We’ve all had this experience before: You wake up late for class or work, race to locate the first pair of pants and throw on a beanie or cap of sorts to hide your bedhead. While it may seem innocuous enough, that last part could have major repercussions.

Recent studies have determined that, though not detrimental in isolation, consistently wearing tight hats could stress hair follicles and lead to permanent hair loss. This doesn’t mean that all hats are going to make you go bald—just the tighter ones that restrict oxygen and blood flow to areas of the scalp that need it.

The researchers, who looked at male and female identical twins, note that women did not see the same effect when exposed to the same conditions as their male counterparts. Scientists aren’t entirely clear why this disparity exists, but research in this field has been largely underdeveloped.

The few cases that have delved into this subject tend to be contentious, as some scientists believe the correlation isn’t worth getting worked up about. Still, the consensus tends to err on the side of caution, with experts suggesting that men stay away from tight-fitting caps just in case.

Now that winter is over, this shouldn’t be difficult advice for anyone to take, but if you do find yourself in a situation in which a hat is necessary—be it a bad hair day or otherwise—make sure to reach for one with an adjustable strap. It could be the difference between a hastily receding hairline and a head of full, thick locks.

Photo: iStock/pedrojperez