I’m a hair health expert, and I want men to stop blaming their fathers for thinning hair. Genetics is only half the story.

    The CEO of Nutrafol, Giorgos Tsetis, left, says thinning hair shouldn’t be blamed on our fathers.

    Courtesy of Giorgos Tsetis

    In my 20s, I was a model and started to lose my hair; I blamed my dad’s genetics.I started taking medication to slow my hair thinning, which had bad side effects. I eventually learned stress and overall health are big factors in hair loss.

    I often think about my father’s impact on my life — from cultivating an adventurous mindset and entrepreneurial spirit to influencing how I now parent my son.

    For many men, one of these reflections — as once was mine — is something seemingly trivial yet profoundly impactful: their hairline. When my hair started thinning in my 20s, I feared I was taking after my father, who’s mostly bald.

    It’s a common cultural assumption that we inherit our hair fate from our fathers. But as someone who dedicated nearly a decade to understanding hair health, I now believe we shouldn’t blame our dads for our hairlines.

    I had to navigate my own hair health challenges

    When my hair started to thin, I was modeling to put myself through engineering school. I was juggling a hectic career alongside my own personal relationships and commitments. Unsurprisingly, you are acutely aware of your appearance as a model. So when I noticed shedding after running my hands through my hair, I was terrified. I literally started counting the number of hairs I was losing on a daily basis. You’re expected to lose around 80, and I was losing double that.

    I got flashes of my own father’s experience and couldn’t help but think that I was destined to follow suit. I recall speaking to him around this time — it wasn’t a conversation we’d had previously — and learning for the first time how young he was when he started losing his hair.

    Afraid I would be doomed to the same fate as the men in my family before me, I turned to prescription hair drugs. I ended up taking prescription drugs for nearly eight years. While it provided some benefits at first, the significant side effects — decreased libido and sexual dysfunction — made me seriously question whether the health costs were worth it. My confidence plummeted, and it started affecting my relationships and self-esteem. This experience, while challenging, was the catalyst needed to pursue a drug-free, holistic solution to tackle my own thinning hair.

    When beginning to navigate the world of hair thinning, I quickly learned that the assumption of genetic inevitability is only part of the story. Yes, genetics play a role, but they are far from the whole picture. Our hair is a window into our overall health, and it’s impacted by many external factors like stress, nutrition, hormones, and more. This was a transformative realization for me, and I believe it can empower many men.

    There are lesser known external factors that impact your hair health

    Stress, for example, is one major factor in hair health. If not managed, stress can impact our bodies in various ways, including our hair. It disrupts the hair growth cycle, leading to increased hair shedding and slower growth. When I reflect now, it’s obvious that my hair thinning in those stressful early years of building my career was exacerbated by all the demands I was putting on my body and mind. By taking a whole-body approach and supporting my diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management, I improved my hair health and quality significantly.

    Since becoming a parent to a son of my own in 2022, I have an even greater appreciation for the interconnection of our body systems and the importance of a holistic approach to well-being. Parenthood is a beautiful and life-changing experience, but it also opened my eyes to how many stressors can impact your health. It wasn’t until the early days of fatherhood that I could clearly see sleep — or lack thereof — was taking a toll on both my mental and physical health. Consistent lack of sleep felt like one continuous bad hair day, and I had the increased hair shedding to prove it. It became even more critical to prioritize self-care from a whole-body perspective.

    I hope my son feels empowered to take things into his own hands

    Now that I have a son of my own, I think about the lessons I want to instill in him. I aim to lead by example and hope my own prioritization of a health-forward lifestyle provides a positive influence. He’s just a toddler now and has an incredible head of hair, so it’s hard to picture otherwise. It is also impossible to predict the future or what technology will be at our fingertips in 20-odd years. But should he one day experience thinning or shedding, I hope he feels empowered to take things into his own hands — and not entirely blame me.

    So, to all the sons out there starting to scrutinize their widening part lines or depleting crown coverage, my advice is this: Don’t just accept your supposed “genetic fate.” You have the power to take control of your hair health through lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, quality sleep, and stress management. Your dad may have contributed to some genetic factors, but you dictate just how much those genes get expressed through your lifestyle choices.

    Make hair health a priority. Follow a hair-healthy regimen, and you may be surprised by your results — no matter what may have been passed down through the generations.

    Giorgos Tsetis is the co-founder and CEO of Nutrafol, a hair growth and skin health supplement brand.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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