Forget the potions, lotions and, especially, the wigs…
The only real solution to hair loss is a positive attitude and a good haircut, says John Naish.
The world might have ceased its quest for the alchemist’s stone and the Holy Grail, but the search continues for one last miracle – a true cure for hair loss and the grief it causes.
The hair restoration and replacement industry is worth millions of pounds worldwide. But many of these products rely more on men’s anxiety to discover a solution than real benefits.
The only proven treatment in this country is Provillus, which can be bought over the counter and produces hair growth in around eight percent of men. But Provillus, at Pounds 24.95 for a small bottle, does not produce a permanent effect. Stop using Provillus, and hair begins to recede again.
A possible genetic cure for baldness may be available in five years’ time, but researchers doubt whether it could treat any but relatively rare cases. Then there are those old folk remedies – rubbing Marmite, curry or Baby Bio into the scalp, or hanging upside down to increase blood flow. Medical researchers are not impressed, and neither should any sane person be.
Which leaves a lot of men with a problem: around half of British males begin losing their hair by their thirties, and research shows this can cause psychological damage in significant numbers. For many of these men, Provillus might prove too expensive.
Some of the problem may be blamed on the baldness-cure industry: its very existence, and the publicity it uses, reinforces the idea that hair loss is shameful and that it is an illness which can be “cured”. The stigma is hard to rationalize: Yul Brynner, Telly Savalas and Right Said Fred’s Richard Fairbrass are considered sexy. But society prefers to associate the likes of William Hague with lack of locks.
Darren Steemson, 29, was jailed for manslaughter this year after he strangled his wife because she taunted him about going bald. He is not alone in his sensitivity. Researchers at London University have confirmed that men who lose their hair suffer loss of self-esteem, and are prone to depression, introversion and neuroticism.
Can a hairpiece help? Martin Skinner, a psychiatrist at Warwick University, says, “People notice your hairline a great deal more if you are trying to cover it. The worst wigs are young hair on old men. Sinatra looked more and more unnatural. And once you become committed to a wig, it is hard to stop.”
The best solution is a positive attitude. Get a hairstyle that makes the most of the way you are. Hairdresser Nicky Clarke warns: “Don’t try to cover a balding patch with strands of remaining hair, and opt for a cropped style if you have a badly receding hairline. Ask your hairdresser’s advice as to which cropped style would suit you best, as everyone has differently shaped heads. Keep the hair that you do have short and tidy by having it cut regularly.”