The Definitive Guide to Hair Loss in Men and Thinning Hair in Men
About the Hair
First, to understand a little bit about your hair:
Hair grows out of small holes in your head called follicles. The part of the hair below the skin’s surface, inside the hair follicle, is called the hair root. The other part of the hair that protrudes from the head is known as the hair shaft. At the base of the hair root is a small bulb full of nutrients received from the blood stream. Here, in this bulb, new hair strands are created.
At the base of the follicle is a cone shaped area named the dermal papilla, that sends blood and nutrients to the hair bulb. In addition, there is a sebum oil gland at the follicle base that sends lubrication throughout the hair strand – this lubrication (or hair oil) is what keeps hair looking shiny and healthy.
The hair bulb generates new hair cells by taking nutrients from the dermal papilla. As the newly generated cells move up through the hair, they mature via a process called keratinization. By the time the hair emerges from the inside the follicle to the outside world, it is merely made of keratinized proteins. Basically, your hair is just a bunch of dead cells made of protein – in fact 91% protein.
Knowing a little about the follicle is important. Why? Because understanding your hair type starts with your follicle and understanding your hair type will help you know how to best care for it.
A follicles shape and size determines our hair’s texture and type. The bigger your hair follicle, the thicker your hair is. Guys with big follicles typically have thicker hair, while guys with smaller follicles have thinner hair. The amount of follicles we have on our head is all based upon genetics. On average, we have about 100,000 hair follicles on our head.
The texture of your hair (straight, curly, wavy, etc) depends on the shape of the follicle. Round follicles create straight hair, while oval follicles create curly hair. The more oval a hair follicle is, the curlier the hair becomes. Those of Anglo descent have more circular follicles, while those of African descent have much more flat follicles.
The bottom line.
Everything below your skin is what determines your hair’s thickness, shape, and growth. We call this entire area the scalp. The healthier your scalp is, the better looking your hair is going to be. The scalp is responsible for maintaining the health of your hair follicles and the hair strands that grow from them as it delivers the needed nutrients for growth and healthy maintenance. Keeping follicles as healthy as possible ensures strong hair growth and hair strands.
Why does a man’s hair thin and then disappear?
With a basic understanding of the hair, we can now move on to what causes hair thinning in men, the reasons for hair loss in men and why men bald.
By age 30, over 50% of men start seeing thinning hair and balding. The reason, mostly, is because the hair follicles begin to shrink and then close off for good. This occurs because a chemical called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) attaches itself to the hair follicle, slowly causing the follicle to shrink and eventually die. Men hair loss experts think roughly 95% of cases where a man starts to lose his hair or starts to thin is due to the effects of DHT on the follicles. So, where does DHT come from and what is it?
DHT is a bi-product of testosterone. It’s an essential human chemical that helps men develop facial hair during puberty. However, later in life, it wreaks havoc for hair follicles. When DHT attaches itself to hair follicles that are genetically predispositioned to succumb to it, DHT will restrict the follicle from receiving nutrients, slowly causing the follicle to shrink (thin your hair) and eventually closing the follicle entirely (hair loss). Scientists are still stumped on how to actually prevent this from happening unfortunately. Sometimes, gene therapy can help, but most guys discover extremely unpleasant side effects that make this not a good option, including reproductive issues, balding, and a whole host of issues with your man parts.
How to Prevent Hair Loss in Men and Prevent Balding
Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or prayer that can be done to prevent thinning hair in men or stopping hair loss in men – it’s mostly genetic. There is hope though. With proper hair care, you can slow down this process and keep your hair looking as good as it did in your teenage years. Below, we outline the best strategy for men to prevent hair loss and thinning hair:
- Shampoo less often
Shampooing is not natural to the hair and no matter how natural a shampoo is, they can cause hair to grow weak over time. Men’s hair today is no different than men’s hair from thousands of years ago when there was no shampoo. Shampoo strips the hair of the needed oils causing it to thin and weaken, in addition to the rubbing and rinsing that can rip hair out of the follicle. Each shampoo washes out those scalp born nutrients that keep your hair looking full, healthy and shiny. Instead of washing your hair daily, try to only wash your hair 3 – 4x a week and never “rinse and repeat”. If your hair feels squeaky clean after a shampoo (aka – you’ve stripped it of all it’s oils), then you’ve overdone it.
- Use a natural shampoo for men
The best hair loss shampoo for men is a natural shampoo that won’t strip your hair or scalp of needed nutrients or oils. No, they won’t lather as much as a generic drug store brand, but that’s because the ingredients needed to make a huge lather are highly toxic to the hair (despite feeling really cool). Avoid shampoos with chemicals and try to find a good shampoo for men with these natural ingredients:
- Aloe is the ultimate moisturizer that not only volumizes hair, but is loaded with nutrients the scalp needs to create the perfect environment for hair growth.
- Pro Vitamin B5 (or D-Panthenol) has been used for years in hair care products because it functions as a humectant. A humectant increases the amount of water a hair strand can hold and improves its elasticity.
- Protein and amino acids are the basic building blocks of hair cells (as discussed earlier) and feeding your hair these ingredients allow it to grow as thick and strong as possible.
- Peppermint Oil and Tea Tree Oil – These two essential oils help dissolve scalp impurities and dead skin build up, allowing hair follicles to stay unclogged.
- Avoid these daily hair no-nos.
- Avoid wearing tight hats (or ponytails) as they can cause "traction alopecia," a condition in where hair is pulled out of the scalp. This is permanent.
- Avoiding towel drying your hair. This is one of the easiest hair loss solutions for men. When your hair is wet, it is highly susceptible to breaking and being pulled out of the scalp. Rubbing it vigorously with a towel does both of these things. Should you, instead, use a blow dry? No, this will dry out your hair making it dull and limp. The best solution is to lightly dry your hair with a towel and let the majority of the wetness air dry.
- Take Care of Your Scalp
As discussed earlier, your scalp is the root of your hair growth. Take care of the scalp in order to encourage hair growth and thickness.
- Become a Silver Fox: Coloring your hair can cause irreparable damage to your hair follices. Every time you color your hair, you’re soaking your follicles with chemicals that irritate and damage them. Very often, women start coloring their hair from a young age and realize during mid-life they need to keep coloring their hair forever as it’s been destroyed beyond repair. Don’t do that. If you do color your hair, do it as infrequently as possible and try more natural solutions.
- Keep it Cool: Hot showers feel awesome, but strip your scalp of essential oils that help the hair mature and grow. Lower the temperature of your showers for better hair.
- Use a hair conditioner for men: Work a men's hair conditioner into your scalp and hair strands two to three times a week. Hair conditioner is important as it will deliver nutrients to your scalp and hair.
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