Whether you first notice the early signs of balding in the mirror or after spotting a few too many stray hairs on your pillow, it’s easy to go straight to panic mode after realizing that your perfect head of hair may not stick around forever.
However, losing some or all of your hair doesn’t always need to be a setback to your physical appearance, attractiveness or self-confidence. In fact, if you own it, a receding hairline or bald scalp can even be an asset.
From Jude Law to Jason Statham or Dwayne Johnson, numerous guys have proven that a full head of hair isn’t essential for looking your best.
From growing a beard to working on your physique or choosing a style that complements your hairline, there are countless ways to improve and optimize your appearance if you’re starting to lose your hair.
Plus, if you’re interested in keeping your hair, there are real, science-based treatments that can help you do just that.
We’ve gone into more detail on all of these below, with a variety of practical tips to help you look your best if you’re balding.
One of the easiest, most effective ways to improve your appearance while you’re losing hair is to choose a hairstyle that matches your hairline.
While some hairstyles make hair loss obvious, others can help to minimize the appearance of balding and keep you looking your best, even if you have noticeable hair loss at your crown or along your hairline.
Before we get into specific hairstyles for balding men, let’s get the most important thing out of the way. If you have noticeable hair loss, it’s generally best to keep your hair short.
The longer your hair is, the more obvious things like a balding crown or an M-shaped receding hairline tend to become. While there’s no need to go for a full buzz cut, the shorter your hair is, the harder it will usually be to notice your hair loss.
Good hairstyles for balding men include:
Whichever style you choose, make sure to get your hair trimmed regularly. The further your hair grows out, the more obvious a receding hairline or thinning around your crown tends to become, especially if you have dark hair and a light skin tone.
Since everyone’s hair and face is slightly different, there’s no universal “best” haircut for making hair loss less obvious. If you’re starting to lose your hair, try experimenting with different cuts to see which best complements your hairline and facial shape.
Ironically, the exact same hormone that’s responsible for hair loss is also partly responsible for the growth of your facial and body hair.
If you’re starting to go bald, an easy way to add some extra balance to your face is to grow out your facial hair. Not only can a beard give your appearance some extra character -- it’s also an effective way to compensate for thinning around your hairline or on your scalp.
As we’ve covered in our guide to growing a beard to match your facial features, the golden rule of growing a beard is that it needs to complement your face.
This means choosing a beard style that emphasizes the shape and width of your face, the type of chin you have and other factors.
If you’re not the beard type, consider rocking a little designer stubble as a replacement for a full head of hair. Not only is year-round stubble easy to maintain with a trimmer, but research shows that women tend to rate it as the most attractive type of facial hair for men.
If you already have moderate to severe hair loss, or if the idea of using medication to treat your hair loss isn’t appealing to you, an option worth considering is to completely own your hair loss by shaving your head.
Shaving your head has several benefits. First, it’s incredibly easy to maintain. Instead of having to visit the salon to get a haircut, shaving your head is an easy, straightforward process that you can do at home by yourself.
It’s also extremely cost-effective. Instead of paying $20 to $50 or more to have your hair cut by a professional, the only costs involved in shaving are the amount you’ll need to pay every now and then for shaving cream and a razor.
From a styling perspective, shaving your head is also as simple as it gets. Instead of having to spend time washing, drying and styling your hair every day, you can simply get out of bed and start your, all without your hair looking like you’ve just gotten out of bed.
Now, shaving your head -- also known as the nuclear option for dealing with hair loss -- isn’t for everyone. Simple things like the shape of your head, which aren’t an issue when you have hair, can become more obvious when your head is shaven.
If you’re used to how you look with hair, there’s also the possibility that you may not feel totally comfortable with how you look without it.
However, shaving your head is an option worth considering, especially if you have severe hair loss and would prefer not to use medication or undergo a hair transplant to reverse the effects of baldness.
Just like it’s important to maintain your hair, it’s important to maintain your scalp if you opt for the clean shaven look.
This means taking care of your scalp and protecting it from issues like cuts and scratches, razor burn, dandruff, sun damage and irritation.
The best time to shave your scalp is right after you shower, as the warm water from the shower will hydrate your skin. Washing your scalp in the shower also helps to strip away any dead skin cells and oils that can stick to your razor blade and make it less effective.
Before you shave your head, make sure to apply shaving gel or foam to your scalp to soften the hair and improve the glide of your razor. These steps can help to lower your risk of cutting your skin while shaving -- something that can produce unsightly nicks and scratches.
To avoid developing razor burn or ingrown hairs, make sure that you shave in the direction that your hair grows.
If you notice dandruff on your scalp (yes, it can happen even when you shave your head), apply a small amount of moisturizer to your scalp immediately after washing.
When you shave your head, the skin on your scalp is highly exposed to the sun. Over time, this can cause solar lentigines (age spots) and other common signs of skin aging to develop. It can also increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
You can protect your scalp from UV damage and its effects by wearing a hat or using sunscreen whenever you spend time outdoors. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF 30+, broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen for optimal protection.
While you don’t need to look like a professional athlete, keeping yourself in good physical shape makes it far easier to attract the right type of attention if you’re losing your hair.
For better or worse, the fit bald dude stereotype exists. Watch just about any action movie and you’ll usually be able to spot a physically fit guy with a shaved head either as one of the heroes or in another significant role.
Spend a few minutes looking at fitness magazine covers and you’ll notice the exact same trend -- bald and fit go really well together.
Like we said, you don’t need to look like an action hero or a pro athlete. However, keeping your body in good condition and maintaining a relatively low body fat percentage can make baldness an asset for your appearance rather than a liability.
Our full guide to getting lean goes into more detail about the diet and lifestyle changes you can make if you’d like to use going bald as an opportunity to get into shape.
Finally, arguably the easiest, most effective way to look good while you’re balding is to prevent your hair loss from getting worse.
Contrary to popular belief, hair loss doesn’t need to be something that just happens. Even if you are genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness, using the right treatments can help you to slow down, stop or even reverse your hair loss.
Currently, the most effective treatment options for male pattern baldness are medications called finasteride and minoxidil.
Finasteride is an oral prescription medication for hair loss. It works by reducing your production of dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, the androgen hormone that can damage your hair follicles and lead to hair loss.
Numerous studies have found that finasteride is effective at preventing and reversing hair loss in men. In one large-scale study published in 1998, researchers found that finasteride not only slowed down the progression of hair loss in men, but that it also stimulated hair regrowth.
Another large-scale study found that finasteride stopped hair loss in 99.1 percent of men prone to baldness and caused improvements in hair growth in 91.5 percent.
We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Minoxidil is a topical medication that you apply directly to your scalp. It works by shortening your hair’s resting phase, causing it to enter the growth phase of its life cycle early. Several studies have found that it’s an effective treatment for hair loss caused by male pattern baldness.
Unlike finasteride, minoxidil doesn’t affect your hormones. Instead, it works to prevent hair loss at the scalp level.
If you’re starting to lose your hair, using minoxidil can help you to maintain the hair you still have and potentially regrow hair in areas of your scalp with noticeable hair loss.
If you have moderate hair loss and want to avoid going completely bald, hair transplant surgery is an option that you may want to consider.
This type of procedure involves removing DHT-resistant hair follicles from the back and sides of your head, then moving them to areas of your scalp that are affected by hair loss, such as your hairline or crown.
We’ve talked more about how hair transplant surgery works in our full guide to hair transplants as a treatment for hair loss.
If you’re entering your 20s, 30s or 40s, it’s far from uncommon to notice some changes in your hairline.
Losing your hair doesn’t have to mean game over for your appearance. From cutting your hair short to simply owning your hair loss and shaving your head, there are numerous ways to look your best if you’re beginning to lose your hair.
If you’re one of the tens of millions of men affected by hair loss every year, you can use the tips above to improve your appearance and avoid letting your hair loss define how you look.
Finally, if you’ve noticed some of the signs of male pattern baldness and want to take action to protect your hair, you can talk to a healthcare provider online to learn more about your options.