Some things are above politics. When David Cameron was pictured with an ingenious new backcombed style for his thinning hair, you can be sure that balding heads of all allegiances shook in sympathy. If yours is one of them, however, there are things that you can do.
1 Accept it
Male-pattern baldness is controlled genetically, and seems to be passed down predominantly on the mother’s side. So if your maternal grandfather or uncles are bald, you may well lose your hair too. The process can begin at any time from puberty, but most often comes on around 30, and by 50, half of all men have lost some hair. At the very least, you will never be alone, and can call Sean Connery, Zinedine Zidane, Heston Blumenthal, Jude Law and Larry David comrades. There is also support and advice available from Alopecia UK.
2 If you are going to act, act fast
Once you are fully bald, the fight is over. Even when you are halfway there it will be difficult to get it all back. If you begin drug treatment during the very early stages, though, you have a decent chance of replacing every hair, and keeping them. Minoxidil and finasteride, especially, are shown to make a real difference at this stage.
3 But don’t panic
“Any male over the age of 20 or 21 will have receded a little bit,” says Marilyn Sherlock, chairman of the Institute of Trichologists. “It’s not necessarily a precursor to male baldness. It’s when you’ve got a thin area on the crown at the same time that you’ve got problems. That’s when to start treatment.”
4 The drugs do work
Few conditions draw more quacks than baldness, but don’t let that confuse you. “There are only two products that have been clinically trialled, minoxidil and Propecia [finasteride],” says Sherlock. Minoxidil costs around £15 a month and comes as a liquid or foam you rub into your scalp. Propecia is a new drug taken as a tablet, and found to be effective for 68% of men, but it costs around £50 a month. Both cease to work when you stop using them, so you are committing a lot of money. Transplants such as Wayne Rooney’s are an option, but be careful. “There’s no specific qualification for transplant surgery,” Sherlock says, “so do a bit of homework.”
5 Talk to your doctor
There are many other reasons why men – and women – go bald, besides male-pattern baldness, and often these are easier to treat. “Crash dieting is the big one at the moment,” Sherlock says. “That can cause hair loss easily, and very rapidly.” So if you’re losing your hair, don’t just assume it’s age. Your doctor may find an underlying cause that can be treated.
6 Style with care
If your hairline is receding at the temples, work with it by parting the hair down the middle of one of the receding areas. “That tends to be OK if your hair is not too thin as well,” says Alex Glover, master barber at Murdock. “If it is, it may be better not to style the hair up, but to go for something quite short that sits forward on the forehead.”
7 Bald spots demand length
Cameron’s solution to his thinning crown is respectable, but badly executed. “The mistake he’s made is to leave the front quite short,” Glover says. “If you’re going to use that hair in the middle to cover the bald spot at the back, I would just grow it quite long and flick it back. That can look quite cool on an older guy. But to have a bit of a quiff as a prime minister is probably a bit difficult.”
8 Beware the island
Some men are cursed with incomplete baldness, leaving a small tuft of hair at the top of their forehead, which looks strange if it is shaved off on its own. “That is quite frustrating,” says Glover. “I have a client who, for a long while, would grow the rest of his hair to sit over that, but there comes a point where you can’t get away with it.” At that point either clippers, or acceptance, is the answer.
9 Wigs are available, if you insist
There have been great improvements in wig technology over the years – and you can even get them on the NHS – but they remain wigs. You may well have your reasons for wanting one, which is fine, but do consider whether you’ll be worrying about it constantly, which isn’t.
10 Resist the clippers, then embrace them
The last resort, and now very respectable, is an all-over buzz cut. Don’t reach for it too soon, though. “If you’re going a bit thin, or you’ve got a receding hairline, I’d continue to ask your hairdresser’s advice,” Glover says. “For instance, if you wear glasses, I don’t think a buzz cut would work as nicely as if you have a bit of shape on the back and sides. But it depends on the person’s face. At the end of the day, everyone knows that this happens to men.”