By far, one of the most common questions I’ve received over the last few months is, does creatine cause hair loss? Or do protein powders cause hair loss? So let’s dispel that myth straight from the get-go and say no, they don’t. But there is a potential contentious link between something like protein powder or creatine and individuals suffering from hair loss.
I think the take-home message is that creatine supplements do not cause hair loss. Male pattern hair loss is a genetic condition, so you need to have the gene for hair loss, and there’s a hormone in your body called testosterone which gets converted into another form of that hormone called dihydrotestosterone or DHT. There is an enzyme called the 5-alpha reductase enzyme that does this conversion. Now, if you have the gene for hair loss and you have high amounts of this DHT in your system, it causes the hairs to thin out and fall out, and that’s essentially your principle of androgenic alopecia.
So, where does creatine fit into this? If you are someone who works out and you are using some sort of workout supplement such as protein powder, creatinine, etc., essentially what you’re doing is giving the muscles the raw nutrients it needs to build more muscle. If you are building more muscle, then what you are going to do by definition is increasing your testosterone over time. If you are someone who increases their testosterone either exogenously by adding testosterone or if you if you’re building muscle and increasing your testosterone level within the body, then potentially one could argue that there is a greater conversion of testosterone to DHT. So you could make an argument that it’s not necessarily the creatine that’s causing the rise in DHT, the fact that you’re stimulating the muscle that is causing a boost in the testosterone that is increasing the level of the DHT.
So one could argue that most people working out are going to experience some form of an increase in their DHT levels. Now that may be true, but does everyone who works out lose hair? No, and that’s the point. That’s the bit that you cannot control which is the genetics of the condition. So you need to have the gene for hair loss. If you increase your testosterone and you have that propensity to increase your DHT production in that environment, potentially yes, you may experience more hair loss. But it’s not the creatine or the protein powder itself that has been causing that; it really is the gene at the end of the day, and that’s the bit you have no control over.