If you regularly wake up to a pillow covered in shed hair and constantly have the self-conscious urge to do a combover à la Donald Trump (pro-tip: don’t), it’s probably time you accept the fact that you’re getting a little thin up top.
If you’ve long acknowledged it and have tried to remedy the gradual rise of your hairline with all sorts of so-called quickfix shampoos and pills, you might need to face the hard truth: hair loss is almost entirely out of your control. Why? Because going bald is something coded into your genes.
Around 3 out of every 4 men have Androgenic Alopecia, a condition you might otherwise know by these three swear words: Male Pattern Baldness. Fun fact: Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the testosterone derivative that causes MPB, is also the reason why some men can grow long and luxurious beards. DHT-sensitivity is hereditary, and when it comes to MPB, most men start losing hair before they turn 50 years old; the unlucky ones, before they even reach 21. So if your hair started thinning when you were still going through growing pains, you now know you’ve got your parents to blame.
Of course, illness and stress can also lead to hair loss. Male Pattern Baldness, like the name suggests, happens gradually in a recognizable ‘M’ or horse shoe pattern, so if you’re going randomly patchy at a rapid rate, you’re better off visiting your doctor first and finding out what’s wrong. The silver lining? Unlike MPB, once your body is on the mend and all your systems are back in working order, you stop shedding hair.
For those of you who are simply damned to baldness by genetics, not all hope is loss. There are ways to slow down the hair loss process.
1) First things first—you can start keeping a well-balanced diet
While eating healthy won’t stop you from growing bald, it will keep what hair you do have healthy. Food that’s rich in protein, healthy fats, and Vitamins A and B, will have a positive effect on your hair, making it look shinier and thicker. Drinking plenty of water will also go a long way in ensuring your hair stays strong and hydrated.
2) Try some old school home remedies
Massaging coconut or amla oil into your scalp is a popular, if not scientifically-proven, method to keep your scalp healthy and strengthen your roots. Doing an egg wash (to introduce extra protein into your hair) or rubbing in aloe vera gel (to optimize your scalp’s pH balance) are also equally effective ways to promote healthy hair growth.
3) Go for more modern, FDA-approved methods
For this, you have three options: Minoxidil, though you probably know it as Rogaine, is an over-the-counter topical solution that you massage into your scalp twice a day. It revitalizes your hair follicles and, for a lucky few, causes actual regrowth. Minoxidil is considered to be one of the most effective non-invasive ways to stop hair loss.
Another treatment is the oral prescription medication Finasteride, sold as Propecia, that disrupts the conversion of testosterone into DHT, which, as mentioned, is the main cause of MPB. Originally produced to treat prostate cancer, it has since become a popular method to prevent hair loss and encourage regrowth. Be warned though, since Finasteride affects your hormones, there have been a few cases where the drug has led to a lowered libido.
Take note that both Minoxidil and Finasteride are lifelong commitments. They stop being effective as soon as you stop taking them.
4) Try laser light therapy
The last FDA-approved hair loss prevention method is laser light therapy, which can be done at a clinic or at home (if you manage to get your hands on the required device, that is). This treatment stimulates blood flow for hair growth, as well as encourages the protein synthesis needed for hair regeneration. Laser light therapy demands regular treatment multiple times a week for an indefinite period, but results do appear: you not only get to keep what hair you do have, you might also end up with a thicker mane.
5) Go for hair transplants
While not necessarily a last resort—many men choose to do this as soon as they notice significant hair loss rather than try taking medication or home remedies—it does require bigger consideration and commitment. Thankfully, technology nowadays has led to more convincing transplants than the hair plugs of yesteryear. Two such ways are the strip method, which has your doctor taking a strip of skin at the back of your neck and dissecting it into grafts, and the follicular unit extraction (FUE) method, which involves individually harvesting hair grafts from your head. Both methods are costly, though they do lead to relatively immediate and visibly effective results.
At the end of the day, whether you choose to go down the home remedy route, or decide to take FDA-approved medication, or cash out and have a transplant done, or do nothing at all, hair loss is a natural part of life, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
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