There are two opposing schools of thought. One is that old-school petroleum-based stuff causes baldness because it clogs the hair follicles. The other is that modern styling products (gels, sprays, etc.) cause baldness through all the nasty chemicals that's in that stuff.
But most men in the 20s through the mid 60s used some kind of pomade or grease in their hair. If grease really causes hair loss, then why didn't they all end up bald? And if gels and sprays cause hair loss, then why aren't the millions of men and women who've used it for years sporting a Mr. Clean by now?
The truth is that hair loss is, for the most part, entirely hereditary. Whether you're going to lose your hair or not is literally pre-determined at birth, and nothing you use on your hair topically can change the outcome either way. It makes perfect sense if you think about it: hair grows from beneath the scalp. Nothing you use on the hair above the scalp--and that includes grooming products, shampoos, conditioners, hair color, bleach and other caustics, etc.--can possibly reach the root of the hair.
A tiny percentage of people who experience hair loss do so because of non-hereditary factors: malnutrition, stress, shock, reaction to certain medications, etc. But there's not a person in the world that's ever lost or gained hair based on the products they used. Plenty of people may think they have, but they're fooling themselves.
(PS: As a licensed barber, I can tell you that petroleum-based stuff certainly helps the hair above the scalp far more than modern styling products, since it acts like a conditioner.)