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In the interest of putting a dent in the taboo surrounding male hair loss (and to assuage our own nosiness), we spoke to seven male-identifying people at various ages and stages of hair loss. Here’s what they had to say about their fears, their methods, and their balding icons. (Hi, Patrick Stewart.)
Balding young can actually work to your advantage.
“I started balding at the end of college and was, initially, pretty bummed. I thought of the Simpsons episode where Homer grows a full head of hair and instantly gets a promotion. I talked to friends and my then-girlfriend (eventual wife) about whether I should figure out how to get it back. A couple people gave me practical tips, but most said it didn’t matter and so I just let it go. Eventually, I stopped caring.
In reality, I think it helps professionally because I look a bit older. Once at a meeting when I was 23 or 24, the client was making fun of a team member for being so young. He had a full head of hair. He was also two years older than me.
The only downside now is having to worry about the sunburn.” —Evan, 28
Degree of baldness: “Missing a solid patch from the top and have the old Jude Law peninsula going on in the front.”
There are all kinds of methods to combat balding, from shampoos to hormones to changing your diet.
“I come from a family of bald men, and my joke has been that I want to keep my hair until I’m 30. Now I'm 30, and I want to keep it until 35 or 40! I also said that I’d rather shave my head completely than keep noticeably thinning hair. I'm not quite ready for that change, and thankfully I haven't reached that point.
I first noticed my hair thinning after graduating college, which was a little embarrassing at the time — balding wasn’t the look I was going for at 22. I started taking Propecia that year, which I didn’t end up liking because it’s hormonal. I then realized that my hair thinning coincided with me eating vegetarian and learned that many vitamins and nutrients that you get from eating meat are good for hair growth. There’s also natural solutions, like saw palmetto, that work for some people. I started taking a daily supplement and using a shampoo for thinning hair. I’ve used that for that past five-ish years, and the results have been good. I wouldn’t say the hair has grown back, but the thinning has slowed.” —Anonymous, 30
Degree of baldness: “I’m thinning in the front. It’s noticeable that I’m balding but doesn't look like I’m bald.”
“There are several different types of alopecia, one being my own, called alopecia areata. I lost over 70 percent of my hair [five years ago], which was triggered by stress. Over time, I was able to restore my hair, but it took education and lifestyle changes. I have changed my entire career to help others with hair loss — I am the California division leader for National Hair Loss, working directly with patients, doing consultations, and overseeing them on our hair recovery program.” —Stephen, 34
Degree of baldness: “I have a mature hairline [four finger-lengths above the eyebrows], with an average of one alopecia areata flare-up per year.”
Balding can be scary, but also super sexy.
“I first learned about my bald spot when I started dating my boyfriend, Ian. We were 26 and had been together for a few months at that point. I only remember we were talking about hair, and I mentioned that I liked my then-thick locks. Casually, he said, ‘What about that thinning spot on the back, though? It’s gotten bigger since we started dating.’
I was SHOCKED and OFFENDED, let me tell you. And since then, I’ve obsessed over it. I look with chagrin every time my barber holds up the rear-hand mirror to inspect his handy work. ‘It’s fine,’ I say, ignoring the growing scalp chasm as best I can.
I don’t have negative feelings about baldness, not that I know of, anyway. I find many bald men attractive — Corey Stoll, anyone? — and have dated many; the confidence of baldness is sexy as fuck. But am I cut out to be bald, too?
I'm not bald yet, but who knows how long I have? How can I hide with nothing there? Is there time to find out?” —Joseph, 31
Degree of baldness: “I’d say we’re about the equivalent of a half-dollar area on the backside of my head, so it’s not readily apparent from a face-to-face POV, but give it a year.”
You can try and beat genetics to the punch...
“I’m 32 and I still have a head full of thick hair with minor hairline recession. I’m so thankful for it. If I can keep my hair until 35, I won’t care about anything else that happens to it after that. But the second I do go bald, I’m taking a straight razor to my scalp and owning my baldness. The only thing worse than going bald is pretending that you're not.” —Ben, 32
Degree of baldness: Full head of hair.
“My advice to balding men? Just shave it off. In the words of Princess Anna of Arendelle, ‘Let it go.’” —Jeremiah, 25
Degree of baldness: Full head of hair.
...or you can just embrace it.
“I knew it was going to happen, of course; my dad was balding in his 30s, and for all I know it might have been sooner than that, since I was born the year he turned 26 and I had more immediate concerns than hereditary baldness. As it turns out, it was indeed hereditary: I don’t know if I got it worse than the others because I was the firstborn, but I did get it, and quickly. Things started getting sparse before I was 25; by 40, there wasn't much left. I did not, however, take the usual steps to conceal my condition: no expensive drugs, no transplanted plugs, no squirrel fur glued to my head. It was, I decided, what it was, and while things seem to have quit receding for the moment, I'm way past 60 and no longer noticed by anyone, myself included.” —Charles, 63
Degree of baldness: “There remains hair around the fringe, but the big empty circle in the middle is gradually becoming more so :)”
Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.
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