Hair loss, hair thinning or a receding hairline in men is extremely common, with several factors causing it and no set age in which it can start happening. It’s different for every man and for some it can happen quicker than others. One-fifth of men will experience significant hair loss by age of 20, and that percentage grows proportional to age.1
We’re taking a look at some of the causes, why it happens and if anything can be done to slow down the process.
What causes male baldness?
It’s thought the majority of men go bald due to their genes and an inherited condition called androgenetic alopecia (also known as male pattern baldness). According to the American Hair Loss Association, 95 percent of hair loss in men is caused by androgenetic alopecia.2
The hormone involved in androgenetic alopecia is the same one responsible for puberty and transition to adulthood - Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a by-product of testosterone.
DHT converts a certain percentage of testosterone into DHT in tissue such as your liver, prostate, skin and your hair follicles.3
If hair follicles are sensitive to DHT then they have a tendency to shrink over time. With the follicles getting smaller, the lifespan of hair gets shorter, eventually leading to the affected follicles stopping producing hair altogether.
There are, however, other factors that can also cause baldness, such as:
- taking anabolic steroids or testosterone hormone replacement.
Being deficient in certain nutrients can have an effect on hair loss. Ensuring optimal levels of iron, vitamin D and other nutrients are essential for good overall health, as well as healthy hair growth and maintaining healthy hair.4
Progression of hair loss
It’s different for every man but it’s thought that by the age of 35, approximately 66% of men will have experienced some degree of hair loss, and by the age of 50, approximately 85% of men will have significantly thinner hair.5
Early signs of hair loss such as a thinning crown or a receding hairline, can happen at any age. And while it’s uncommon for men to start losing their hair in their teens, it’s not to say it can’t happen for some.
Everyone goes through a natural cycle of growth, shedding and regrowth, but the likelihood of hair loss increases with age; as hair growth naturally slows. If, however, a man is genetically susceptible to hair loss, DHT causes hairs to grow back thinner and weaker after each successive cycle.6
Hair loss shouldn’t be noticeable from one day to the next but if hair is rapidly falling out to the extent that it’s clear to see, then go to your doctor just to check there isn’t something more serious happening.
Symptoms of gradual hair loss are sometimes hard to notice until nearly half the hair is gone with the most obvious signs being thinning of the temples and hairline recession. This steady shedding is called “invisible baldness” since the hair becomes gradually less dense until suddenly it is perceptible to the naked eye.7
What can help slow down hair loss?
- Try to avoid using harsh chemicals or intense heat on your hair, as this will contribute to hair damage over time. Hair dye too can impact the strength of hair.
- How you wear your hair can impact your hair growth too. For example, wearing it tightly pulled back or wearing a tight cap frequently for long periods of time can both weaken and damage hair follicles.
Supplements and vitamins
- Taking vitamin supplements that contain iron, zinc and vitamin D can help promote healthy hair growth in some cases. Eating foods rich in vitamins A, B, C and E are also reported to help growth and the strength of the hair.8
- There have been various studies that have found a link between smoking and hair loss, as cigarette smoke causes damage to the DNA of the hair follicle. Stopping smoking can therefore help hair production and help slow down the rate of hair loss.
There are a huge range of products and treatments all claiming to stop or reduce hair loss which can be overwhelming to know what works and what doesn’t. But it’s worth bearing in mind that this is a natural part of ageing for most, and although these are some of the steps that can be taken to slow down the process, hair loss is inevitable and nothing to be ashamed of.
- How to know if you will go bald - GQ
- Why Do Men Go Bald and What Can You Do About It? – Healthline
- At What Age Do Men Start Losing Hair? - Hims
- Other causes of hair loss in men - Healthline
- At what age do men start losing hair? – Healthline
- How Quickly Does Hair Loss Progress? – Hims
- How Hair Loss Progresses – GQ
- Prevention For Hair Loss – RexMD