Three Ways to Make the Most of Thinning Hair
None of which are a comb-over.
Everyone guy loses some hair if he lives long enough. It’s a fact. How much you lose, and how quickly is up to your genetics, and some significant lifestyle choices. (In short, eat healthy, stay hydrated, sleep a lot, and minimize stress.)
Fortunately, we’ve entered the dawn of the hair regrowth renaissance. Scientists have also made terrific progress on hair transplants in terms of process and a natural-looking result. But committing oneself to these habits is a huge undertaking. Do you want to take a pill every day for the rest of your life (until the next big breakthrough, at least), or even commit to a hair transplant?
And, of course, some guys are completely content losing their hair and rocking either a shaved dome or simply committing to the power donut.
But this guide is for the rest of us at various stages of hair loss, acceptance, and denial. It’s for that moment when you realize you don’t have the hairline or density of your younger years, and before take drastic measures like medication or a shave. Follow these three steps to make the most of your thinning hair. N
1. Get the Right Cut
Barbers usually get a chuckle when we show them a photo of a celebrity and ask for the same hairstyle. Not because we don’t look like A-list actors and athletes (you do, obviously), but because 99 times out of 100, we have slightly different head shapes or hair patterns as those people whose picture we provide. No two people will wear the same style in the same way. It all comes down to hairline, density of each strand, density of all the hairs together, hair type, and so on.
And even if you found a haircut that perfectly suited you for 10 or 20 years, well, now the rules have changed. Your variables have changed. Your hairline or density has changed. So it’s time for a new cut.
A lot of the following advice splinters into two directions: One path for those who are thinning uniformly or at the crown, and the other for those experiencing recession from the temples. Yes, some guys will experience both, so they’ll need to apply the advice together as best that makes sense.
If you’re thinning uniformly, you still have a host of style options. Have your barber texturize your hair when you go in. He or she will snip away at the hairs to give it slightly different lengths throughout. This will do two things: It will allow the hair to fall into place without getting too bulky—especially since you can still wear your hair down and get full coverage, even if it’s less dense than before—but it also adds definition and texture for whenever you style your hair up.
If you’re receding at the temples, a slightly longer style—a couple inches or more—will benefit you most, if you want to cover the temples. After all, the aim here isn’t to deny your hair loss, it’s to work with it. Technically, this teeters into comb-over territory, but you won’t be accused of it so long as you aren’t severely thinning up top.
2. Get Some Good Styling Product
Getting a haircut is one half of the hair styling equation. The other is actually styling it, and doing so with the right product that keeps your hair in place, without calling extra attention to the thinning or receding.
If you’re styling it forward, choose a texturizing paste. It can be applied to wet or dry hair, which will dictate hold and shine. (Applied wet yields firmer hold and higher shine once it dries.)
Patricks light-hold thickening paste
If you’re styling it up, then dry shampoo is a good place to start. It texturizes the hair by stripping excess oils, and should be used on days you don’t shampoo (see the “Maintenance” notes in the next section.) This will make the hair look thicker overall.
Oribe dry shampoo
3. Step Up Your Maintenance Regimen
Don’t wash it every day, unless you want volume. Stripping your hair of oils can prevent greasy scalps, yes, but on the other hand, the natural oils produced by the scalp are actually nourishing and conditioning agents for the hair. Sure, sometimes it needs a washing, but oftentimes a simple rinse will flush the hair of product and excess grease, without stripping it entirely. (Most products these days are water-based anyway.)
When you do wash, notice that the hair gets poofy and dry, and is thus more voluminous. Maybe this is what you want, in which case, do you. But as a baseline recommendation, try to wash it every other day, then use dry shampoo on the in-between days to remove any excess grease and add volume.
There are numerous shampoos and conditioners that boost hair density, sometimes by adding extra or specific nutrients into the mix (to plump the hair strand), and other times by detoxifying the scalp.
Sachajuan hair thickening shampoo
Use a conditioner daily. Conditioning daily (or nearly daily) has many benefits. One, it will help rinse out any product on the non-shampoo days. More importantly, however, it will fortify the hair and scalp with nutrients, keeping everything healthy, strong, and style-ready. (As opposed to dry, overly washed hair, which tends to be resistant to styling products.) On days when you shampoo, use the conditioner last, otherwise it’s pointless. If you mix it with the shampoo or buy a 2-in-1, it’s also less effective. The idea is that it’s the last coat you put on your hair in the shower, to restore any vitality that you stripped away with the shampoo, or to reverse damage from environmental wear.
Given the myriad options available for shampoos and conditioners, we suggest sticking with a duo front he same brand—since they’re formulated to work synergistically and won’t compete against one another.
Sachajuan hair thickening conditioner
Add a weekly treatment. Be it a scalp mask or a hair mask, it’s smart to add a proactive step into your regimen, in order to multiply the effort with some densely concentrated nutrients. A hair mask can fortify each of the hairs on your head, to improve their “lifespan” and increase visual density. A scalp mask (a pillar of overall scalp care) can strengthen hair at the root, help anchor the follicle in place, and promote better nutrient delivery and hair growth.
R+Co Bleu hair thickening mask
Prose scalp mask