Bald spots are, to some extent, an unavoidable part of life. Given enough years, every person will experience hair thinning on the sides and crown of their heads.
But just because something might happen by the time you’re 90, doesn’t mean you have to start accepting it when you’re 30.
Men old and young hate losing hair, and for many the bald spot is a frustrating reminder of mortality. If nothing else, it doesn’t always offer the self-confidence we want to feel when we look in the mirror.
So what is to be done about bald spots? Well believe it or not there are actually quite a few solutions for covering, masking, or disguising a bald spot — in some cases, there’s actually the possibility of regrowing hair before things are too far gone.
Bald spots are typically caused by androgenic alopecia, which is both the most common hair loss type for men and the typical cause of thinning and balding crowns, as well as receding hairlines.
Androgenic alopecia is a complicated condition, but the easiest way to explain it is that an imbalance of the hormone DHT makes individual hair follicles stop growing.
Men will start to show symptoms as early as their 20s, but it can manifest much later as well.
Other types of hair loss are less common, and can result from excessive physical or mental stress on the body, or physical damage to the hair, or autoimmune conditions like alopecia areata.
In many cases these conditions can be arrested and even reversed, though they can never be cured. Treating bald spots, therefore, is a question of two solutions: regular or daily applications like cosmetics, medications and hair pieces; or permanent solutions like tattooing and hair transplant.
There are a lot of options, and some may make more sense for your lifestyle and reason for hair loss than others, so check with a medical professional before you begin any treatments.
Believe it or not, the solution to hiding some thinning or bald spots in your hair might be as simple as some style changes. Everything from the way your hair is cut to the way you dry it can have effects on the appearance of bald spots. Consider using a blow dryer after the shower to give it more lift, or discuss changes to your normal hair cut with your barber.
Of course what everyone wants is a way to hit “undo” on the balding process, and fill the space with, well, real hair. There are several ways you can potentially do this, including by taking prescriptions.
Oral and topical products like finasteride block the hormone DHT — the hormone that causes hair loss in androgenic alopecia.
According to research, taking finasteride on a daily basis reduces DHT levels by about 70 percent, which is enough to slow down the effects of male pattern baldness and can even reverse it in some cases.
And studies show that use of minoxidil over a 48 week period results in increased thickness and total hair count, to the tune of between 12.7 percent and 18.6 percent. If you’re just shy of officially bald, but definitely have thinning hair, the extra thickness provided by minoxidil can be the visual difference between bald and disguised.
And not everything has to be a prescription. Though admittedly it’s less proven, the popular supplement saw palmetto also helps fight DHT levels and may be effective alongside a medication like finasteride.
As a note, saw palmetto may be an ingredient in certain shampoos, which might also include things like biotin and other essential compounds. Our What to Look For in a Men’s Hair Loss Shampoo guide contains a full list of the ingredients you should check for in a shampoo.
There are plenty of advantages to scalp pigmentation — tattooing — to semi-permanently and permanently fill in color in thinning areas. If your hair loss is mild and that bald spot on your crown is more of a bald-ing spot, this may be an effective, one-and-done treatment option for you.
Also known as camouflaging products, topical concealers are cosmetic ways of hiding the bald spot without actually growing hair. The most commonly used camouflages include hair building fibers (a keratin based product in a shaker jar) which increase density when applied to the scalp near bald spots.
Scalp spray thickeners work similarly, but instead of adding mass, they bond fingers together to create the appearance of density. They can also add color.
There are also products like alopecia masking lotion: a tinted lotion that is applied to create the impression of thicker hair.
Hair additions (pieces and wigs) can be attached to existing hair and blended to achieve the look of a full, natural head of hair. Accessories like scarves, hats, bandanas and turbans are also good at concealing bald spots when a less time-consuming option is needed.
Maybe the solution to covering a bald spot isn’t to hide it, but to embrace it. Though many men struggle with self confidence when hair loss begins, it’s possible to embrace it and emulate some of the bald icons out there, including The Rock, Bruce Willis, and Jason Statham.
If you think this look might work for you, well, it may be time to commit to being bald and proud.
Whether you’re comfortable with your look or wanting to take back control in the follicle fight, educating yourself on what’s going on up top is an important next step for your health.
Covering up a bald spot might be a short-term solution to an immediate problem, but there may be greater underlying problems at work if your baldness is sudden or recent. While hair loss is a natural part of aging, it can also signal other health concerns related to diet, stress, blood pressure and other potentially life-threatening conditions. So if you’re noticing a rapid change, before you jump to cover it up, seek the help of a medical professional.
Want to learn more about male pattern baldness? Our guides to DHT and male hair loss, what you should know about using finasteride and how minoxidil and finasteride can work together to stop hair loss cover the treatment aspects of male pattern baldness in more detail.