Hair loss is a very common affliction for men from their 20s onwards. You may lose hair but don’t lose your mind — here are five things you can do about it.
First, the facts
Hair loss is completely natural and affects 96 per cent of men during their lives. By the age of 50, 50 per cent of white men will have experienced balding, medically known as “androgenetic alopecia”, with them four times as likely to have premature hair loss than black gents. It’s got nothing to do with diet, lifestyle or stress, despite the phrase “I’m tearing my hair out”. Up to five genes are involved in determining whether you’ll lose your hair and how they interact depends the type of male pattern baldness (widow’s peak, monk’s tonsure, etc) you’ll experience. Circulating androgens — that is, male sex hormones like testosterone — also contribute to hair loss. Despite what you see on Game Of Thrones, eunuchs don’t go bald.
What to do about it…
1. Stop Hair Loss
Since the start of the 21st century Australian doctors have been able to prescribe Finasteride (aka Propecia), which — science alert! — blocks an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, stopping the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone in the prostate. Anyway, this will stop your hair loss, though messing with your androgens means you risk the side effect of erectile dysfunction. Upside: using Finasteride also reduces the risk of prostate cancer, though not the type that typically kills a chap.
2. Promote Hair Growth
Finasteride doesn’t promote new hair growth in many men. For that you’ll need over-the-counter medication Minoxidil (aka Regaine), which is a failed high-blood pressure drug whose side effect was found to be hair growth. Using it alone will see overall hair growth, though not just on your scalp. For your noggin, it can be used in combination with Finasteride to keep you sporting and regenerating luscious locks, though it’s best to start treatment while you’ve still got hair to protect. Costs vary but Finasteride is priced from about $20 a month while Minoxidil ranges from $15 to $60. You might also have to factor in laser hair removal to deal with unwanted hair growth from the latter. All up, you’re looking at hundreds — maybe thousands — of bucks a year.
Man manes can also be protected by using shampoos containing Ketoconazole. This antifungal, which is used to fight dandruff, reduces the production of testosterone hair follicles. A study found balding men using a 1 percent ketoconazole shampoo two or three times a week saw a 17 per cent reduction in hair shedding over a six-month period. Nizoral shampoo – containing 2 per cent Ketonconazole – is available over-the-counter from about $14.
Despite the apparently horrific results of hair transplant surgery on display in the present US presidential election, this option has come a long way since Donald J. Trump had a ginger tomcat sewn to his scalp. Doctors graft portions of hair-bearing scalp over those affected by hair loss. The downsides are, er, the fact you have to endure surgery, costs that start around the $5000 and can go higher than $10,000 and a scar across the back of your head that’ll mean you can’t sport shorter hair (like you’d want to after all that effort). The upside: it’s likely to be cheaper than meds in the long term.
Bald or balding can be beautiful, baby. There are plenty of bald or balding male sex symbols out there, from Jason Statham and Vin Diesel to Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis. Then, of course, there was Jeremy Meeks, the prisoner that had all the ladies going ga-ga. The key is to go for a hair cut that works with your hair loss. Whatever you do, don’t try the combover. Shorter styles work better. A buzz cut blurs the line between hair loss and hair coverage. Just make sure you keep your scalp hydrated and moisturised. Similarly, to minimise the appearance of hair loss, you can go for a high, short style, close cropped on the sides and back a little longer on top, which is particularly good for blending thinning hair at the back of your head. Or why not take the plunge? Shave your hear, shine that scalp and just make sure the rest of you is looking buff.