Deforestation above the ears has always been vexing to the men who suffer from it (i.e., not Bob Barker). The day comes for most men when they look in the mirror, see their mane thinning for the first time, and sigh quietly as they’re forced to come to terms with it. And for a single guy, he can almost envision the single ladies of the world turning and walking away.
Put down that can of spray-on hair. It’s not the end of the world.
Thanks to science, we all have options to combat or defy hair loss. WikiHow offers up these four steps to helping stop it, or at least run a blockade:
- Understand how male pattern baldness works. The normal crown-and-temples hair loss is caused by an excess of free testosterone (which has little to do with the testosterone that makes you stronger, hornier, or willing to use a beer bong), which is converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). So your options for slowing hair loss involve reducing free testosterone, preventing DHT conversion, or both.
- Use pharmaceuticals to inhibit or stop hair loss. Rogaine and Propecia are the “dynamic duo” that help some men to stem the tide of hair loss and actually grow back a bit of it. Propecia (finasteride) is a pill that helps block DHT production, slowing or stopping hair loss. Rogaine (minoxidil) is the topical solution that grows crown hair, possibly by increasing nitric oxide levels in the scalp. Obviously, the sooner you begin using these treatments (especially Propecia) the less hair you’ll lose. The downsides of these drugs are that Propecia has some known side effects, including decreased libido, and Rogaine just flat out doesn’t work well for many men.
- Exercise vigorously. There really isn’t a good way to target free testosterone, and lowering your overall testosterone has side effects that might negate the fact that your hair is full and bushy, such as loss of libido, while potentially having no effect on your hair. Scientists have noted that one thing may reduce free testosterone, while letting you keep it up: aerobic exercise. This includes running, swimming, basketball, tennis or soccer — anything that keeps you moving, raising your heart rate and improving your lungs’ intake.
- Consider hair replacement. Back in your dad’s day, if he wanted to go from bare to hair he had to buy a toupee or have artificial hair weaved into his remaining natural strands. Now you can actually replace your hair with cosmetic surgery that takes follicles from that ring of hair you never lose and implants them, one and two at a time, where you need it. The downside (there’s always a downside) is the cost, plus the fact that if you lose more hair around the transplant, you’ll look odd unless you fill in the space with another transplant.
WikiHow leaves it at that (and doesn’t include some of the downsides I’ve included above), but of course there’s another to consider:
- Shave your head. Or at least crop it short so you’re not left with the ring of “clown hair” (and for God’s sake, no ponytails!). There are a ton of tools and creams made for the head-shaver, and many men find it easier to maintain a shaven head than it was to keep their hair tamed.
No matter which route you take, keep in mind that most men have to deal with some level of hair loss, so most of us are in this together. If your hair is merely thinning, or you’re a little bare just at the back of the crown, there are hairstyles that will maximize what you have left, so consult your hairdresser. Unless his name is Bud and he uses a 40-year-old barber chair and his main tool is an electric horse clipper. Then the shave might work out better.
How to Treat Male Pattern Hair Loss [WikiHow]