Can Creatine, Protein, or Differin Cause Hair Loss?

I think what you’re doing is great Spencer!…Propecia stopped my hair loss at 20. I am 31 now, however, over the past 3 months I have lost about 30-40% of my density all over the top of my scalp, and the sides and back as well. I am still on Propecia and have scheduled a doctor appointment. I would like to list a few things that I started to do a few months ago that I think may have contributed to this:

1. Differin cream (vitamin A derived)

2. Working out with heavy weights along with taking creatine (No Xplode) and protein powder

These two things are my main concern especially Differin. Also, I started using a self tanning lotion sunscreen (durascreen) since I work outside, and teeth whitening products all within the past few months. I know I sound paranoid, but I would like to know if you think any of this could contribute to my rapid hair loss. I’ve been a little stressed too, but no more than usual. However, I am really stressed now because of this. Oh yeah, I also tried adding Rogaine a few months ago, but stopped after 2 weeks…I am so depressed about this. I just found out about you and your show and I’ve listened the last few weeks. What a great thing you are doing, it is such an epidemic that totally destroys people. I could go on and on about how depressed and mortified I was when I started to lose my hair at 18. Thank You. – Mark
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Dear Mark,

Thanks for the support! I’m glad to hear that you’ve done so well with Propecia these past eleven
years. I have to preface my comments by letting you know that I am not a physician, but from what you’ve explained, I think that the use of Creatine supplementation might be what is affecting your hair.

I’ll probably get a lot of crap from the bodybuilding community, but the truth is each body reacts diffently to this type of supplementation, and I do believe that creatine can effect hair growth and cycling.

Here are my thoughts on the matter: We know that exercise when done properly and accompanied by good sleeping habits and a high protein, well balanced diet stimulates the release of hormones that promote muscle growth. These are known as anabolic hormones, which include testosterone, insulin, and growth hormone. When training, stimulation of these muscle growing hormones is what most athletes strive for. Unfortunately for men who are predisposed to androgenic alopecia ( male pattern hair loss), raising levels of testosterone can increase DHT levels.

With that said, in most cases, the use of Propecia should cancel out the effects of any naturally occurring increase in testosterone since Propecia blocks the enzyme that converts testosterone into the follicle killing DHT, reducing DHT levels by about 70% in most individual who use the drug.

Since each individual reacts differently to medial treatment, any increase in testosterone and HGH that you might be experiencing from the use of creatine theoretically could have put you over the preverbal edge as far as the ability for Propecia to effectively protect you against higher DHT levels. The 70% block in DHT might have been all you needed to stave off your male pattern baldness, but by increasing your hormonal output the dam might have burst, so to speak.

Since creatine is known to increase or ability to exercise more efficiently, and exercise increases hormone release, it is expected that creatine should also indirectly increase the amounts of anabolic hormones produced while exercising.

There have also been studies that have demonstrated that growth hormone was actually released in non exercising subjects within a few hours after ingesting creatine.

So, my advice would be to speak to you doctor about your creatine supplementation, and perhaps raising your dose of finsteride if he or she sees fit.

I’d don’t think you have much to worry about when it comes to Differin and hair loss, and I certainly don’t think that whitening your teeth will effect your hair.

Hope this helps. Keep listening and spread the word.

Regards,
Spencer Kobren
Host of The Bald Truth Radio Show
Founder, American Hair Loss Association
Founder and Director of Consumer/Patient Affairs, International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS.ORG)

 

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13 Comments

  • I have concerns as well about excess protein intake and hair loss. Over the last couple years I really boosted my protein intake to try and gain more size but I also notice (and it may be coincidence) that I’m losing more hair. Then I wonder if it is from weight training. I had hair loss before but it just seems excellerated. I hope this isn’t the case.

  • Brandon

    I also took no-xplode and high amounts off protein before my hairloss seemed to get really bad. Before i took it i had a receeding hairline but it was nothing to worry about. I would say about 2 months after using the no-xplode and protein w/ heavy weightlifting. In a matter of months the whole top of my head and hairline thinned by 50%. Now 6 months later i have completely lost my hairline and the backs of my widows peaks thin more and more every week and are now conected to the thinning on the top of my head. Im on my 4th month of propecia w/ no sides, no big sheds, and no forward progress. The worst part of my hairloss is my dissapearing hairline and enlarging widows peaks. If you have any sugestions please let me know. Im 24 and dont know what to do anymore.

  • Spencer Kobren

    I think that you’re on the right track with Propecia. You just have to stick with the medication to assess your results.

    I’m not a big fan of significant supplementation that might unnaturally increase muscular gains.
    In my opinion, if you just get your protein in and work hard there is no need to experiment with these types of supplements.

    Spencer

  • Vince

    Here is a different thought. Was there a major stressful event in your life that suddenly made you focus so much on your appearance (teeth whitening, self tan, working out etc.)? E.g. a divorce?

    I was in a similar situation. Broke up with my girlfriend/fiancee of 10 years and about 2-4 months later started noticing that I had lost probably 40-50% of coverage. I had used Propecia and Rogaine for around 7 years and situation had been completely stable since I started using that up until that point. Even though I wanted the relationship to end and quickly started dating, this is of course a major change in your life and very emotionally stressful. Since I was now “on the market” again, I of course also had the thought of “let’s make sure the good are up to scratch” and started going more frequently to the gym, self tan, whitened my teeth etc.

    When I was seeing a dermatologist for something else, I asked him about the relatively rapid loss and feeling that Propecia may not be working anymore (which at that point was my interpretation). His immediate reaction was to ask if I had had a major stressful event some months before I started noticing the loss. Even though I was quite happy about it, it is very easy to see the breakdown of a long term relationship as a major stress factor – and timing matched almost perfectly. He was convinced the loss was a condition Telogen Effluvium, which is basically quite drastic sheeding caused by a major stressfull event. The hair stops growing immediately, but the actual shedding about 2-3 months later (again timing fitted perfectly). The good news is that hair will come back within 6 months as new hairs grow out. It is not lost like the normal androgenetic alopecia related loss. He did not believe Propecia had stopped working – he had never heard any cases of that and with the whole fact pattern he was quite convinced on the above. This was 2 weeks ago, so I just hope he is right!!

    Wanted to offer this perspective as our cases sounded in many ways quite similar. It may be that the stuff you started doing is a symptom of what cause the hair loss rather than the cause.

  • Matthew

    I recently noticed hair loss in the temple region. I am also a creatine user.

    But does creatine enhance testosterone? Wait, does exercise increase testosterone?? Maybe intense exercise has the opposite effect (temporarily). Maybe there is no net change before and after. Maybe a small change in testosterone has a very large effect on hair loss (ie a threshold).

    Well, this study shows no effect on testosterone with creatine supplementation:

    http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2001&issue=02000&article=00002&type=abstract

    However, that is just one study. Exercise does effect testosterone levels, so you certainly are putting yourself at risk if you exercise with maximum intensity. But how much? Maybe crossing a certain threshold of DHT causes a non linear relationship…

    but this is probably lost on most people, hence the nature of the answer by the OP.

    Just go to scholar.google.com and find 5 studies for each question.

  • Joe Richards

    Hi,
    My name is Joe and Im 37 years old. I recently started using the pre workout formula Nano vapor from muscletech, I know that you say that in some cases, these pre workout formulas will increase the testosterone in the body, causing DHT levels to rise, is that the same for Nano Vapor, and Im I just being paranoid or is it really starting to thin out my hair in the front and some along the temple areas? I also had another question; my son loves to drink Red Bull (energy drink), and he has told me that just recently he says that he feels that his hair is starting to thin in the front, he is 21 years old, and he never exceeds a can a day of the stuff, so its not like he is drinking 4 of them a day. Have you ever heard of Red Bull energy drink being related to hair loss, or hair thinning? Thanks, I could really use some information on both of these topics.

    Joe

  • Jay Reece

    Yup, same thing with me. No history of male pattern baldness, both grandfathers and my dad had excellent hair all the way till death. I had very thick hair.

    Started taking NO xplode and protein supplements, with all the size I gained my hair started thinning.

    I think increased testesterone is really the culprit because NO xplode makes you able to lift more. When you lift more, the heavier weight the more testesterone your body releases… The liver function is key here…

  • David Hintz

    I have been drinking approx 3 cans of Red Bull most days for 6 plus years, been taking Na Vapour for 3 months now and also cretein, currently no hair loss issues.

  • Nathan Bily

    I would like to know if protein supplements can cause hair loss. And would you say that you need to take them to get bigger and stronger?

  • First of all, please drop the suppliments. As a student of exercise physiology, take my word, it is money wasted. Massive industry of false information. ON protien says take 1 g of protien per 1 lb of body weight.. hey good luck with that. LOL! CAD will be your killer before you have a chance to go bald. Creatine won’t have any affect on mpb nor will protien or anything for that matter. Exercise in all forms are excellent for the body. There is not much of an increase in testosterone during both anaerobic or aerobic exercise. Steroids may speed up mpb. But if it takes me to go bald to remain healthy? Then so be it. I would rather live long and bald instead of short and bald.

  • Reggie

    For the last couple of weeks, I am loosing hair like hell. I am working out for the last 4 weeks and I am taking ON Whey protein, ON serious Mass, Jack3d and BCAA 3300. I am sure its not genetic.. I have no idea what to do… :( i want to stop hair loss and want new hair.

  • Crispy

    Yeah same with me, ive been loosing hair like crazy, it all started when i started using a creatine product called crepure X mutant in March. When i noticed my hair was shedding, i stopped using it, and my hairloss hasnt stopped:(

  • peter

    it’s well known,that after 15 mins into workout your testosterone levels are at zero.i’ve been taking all the above statements for 10+ yrs with no hairloss.i’m aged 49.also propecia gives you man boobs so stay clear of that estrogen overload,face the facts.baldness is hereditry.nothing you do will change that.

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