When it comes to losing your hair, anybody who has spent more than 20 minutes on the internet looking for answers already knows that the condition is fraught with “expert” advice, misinformation, lies, whacky home-made remedies, and misconceptions.
There’s also a good bit of information out there about real solutions that are proven to work, but it takes a fair bit of digging to find the truth. Even then, it can take even more effort to disseminate fact from fiction.
Amongst all the zany ideas you’ll read when it comes to hair loss, avoiding what NOT to do can be just as important as taking the right steps towards what you should do. As such, the whole saga becomes too complicated for many, and in the end just giving in and saying goodbye to your locks can feel like the easiest course of action.
Luckily, we know a thing or two about this very topic, so we thought it was high time to compile a list of some of the best hair loss dos and don’ts in one easy article for your reading pleasure.
DO: Start taking better care of your scalp
Hair loss is not quite as simple as having the hairs on your head fall out. In fact, everybody loses a lot more hair than they likely realise every day.
Male pattern baldness is not so much the loss of hair as it is the natural ability to easily regrow it in certain areas (usually beginning at the front and on the crown).
As such, it’s important to think of your scalp as the garden bed from which your foliage (follicles) can sprout. You can’t expect soil that is filled with toxins and devoid of nutrients to grow a bounty of roses, so why should you expect your scalp to grow hairs when it’s covered with the wrong products.
Here are three easy ways to improve your scalp health:
- Massage your scalp when you shampoo. Just running your hands through your hair when you rinse isn’t good enough at encouraging healthier follicles; you need to make sure you’re removing any build-up of oils and dead skin on the surface of your scalp. Giving your noggin’ a good rub with your fingertips also feels fantastic, so there are no excuses.
- Avoid products that aren’t water-based. Adding petrochemicals to your skin isn’t really recommended at the best of times, but when it comes to a suffering scalp, it’s particularly important to keep it natural. Avoid products like wax or grease and aim for something lighter that can be easily rinsed out (there are water-based wax products available that have the same look and effect as a traditional hair wax, minus the chemicals).
- Avoid product “build-up”. Plenty of folks don’t like to wash their hair every day and there’s nothing wrong with letting some natural oils recover in your scalp before you hit it with shampoo. But if you’re using a product to keep your hair in place, make sure it comes out before any more goes in. Even if this means washing with only water every day, it’s best to create a clean environment to encourage healthier follicles.
DON’T: Rely on blogs, anecdotes, or Reddit
This one should seem obvious, but when you’re hungry for answers, it’s easy to get caught up in a web of other people’s bullshit, and there are few topics with as many old wives’ tales attached to them as that of hair loss.
And, yes, we realise that this is technically a blog post, but there’s one important thing to look for when you’re reading anything online with a medical element to it: citation. See this text with a link in it here, here, and here? That means that when we say something we can back it up.
And we’re hardly the only good source of information on the topic, there are plenty of other resources online that provide great information about hair loss.
What you’ll notice about the reputable outlets are two things: they cite their sources, which should come from legitimate and peer-reviewed medical studies, and they come to roughly the same conclusion, because they use the same verified sources.
Simple. If you’re reading something online and the writer hasn’t backed up their claims with hard facts, then it’s not worth the paper it isn’t printed on, and it’s definitely not worth your time.
DO: Talk to a GP
It’s not a controversial idea to say that a good first port of call is your GP. Your head is generally attached to your body, and losing hair happens on your head, so calling the same person you would visit when anything else happens to your body that isn’t quite right makes sense.
Unfortunately (and especially in Australia), most men don’t even think to talk to a doctor about hair loss.
Often, it’s because hair loss has been framed as a specialist condition that requires specialist (and hence expensive) treatment. If ads on the telly are anything to go by, in fact, you’d be forgiven for believing that unless a place has laser helmets, an expensive looking clinic, and an international test cricketer to spruik their services, then it’s not going to be reputable.
The truth, in fact, is quite the opposite.
There are two verified, safe, and affordable treatments for hair loss that we’re not allowed to say here, because advertising prescription medication in Australia is illegal. This law, which is generally good because it protects consumers from predatory tactics 99 per cent of the time, is actually the reason these “clinics”' can exist in the first place. Not having to mention the names of their treatment options allows many clinics to operate on a platform of misinformation, keeping patients in the dark.
The truth is that only two things are proven to work, both of which are used by millions of people worldwide to keep (and often regrow) their hair, and they are both available by prescription from any GP. You can chat to one today.
DON’T: Rub onion juice into your bonce
This is easily one of our favourites for two good reasons: one, it’s not an entire myth, and two, the practicalities of it are so outrageously silly that even if it were a silver bullet cure, the idea of walking around with a chrome dome reeking of stale onion juice is laughable.
Regarding its efficacy in regrowing hair, many claim that it works miracles, however only one study has ever been conducted and the group used was both very small (by scientific study standards). The study also only used patients with alopecia areata; a reasonably rare type of patchy hair loss that differs from androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness). This is important to note as the causes of alopecia areata are different to the causes of male pattern baldness, and the number of people affected by each condition are hugely disproportionate to each other.
The study mentioned concluded that onion juice did show some efficacy amongst the miniscule 38 patients who used it to try and regrow hair. It is thought that the high levels of sulphur in onions is to thank, as sulphur forms one of the main components in keratin, an important protein used in growing healthy hair. Onions are also known to have antibacterial properties, which may help fight any nasty scalp infections.
Also, it’s onion juice, arguably the least-appetising sounding juice going, and, seriously… Just imagine the smell.
There is no scientific evidence from any legitimate study to suggest that onion juice is capable of curing male pattern baldness, and as such, we do not recommend you start juicing onions and pouring the liquid over your ailing pate.
As well as the fact it is probably useless, there is no way it can be pleasant, for you or your peers.
DO: Consider your options
If you’ve only started noticing your hair starting to thin recently, whether you’re 20 or 50, it’s worth taking a good look at your options.
While it’s in your best interest to start any kind of treatment as early as possible, there are a few things to weigh up.
While prescription treatment is easy and relatively inexpensive (it can start at under AUD$2 a day), it is a long-term solution that will cease to work if you decide to stop using it down the track.
You should also consider whether or not treatment is really for you. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with investing in a good pair of clippers and owning your new look. The most important thing to remember in all of this is...
DON’T: Leave it too long
Anybody who has spent a significant amount of time on Google by now can be forgiven for wanting to throw their hands up in the air, give up on hair retention, and bid their follicles farewell.
And there’s nothing wrong with sporting a new look anyway. Where would Hollywood be without the likes of Jason Statham, Vin Diesel, and The Rock kicking bad-guy butt on the silver screen with chrome domes?
What is important to note, however, is that there is such a thing as getting to it too late.
So, whether you decide you’re happy with a hairless head, or want to start treatment to keep a natural rug for years to come, the sooner you decide, the greater chance an effective treatment will be.