Hair today, gone tomorrow… lame as that sounds, that’s not the process for most men. Male pattern baldness isn’t an all at once thing. It can take years, and in much the same way a frog would jump out of a pan of boiling water, but die if a pan of cold water is heated up over time. You could be oblivious to the gradual loss of hair until your head has, proverbially speaking, had it.
If you’re reading this article chances are you’ve already resigned yourself to the fact that you’re losing your hair. (And if that’s you, you’re not alone. The majority of men experience some hair loss, with 40% plus experiencing significant balding.) But luckily for you, there’s lots of things you can do with a balding head. Hair loss treatment is a 3.3 billion, with a B, dollar industry. So we thought we’d unpack some of what’s available.
But before we dive into the solutions, what’s causing your hair to fall out of love with your head?
* Full disclosure: we’re a men’s grooming company, so it’ll be no surprise when we suggest shaving at some point.
What is male pattern baldness?
Tragically it’s not when your hair starts to fall out in a beautiful stickman pattern, possibly a la British street artist Stik. Instead, it’s the gradual emigration of your hair follicles from your head to your shower plughole.
All men will experience some hair loss throughout their lives, with the only solutions being to not get older – although you need to start that process after you’ve been a baby as most babies start out looking like bald 60-year-old men. Baldness is nature’s pincer move –she’s got you coming and going.
But what causes baldness?
The cause of male pattern baldness is primarily genetic, plain and simple. If your dad and all your uncles, and maybe even some of your aunts, are bald then there’s a strong chance you will be too. It used to be thought that baldness came with the X chromosome i.e. from your mother’s genes, but more recent scientific research has indicated that the genetics of both parents play a role.
Each hair on your head has a growth cycle in which the hair naturally falls out, and regrows. If you’ve ever seen a lady’s hairbrush you’ll see a ton of hair stuck in it, but no sign of the lady herself going bald. In the case of male pattern baldness, this cycle starts to regress. The hairs become smaller and finer each time they grow back until eventually, they stop growing.
There are other reasons you can start to lose your hair, including illness and the use of steroids, but pattern baldness is the most common. If you are worried that it might be more serious a trip to your doctor could be in order.
So now you know what it is, what’s a man to do?
The first and simplest option is denial. Just front it out. Act like you’ve got the same amount of hair that you’ve always had, and keep shelling out on hair gel and shampoo. Denial is the simplest of all the solutions on this list because it requires no change to your behaviour whatsoever. All the rest of the solutions on this list require at least some effort.
Although once your shampoo starts lasting twice as long as it used to it’s probably time to do something. And, realistically, you’re a man of action so if you see a problem you’ll want to fix it.
And on that note…
There are plenty of shampoos on the market that claim to stop hair loss and regrow hair. But are they effective? The short answer is they can be, but only for illness-induced baldness. There isn’t any known way to stop hair loss or regrow hair for male pattern baldness using a shampoo. But if you’re experiencing hair loss associated with dandruff or psoriasis hair loss shampoos can be effective. In which case consult your doctor.
For male pattern baldness, the best they can do is give the appearance of fuller hair. But in the case of hair thickeners be careful as overuse can block your pores. Shampoos are at the low end of the cost spectrum, but what do things look like at the top? In the words of Jamie T “If you’ve got the money”.
Hair replacement therapy
If you’ve ever seen before and after pics you’ll know how big a difference additional hair can make to your look. If you’re someone who looks better with more hair, particularly if you’re still in your 20s, then it can have a profound impact.
The process is reasonably straightforward. A surgeon will take hair from somewhere you have a lot of hair. Normally the back of your head, but it can be other parts of the body as well, and implant it to the area where your hair is thinning. The procedure is normally done under local anaesthetic, but in some cases, you can be put to sleep.
After the hairs have been grafted in you’ll have to wear bandages on your head for 2-5 days, and take pain killers for that time. The new hairs will fall out within 2-3 weeks, and you should experience new hair growth in 6-9 months. The procedure costs anywhere from €3.000-13.000 depending on how much hair you need replacing.
The procedure isn’t exactly cheap and isn’t always 100% effective. But if you’ll only be happy with a full head of hair then this is one of two options that will achieve that look on this list.
This one might be less on your radar, but it’s something women have been doing for years. Essentially it’s tattooing dots on your head to look like you’ve got hair follicles. It doesn’t give you hair, just the illusion that you could grow hair if you wanted to. The before and after pics are interesting. Even with a shaved head, this kind of hair tattooing can make you look about 5 years younger depending on other factors.
Like many things in the world of grooming and beauty women have been doing this for ages, by getting their eyebrows filled out with tattoos. You’ve probably seen plenty of women with this done and not even noticed it. And while I happen to think that not having any eyebrows can look cool it’s up to the individual to do what makes them happiest.
This is the other option on this list that will give you a full head of hair, or the illusion of one. And while the toupee of the past was a thing with a life of its own. Liable to wander around the wearer’s head like an unruly house cat. Modern toupees are a marvel if temporary solution.
The toupee, made from real human hair, is glued onto the head using a special adhesive. Then it’s trimmed and blended into your existing hair to create a seamless haircut. You’d never suspect it wasn’t the wearer’s real hair. At about €700 for a hairpiece that will stay in place for 6 months, it’s not exactly cheap, but if you want a temporary head of hair then this could be the one for you.
No one has seen The Edge of U2 fame without a hat for years, or Hulk Hogan either for that matter. Maybe a Perma hat could be a new addition to your look. And while Hulk has stuck with a bandana since the 90s The Edge has mixed it up a lot. Hats will let you change up your look every day if you want, without having to spend any time at the barber. Think of it as a more fashion consciousness version of a wig. So whether it’s a fedora, stetson, or a bowler there’s a hat for every occasion and every head shape.
Shave it off, shave it off.
Last but certainly not least, is the humble shave. The cure for balding since time immemorial. And worn by incredibly diverse groups of people throughout history, from Spartans soldiers to married Jewish women, and Gandhi to Vin Diesel, a shaved head is a look for the ages.
Shaving off your hair has got a myriad of advantages, but when we spoke to Wille from the BaldBrothers the one he mentioned, again and again, was that shaving his head allowed him to stop worrying about losing his hair. In Willie’s case, and the case of many of the men that are connected with the BaldBrothers, it created a mindset shift that gave them the space to come into their new look.
We wrote a recent series of articles in which we talked to women about what they thought of male grooming. Confidence came up a lot as well when we asked women about shaved heads. And while many of the women surveyed found natural hair attractive, confidence in your look was more important.
Going bald hasn’t held The Rock or Jason Statham back. Both are massive Hollywood stars, and The Rock was even named the sexiest man alive in 2016. And while you can’t attribute their success to their shaved heads, it’s the confidence they have in their look that sets them apart.
And if all that didn’t convince you, think of the savings you’ll make on hair gel and shampoo. Shave or don’t, it’s up to you.
For more on going bald, how to shave your head and stories from men on their journey to a shaved head see:
- How to shave your head… from balding to baldy
- Thinking about shaving your head? “Just do it!”
- Taking care of your… balding head
- Women on shaved heads