Dear Dr Rassman
I am a male in my early twenties with extremely fine hair (which tends to get curly/wavier as it gets longer) and so I tend to have to style it aggressively to make it look the way I want (i.e. make it look straighter, imitating coarser hair). This usually involves blowdrying and hairspray, and combing through with a wide-toothed comb, even after it has gone ‘hard’. Sometimes this involves straightening too. I’ve done this for years without worry, though a few years ago I did notice my hairline was moving up a bit (when I was around 19), and in my panic I consulted the internet. I found the concept of ‘mature hairline’ and was reassured. However I’m not sure if this type of aggressive styling could be causing it to develop prematurely or unevenly (since the left side has indeed risen higher than the right – though I know you say this isn’t completely unusual), or lead to some patchy baldness.
On hairspray, it seems as though you advise people with any form of alopecia to avoid rough brushing lest they make hair loss worse: Hair Spray and Hair Loss
Is it otherwise okay for people without alopecia, so long as it is not extremely rough? It seemed okay before I noticed some recession, but now I am concerned about styling practices when I know my hairline is changing. I would hate to inadvertently cause some form of hairline or uneven progression. Will hairs that are pulled out grow back fine so long as the trauma isn’t severe?
First, you need to be evaluated by an expert in hair. You can try to quantify the degree of thinning by measuring hair bulk throughout your scalp to see if there are components of genetic hair loss present.
Yes, you are right, people can damage their hair from aggressive styling (extreme form is traction alopecia from tight braids), but I don’t know exactly what you are doing in this regard. Generally, I tell people to be gentle with their hair when styling and use only good grade commercial products for grooming.