence of chronic tension triggers an inflammatory response, which draws DHT (an anti-inflammatory) to the hair follicles.

In those without AGA, the DHT will help to combat the inflammation. For those with AGA and, therefore, a sensitivity to DHT, the presence of DHT at the hair follicles can have the opposite intended effect (1). In these cases, DHT will actually worsen the inflammation which increases the potential for hair follicle miniaturization and hair shedding.

If you suffer from pattern baldness, then it may be best to avoid styling products until you have addressed the underlying issue. Why? Because even slight irritation of the scalp may worsen the shedding that you’re already experiencing.

If you do choose to use hair styling products, it’s best to use them just a few times per week and wash them out at the end of each day. This will prevent buildup, which will decrease the chances of irritation.

What to Do if You Suspect Hair Loss

Do you suspect that you’re suffering from a hair loss condition like androgenetic alopecia? Then it’s crucial that you begin to treat the problem immediately.

As mentioned above, it’s unlikely that gel or other styling products are the cause of your hair loss. They may exacerbate the issue if your hair loss condition is left untreated, however.

So if you suspect hair loss, the first step is to see a hair loss specialist.

A hair loss specialist is a doctor that specializes in hair loss conditions. They can examine the condition of your hair and scalp, and provide you with a diagnosis.

Once you have a diagnosis in hand, you can begin to treat the root cause of the issue.

If the diagnosis is androgenetic alopecia, then treating the scalp tension directly will go a long way in slowing down the progression of the condition, or even stopping it entirely.

How to Remove Hair Gel for a Clean, Healthy Scalp

Even if you’re not worried about shedding or hair loss, it’s a good idea to remove hair products at the end of each day. This will reduce the potential for irritation, as well as remove the film that can cause a greasy, itchy scalp.

How can you do so most effectively?

For the sake of your hair and scalp, it’s not recommended that you shampoo your hair every day. Shampoo strips the scalp of its natural oils, which leads to increased sebum production. This can begin a vicious cycle.

If your hair is visibly oily or otherwise “dirty” (i.e. has leftover gel or hair products), though, then it may be best to use a gentle shampoo formulated for daily use.

Apply a small amount to your palm (about a quarter-sized dollop) and rub your palms together. Now apply directly onto your scalp.

Use your fingertips to gently distribute the shampoo and massage the formula into your scalp. Pay special attention to areas where hair gel or product buildup is more likely.

To remove product buildup from the hair itself, gently work your way from the scalp and down the hair strands. You don’t need to rub too vigorously, as you just want to coat the hair strands and work them into a lather to break down the left over product.

Once you’re done, rinse with lukewarm water.


Hair gels, pomades, and waxes are popular hair styling products. But are they causing harm to your hairline? The short answer is no.

While the buildup from such products may cause itching and irritation, both of which can contribute to hair loss, they aren’t likely to be a major contributor. The good news is you can take steps to prevent such buildup and promote a healthy scalp environment.

Of course, if you’re susceptible to hair loss and you feel that the hair products are causing more harm than good, then it’s best to discontinue use until you’ve gotten your hair loss under control.