Male Pattern Baldness
Ah, male pattern baldness. A condition that, growing up, was seemingly vilified by TV, media and general culture at every turn. Who can forget the trials and tribulations of Homer Simpson struggling with his baldness, going as far as to invest in expensive and ultimately wasted products to restore a youthful look? Or even George Costanza, often ridiculed for being a short, stocky bald man? While the bald man is no longer as looked down upon as he once was, the opinions of the past still linger among most men. Women may not care, but for those who grew up with lush heads of hair, finding that first thin spot can be traumatic. Despite the prominence of baldness amongst males, it doesn’t affect everyone as extremely, so what is the deal with going bald? Here’s our overview of male pattern baldness with everything you need to know.
What is Male Pattern Baldness?
You have no doubt wondered what is male pattern baldness at some point in your life. There are a few schools of thought regarding the process. Basically, though, it all comes down to genetics, and it is this genetics that contributes to the pattern part of the name.
Most men will experience thinning at the very least during their lifetimes, but some will experience it more aggressively than others. Baldness is typically associated with middle age, but there have been plenty of men in their twenties (some as early as eighteen) who are already showing the signs of balding.
In fact, most men will start to experience hair thinning in their mid-twenties. For many, this inspires fear of waking up the next day surrounded by strands of hair. But it does not happen that fast and, for most, the thinning and eventual baldness will be a gradual process and not one that changes your life overnight.
Men who experience male pattern hair loss will start by seeing their hair thinning around the crown, known as a bald crown or vertex hair loss, or alternatively, they will have a receding hairline.
Why Does It Happen?
Why does male pattern baldness exist? You ask. Well, most people believe (you included, more than likely) that it is inherited from the mother’s side of the family. If your maternal grandfather was bald then you too shall end up bald at some point in your life.
But it is not as simple as that. The intricacies of hair-loss genetics are more complex than merely your granddad’s hair genes being weaker than you might like. In fact, even if both sets of grandparents had full heads of hair, you might still go bald due to other ancestors further back who might have gone bald during their life, such as a great-uncle or even a great-great-great grandfather.
But that doesn’t necessarily explain the why. We get that it is genetic, but how is it genetic? How does it make strapping young men start to go bald? Well, the real science behind it is that your body and in turn your hair follicles are becoming sensitive to male sex hormones known as androgens. One of these androgens in dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which shrinks your follicles over time, contributing to weaker hair strength and eventually baldness.
As we said, it can start happening in your twenties and is just a natural part of growing older, just like other parts of your body, you become weaker as you grow older. Your muscles slacken, your skin droops and likewise, your hair falls out.
And you are not alone, it has been reported that pattern baldness will affect two-thirds of the population and approximately 85% of the US male population over 50 years old suffer from thinning hair at the very least.
Ways to Prevent It?
Fighting male pattern baldness sounds like a noble and honorable quest, but some might feel like it is something that will only end in tears. However, when you feel that cool breeze tickling your scalp more prominently than before, it does not mean that you need to resign yourself to baldness just yet.
For starters, if you want to avoid a bald pattern, then keeping an eye on your hairline and its thickness is a good place to start. This will give you the chance to catch any issues (if you consider it that) as soon as possible. If you truly, deeply love your hair and cannot stand the thought of being bald, then being vigilant is a must.
If you have already started succumbing to thin hair, wispy strands and more scalp on show than you would like, have no fear. There are ways to prevent hair loss, as outlined in this article by For Hims. Their advice is to:
- Relax and reduce stress, which will encourage your hair to grow
- Talk to a dermatologist about what you can do and how to accept potential hair loss
- Look around and research hair loss treatment options
- Think about changing your hair care products
These points are important as they highlight the main causes of baldness in men, without focusing wholly on genetics. As genetically superior hair-wise as you might believe yourself to be, other factors can still cause baldness if you are not careful.
There is that photograph of Barack Obama that highlights the change during his presidency. Now, we all understand that being the Leader of the Free World is a stressful job, and yeah, he didn’t go completely bald, but the being in a position where he was essentially unable to relax, unable to reduce stress means that the signs of aging hit him much sooner than if he had not taken office. While you might not be running for president anytime soon, there are still stresses in your life such as work, relationships or even the stress of going bald, which does nothing but create a vicious cycle of anxiety.
Furthermore, discussing with your dermatologist about what is happening to your hair can help you either find solutions to halting the process or, at least, come to terms with it. Your dermatologist will be able to explain the reasons why and what and how way better than we ever could (but that doesn’t mean you can’t still trust us), and getting their expert opinion will give you options for battling against hair loss.
If their advice is to check out hair loss treatments, then you are in luck. There is a plethora of options that can contribute to fighting male pattern baldness, This includes using products and treatment such as Rogaine (minoxidil) and similar testosterone stimulating solutions like finasteride and dutasteride, which will help to encourage follicles and prevent male pattern hair loss. However, some of these are only available on prescription and like most medicines, do come with side effects, so be sure to do your research.
And there is no shame in seeking treatment. Celebrities such as DC United’s Wayne Rooney, Matthew McConaughey, Gordon Ramsay and Jeremy Piven, among others, as well as fictional Tobias Funke, albeit unsuccessfully, have invested in hair plugs and transplants to bring their youthful locks back, even in middle age, where all seemed lost. Many might consider this an extreme measure, but if it works, it works.
There have also been reports that certain hair care products contribute to baldness. While this is mostly fiction as using the product properly will not have too much of an effect on your hair, the truth is that shampooing will strip the hair of natural oils, which makes it less healthy and could contribute to hair loss. If you believe your hair products are causing premature thinning, then look into alternatives that help your hair retain its natural oils and promotes healthier hair.
Is It Already Too Late for Me?
There are still those who believe they are too far gone to consider any of the above and feel they are resigned to baldness forever. However, while it might be impossible to bring back the hair that you once loved in your youth, it does not mean that it is too late.
Before we begin, let’s take some time to address the elephant in the room: the comb-over. Let’s get one thing straight: it does not work. And even if it did work, it won’t work for long, so save yourself the hassle or struggling against the elements and being questioned about whether or not you have a combover (hint: the answer is always no). Avoid the comb-over solution at all costs.
There is a difference between balding hairstyles, which typically try to hide the baldness through combing, gelling and other measures which like we said above should be avoided, and hairstyles for male pattern baldness which make the most of what you have and, in some cases, actually makes you look one hundred times better than if you had desperately clung to your hair like a moping ex-partner who can’t come to terms with the fact that it is without a doubt over and this is just embarrassing.
These hairstyles typically look to take attention away from the disparity between what you do have and what you don’t have and instead place each and every hair on a level playing field. In short, the general rule is to keep it short.
If you are balding or fear that you will be balding soon, you can go with buzz cuts, short Caesar cuts, shaggy layers or what is referred to as ‘The Roger Sterling’, if you needed any more convincing that you can bald gracefully as everyone’s favorite advertising silver fox. Have a chat with your barber and they will be able to give you an idea about what works best for you and give you the confidence to rock your baldness like no other. The benefits to going bald means that even if the style doesn’t work, you don’t have to wait too long to try out something new.
Of course, if none of the above work, you can just shave your head. A bald hairstyle (which sounds like an oxymoron but we’ll ignore it) can be rocked with ease, you just need to find the right look for you. Taking the shears to the scalp might be difficult at first and like all haircuts, it is impossible to turn back, but embracing your baldness will help you come to terms with the reality much easier.
After accepting your baldness and finding the right hairstyle to suit you, it is all about finding your style. One of the more popular styles favored by the bald is to go with huge Viking beards, but not everyone can do that, and so even just light stubble, a mustache or goatee will do enough to cultivate the ‘Yeah I know I’m bald and I don’t care’ look that you are going for.
If you can’t find a bald hairstyle to suit you, but still haven’t come to terms with the fact you are going bald, then you can always just wear a hat.
Is My Life Over?
Absolutely not, dude, do not worry about it. A balding male is nothing to be ashamed of and male baldness is like grey hairs, aching knees or realizing you can’t drink as much as you used to.
It is just something that happens to some of us, most of us, in fact. Whatever, you can’t change it. Just like you cannot change your height, your foot size or whatever else many guys feel insecure about for no reason. But you can do what you can to make it part of you, and not something that you are defined by. You don’t need to be Dave the Bald Guy, but you can be Dave, who just happens to be bald.
Male pattern hair loss can contribute to some psychological issues that include anxiety and depression, which is infinitely more harmful than the balding itself. You need to learn to find peace in your baldness and make sure that it does not consume you. It can be hard to come to terms with aging, but that is life.
So take on the balding mantle and own it. Yeah, this may take time, but others won’t think of you in any other way once you embrace the baldness and start living the rest of your life. Rest assured that your life isn’t over my friend if anything it is just beginning.
- Why is there a stigma around male baldness? – BBC News
- Male Pattern Baldness: Early Warning Signs – Belgravia Centre Blog
- Male Hair Loss – American Hair Loss Organization
- These Signs of Balding Can Be Reversed (and Here’s How) – For Hims
- Male Pattern Baldness: Causes and Treatment – Medical News Today
- How to Bald Gracefully: Tips and Hairstyles for Balding Men – Art of Manliness