Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow – the battle with baldness

4 min read

All men suffer hair loss – of the 100,000 strands on your head, you will typically shed up to 120 a day. That’s normal. It is when much more than that waves adieu that hair loss may become a problem. For some, it is caused by medication, bad diet, big stress or just not tending kindly to your thatch. But for 95% of cases, blame your father, or his. Androgenetic alopecia, aka male pattern balding, is in the genes. And in lots of them – about half of men will show some signs of hair loss during their 40s.

More bothersome, for an estimated 25% of men, that can happen in their 20s – witness Prince William, his example suggesting that, even with all the money and power in the world, there is not a whole lot that can be done to turn the tide, short of surgery. Some products, however, do claim to at least slow it down – though no treatment is available yet to reverse it. In fact, with so much male self-esteem seemingly locked up in our locks, the company that first invents a proven ‘cure’ would be a global business overnight.

But wait. Baldness is not all bad. Polls suggest that bald men do every bit as well on the sex-appeal scale – as the likes of Jason Statham and Zinedine Zidane show. After all, it is a myth that bald men have lower levels of testosterone in their veins than the hirsute. In fact, studies have shown bald men to be three times more attractive to women in their 30s than the well-carpeted.

Think of the money you will save on haircuts too. A man balding in his mid-20s, and with an average expected lifespan, who is prepared to do the only decent thing to do with thinning hair and clipper the lot off on a regular basis – a job he can do himself – is looking to keep about AED70,000 in the bank. The bald man might even be said to be more memorable than the covered. Baldness, indeed, can be a boon to a powerful public image, even if it means you’re statistically unlikely to become President of the United States. But could Patrick Stewart have commanded the Enterprise with hair? Could Bruce Willis have wrecked entire cities with it?

SAVE THE WAVE

But if none of that convinces, are there non-surgical solutions to hair loss? Yes, but none convince entirely. There are, for example, many product based on minoxidil. Originally designed to treat high blood pressure monoxidil was found to have one welcome side-effect: hair growth. Well, welcome if it’s mostly on your head. You may be put off by the fact that nobody knows quite why it does this – possibly it’s about increasingly blood flow to the follicles – but clinical tests do suggest monoxidil has some benefits with some users.

More reassuring, surely, is a cup of coffee. The market has seen a spike in shampoos with caffeine as an active ingredient following the discovery that it can block the effects of dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, a chemical known to damage hair follicles. You’d need to drink about 60 cups of joe a day to gain the same effect, which would at least give you all night to admire the benefits. Others take a more decaf approach, blending in nutrients to nourish the scalp and hydrate and keep follicles healthy, the likes of aloe vera, ginseng and various complexes. Ironically, there is the widely-held idea that frequent washing of the hair encourages hair loss. For hygiene’s sake, please note that this is a myth. For those who are still hopeful for a bouffant, blow-drying doesn’t cause hair-loss either.

POP A PILL

Can you swallow a solution to your shiny pate? Certainly hair loss treatments are not all about pouring goo over your head. There are prescription-only tablet solutions, which have the benefit of delivering their goodness to hair root and the deeper layers of scalp where they’re needed via the blood stream – rather than maybe sitting on your scalp and disappearing down the plug hole along with a bit more of your hair. But there are also specially-formulated tablets that focus their ingredients on providing all that the hair follicle needs to retain maximum health – vitamins, minerals, nutrients and the like. One dietary cause of hair loss is iron deficiency – so it at least pays to take a daily iron supplement.

And if all else fails – and, sadly, it probably will in the end of what is a losing battle – you could try what in the industry they call ‘hair camouflage’: thousands of microscopic fibres, colour-matched to your own hair and charged with static electricity, which then bond with your own hair, making it look fuller. But, really, why bother with what is, in effect, a spray-on wig? Look after your hair, of course. Revel in it while you have it. But, when the genetic scythe comes, embrace your hair loss too. Life is short. And so your new hair cut should be as well.

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