Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 7/25/2022
Bald spots: the bane of men with otherwise full heads of hair, the Achilles heel for your scalp and the extra sales boost sunscreen brands depend on each year to meet their revenue goals. Whether yours is a pinhole or a pie dish, you’re likely among the large majority of men who would prefer to make it go away and will try just about any hair products for bald spots to make that happen.
Finding the right product for a bald spot is tricky, because you want to both stop the spread of baldness and also cover the existing hairless coin. Does any product do this with 100 percent reliability? No.
If there were one product that helped you make your bald spot disappear, the manufacturers would be trillionaires and everyone would have a bottle at home just in case — even the dudes with no hair loss symptoms.
Instead, there are lots of products out there for hair loss, and it might take some trial and error to find the best product for your particular needs.
To understand what might work, though, you have to understand the problem you’re attempting to solve in the first place. So let’s start there, at the scene of the crime: why do bald spots even exist?
Bald spots: the sad signs of our mortality. Plenty of men look great with a shaved head but it’s genuinely hard to pull off that donut hole look. So, why does it happen?
Bald spots on the crown of your head are a result of hereditary hair loss caused by androgenic alopecia (also called androgenetic alopecia) — the scientific term for the hormone-based hair loss known as male pattern baldness. It causes hair loss on the crown of your head (where most men get a bald spot), as well as hair thinning along your hairline and the edges of your scalp.
Androgenic alopecia is thought to be caused by the hormone DHT. An imbalance of this hormone — specifically, too much of it — makes individual follicles stop growing. If DHT is present long enough, that pause in growth can become permanent.
How you treat a bald spot is generally associated with the type of hair loss causing it, so it’s important to first confirm a diagnosis and eliminate other types of hair loss or medical conditions before you go treating anything. But let’s assume your bald spot is indeed male pattern baldness at work.
While some loss of hair can be reversed, male pattern baldness is ultimately not a fight you can win — at best, it’s a stalemate you can maintain for decades.
How you sustain that stalemate is really a question of daily preventative medications. You might hear about other options that allow you to opt out of those daily meds (something about a laser comb), but few, if any of them, are considered safe and effective. So if you’re not ready to take a playbook out of Darth Vader’s medicine cabinet, you’re better off with something the FDA has approved.
Let’s agree to avoid “weird stuff” for a second — what are the products FDA-approved to treat baldness?
The two medications recognized for their ability to increase hair growth and potentially reverse some hair damage are finasteride and minoxidil. They’re very different medications, so let’s look at them one at a time.
Finasteride is first. You may know this generic by its brand name Propecia, but regardless of who manufactures it, the primary effect of this oral medication is to reduce DHT levels. Daily use of finasteride as recommended by a healthcare provider can indeed reduce DHT levels — some studies show it can reduce them by as much as 70 percent, which can drastically reduce the impact DHT has on your hair follicles. That’s one way to deal with the problem: knocking out the source of the friction.
Another way to deal with male pattern hair loss is to simply give your hair follicles all the help you can. If these were plants, we’d want Miracle Gro or another fertilizer, but the watering/fertilizing combo for your hair is actually just the same thing most of your other cells need: blood flow and oxygen.
That’s where topical minoxidil comes in. Minoxidil (you may know it as Rogaine) isn’t quite as well-understood by scientists, but while they don’t understand the mechanisms, they understand the effect: increased blood flow, stimulating the anagen phase, or growth phase, for the hair follicle, which results in hair regrowth.
Studies show that minoxidil can increase blood flow to follicles, which can then result in a higher total hair count, to the tune of 12.7 percent to 18.6 percent over a 48-week period.
As far as FDA-approved medical treatment, these two are the top tier of hair loss treatments. The other stuff — well, let’s talk about it.
“I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.”
“Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger!”
“When I show my barber my progress, he is always in disbelief. I have to recommend Hims to any guy who’s experiencing thinning.”
“Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.”
“I noticed a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.”
“Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!”
“I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!”
“In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.”
“4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.”
“I’m a 34 year old father of two and have been using Hims for over a year now. My hair is back to what it was in my mid twenties.”
So how do you cover a bald spot without FDA approval? There are several ways, from hair transplants to lesser known medical procedures like laser combing. But for our money, we recommend the following ways of dealing with the visual problems associated with bald spots.
Natural ingredients abound in the world of lotions, salves, shampoos and conditioners, and some of them even offer proven benefits. Saw palmetto, for instance, has also been proven to fight DHT alongside finasteride — while this study technically looked at DHT levels in the prostate, your hairline is definitely positively affected too. Whether a shampoo ingredient is all you need is another question, and you’ll find answers in Hims’ guide to what to look for in a men’s hair loss shampoo.
Losing your hair? Tattoo some new follicles on. Seriously — there are advantages to scalp pigmentation. Aside from being permanent or semi-permanent, it can also be really realistic in appearance when done by an expert.
Topical concealers and camouflaging products don’t actually regrow hair or help with permanent hair loss. In fact, they’re not a treatment for hair loss at all. But they are a way to make the problem less obvious and make you less self-conscious. Most of the time these products build volume onto existing fibers with a keratin-based compound that you shake over the bald spot in question. There are also spray options, which bond to existing hairs. The result of both types is the appearance of more hair density.
Hair pieces and wigs can be a great way to replace your confidence when you’re balding. Sure, it’s not the real thing, but your confidence is really the important thing here — if you feel good with a piece, who cares what anyone else thinks?
While we’re on that confidence game, who says you need to cover your bald spot anyway? Sure, it makes some men self-conscious, but there are plenty of dudes out there who unapologetically flaunt what’s real — if you’ve got a problem with that, be prepared to have your ass kicked by a bald guy.
If the balding look (or a shaved head) works for you, and you like the way it looks, great. If you have more important things to worry about than how the back of your head looks, rock on. Just remember the sunscreen.
Bald spots are part of life for many men, and while there are ways to address them (and keep hair loss at bay), they’ll eventually win the war. That’s okay — nobody needs hair when they hit 90. What matters is these younger years, and how you take care of your health now.
Why are we saying this? Well, because there are a lot of potential causes of hair loss symptoms, and not all of them are natural genetic hair loss. Hair loss could be a signal of something more serious going on under your scalp — or elsewhere in your body — like an autoimmune disease.
Male pattern baldness can come as early as your 20s, but you may see it much later in life instead. Hair loss can be caused or exacerbated by other factors, like stress, injury to the follicle caused by traction alopecia (which causes broken hairs), trauma or an autoimmune condition like alopecia areata.
If you’re seeing sudden hair loss or unusual hair loss (even if there’s nothing unusual about it at all) it’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider, who may notice other symptoms you won’t see on your own. Your hair loss may be very boring — we hope it is — but if there’s anything more serious going on, getting treatment is essential to preventing further problems down the road.
For now, though, get that male pattern baldness problem under control.
Ready to learn more about male pattern baldness treatment options? Read Hims’ DHT and male hair loss guide for some basics.