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Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Steph Coelho

Published 06/19/2018

Updated 05/16/2024

If you’re trying to build muscle, you may have considered using creatine supplements to bulk up. But does creatine cause hair loss? We’ll dig into the details, but the short answer is that we can’t be totally sure either way.

While some folks say creatine baldness is a real concern, scientific evidence suggests otherwise. In fact, the idea of creatine hair loss may stem from a single study that isn’t even conclusive. 

Below, we outline the research that helps answer this question: Does creatine make you lose your hair?

Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss? The Truth About Creatine and Hair Loss

It’s not entirely clear whether creatine causes hair loss. 

However, most of the worry about creatine and hair loss comes from one study, and the evidence even in that study is weak.

The 2009 study looked at college-aged rugby players who took a creatine supplement or a placebo for 21 days. 

Testosterone levels didn’t change for those who took creatine, but their DHT was up 56 percent by the seven-day mark and remained 40 percent higher than baseline levels after the full 21 days.

So now you may be wondering what exactly DHT is. Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is an androgen, which is a sex hormone. 

There’s a well-established link between increased levels of DHT and male pattern baldness. This happens because DHT can bind to androgen receptors in hair follicles, which causes the follicle to shrink. Eventually, this can cause your hair to fall out. 

Back to the study — based on the results, researchers concluded that creatine may increase the rate at which testosterone is converted into DHT.

So creatine might increase DHT, which might impact your hairline. However, this is far from concrete evidence. The study was small — involving only 20 participants — and didn’t find a direct link between creatine and hair loss.

And the evidence hasn’t gotten much stronger since then.

A 2021 review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition looked at the evidence and concluded that the increased DHT levels in the rugby player study were well within normal clinical limits.

Plus, pre-supplementation DHT levels were 23 percent lower in those who took the creatine supplements than those who took the placebo. This may account for the significant difference in DHT levels between the two groups at the end of the experiment.

The 2021 review included 12 other studies on creatine and testosterone and concluded that the current evidence doesn’t indicate that creatine supplements increase testosterone or DHT or cause hair loss or baldness. 

So, does creatine increase DHT? Maybe. But, ultimately, there’s no real evidence hair loss is a side effect of creatine supplementation.

An Overview of Creatine

Your body naturally produces creatine. You can also get it through red meat and seafood and in supplement form as creatine monohydrate, creatine ethyl ester and buffered creatine.

It’s a popular supplement among bodybuilders and lovers of high-intensity exercise who use it to improve physical performance and muscle mass.

As a dietary supplement, creatine may help with: 

  • Muscle strength and power 

  • Athletic performance in areas like sprinting, rowing, jumping and soccer

  • Gains in fat-free body mass 

  • Post-exercise recovery 

  • Injury prevention 

One paper highlighted about 300 studies on creatine and its effects on physical performance. Of those studies, about 70 percent report statistically significant positive results like the above, and no studies link creatine to decreases in performance.

Creatine also has a good safety profile. However, people with pre-existing kidney issues should speak with a healthcare professional before taking the supplement. 

Potential side effects of creatine supplementation include: 

  • Weight gain from water retention 

  • Muscle cramps

  • Nausea

  • Dehydration

  • Diarrhea

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Does creatine make you lose your hair? There’s not much evidence that suggests a link between this popular supplement and baldness. 

So, if you’re experiencing hair loss or thinning, don’t throw out your creatine supplements just yet.  

Here’s how to address excess shedding.

Talk to a Healthcare Professional About Your Hair Loss Symptoms 

Speaking to a healthcare professional about your hair loss symptoms is a great place to start. 

Whether you’re experiencing sudden, rapid hair loss or gradual thinning, you may be able to encourage new healthy hair growth. 

A medical professional can run tests to determine the underlying cause and recommend hair loss treatments to help restore a fuller-looking hairline.

Eliminate Other Potential Hair Loss Causes

Hair loss can happen for a variety of reasons. 

Common causes of hair loss in men include:

Since there are so many potential causes of hair loss, consider any medications you’re on or if you’re going through a stressful time in life before you blame your supplements. Also, take a look at your family — male pattern baldness is genetic, so a family history of baldness could be the reason for your receding hairline.

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Consider Hair Loss Treatments 

Depending on the cause, your hair loss may be permanent or temporary. The good news is many types of hair loss are reversible.

Lifestyle changes may help with hair health. These include: 

  • Lowering stress levels 

  • Eating a healthy diet with enough nutrients and overall calories 

  • Quitting smoking 

  • Using gentle shampoo and moisturizing conditioner 

  • Avoiding hairstyles that pull on your scalp 

But if lifestyle changes aren’t enough, there are medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat hair loss, including: 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, minoxidil can help with early hair loss — another reminder to speak to a healthcare provider as soon as you notice symptoms — but it won’t help those who are fully bald. 

This medication can promote the hair growth cycle and prevent further hair loss. But you need to be patient. It can take about six to 12 months to produce noticeable results. 

Finasteride can also help slow hair loss and stimulate new hair growth. But it’s not a quick fix, either. It can take roughly four months to see improvements, and it works best if you start taking it when you first notice hair loss. 

Lastly, if these medications don’t work, there are hair loss treatment options, such as: 

Learn about the cost, time and side effects of hair transplants in our blog.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

The final verdict on whether creatine causes hair loss is that there’s no definitive evidence creatine makes you lose hair. But there’s also no solid proof it doesn’t cause hair loss. 

Here’s what we know:

  • Evidence that creatine use could cause hair loss is thin. A single scientific study suggests creatine can increase DHT, the hormone linked to male pattern baldness. However, that study has limitations, including a very small participant pool.

  • Creatine is generally considered a safe supplement. It’s been shown to help with muscle strength, athletic performance and recovery.

  • Hair loss has many possible causes. Stress, a vitamin deficiency or genetics are all potential causes of hair loss. You might even be able to blame something else you’re taking before the gym with your creatine, like a pre-workout supplement.

If you notice signs of balding or hair thinning, get in touch with a healthcare professional. They can recommend treatment options to slow hair loss and promote hair growth. 

And if you’re looking for more ways to grow your hair back, check out these science-backed tips for hair growth.

9 Sources

  1. Van der Merwe, J, Brooks, NE, and Myburgh, KH (2009, September). Three Weeks of Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation Affects Dihydrotestosterone to Testosterone Ratio in College-Aged Rugby Players. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, 19(5). https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kathryn-Myburgh/publication/26799707_Three_Weeks_of_Creatine_Monohydrate_Supplementation_Affects_Dihydrotestosterone_to_Testosterone_Ratio_in_College-Aged_Rugby_Players/links/5a3cba10aca272dd65e5d673/Three-Weeks-of-Creatine-Monohydrate-Supplementation-Affects-Dihydrotestosterone-to-Testosterone-Ratio-in-College-Aged-Rugby-Players.pdf
  2. Kreider, R. (2003, March). Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Performance Training Adaptations. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 244(1-2), 89-94. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10798699_Effects_of_creatine_supplementation_on_performance_training_adaptations
  3. Antonio, J, et al. (2021). Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show?. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 18(1), 13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7871530/
  4. Kinter, KJ and Anekar, AA. (2023, March 6). Biochemistry, Dihydrotestosterone - StatPearls. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557634/
  5. Hair Loss: Who Gets and Causes. (n.d.). https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/18-causes
  6. Kreider, RB, et al. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14, 18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5469049/
  7. Hughes, EC and Saleh, D. (2023, May 29). Telogen Effluvium - StatPearls. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430848/
  8. Lepe, K and Zito, PM. (2023, May 18). Alopecia Areata – StatPearls. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537000/
  9. Hair Loss: Diagnosis and Treatment. (n.d.). https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/18-causes
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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