Hair loss. A word that many dread. There are a few things that the majority of men (and even women) fear when it comes to aging and it is definitely balding. The two main types of hair loss are alopecia areata (when the body’s own immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing hair loss) as well as androgenetic alopecia (an inherited hair condition in which there is hair thinning that then results in hair loss. It is an inherited condition).
It is normal to shed 100 hair strands a day but the issue arises when one begins to lose more hair strands than they’re growing. According to studies, DHT (5α-Dihydrotestosterone) is a male androgen hormone that causes follicles to shrink, which then shortens their life spans and decreases hair production thus high DHT results in hindered hair growth.
The American Hair Loss Association found that, by their mid-30s, two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of detectable hair loss. Furthermore, by the age of 50 around 85% of men will experience significantly thinning hair (1). Unfortunately, a lot of men can begin to experience thinning hair as early as puberty. The thinning first begins above the temples and it moves around the perimeter and top of the head and this soon results in a ring of hair remaining along the bottom of the scalp. Over time, the hair thinning soon results in a completely bald scalp.
In terms of the type of hair loss that men will experience, male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia) is the most common type of hair loss in men and the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that over 50% of all men over the age of 50 will experience male pattern baldness to some extent.
Who’s at risk of male hair loss?
The Mayo Clinic has revealed that the following factors may increase the risk of hair loss:
- Excessive hairstyling and/or hair treatments
- Hormonal changes
- Medical conditions
- Poor nutrition
- Significant weight loss
- Trigger events (when a person undergoes intense shock)
With the above mentioned in mind, you may still have a head full of hair but you’re also concerned about the fear of a receding hairline. If you are concerned about it, here’s how you can reduce your risk and prevent hair loss.
Tips For Men To Protect Against Hair Loss
1. Adopt healthy eating habits
A diet rich in whole foods and essential nutrients can help to ensure continuous, healthy hair growth. Here are a few foods you may want to start including in your diet.
A B vitamin, biotin deficiency has been linked to hair loss, so it’s best to ensure that you’re including enough biotin in your diet. Foods that contain biotin include nutritional yeast, tomatoes, oats, and spinach.
Omega fatty acids
In regards to hair growth, omega-3 fatty acids have been found to increase hair density and encourage hair growth (2). Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in wild-salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
Rich in antioxidants, a study published in the journal Skinmed found that green tea helped protect the health of locks by treating hair loss.
A diet low in iron can affect the normal cycle of hair growth as it shrinks the hair follicle, which then leads to hair thinning and hair loss. Why does this happen? Because the hair follicle is fed by a nutrient-rich blood supply.
If you want to improve your iron levels and ensure that your hair follicle doesn’t starve, then try to consume grass-fed beef, lentils, and dark leafy green vegetables like kale, and spinach.
Vitamin A plays a role in the production of sebum on the hair scalp. The sebum helps to condition the scalp and this then keeps the hair healthy. You can find vitamin A in foods such as carrots, cod liver, sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas, and broccoli.
Vitamin C is an incredibly powerful antioxidant that can help protect against the detrimental effects of free radicals. In addition to premature aging, free radicals can also age your hair. What’s more, vitamin C also helps your body absorb the iron it needs. Opt for vitamin C-rich foods like broccoli, papaya, cantaloupes, and watermelons.
Zinc helps to ensure the functionality of the oil glands around the follicles and it also plays a role in the growth and repair of the hair tissue.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, there is a strong correlation between zinc deficiency and hair loss.
High-zinc foods include pumpkin seeds, lentils, and chickpeas.
2. Avoid tight hairstyles and chemical treatments
If you’re a fan of the man-bun and other tight hairstyles, then you may want to loosen your hair – especially if you don’t want to keep it.
Tight hairstyles such as man buns or braids can cause traction alopecia – a form of hair loss due to the constant pulling of the hair which then inevitably damages the hair follicles. It’s important to be gentle when styling your hair.
Moreover, one should stay clear of chemicals that are introduced through hair straightening treatments and bleaching as they too can damage your hair. If you really want to color your mane, be sure to do so with the help of a trained professional.
3. Check your medication
Unfortunately, the side-effects that come with certain medications include hair loss. Therefore, it’s important to always consult your doctor and inquire about whether the medication you’ve been prescribed may cause loss to your locks.
4. Go for regular check-ups
In addition to medications, there are health conditions that may lead to hair loss, thus it’s important that you go for regular checkups to protect your health. Also, if you do happen to be diagnosed with a health problem, at least you’ll be better prepared for the possibility of hair loss.
Health problems that may cause hair thinning include hormonal imbalances (often as a result of your thyroid), PCOS, lupus, cancer, diabetes, pituitary gland disease, heavy metal poisoning, eating disorders, anemia, and even syphilis.
5. Keep your head sweat-free
The accumulation of sweat and oil in men’s hair can lead to the formation of dandruff and this then increases the chances of hair falling out.
If you want to keep sweat out of your hair, be it after a workout or during the warmer months, it’s advisable to invest in either a bandanna or water-resistant hair products such as the Smooth Viking Hair Care Styling Clay and the Patricks M3 Hair Styling Clay Pomade.
6. Practice stress management
Stress is normal, but concern arises when stress becomes chronic. What’s more, various studies have linked high levels of stress with hair loss (3). Therefore, if you want to keep a head full of hair, you may want to regulate your stress levels.
Aside from re-evaluating your life and finding the root of constant stress, you can also adopt stress-relieving techniques such as regularly exercising, listening to music, getting a massage, practicing yoga, and meditating.
7. Reduce (or quit) your smoking and drinking
As if you didn’t need another reason to quit smoking and cut back on your drinking, the threat of future hair loss may be enough. Putting out your last cigarette can do wonders for your health, and it can also protect your locks.
According to research published in the journal Dermatology, there exists a significant relationship between smoking and baldness. This may have to do with the fact that smoking affects blood flow to the scalp by reducing the amount of blood that flows to the hair follicles. This can then hinder hair growth.
In regards to drinking, excessive consumption of alcohol can be detrimental to the health of the liver and this can then lead to hair loss.
8. Scalp massage with essential oils
Essential oils are one of the best natural remedies out there, and they can be used to address a number of issues ranging from sleep concerns to seasonal allergies. That said, regularly massaging your scalp with the below essential oils can help protect and promote healthy hair.
Research published in the journal Skinmed found that rosemary oil appeared to work as effectively as the topical hair loss treatment, minoxidil, by increasing cellular metabolism, which then stimulated hair growth. Another essential oil that would provide a beneficial scalp massage is peppermint oil (4). You might also be willing to try out spikenard oil as an animal study done on rats found a 30% reduction in the time it took for the hair to grow back.
When using essential oils, one must never forget to mix them with a carrier oil such as coconut and jojoba oil.
9. Stay clear of these foods
Just like there exists food that can promote healthy hair, there are also foods that can prove to be detrimental to the health of your mane thus, it’s best that you stay clear of them. The following foods include:
- Caffeine – High levels of caffeine can dehydrate the body and this can jeopardize the growth of healthy hair. If you really need a caffeine fix, try green tea.
Processed foods – high in sugar, sodium, and trans fats, these foods can disrupt hormone balance and increase inflammation – both of which can lead to hair loss.
10. Try supplements
In addition to consuming a healthy and nutrient-dense diet, you can also add a few supplements to your diet that will serve to provide your body with extra nutrients. If that’s not enough, these supplements may also serve to help you maintain healthy hair.
11. Hair Washing hacks
A clean scalp is a happy scalp so it’s important to regularly wash your hair. However, twice a week should suffice. Over-shampooing can cleanse the hair from its natural oils and this can lead to damage and potential hair loss. Also, be sure that you’re using a natural shampoo and conditioner free of sulfates, silicones, and parabens.
After shampooing, be sure that you don’t brush it when it’s still wet as this can increase the chances of hair loss. Lastly, don’t frequently heat and dry your hair as this too may cause breakage and lead to hair loss. If you need to use a dry, make sure that you invest in a heat protectant.
12. Non-Invasive treatments
There are non-invasive treatments that will help with your hair.
The current Food and Drug Administration–approved treatments for hair loss that are plagued by ineffectiveness, noncompliance, and adverse effects. Recent advances in our understanding of hair physiology have fueled the development of more efficacious, minimally invasive, and safer treatment options for hair restoration, including plasma-rich protein and stem cell therapy.
Platelet-rich plasma, the autologous preparation of concentrated platelets in plasma when injected into the scalp of patients with both androgenetic alopecia (AGA) and alopecia areata (AA), has been shown to increase hair count and density. The clinical findings have been supported by histologic evaluation of the scalp skin. The isolation techniques for stem cells vary but regardless have shown promising results in early prospective and retrospective studies.
What happens if it’s too late?
If your efforts to prevent future hair loss fall flat, there are ways in which to address your hair loss.
After diagnosing the root of your hair loss, conventional treatments that can be used to address the issue include the topical application of minoxidil, oral finasteride, hair transplants, laser therapy, Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP), and even stem-cell therapy can help.
Surgical implants are becoming more sophisticated and effective. It is important to choose an experienced professional when considering any surgical implants. This type of surgery moves hair you already have to fill an area with thin or no hair. Doctors have been doing these transplants in the U.S. since 1950s, but techniques have changed a lot in recent years.
You usually have the procedure in the doctor’s office. Depending on the size of the transplant you’re getting, the process will take about 4 to 8 hours. You might need another procedure later on if you continue to lose hair or decide you want thicker hair.
Hair loss is more than just a superficial issue, as a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that balding can cause “dramatic and devastating emotions in patients, which can negatively impact their self-esteem, body image, and/or self-confidence.”. With that in mind, it’s important to take precautionary measures before it’s too late. However, if you find yourself losing your hair, it’s important not to lose hope. Rather, ensure that it doesn’t impact your mental health, which can then affect your overall health.