6 Steps You Can Take to Help Thinning Hair

Hair loss can be a result of age, genetics, or sometimes a larger health issue. If you are suffering from thinning hair, you’re not alone: Two-thirds of men face hair loss by age 35. Whatever the cause, when a man starts to bald, his confidence starts to wane. A Spanish study found that 62% of balding men said that losing their hair does deflate their self-esteem. Luckily for those who are starting to go bald, there are a variety of ways to combat male pattern balding, which is an inherited sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, a by-product of testosterone.

If you choose to not accept it, there may be some other things besides genetics to blame for your thinning dome. Arm yourself with this follicular knowledge to take the necessary steps to help deal with thinning hair.

1. Take a good, hard look at your scalp

A man with thinning hair
There are ways to help your thinning hair. | iStock.com

Male baldness or hair thinning doesn’t happen all at once. Rather, it happens slowly and in close reaction to hormone levels in your body, says hair loss expert Dr. Bessam Farjo. When thinning starts to occur, “You’re likely to start losing your hair in two places,” Lilly Dillon, trichologist and managing barber at London grooming mecca Ruffians, told Fashion Beans. “At the temples or on the crown.”

Unfortunately, what tends to happen is that since balding is gradual, it can sometimes be hard to notice. A hair’s life cycle can be up to seven years. During that time thinning and balding can occur, and the follicle just never ends up growing back. This can make your intentions to take action several years too late. Take a look at some old Facebook pictures to see the differences in your hair to help see exactly where and when you began to go bald in order to assess how you should be approaching your thinning hair.

2. Figure out the cause

bald man
Find out what’s causing the issue. | iStock.com

One of the most common ways balding occurs is when your remaining hair ends up on the sides and middle top of your head, forming the shape of a horseshoe. When looking at yourself, if you notice a thinning that spreads across your scalp, and not so much at your crown or temples, this can indicate an underlying health issue. “Hormonal or nutritional deficiencies, such as thyroid problems, low iron, or low protein, can cause shedding,” Dr. Carolyn Jacob, founder of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, told Men’s Health.

Although it can take years before you even see any sort of discernible balding pattern emerge, once you notice it, it’s time to get to the doctor to assess your internal deficiencies. Dr. Marc Avram, clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College told Men’s Health that you should see a dermatologist as soon as you notice any sort of thinning so you can have part of your scalp biopsied to rule out any sort of hormonal or nutritional deficiencies. To find a dermatologist that specializes in hair loss and male-pattern baldness, go to aad.org/find-a-derm to find one near you.

3. Try keeping it under control yourself

a man washing his hair
Try thickening your hair with products. | iStock.com

Although there is nothing you can do at home to magically regrow your hair, there are some things you can do to thicken the hair you already have. There are two FDA approved drugs for hair loss: finasteride (Propecia) and minoxidil (Rogaine). Propecia, which is taken orally, works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT. However, according to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Propecia can mess with nerve-signaling pathways to your genitals, which can result in erectile dysfunction. Your other option is a very popular product on the market: Rogaine, which you can buy in any drug store and is applied straight to your scalp to encourage the follicles to stay open. Although both are clinically proven to work, these treatments are merely meant to prevent further hair loss and will not bring back to life deadened follicles.

Another option is to switch your shampoo to help prevent further loss. Opt for shampoo such as Nizoral A-D, which is the only non-prescription shampoo that contains ketoconazole. Men’s Health reports a Belgian study concluded that men who used a 1% ketoconazole shampoo two or three times a week for six months saw a 17% reduction in hair loss. If you choose to try a ketoconazole shampoo, Dr. Avram suggested to Men’s Health that you should “[u]se it with Propecia or Rogaine, especially if you have dandruff, because flaking can prevent penetration of Rogaine into the scalp.”

4. Try cutting your hair differently

man getting a hair cut
Your hair cut can make a difference. | iStock.com

If you’re uncomfortable going bald, there are different styles to try to mask or lessen the appearance of thinning hair. One word of caution: Do not attempt to grow more hair to mask balding areas, which can actually make your dome look worse — it’s important to embrace a shorter cut.

5. Opt for surgery or replacement

doctor looking at medical records
Surgery is an option. | iStock.com

If you’re still not happy using the aforementioned products and your hair cuts are not making you feel better about your pate, then you might want to consider a hair transplant. The procedure can run you anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000 depending on the size of the area/amount of hair to be transplanted. There are two options for hair transplant procedures, the first is follicular unit transplantation, or FUT, in which surgeons harvest a strip of scalp and then cut it into groups of three or four hairs, with the only downside being that it may leave a thin scar. The second option is follicular unit extraction, or FUE, in which the process involves robotically harvesting individual follicles from the back of the head. The FUE procedure has a shorter, less painful recovery and eliminates the chances of any linear scarring at the back of the head; however, the procedure is a little more challenging and takes more time. 

If you’re interested in the procedure, look for a surgeon who specializes in FUT or FUE and is a member of the International Society of Hair Restoration SurgeryIf you’re looking for something non-invasive that’s more of a quick fix, you can also try hair replacement.

6. Embrace it

man getting his hair cut
Embrace your look. | iStock.com

Not only is this your cheapest option, but it’s also the one that exudes the most confidence. Embrace your balding dome proudly by buzzing it off. Why worry about fighting it if you can look sexy by rocking it?