While not all of us can grow Viking beards and mustache à la Burt Reynolds, or even sport hairy chests peeking through unbuttoned Oxford shirts, we're still very protective of the hair we have on our heads. But how many of us take good care of it? Would we notice if we gradually come to have less hair?
Even if only 10% of young guys in their twenties are affected by hair loss, that number jumps to 40% when they are in their thirties and over 60% for those over 60.
These are some horrifying stats. Although hair loss doesn't have any adverse effects on our physical performance, we tend to psychologically associate it with aging, loss of confidence, and even defeat. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Hair loss is directly related to age
Let's explore what balding actually is and how we might spot the early signs of balding in males to try and fix it.
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On average, at any given time, we have around 100,000–150,000 hair strands on our heads and lose about 100 of them every day. At the same time, 90% of the hair is actively growing, although each follicle has its own stage of the life cycle:
First: Anagen — actual hair growth that lasts a few years.
Then: Catagen — transitional growth that lasts a few weeks.
And then: Telogen — the dying phase that lasts a few months.
After the Telogen phase, the cycle repeats. But as guys age, the growth starts to slow down, and hair stays on the head for shorter and shorter periods of time.
Read more: The Seven Stages Of Hair Loss
The natural hair follicles life cycle
There are quite a few types of hair loss, from temporary and spotty (Alopecia Areata) to permanent and universal (Alopecia Universalis).
The most common types of hair loss found in guys are Involutional Alopecia (natural hair thinning) and Androgenic Alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness.
With these types of hair loss, you can even see the first signs of balding in your 20s, such as receding hairline and loss of hair from the crown and forehead.
Most hair loss patterns in guys are caused by hormones; when free testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is highly concentrated in the scalp and contributes to hair growth in the early stages of life, it suppresses hair growth as we age.
What is DHT?
The good news is we can slow down, stop, and, in some cases, even reverse hair loss if we spot it in time (the earlier, the better). But how do we do that?
First, we need to know the signs of going bald.
One of the most common early balding signs in males is an early receding hairline, gradually pulling away from your temples and forehead. This is one of the ways you can tell if your losing hair
However, this process tends to be very slow. And while it might be obvious to a friend you haven't seen for a year or two, it's much harder to spot when you look at yourself in the mirror every day.
Simply take pictures of yourself in front of the bathroom mirror every month or so (make sure to capture the back of the head, too) and compare when you have any doubts.
Take a selfie to compare your hairline easily
Also, ask your partner — they might have a different perspective and can help you detect changes faster.
It's a given that your hair becomes thinner with age; since fewer hairs are growing, the growth rate slows down, and the duration of growth decreases.
Nevertheless, it's vital to recognize hair thinning as early as possible to have more options to deal with it effectively.
In general, noticing thinning is harder than noticing a receding hairline.
Sometimes thinning develops and advances at a steady rate along a larger area of your scalp all over your head, a phenomenon sometimes called "invisible balding."
Invisible balding is so gradual and balanced that it may be hard to notice anything until you've lost nearly 50 percent of your hair.
There is only one proven method that can answer all your thinning-related questions, like how to tell if you're balding at the crown or how you can tell if you're losing hair, and that is taking pictures often and examining your head for any new bald spots periodically.
If you are convinced that your forehead somehow seems longer, or people keep asking if you've changed your hairstyle (and you haven't), this can be another early sign of hair loss. A longer forehead can signal a receding hairline.
Read more: Five Common Types Of Hair Loss
It's not uncommon for guys who are seeing male pattern baldness signs to experience too many bad hair days.
If you haven't changed your shampoo or conditioner, maybe it's time to check if you're having hair loss problems. Check for thinning around your temples and on top of your hair.
Since you're now on guard for any hair loss, make sure not to stress too much if you see some hair on your pillow or in the shower. As stated above, losing up to 100 hairs a day is perfectly natural, and they will grow back again.
Even if you lose a chunk of hair at once, it might be completely normal. Called telogen effluvium, this effect results from lots of hair shifting to the telogen (dying) phase at once, which might look like shedding but is just part of the natural cycle.
Telogen Effluvium is completely natural
What you should watch out for is excessive hair loss over a prolonged period of time. If you see an abnormal number of hairs on your brush or hands during styling, for example, and it lasts for over a month — you should seek out some professional help.
Luckily, spotting a change in your hair falling out is usually relatively easy.
The best time to start thinking about how to reverse the early balding signs is as soon as you see them. Setting surgical methods aside, the only tested way to slow down hair loss is by taking proper medicine.
Note: Don't trust sources that tell you it's possible to reliably stop balding by massaging the scalp or incorporating certain foods (although low-protein and calorie-restricted diets might cause temporary hair loss).
Ineffective ways to stop balding
Your first option is the topical solutions (e.g. spray or liquid) applied to your scalp. They mostly work as a vasodilator, widening your blood vessels to improve blood circulation in your hair follicles, thus promoting their growth.
In this sense, these topical solutions don't stop hair loss but rather make better use of the hair growth potential you already have.
Being aware of the possibility of hair loss and taking pre-emptive actions (e.g. photographs) to compare facts to facts. And when you notice that hair loss is real, consult with a physician as soon as you can.
If you see that you're shedding too much hair, your hairline is receding, and you see your hair thinning, it's time to take action to stop your hair loss and reverse the process. These symptoms may be your first balding signs.
Most male pattern hair loss types are caused by the DHT hormone, and you can reverse - or at least slow down - the process by blocking it.
Keep in mind that it doesn't matter if you see signs of baldness at 18, the 20s, 30s, or even your 50s; if what you're experiencing is, in fact, hormone-related, chances are it is reversible.
- Not all hair loss is a sign of balding.
- An increased amount of shedding (in the shower or on your pillow), a receding hairline, and a thinning are the three main signs you should look out for.
- Most types of hair loss in men are caused by DHT (generated by free testosterone).
- By blocking DHT, you can slow down (or even reverse) your hair loss.
- The best time to treat hair loss is when you first notice it.
- There are many options for when you decide to treat your hair loss, including a change in diet and oral medications and solutions.