Female baldness caused by sunscreen filters?

The substances can clog hair follicles, with all its consequences

We recently read the report that certain anti-sunscreen filters could promote baldness of the scalp. These are synthetic filters such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, benzophenone. The condition now has a name: Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia.

This is baldness around the head, causing the hairline to recede. Dermatologists are in the dark for the time being and are cautiously pointing to certain cosmetic substances: sun filters.

Possible explanation for baldness:

‘In practice, I also see an increase in frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA), especially in postmenopausal women and to a much lesser extent in men as well. In 8% there is a positive family history, which means that it occurs in the family.

Hair growth increase after stopping use of sunscreens

Baldness Alopecia Sunscreen Filters

“There is now a discussion about the use of cosmetics and sunscreen and the origin of FFA. Based on observational – and research studies – the first publication in 2016, 105 of 205 women had FFA who used sunscreen at least twice a week. In 2019, they also saw a possible relationship between FFA and the use of sunscreen based on a survey study. An Australian study saw hair growth again after discontinuing sunscreen.

In 2017, a questionnaire study was done on the relationship between FFA and men, 17 men with FFA versus 73 control. Since FFA is rare in men. Use of primary sunscreens by men with FFA was significantly more common than in controls. Total 35% of men with FFA reported using sunscreen at least twice week throughout the year, compared with 4% of controls (P = 0 0012). There was no difference between the two groups in the use of hair care and other facial care products (scrubs, masks, aftershave, cleansers), medications, smoking or alcohol.

But on the other hand, a 2016 publication concluded, Frontal fibrosing alopecia: no statistically significant association was found between leave-on facial care products and sunscreen products.

In 2023, a study found a link between sensitivity to linalool and the development of FFA. Linalool is a fragrance commonly found in skin care and cosmetic products. However, the exact relationship between linalool and FFA is not yet fully understood. While other factors, such as hormonal, immune-mediated and genetic factors, have been associated with FFA, the link between linalool and FFA is an area of ongoing research.

Clogging hair follicle theory

It is not yet clear which cosmetic ingredients are responsible for this. One theory is that sunscreen gets into the upper part of the hair follicle (hair infundibulum).

In combination with reduced sebum production over the years, the exogenous ingredients that enter the hair are not properly removed. The result is inflammation in the hair and then scarring.”

New 2023 study

Baldness And Perfume Linalool

Although the study found an association between sensitivity to linalool and the development of FFA, it is important to note that this does not necessarily mean that linalool causes FFA. Further research is needed to fully understand the relationship between linalool and FFA.

In the meantime, individuals who are sensitive to linalool may want to avoid skin care products and cosmetics that contain this fragrance. If you experience hair loss or other symptoms of FFA, it is important to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

While you are here

Hair loss is any form of hair loss on the body. In this overview we focus on hair loss from the hairy scalp and face. To help you find out which types of hair loss there are, you can find an overview of many different types and causes of hair loss here.

Hair loss is often associated with several causes at the same time. Therefore, it can be very difficult to get a diagnosis that explains all your complaints, and also successfully treat your hair loss. Hair loss is almost always harmless, but it can cause serious psychological problems. That is why it can be nice to know which diagnosis applies to you and prevent hair loss if possible. Therefore, always consult your doctor if you are concerned or have psychological complaints. The doctor will ask you many questions and examine the scalp in detail to find out the various causes and make the most appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Here is an overview of the most common forms of hair loss.

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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