Losing a little on top? Receding at the sides? Don't panic. Here's how to deal with thinning hair.
The bad news is that, if your hair is not thinning or receding already, there's every chance it will be in a few years' time.
That's because 40 per cent of men already have noticeable hair loss by the age of 35. Most of us worry about balding but do very little about it.
But there's also some good news. It is possible to do something about thinning or receding hair, whether that means hair loss remedies or just a creative way with the wax. So if you're getting a little sparse on top, read on and we'll outline your options.
According to research, a quarter of surveyed men say they won't seek help or advice about hair loss because they don't think anything works. And, well, they might be wrong. Though it's true that a quick internet search will uncover thousands of snake oil solutions with grandiose claims and no scientific backup, one substance has been given scientific approval.
The European Dermatology Forum recently convened an international expert group to conduct its first ever evidence-based analysis of all therapeutic options to treat hereditary hair loss. Its new guidelines recommend just one over-the-counter treatment option for men and women, an active ingredient called minoxidil.
Minoxidil is found in a number of hair loss treatments, including Regaine For Men foam. In tests, nine out of 10 men said they kept or regrew hair using Regaine.
"Hair loss in men still carries a major stigma," says Nicola Reid, a Regaine brand manager. "Men should take heart however, as they're not alone. On average, hair loss affects 40 per cent of men under 35. There is a myth that nothing can be done for male pattern baldness but there are clinically proven treatments that can help keep and even regrow hair."
Minoxidil works by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles, which in turn strengthens existing hair and stimulates new growth. When using a product like Regaine it usually takes between eight and 16 weeks for hair regrowth to occur.
Cutting it short
But using Regaine or any other baldness cure is not an easy option. You have to apply Regaine twice a day forever. Stop using it and it stops working. Nor is it cheap, at about NZ$140 for three months' supply.
So an anti-baldness regime might not be a road you want to start travelling down. You may think your own receding hairline doesn't warrant such a drastic and expensive solution. You may think it best to embrace your thinning mane.
If so, there are a number of other options. The most obvious is to crop your hair short and keep it like that. The buzz cut is an easy-maintenance solution that can look good and disguise thinning or receding hair. Short hair is less tapered than long hair, making it look thicker. Short hair also has lift, which again disguises its lack of density. And if you've ever seen a bald patch in long hair, sticking out like an egg in a nest, you'll know that it's not an attractive look.
Oh, and short-cropped hair is also eternally fashionable. Because quite a lot of men lose hair, cropped cuts never go completely out of style.
Should you shave?
Another option is to head straight past close-cropped and go for clean-shaven. This goes beyond easy maintenance to almost maintenance-free. You can wash your head with soap, and never worry about having a bad hair day again. And again, because so many men including celebrities sport this non-cut, it's never unfashionable.
The downside? You'll need a hat. It can be cold in winter and you should never forget to cover your unprotected pate when the sun shines. A burnt scalp can be painful.
If you have a bit more hair
If you are thinning a little or receding but still have a reasonable thatch, there are hairstyles that will make the most of what you've still got.
Perhaps the most popular is the short Caesar cut, which is named after the Roman emperor Julius Caesar and is sported by, among others, George Clooney. According to master stylist Dave Alexander, in this style the sides and back are clipped short and the top is left a little longer and brushed forward, using gel or wax if necessary. It's great for concealing a receding hairline or a thinning top.
Alternatively, go shaggy. This works best if you're just starting to thin. Get your hair cut quite short, then apply wax, gel or paste and just mess it up a bit. This rough-and-ready look is surprisingly stylish and also gives the most coverage for a thinning top.
If you're losing a little more, think of a crew cut shorter on the sides and slightly longer on top, but not pushed forward Caesar style. This mixes thinner and thicker areas, creating the illusion of a more full-bodied mane.
Alternatively, you could try the comb-over, a style sported by stars of a certain age and also known as a Bobby Charlton. Here, thicker hair at the sides is allowed to grow long and then combed over the balding top and middle. This cut deceives absolutely no one, and is probably the least graceful way to go bald ever devised.
Whether you want to try regrowing your thinning locks, or you just want a style that makes the best of what you have, the main thing to remember is that thinning and receding is natural, common and really nothing to be embarrassed about. Disguise it or embrace it, but don't, whatever you do, sweat it.