These days there are so many advertisements offering “help” for men with thinning hair – these usually come in the form of tablets, lotions and potions with medically sounding names and heavily exaggerated claims to help regrow lost hair. Most are not effective at all in the fight against hereditary hair loss, but those men who are are self conscious about their hair will try most products in the hope that it improves their situation. And why is it that they are always endorsed by former cricketers?
Aside from these, surgery is available in the form of hair transplants – made even more prominent recently by a certain Mr Rooney. This process involves harvesting strips of scalp about 1-1.5 x 15cm in size from the middle section of the back of the head (where hair tends to have stronger growth), or by a technique called FUE, which involves using a punch to extract individual hair follicles less than a millimetre in diameter and then transplanting them into the scalp. Even though the results can look impressive, it sounds more like a torture technique to me, whilst also being expensive and it doesn’t last forever. You would need to be prepared to keep re-investing over the long term – which could end up costing you tens of thousands over the years.
There is also a newer treatment called scalp micro pigmentation or Micro Hair Tattooing. This technique involves tattooing hair stubble onto the scalp resembling closely shaved hair. I have actually seen one example of this and was impressed with the result, but it does means having a hair cut that was sported by Action man circa 1973. It is very similar to semi permanent make-up, which is a treatment where a specially trained beautician thickens or recreates eyebrows and eyelashes by tattooing individual hairs, that look surprisingly realistic.
Now if your hair has gone then the above is probably your only viable solution. However, if it’s a case of thinning through the top, crown or hairline, or maybe you just want to make your very fine hair look thicker, there are a few things you can do to improve the situation without pain and the financial hardship. I am a great believer that if there was actually a lotion or potion that truly made your thinning hair go from threadbare to hair bear in 28 days, it wouldn’t be advertised by a retired sportsman in a small ad on the back page of a tabloid newspaper.
So today I am going to talk about products or simple tricks of the trade that can help improve the appearance of thinning hair, and in some cases give the illusion of more hair (this is not witchcraft) so please bear with me.
Yes guys, when it comes to artificially making hair appear thicker, size does matter – particularly the width/diameter of each hair. The plumper each individual hair is, the denser the coverage looks. This is the illusion. Certain treatments when applied to the hair increase each individual hairs diameter by plumping or swelling it. This is the same effect as when you apply water – trouble is, water evaporates and goes back to normal. There are however a few things that you can do that have a longer lasting result.
Hair colour is very effective at giving the appearance of thicker hair if used correctly and carefully by a professional. In simple terms, synthetic hair colour by process deposits colour molecules inside the hair and the peroxide mixed with the colour swells the cuticle so the colour pigment molecules can penetrate the hair. This in turn plumps the hair by about 20%, whilst making the shorter/finer/lighter coloured hairs become more visible, adding to the effect of thicker hair.
Staying with plumping the hair itself, there are many shampoos, conditioners and thickeners out there which, if used regularly, will give the impression of slightly fuller and thicker hair. Again this is due to the product promoting a swelling of the hair diameter. They usually have the added benefit of making hair more manageable and are the less time consuming, less costly and the most painless way to the appearance of thicker hair.
These products also having conditioning properties specifically for finer hair. Finer hair tends to become brittle easily through sun, heat and damage caused by less superior styling products – especially waxes and pomades which usually contain large amounts of petroleum. These thickening shampoos and conditioners are used in exactly the same way as a day to day product, with the only difference being that they usually need to be left in the hair for 1 or 2 minutes before rinsing.
Thickening creams may vary in how they are applied, but generally they are combed through damp towel dried hair and blow dried after. This is where a little extra effort is required. Don’t panic, when I say blow dry I mean a simple blast over (unless you would normally do more), as thickening creams tend to be heat activated.
As a hairdresser I always take into consideration all factors about a client’s hair before I recommend a product for use at home, so I’m going to avoid suggesting styling aids for fine hair, as these are too limiting. It’s important to take into account the finished look you want to achieve – straight, separated, texture or maybe just a little control. Take a read of the product/hair guides below and get styling.
There are some superb paste and fibre gums around that give just the right amount of texture and separation without leaving you looking like a twelve year old with too much gel in your hair. It’s also worth noting that the more stuck together or clumped the hair is (when trying to achieve texture) the more the scalp is exposed, which in turn will only make your hair look thinner.
Aim for soft pliable paste or a fibre gum as these are both supple and generally not oily. Men-U Fibre Paste is by far one of the best products for texture on finer hair, adding fullness and thickness into the bargain. Next up is Tigi Bed Head Hard to Get Texturising Paste, which when used sparingly is light and not at all oily. At the budget end is Schwarzkopf got2b Beach Matt which again is light and non oily.
Apply all of these products to dry hair by skimming a small amount from the pot, rub between the palms of your hands and apply by running through and over your hair. Then just style into place as desired.
Whether you are sporting a quiff or a flatter side part short back and sides, surprisingly using the same products on each look will do the job. First up is Dust it, again by Schwarzkopf. This wonder product which hit the stores about 3 years ago is ideal for Screwed Up Quiffs or flatter Trad Dad short back and sides. These styles are all about hold and Dust definitely gives you that.
Sprinkle some of this magic white powder directly onto dry or slightly dampened then comb/blow dry into place. That’s it! Apply more for super hold if needed.
Rather than single out individual styles I am going to talk about do’s and don’ts – well more do’s. Finer hair is probably the most difficult for a hairdresser to work with and thinning hair can be frustrating for both the client and the stylist as the limitations are so great. Usually finer hair looks best cut into a shorter style whilst keeping a more defined outline and not too choppy/messy – this will just create a weak finish.
If you are not suffering from hair loss but instead have fine/thin textured hair, you are in luck as this year’s big trend for men – the short back and sides – works brilliantly with this hair type. Check in with a hairdresser or barber, establish that they are up to the job and get them to take the sides down to the wood (close to the skin), tapering up to a longer length on top. If possible keep the fringe long, and ask for the hair on top to be left long but layered with a small amount of texturizing.
Using some product, wear your hair in a low side parting and either swept back from the parting or left across the forehead. If you don’t feel brave enough to take the sides down to wood then keep more length and sweep it back.
The key points to bear in mind with fine and thin hair are:
For those of you who have lost some hair density, taking it close all over looks great. As with fine hair, shorter styles look best and make sure you keep it cut regularly. Neat styles are good – again no ponytails unless you are a B-Movie mafia gangster.
With less or no hair through the top, even up your complexion by using a gradual tanning moisturiser – this will help soften the effect of having so much skin on show and also looks more youthful. If you like the sun but don’t want to be wearing a hat day in day out then try Headblade HeadShade SPF-15 sunscreen. This for me has to be the product of the year; with skin cancer on the up, head shavers need to protect. This after shave sun screen moisturiser is the best on the market, whilst it is also water/sweat resistant and has an added anti-ageing agent – so at least your head will stay looking younger.
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