How To Make The Most Of Thinning Hair
Illustration by Mr Joe McKendry
Balding doesn’t have to be so bad. Manage your hair loss with our top grooming tips.
Ever since Delilah took to Samson’s locks, man’s hair and his sense of self have been inextricably linked; so much so that the first signs of potential loss can play havoc with our confidence.
But there are ways to stem the tide. Although thinning hair at the crown and hairline is the result of a common genetic condition – “caused by the inherited sensitivity to the testosterone by-product dihydrotestosterone (DHT)”, says Ms Leonora Doclis, senior hair loss specialist at the Belgravia Centre – a combination of lifestyle changes, treatments and savvy styling can stall loss, and help you make the most of what you have left.
How To Prevent It
We’re loath to say it, but short of rewriting your DNA, there are few tips or tricks to halt hair thinning outright, particularly if you’ve already started to go bald.
What you can do, however, is take steps to ensure your lifestyle isn’t accelerating your hair’s demise. Managing stress, quitting smoking and – gym rats beware – steering clear of a diet and exercise regimen focused on gaining muscle will ensure you aren’t making matters worse. “High-intensity, muscle-building regimens and supplements such as whey protein and creatine have been linked to higher DHT levels in men, which could contribute to a faster rate of hair loss,” says Ms Doclis.
Whatever you do, don’t stop washing your hair. “Many men avoid washing their hair frequently when they notice signs of thinning as they believe the two are linked,” says Ms Doclis. “But washing hair regularly – daily or every other day – not only helps keep the scalp in good condition, but can keep your hair looking thicker, too.”
How To Handle It
You should also approach the bathroom cabinet with caution if your crop is dwindling: some styling products – particularly wetter, oilier creams, serums and waxes – not only clump hair together, but they also weigh it down, making it appear even thinner.
Instead, reach for the stuff that promises to give more meat to your mane. “Matte-finish products offer a dryer finish, and tend to adhere to the hair without causing it to separate into parts and expose the scalp,” says Mr Denis Robinson, artistic director of British barber Ruffians. “Consider also using volumising products prior to blow-drying to help swell the hair shaft.”
NB. If your goal is to stop hair thinning entirely, and potentially grow some of it back, the only clinically proven solution is medical, says Ms Doclis. She recommends a course of finasteride (a once-a-day tablet that inhibits DHT), minoxidil (a topically applied cream or liquid that works by boosting blood flow to hair follicles) or, ideally, a combination of the two, which in most cases results in a visibly thicker thatch within six months to a year.
The Best Hairstyles For Thinning Hair
Whether or not you opt to tackle thinning with medical solutions, some expert advice on how to style your hair can make a little go a much longer way.
Firstly, know that it’s foolish to pretend nothing is happening. “The most common mistake we see men with thinning hair make is that they try to hold on to the style they sported when they had a full head of hair,” says Mr Robinson. “You should instead adapt your hairstyle to where you currently are, rather than where you’d like to be.”
Mr Craig Taylor, hairstylist for the likes of GQ, Esquire and ES Magazine, recommends two key styles: the French crop (a short scissor-cut style that works with the hair’s natural texture, letting it fall forwards slightly over the forehead), and a short, back and sides fade (a short, usually clippered, style that is graduated at the sides and back and offers a sharper, edgier look overall).
The main thing, Mr Taylor says, is keeping your hair short. “There is no point trying to cover up thinning hair [by leaving it longer in certain areas] – one gust of wind and your cover is literally blown!” You’ve been warned.