Male pattern baldness for a young gay man can be tough to come to terms with, but rest assured that your hair is only one aspect of your overall appearance and personal style. Instead of obsessing over that which you lack — and have little control over, frankly — concentrate on the total package you present. When your shoulders are held high because of boosted self-esteem from other outward factors, people will notice (even the haters!) — without thinking twice about your sitch up top. To make the move to a more confident you, consider these tips on how to accept (and love) your balding head.
1. Assess the situation
If you notice your hair thinning and that prospect is a source of anxiety for you — I’ve been there myself — assess the situation rationally and consult a professional. Master barber Brandon Barney suggests taking the issue straight to the person you’ve trusted your hair with for years: your barber or stylist.
“The barber should have an idea — if they’ve been doing your hair for long enough to see it change — of both how your hair is growing and when it’s starting to retreat,” he says. “If you don’t have a regular barber, be your own detective. Look in the mirror and really look at yourself. After the shock of ‘Holy shit, I’m old’ wears off, be honest with yourself. You’ll know if it’s easier to see your scalp if your hair looks thinner at the roots.”
It’s important, too, that you’re comfortable enough and have a decent rapport with your barber or stylist that they’ll tell you the hard truth. My stylist downplayed my thinning for a long time out of fear of hurting my feelings. That didn’t help the situation, and I lost valuable time in trying to halt the process. That’s how I wanted to approach the issue — with a Minoxidil regimen — but that was a personal choice and certainly not an endorsement for the temporary remedy. This is a do-you situation and only you can decide how to make the best of it
2. Stop lying to yourself
I was in denial about my male pattern baldness for several years because I didn’t want to accept that my youth had expired. As a result, I grew more self-conscious every time I looked in the mirror. I knew I had to deal with it at some point, even though the acceptance process dragged on. I wasn’t alone in this battle, however, and neither are you.
“You lose your hair and one thought comes into mind: I am no longer young,” says Barney. “Age has caught up. The sooner you can accept that, the sooner you can manage it. Older isn’t dead, and age is only a number. If you’re feeling depressed, self-conscious about it, you’re not alone. The vast majority of people experiencing [thinning hair] feel that way. But learning how to manage it and accepting the reality of it will change how you feel about it and yourself.”
3. Ask your significant other and friends their opinions
When trying to figure out how to handle my own situation, I turned to my boyfriend and my friends for what I should do. While the final decision wasn’t up to them ultimately, I wanted to hear from my male buddies on how they were approaching or had approached their balding, and I wanted to gauge my boyfriend’s response to buzzing my hair so the thinning wasn’t as noticeable at the source. These consultations helped me come to terms with my situation and make a proactive move regarding my hair that would eventually eradicate my anxiety.
4. Work with what you’ve got
Now that you’ve accepted what plenty of men continue to deny, you can start to disguise your “problem” area properly. This doesn’t mean spraying on fake infomercial hair-in-a-can or carpeting your head with a toupee or comb-over. This is dressing your hair to its strengths and avoiding products that will exacerbate the issue. Don’t use “high shine” hair products, like pomade or gel, for instance. The shine will draw attention away from the hair and accentuate your scalp. Instead, use clay or matte products that give a natural look. This will style your follicles effectively and help keep the focus on the hair you still have.
“Also, do your research and ask your barber about hairstyles that will work for your hair,” Barney adds. “The difference between a side part and a comb-over is the amount of scalp exposed by the hair on top. Look up haircuts yourself before you see your barber next, make your top three selections, and prepare yourself for his professional, honest opinion and the possibility that none of them will work. Finding and accepting your new hairstyle — if one is needed — will benefit you tremendously along with using the right product.”
5. Hold your head high
Hair is important to a lot of guys, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. But remember that your hair is only one part of you, and not even the best part. Besides, there’s nothing sexier than a man who owns himself and his appearance, which translates naturally to virility and masculinity.
“Sexiness is a lot more about attitude and confidence,” says Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics. “If you’re rocking a bald or balding head properly, it can be very enticing. Some see it as a sign of maturity and experience, which is a whole new kind of turn-on for many individuals. This process is not about compensating, or diverting attention, and it isn’t about choosing a new hat to cover your shame. It’s about self-acceptance of the highest order.”
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He splits his time between homes in New York City and the Jersey Shore with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Twitter @mikeyrox.