Whether you're Prince William, Terry Crews or Homer Simpson, when it comes to pop culture, hair loss can often seem synonymous with men leaving their testosterone-fuelled youth behind them.
For real-life royalty and cartoon characters alike, it's both a natural mark of ageing and a near-constant source of conversation; after all, men aren't immune to society's obsession with looks, and how much hair you have — and where it chooses to grow or not grow — can be a swipe card to a whole unit of issues.
So, how do you unpack that in a way that keeps you feeling confident and capable? And, if you want to keep your hair, is there a way to stop it from thinning and your hairline receding?
Let's start at the top: what causes hair loss?
Everyone experiences some degree of hair loss, both on a small and large scale. After all, the human body is covered in the stuff, and while most hairs are so tiny, the hairs never pass the skin, plenty do, from the tips of our toes to the edges of our eyelids.
Like many parts of our body, our hair functions on a cycle that includes a growth phase, rest phase and renewal phase that lasts for roughly three years, beginning with the production of the hair in the hair follicle beneath the skin, to the years where the hair grows, to the moment the hair falls out . This is a process built on the back of a protein called keratin.
That said, sometimes that cycle gets shortened, and while there are numerous causes for this (more on that in a second!), when we talk about balding, we're generally talking about a genetic condition known as male pattern baldness, otherwise known as androgenic alopecia.
It's a hereditary hair loss condition, carried down on both the male and female lines (in other words, check out that family history) and occurs when the hair follicles have a response to the normal levels of the male hormone, androgen, in your body.
That response ultimately alters hair cycle development, minimising the hair follicle and resulting in inflammation and a shortened cycle, which in turn, stops hair growth and results in hair loss, creating bald areas on the scalp, if not full baldness .
How many men does androgenetic alopecia affect?
Well, for starters, both men and women can suffer from this condition, but severe hair loss and baldness are definitely more common in the form of male pattern baldness than it is in female pattern hair loss.
It's estimated that up to 55% of both men and women experience pattern hair loss as they age, but only 5% of women develop female pattern baldness, while 42% of men are likely to experience further hair loss up to baldness .
Are there other causes of hair loss?
There are a few other reasons why you might lose hair or develop hair shedding or bald patches.
Some of these are medical conditions such as autoimmune diseases and infections that impact hair follicles, some are circumstantial such as emotional stress or high blood pressure, and some are physical, such as a bald patch forming from a wound, piercing or scar, or traction baldness from certain hairstyles .
These are far less common than male pattern baldness, but if you have any concerns, you should look at your medical history and speak to your healthcare professional immediately.
When does this hair loss start and how do I know if I have androgenetic alopecia?
The symptoms of male pattern hair loss generally follow a clear set of steps, which begins after puberty, and escalates through your 20s to 50s, and is particularly common in Caucasian men .
There are a lot of types of hair loss, meaning it can look pretty different for everyone. Generally speaking though, the stages of balding usually start in the form of hair thinning at the temples, and then in a bald patch at the crown or frontal baldness as hair density declines .
This patterned hair loss often imitates family members, further demonstrating itself as a sort of hereditary baldness. As a result, looking at the hair loss of your family members can be a useful self-diagnosis tool.
Can I stop male pattern baldness from happening?
The short answer is no. Androgenetic alopecia is a hereditary hair loss condition that's also tied to ageing, and in that, there's no catch-all cure to treat baldness.
That said, if you're not ready to go full Terry Crews or Bruce Willis and embrace baldness, there are plenty of steps you can take to slow down the process and stimulate hair growth, particularly in specialised hair loss treatments, including hair loss pills.
What is hair loss treatment and how can I stimulate hair growth?
In many ways, treating hair loss is a matter of shopping around to work out what works best for you.
There are numerous medical treatments, both topical and surgical procedures, that give your scalp the best chance to keep your healthy hair for as long as possible. Some of these treatments include:
Microneedling is the process of rolling tiny (1mm) needles over your scalp to generate blood flow, stimulate hair follicles and encourage new hair growth.
A recent peer-reviewed study found that microneedling was by far the most effective hair growth treatment, with 82% of people in the study finding over 50% improvement over twelve weeks(5).
A microneedling device — also called a Derma Roller — can be found in Pilot's Hair Growth Booster Kit, along with the Hair Growth Shampoo & Conditioner, which contains saw palmetto and caffeine as well as the Biotin Hair Gummies, which are formulated with biotin for strong and healthy hair follicles.
Topical treatments like minoxidil can be helpful. This comes in a range of brands and is available over the counter at your local chemist, so can be a great place to start. It has been found to stimulate hair regrowth and treat hair loss in some men successfully for over fifty years.
Personalised prescription treatment
If you're unsure what will best suit you, don't stress! Pilot's got your back, offering a personalised hair loss treatment plan following a consultation with a healthcare professional that can help you figure out how to navigate your hair loss journey.
Your formula is designed specifically for your personal hair loss experience and is compounded in an Australian lab before being sent to your door discreetly. There's no need to go through this by yourself — we're here to help.
Image credit: Getty Images