Are You Genetically Prone To Hair Loss?
The biggest mistake I see when it comes to hair loss prevention is when individuals incorrectly categorize themselves as “genetically prone” or “not genetically prone” to hair loss in general.
Here’s the thing when it comes to hair loss, every single person with androgenic hormones in their body is going to be prone to hair loss, the level of hair loss though will be dependent on a few very key factors:
- How many androgens are in your system (dependent on age, genetics, diet, if you use exogenous sources of synthetic hormones, etc.)
- The types of androgens in your system (for those who don’t take steroids this will only be DHT from your natural Testosterone’s conversion, as well as the androgenic activity of Testosterone itself)
- Androgen receptor sensitivity and how prone you are to follicular miniaturization from endogenous or exogenous androgens
If you are male, your gender in itself has already very likely sealed your fate in regards to whether or not you will experience hair loss or not.
This is simply due to the hormone profile of a man.
The likelihood is overwhelmingly high that you are susceptible to some extent.
There are very few men on this planet who can make it to elderly ages with Norwood 0 hair lines and adolescent levels of hair density.
The Role Testosterone And DHT Have On Hair Loss Progression
The unfortunate trade off of being a man is that you have significantly more Testosterone than women, which is great for all male specific physiological functions, but the downside is that men have way more DHT circulating in their system as a byproduct of those greater levels of Testosterone.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), or 5α-dihydrotestosterone (5α-DHT), is an endogenous androgen sex steroid and hormone that is a by-product of one’s own Testosterone levels.
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men, and is converted partially via the enzyme 5α-reductase into DHT, which is far more hazardous to your hair than Testosterone.
Not only because it’s more androgenic, but also because it has a much higher affinity to bind and miniaturize hair follicles than Testosterone does.
If you have ANY Testosterone or DHT in your body, you are going to experience hair follicle miniaturization to some extent.
The extent to which it individually affects your hair though will be dependent on the things mentioned at the start of the article, how much Testosterone is in your body, how much of that is converting into DHT, your sensitivity to androgens at the hair follicle, and which hormones are circulating in your system.
Those who use supraphyisological amounts of exogenous Steroids will be expediting their rate of hair follicle miniaturization, again, depending on how androgenic the compounds are, how much is used, personal sensitivity to that particular androgen, etc.
According to The American Hair Loss Association:
“Androgenetic Alopecia or common male pattern baldness (MPB) accounts for more than 95% of hair loss in men. By the age of thirty-five two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss, and by the age of fifty approximately 85% of men have significantly thinning hair.”
Androgenetic Alopecia is caused by the miniaturization of hair follicles via androgens.
Have you ever wondered why in old age women all have hair on their head still but most men have horrible thinning and receding hair lines?
This is why.
DHT Levels In Men Vs Women
As mentioned, the primary sex hormone in Men is Testosterone, while in Women it is Estrogen.
As there is significantly less Testosterone in Women, they have significantly less androgens, and with significantly less androgens, they expectedly have minimal body hair growth, minimal hair loss, and minimal masculinity in general.
Men on the other hand, have far greater levels of Testosterone, and that Testosterone either binds to androgen receptors (including at the hair follicle), or it is metabolized via 5α-reductase into DHT, which then can bind to the same receptors, but with a much greater affinity (meaning more miniaturization).
Expectedly, men have far greater amounts of body hair growth, far more hair loss, and develop masculine characteristics.
Even women can suffer from androgenic alopecia via androgen induced hair follicle miniaturization; their likelihood is just far lower as they simply (on average) have substantially lower levels of androgens in their body than men.
Shedding Vs Permanent Hair Loss
Androgenic Alopecia (Male Pattern Baldness) is more or less permanent.
Once those hair follicles have been miniaturized to the extent of a scalp appearing slick bald, there is little you can do to revive them.
With that being said, there are extreme interventions that can completely reverse hair loss, even in individuals with that level of aggressive Androgenic Alopecia.
The likelihood that those individuals would follow through with those treatments is pretty unlikely though.
For example, one of the most effective ways to reverse hair loss is castration via female hormone replacement.
Is that a realistic option for the vast majority of balding men, no it is not.
Technically, hair loss is never permanent, however, the hormonal environment necessary to completely reverse AGA on a slick bald head can lead one to the conclusion that it might as well be permanent.
However, there are a minority of individuals who’s hair loss is triggered by nutritional deficiencies, underlying autoimmune diseases, allergies, under-active Thyroids, and many other triggers.
The thing you need to know about these scenarios though, is it affects the minority of individuals, and those aren’t permanent.
The main focus of this article will be on androgenic alopecia, as it will make things a lot easier to understand if we assume there are no lifestyle or dietary factors being neglected that could be causing temporary shedding, which would skew one’s perception of hair loss progression.
You Won’t Notice Hair Loss Until You’ve Already Lost A Substantial Amount Of It
This is the main point of the article that I am trying to drive home and goes totally overlooked by most who are researching this niche topic.
You are born with about 100,000 scalp hair follicles on your head depending on your genetics and ethnicity.
As androgens miniaturize hair follicles, the number of visible healthy hairs starts to decrease
As time goes on, you will lose more and more hair via hair follicle miniaturization.
The rate at which this occurs will depend on what I mentioned already:
- How many androgens are in your system
- The types of androgens in your system and their inherent level of androgenicity
- Your genetic predispositions at the androgen receptor
Some men have more hair loss than others simply due to a genetically higher Testosterone level (and in turn, DHT level), while others can just have a greater sensitivity to those androgens than the average person.
Some men even have a genome that results in a lower amount of 5-alpha reduction of Testosterone into DHT simply due to their unique metabolism of sex hormones.
There are a variety of genetic factors that influence androgenic alopecia.
This is why some men go bald by the time they’re in their early 20’s while others can go seemingly unscathed for 20-30+ years.
The fact of the matter is that those individuals who go seemingly unscathed, are undergoing the EXACT SAME process of hair follicle miniaturization, they just have a lower hormonal profile and/or are less sensitive to those androgens, and/or have a significantly greater amount of hair follicles to work with.
Blonde caucasian men for example purportedly have an average of 150,000 hair follicles, in contrast to the average caucasian man’s 100,000.
This means they have 1.5x as many hairs to work with, AKA they can lose 50,000 hairs and still have the same hair density as another man who hasn’t lost even 1 hair his entire life (which is impossible unless you were castrated as a child as any level of androgens will exhibit some degree of miniaturization on hair follicles).
You Have 100,000 Hair Follicles To Work With
Just because you’re 30 and you haven’t experienced hair loss, and all of a sudden you are noticing it for the first time, the reality is NOT that you suddenly got hit years later now that you’re 30, the reality is that if you’re noticing hair loss, this has been a cumulative progression, likely over years and years prior where your hair follicles have been slowly miniaturizing.
The rate at which they are miniaturizing is just slower than someone who is very prone to hair loss, due to them having less hair follicles to work with, having a more androgenic hormone profile, or having a higher sensitivity and affinity at the hair follicles to the androgens in their body than you have.
You can lose thousands of hair follicles without noticing it.
It isn’t until you’ve lost 20,000 – 30,000 hairs (rough estimate) that you can really start blatantly seeing some sort of hair loss progression.
So, despite going through all these years “not genetically prone” to hair loss, the truth is you just haven’t lost enough hair on your head yet to notice it.
I thought I was immune to hair loss from ages 18-22.
I was convinced that I had perfect hair genetics, as I could take any drug I wanted (Testosterone, Tren, Dianabol, etc.) and still have perfect looking hair.
Then, one day under harsh down lighting in a club bathroom I noticed in the mirror that I could see my scalp a bit through my hair line.
It was faint, but it was my first time noticing it.
I had to strategically move my hair around a bit at the front to cover it up, and then I forgot about it for a while and totally disregarded it (horrible idea).
Fast forward a few months later and I was starting to notice it even more, with even more blatant diffuse thinning at the front, and then I actually started to consider the possibility that I was experiencing hair loss.
Was it that I suddenly got hit with hair loss at 22 years old but I was immune up until that point?
No, the reality was that I had probably lost about 30,000 hairs from ages 16-22, and it wasn’t until I had lost 20-30% density that I was able to confirm that without a doubt I was experiencing androgenic alopecia.
An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure
If there’s one overriding thing I want to drive home to as many readers, listeners and viewers as possible through my hair loss prevention articles and videos, it is that prevention BEFORE you start noticing hair loss is the most important thing you can do when it comes to hair loss prevention.
I don’t care who you are, what you take or don’t take.
If you are a male, and have 2 functioning balls that produce Testosterone, you are probably going to lose your hair, period.
There is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
If you have male sex hormones in your body, they will perform the physiological functions they are meant to carry out regardless if you want them to or not, and one of the unfortunate side effects of those hormones is the miniaturization of hair follicles on the scalp.
Sure, you might not have horrible looking hair loss until you’re in your 30’s, 40’s (if you’re incredibly lucky), or even 50’s (if you’re a genetic freak with an incredibly low sensitivity to androgens), but you will experience hair loss to some extent.
Now, you might not care, and that’s totally fine, there are plenty of guys who don’t mind hair loss and are not willing to take drugs or even bother attempting to prevent their body from progressing on their natural genetically predisposed path.
But, if you are reading this article, it is quite likely that you do care about keeping your hair, and if you do, I STRONGLY urge you to start a hair loss prevention protocol right now if you haven’t already.
Tackle Androgens First, Worry About Growth Stimulation Later
The sooner you tackle androgen miniaturization via combatting Testosterone and DHT in the body, the more hair follicles you can save from permanent miniaturization, and eventual calcification and fibrosis at the hair follicles.
What will miniaturize your hair follicles and progress your hair loss are the androgens in your body.
A huge mistake I see quite often are guys who think they are protected because they are on Minoxidil.
Minoxidil does nothing to protect you from androgens, so despite Minoxidil having a great growth stimulation effect that will improve hair density, you will still be losing hair to androgen miniaturization if you are not using something to combat the DHT in your system, and perhaps even your endogenous Testosterone as well.
The thing I always advise would be getting a hair catcher for the shower so you have a baseline reading of how much hair you lose in the shower on a daily basis, so then you can assess exactly how significant of an effect adding in individual things to your prevention protocol impacts your hair loss.
Ideally you want to use as little as you can get away with to totally prevent hair loss.
We don’t want to be slamming a cocktail of drugs off the bat if we could get the same benefit from just 1 thing.
After getting a hair catcher, and ideally baseline blood work, getting a Ketoconazole shampoo would be the first line of defense, as it is the most mild.
If this is all you need to bring your hair loss to a halt, consider yourself lucky.
The likelihood though is that you will probably need to either introduce a 5α-Reductase Inhibitor and/or topical anti-androgen like RU58841 or CB-03-01 into your regimen fairly soon to start combatting androgens more aggressively.
Minoxidil, MK-677, PGE2, and other growth agonists I prefer to reserve for down the line additions to promote greater hair density once a foundation of protection from androgens has been established.
It is WAY more difficult to reverse hair loss than it is to prevent it.
I still highly recommend you thoroughly research all of these options before you start using any of them, as they all carry an array of potential negative side effects.
It will be up to you to weigh out exactly how important your hair is to you, and what you are willing to do to keep it.
With that being said, prevention is a major key, and anyone who is serious about keeping the hair on their head would be wise to act early, rather than after it’s too late and you’re playing catch up.