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Advice From Barbers: Dealing With Male Pattern Baldness

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Sharpologist gets its share of requests-for-help from readers.  Lately one of the trends for information, other than shaving, is dealing with male pattern baldness.  I can sympathize: my father’s hairline receded early in his life (I still have most of my hair though).  But what to do if you’re struggling with male pattern baldness?  One strategy is to embrace it and go bald.  But another is to work with a barber to find a way to make your circumstances look better.

Advice From Barbers

I reached out to some barbers who are also familiar to many wet shavers–Murdock of London, Iain Kane of Village Barber, and Craig Whitely of The Men’s Room–to see what advice they could offer.  Their comments and recommendations are below.

Murdock of London

For someone with male pattern baldness – styles which are appropriate depend on the density of the hair on top. Many clients may go through a decision making process where they consider whether to just clipper it all off – I would suggest that this is where asking your barber can help you come to a sensible decision. Nobody wants to be the comb-over guy, but growing thinned hair enough to create a shape at the top / front of the hair has the potential create a gentlemanly appearance.

Quite often thinning can advance in your 30’s, only to halt for a while. So hastily becoming a crew cutter will shorten your enjoyment of what you have left. There are of course styling products which if used correctly can help hair look thicker (sea salt spray, Murdock Matt Mudd) – basically drier products which do not separate the hair into clumps and help to create a fuller looking top. Oily products should be avoided as they separate the hair into clumps, exposing the scalp.

Sometimes hair thinning is due to weakening of the hair fibres – they get thinner to the point at which they are too weak to push through the hair follicle itself – the root bud – so they then temporarily switch off growing. To combat this kind of thinning, use a caffeinated shampoo/conditioner – such as Alpecin. Or even better, talk to your pharmacist or chemist about Rogaine system which uses caffeine and Minoxidil which can help kick-start regrowth.

Style-wise –  your back and sides should not look wider than the top is high, as this generally appears unflattering. I would say avoid ponytails and mullets too for similar reasons. Stick to classic shapes which your barber will be able to best provide after a consultation.

Village Barber

Male pattern baldness is a very ‘touchy’ subject for a lot of men with quite a few suicides worldwide every year as a result of the emotional trauma the condition can cause. Many men feel “less manly” and “less attractive” when subject to male pattern baldness.

Interestingly, various different polls over the years have consistently shown that when women are asked to name their top 5 “most attractive attributes they look for in a man,” baldness ranks very low. They are far more interested in a man with a good sense of humour, that shows them love and respect and can hold an interesting conversation. Indeed, many women are seriously attracted to bald and shaven-headed men!

When a guy is CLEARLY starting to recede, I always advise to work with nature and not against it. That means no comb-overs! The sight of a receding or bald man is not an unusual sight to most people and therefore they won’t look twice. Where bald and receding men make the big mistake is when they try to ‘camouflage’ their hairline by ridiculous comb-overs or, in many cases, even more ridiculous toupees and wigs. These only ATTRACT a second, bewildered glance as people stare in disbelief – attracting more embarrassment.

I therefore advise guys to keep their hair short – in line with the extent of the receding hairline.  Another thing to keep in mind is that, as the sebaceous glands – which produce the oily serum which coats the hair follicles – produce less and less oil, the shorter the actual hair strands, the easier it will be for enough oil to cover the entire hair strand. In other words, the longer the hair strand, the more oil that is needed in order to keep it in good condition. That’s why you will see clearly receding men who are trying to hold on to their long hair, with hair that looks dry with lots of split ends and in a generally poor condition. Their sebaceous glands have simply stopped producing the necessary oil in order to fully lubricate each hair follicle.

The best known ‘treatment’ for male pattern baldness is a product which contains Minoxidil. This drug was actually produced to fight certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure. However, one of the side-effects found was that it greatly increased the hair density of those – both men and women – who took it. Minoxidil is the active ingredient in hair regrowth products such as Rogaine.
In summary then, work with what nature has given you and embrace what you have to work with.

The Men’s Room

There are tips that work for some men but not well for others. But, As a rule of thumb. For men with straight to curly-hair,they should stick with styling products that make the hair appear fuller. My favorite product for that are matted putty’s like: Sumotech by Bumble and bumble, Fiber by American Crew and Eufora’s Hero for Men – Texture Putty.  Bumble and bumble, Eufora and also Aveda make very good hair thickening shampoo’s and conditioners as well.

Men that are losing obvious hair in the front, should consider taking the attention away by focusing on buzz cuts. However, avoiding a defined hairline is best in order to continue to keep the attention off the areas that are thinning.

Lastly, for the guy with the obvious “bald spot” in the back. He should ask his barber to cut the hair on-top the same length as the bald-spot to match. This way it will be well disguised.


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

2 thoughts on “Advice From Barbers: Dealing With Male Pattern Baldness”

  1. One solution probably hasn’t been mentioned because it won’t work for all men: implants. It’s not foolproof, but when it works, it’s easily the best solution – by far.

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