Taking anabolic steroids to achieve a perfect body can have unwanted side effects. And one of them is increased hair loss.
Can you take steroids and keep your hair? It is the central question we will try to answer in this blog. Moreover, we will discuss the list of the most harmful drugs that can easily cause hair loss and the ways to prevent such unwanted outcomes.
The short answer is yes, steroids can cause hair loss. But it is not a simple yes or no answer. Many other factors determine whether or not you will lose your hair if you use steroids.
The most popular theory that explains how androgenic alopecia (male pattern hair loss) develops is based on the assumption that one particular hormone is the foremost cause. This hormone is called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This hormone binds to receptors in the hair follicles. Over time, this leads to their shrinkage. Eventually, hair follicles become so small that they stop producing hair. But it is not that easy, and you cannot blame only DHT as there might be many other reasons for hair loss.
Genetics also determines how sensitive hair follicles are to DHT. Some people are highly resistant to this hair-destroying hormone. In other words, even if they have high levels of the hormone DHT, they will not lose their hair.
For example, take a look at the famous bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno. He has no signs of hair loss from steroid use.
Left: Photo of Lou Ferrigno taken during his return to bodybuilding in the early 90s. Right: Photo of him from 2016 (age 64).
Throughout his bodybuilding career, he has taken almost all types of steroids - but he still has a fine Norwood 1 hairline! We assure you that most of us would be pleased to have such a hairline without taking anabolic steroids. However, his hair was exposed to much higher levels of hair loss-causing androgens due to the long period of steroid use. Despite this, he still has a full head of hair. It turns out that Lou Ferrigno has hair that is genetically resistant to androgenic alopecia.
But if you are not lucky enough to have hair genetics like Lou Ferrigno, steroids, as an additional factor, can stimulate the hair loss process.
Steroids imitate the effect of the hormone testosterone. Steroids do not have a direct impact on hair loss. However, the 5-alpha reductase enzyme binds to testosterone and converts it to DHT, and this increases the chances of hair loss. And since some steroids are very similar in structure to testosterone, they can also be converted to DHT using 5-alpha reductase.
Many steroids require testosterone injections along with them. Therefore, extra testosterone can also be converted to DHT. And if you have hair that is genetically sensitive to hair loss, then more DHT means more hair loss.
There are hormonal medications that lower 5-alpha reductase and DHT levels, respectively.
Finasteride (brand name Propecia) is available only as a prescription treatment for hair loss. Research shows that it lowers DHT levels by about 70%.
Dutasteride (brand name Avodart) is a more potent medication than Finasteride, which reduces DHT levels by about 90%. It is also can be bought only with a prescription.
You can read our article about Finasteride and Dutasteride to find out more information about these medications.
Systemic 5-alpha reductase inhibitors can intensify hair loss when used in conjunction with certain anabolic steroids such as Deca-Durabolin. Other steroids, such as Equipoise, do not convert to DHT via 5-alpha reductase, so treatment with Finasteride and Dutasteride will have no effect.
The following are the steroids believed to be the ones that are most likely to cause hair loss:
Anadrol is well-known as a hair loss steroid. It is metabolized very rapidly to estrogen and DHT, accelerating hair loss at a high rate.
Dianabol has an anabolic-androgenic ratio of 90-210: 40-60. In other words, it is more androgenic than anabolic. As such, it is very harmful to hair. And 5-alpha reductase inhibitors like Finasteride and dutasteride will do little to slow hair loss either.
Trenbolone is another steroid that is very harmful to hair. It is actually a derivative of DHT. And 5-alpha reductase inhibitors will not stop hair loss from Trenbolone.
Winstrol is the worst steroid for hair. Like in the case of Trenbolone and Dianabol, even high doses of Finasteride and Dutasteride will not do much to help you maintain your hair while taking this steroid. In fact, it is so strong that even users who are not particularly prone to androgenetic alopecia report hair loss from Winstrol.
As with any drug, different steroids affect people in different ways. The steroid that causes hair loss in one person may not affect another. But the following steroids are generally considered as the least harmful to hair.
Anavar is one of the least androgenic steroids, with an anabolic-androgenic ratio of 322-640: 24 and generally does not convert to estrogen or DHT. But if you take it in high doses (> 100 mg), it can cause hair loss.
Deca-Durabolin is generally safe for hair. But while taking this steroid, you should never take Finasteride or dutasteride, as they might enhance hair loss instead of stopping it.
Oral Turinabol is said to have an androgen rating of 0. It is the safest steroid for hair. In theory, this means that taking it will not lead to hair loss at all. But like Anavar, it can cause hair loss if taken in large doses.
It depends, firstly, on how sensitive is your hair to androgens. This is something that you cannot control.
But some things are under your control, such as which steroids you take, dosages, and the hair loss remedies you use. But if you are concerned about your hair, the safest option is not to take steroids at all.
If your hair is sensitive to DHT, it will fall out when your body receives enough androgens. And once hair loss has started due to androgenetic alopecia, getting back lost hair will be much difficult than preventing it.
The “safe” hair steroids described above are certainly less likely to cause hair loss. However, this is by no means a guarantee that you will keep your hair.