The Ultimate Guide to Balding, Hair Loss & Hair Styles

—Eric Bandholz
The Ultimate Guide to Balding, Hair Loss & Hair Styles

Ok guys, a lot of us bearded dudes have thinning hair, and we need to have an ultimate guide on how to handle it. So I figured I'd address a bit of the process and what you can do about it.

What Causes Hair Loss?

Now, here's the thing, male pattern baldness (MPB) is caused by your sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and it's totally determined by your genetics. A boost in DHT will help with the growth of your beard, but it'll also hinder your ability to keep your hair. This is why you see a lot of guys who are losing their hair, but have great beards.

So, almost every man goes through hair loss or male pattern baldness. Off the top of my head, I think 50% of men will see MPB by their 40's and 67% of men will see it by their 60's. When and how bad it affects you is up to your genetics. While your mother's father will play a role into your hair loss, it's not a 100% indicator. Ultimately, if a bunch of people in your family are bald, chances are it'll happen to you.

I'd like for you to think of your hair loss like any other genetic factor - such as your height, eye colors, or skin color. There are things you can do to work with it, but at the root of the issue you'll have to love the person looking back at you in the mirror. IE, you're going to have to be cool with balding because that's part of what makes you, you!

Maturing Hairline

Now if you are still young (16 to 21) you need to understand the difference between MPB and a maturing hairline. The majority of guys will see receding of their temples and slight thinning of their hair as they wrap up puberty. The way I like to look at it is that you're going to experience hair loss in some form or you're going to die young. I'd rather live until I'm 100 and be bald, then die at 18 before my hair goes out. Very few men in retirement homes have a full head of hair.

Here is me when I was about 18 years old:

Eric Bandholz at 18 years old with no beard

Here is me not too long ago at age 35:

Eric Bandholz with sunglasses in suit

Here is my thinning crown at 33 years old (looks worse because of greasy hair):

Eric Bandholz balding crown

Now my crown has been thinner for a while and it appears that my genetics are for a slow approaching MPB. There is no normal ways to experience hair loss and some guys recede early at the temples and then it just seems to stop. Some guys start at the crown and grows from there, and some guys are thinning across the top.

Slowing down hair loss

Unfortunately in 2017, there aren't any cures for MPB, but there are some things that have been scientifically proven to slow down or stop hair loss. The best solution is the "triple crown" of hair loss management which in a few cases will actually help hair grow back.

Now these are all drugs and have side effects. The percentage of guys who have side effects is small, but there are also a portion who may have placebo effects of the side effects. IE, they think they are going to have erectile issues, then end up having it even though the drug didn't cause it. Every individual is different when it comes to tolerance to side effects and their desire to slow down hair loss.

You can get minoxidil & ketoconazole over the counter but will need a prescription for finasteride or dutasteride. When it comes to slowing down or stopping your hair loss, it's best to start early. With this option, I strongly recommend you reach out to your trusted dermatologist and understand how to use the products, the side effects, and realistic expectations.

Cosmetic & Surgery Alternatives

If those drugs don't help you still have some alternatives. There are powders / concealers you can spread into your hair and they give the appearance of thicker hair. There are downsides to that application as it can be messy.

There are toupees, which have really come a long way. Pretty much it'll be integrated into getting your haircut and Karl Pilkington did an entertaining segment on it for his show Moaning of Life.

Another alternative could be to tattoo on "stubble" for your scalp to give the appearance of stubble. It's called scalp micropigmentation and can work if you rock the bald look.

The most serious solution is a hair transplant, which essentially relocates hairs from the back and side of your head to the crown and top of your head. If you do this too early, you could end up with a weird hairline and will need to continue to get surgeries to fix the issue. It's also pretty damn expensive. TV announcer Joe Buck has dealt with an addiction to hair surgeries and it nearly cost him his career.

With any of these treatments I say own it, and be proud of the decisions you've made. There are tools available to fight hair loss and there is no shame in using them. In my opinion it's no different than choosing certain clothes to look a way, or getting tattoos, or getting braces for your teeth.

Hairstyle Options

Ok, now that we've established ways to deal with hair loss, let's talk about the hair style options you have. Many guys are quick to rush to the "shave it off" option when they start losing their hair. The thing is you don't have to do that.

Because thinning hair is so common, there are a lot of hair styles that work for balding hair and a good barber will work with your hair to get you a style that works. Find other guys who are having a similar balding style as you and use that as inspiration. Here's a short list of famous guys with thinning hair to get you started:

Keep in mind that these people make money with their image, so it's likely they've treated their hair loss with one of the solutions above. The biggest thing with thinning hair is to own it and not hide it. There's a difference between getting a hairstyle that looks good with MPB and one that is trying to cover up the baldness.

The worst thing you can do with balding is the comb over! That being said, I've seen some guys who have thick curly hair and their thinning temples are covered up natually without looking weird. We are all different so there is no one perfect solution.

Now, like a patchy beard a bald hairstyle will look better shorter. Some guys choose to completely bald on the entire head and that can require a little more maintenance than a stubble style. The other advantage of the stubble bald look is if you wear a hat other won't be able to tell you are thin up top. Other considerations of balding will be to grow a beard out and to accessorize with sunglasses or hats which we talked about in this video on bald style techniques.

With that, hopefully you are well prepared to tackle your hair loss journey. Don't worry about it as most guys will deal with it in some shape. It sucks because it's out of our control, but many obstacles in life are. Hair or no hair, you'll still be able to find your soulmate, find friends, get a job, and live a long and healthy life.


Hair loss happens to most guys and there are tons of options out there for you!