Balding Gracefully: Tips and Hairstyles for Balding Men

You’re noticing more hair in your sink and in your shower. But for awhile you ignore it. Then one day you’re staring at your ugly mug in the mirror, and there’s simply no denying it anymore. You’re starting to go bald.

No one has ever referred to men’s hair as our “crowning glory,” but hair loss can still be a big psychological blow to men. For many, it’s likely the first sign they’re getting old. Baldness is a subtle reminder that one’s youthful glory days are slowly slipping away. And it can make a man feel less confident and attractive.

Feeling blindsided by their traitorous scalp and missing their old hair, some men can get stuck in different stages of the grieving process, unable to move on to acceptance. They start wearing a ball cap or a beanie wherever they go. And they stubbornly stick with the hairstyle they rocked when they were 20, even though it’s now making their thinning hair look even worse than it has to. They don’t know how to go bald gracefully.

Because hair loss is something that affects over 40 million men in the U.S. and hundreds of millions more worldwide, I thought it would be good to offer the follicley-challenged out there some help on how to deal with baldness like a man. For advice, I talked to master barber Tony England from Red’s Classic Barbershop Co. in Nashville, TN. Tony has seen plenty of men with hair loss come through his shop, and he himself is a distinguished balding man, so he knows what you’re going through. Here are his tips on balding gracefully.

Find Out the Cause

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When a client comes in who’s noticed he’s starting to go bald, Tony tries to find out what’s causing the customer’s hair loss. “In many cases, hair loss isn’t caused by heredity, and steps can be taken to stop hair loss,” Tony explains. He’ll ask his client if they’ve been under a lot of stress lately. If so, he recommends that they get a massage and chill the heck out. Stress can be a big time cause for hair loss in men.

If his client is calmer than the Dalai Lama, then Tony asks if they’re taking any medicines, as some medications come with the unfortunate side effect of hair loss. Once they stop taking the medication, the hair comes back. Of course, stopping or switching medication just so you don’t go bald might not be an option for most men. Check with your doctor if you are experiencing hair loss to see if a) the medication might be causing your balding and 2) if there’s an alternative you can take that doesn’t thin your hair.

Another possible cause of balding is calcium deposits on your scalp. “Calcium deposits shut the pores on your head which prevents hair from coming through the scalp,” says Tony. To clear up these calcium deposits, Tony suggests shampooing your head with hot vinegar, wrapping a hot towel around your head, and letting it sit for a few minutes. Shampoo normally right afterward, unless you want to smell like you stuck your head in the pickled egg jar at your local bar.

If you’re not stressed, taking medications, or have calcium deposits, you’re probably like millions of other men who have inherited their receding hairline from the men in their family. There’s a lot of old wives tales out there about which side of the family passes on the genes for baldness; you’ve likely heard someone say that if your mother’s father or grandfather was bald, then you’re destined to be bald as well.

But if you thought you were free and clear from inheriting your father’s bald head because your mom’s dad has a thick lush mane at 95, I’m sorry to break it to you, you’re not. Some recent studies have identified a gene that shows men are more at risk for hair loss if their father is bald. But you can also inherit this gene from your mom’s side of the family. So basically if you have any bald eagles roosting on your family tree, there’s a chance you’ll go bald, too.

Fighting Nature’s Course

So genetics has dealt you the bald card. What do you do? Well, if going bald really bothers you, you can always try to fight Mother Nature using a few techniques.

  • Rogaine. Rogaine is a topical medication you put on your head that promotes hair growth and keeps the hair you do have left from falling out. You can buy it over the counter at most drug stores. The biggest drawback is that once you stop using Rogaine on a regular basis, your hair loss will resume once more. Thus, you’re pretty much signing over your scalp to Bossman Rogaine for the duration of your natural life. Rogaine isn’t cheap, either. That means you’ll have to invest a small fortune just so you can keep your hair. “You have to ask yourself if the daily regimen and expense is worth it,” Tony advises.
  • Hair transplants. Another option is Hair Club for Men. You probably remember the old commercials where the guy proclaims, “I’m not only the Hair Club president, I’m also a client,” followed by a parade of before-and-after pictures of bald men who magically grew their hair back. The “magic” behind Hair Club for Men is hair transplants. A doctor will relocate bald resistant hair follicles from the back of your head to the balding areas on the top of your head. Because the hair follicles on the back of your head are resistant to hair loss, in theory you’ll never have to worry about balding again. But be careful with transplants. They’ve come a long way from the hideous and conspicuous hair plugs of the 80s, but even now, if they’re done poorly, your results will look unnatural. Moreover, hair transplants are expensive. Really expensive. You’re charged by the graft. Many hair transplant procedures require 600-1,000 grafts. A conservative cost per graph is $6. So do the math, and you’re looking at about $6,000 for the procedures. That’s quite a rich head of hair.
  • Toupee. Toupee wearing men have been the butt of many a joke. With good reason. Most wigs are poorly crafted and poorly fitted. Result? You look like Uncle Louis from Christmas Vacation. But, according to Tony, a toupee can actually look completely natural if you spend enough money to get the best of the best. “You’d be surprised how many male celebrities wear wigs.” Tony notes.

vintage ad advertisement baldness cure vacuum

If worse comes to worst, you can always try your vacuum cleaner and a cigarette.

Accepting and Embracing Your Baldness

Tony thinks, and I definitely agree, that the best option is for a man to accept the fact that he’s balding and simply embrace it. It’s cheaper and involves less work than the above options. No need for snake oil cures and tearing up pieces of your scalp like layers of turf. When you start noticing your hairline recede, just remember that millions of men go bald and still have successful careers, attract the ladies (many women actually prefer bald men), and generally have kick ass lives. Your worth as a man isn’t tied up with how much hair you have on your head. If you don’t make a big deal out of your hair, no one else will either.

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