Thinning hair

Thinning hair - Jason Shankey

This is not a medical document. It is advice for stylists whose clients present the symptoms of androgenic hair loss.


The hair between the front hairline and the crown is slowly receding and thinning out, leading to a disparity between the density of hair at the top of the scalp, compared with the sides and back of the scalp. The crown and front hairline often lose hair at an accelerated rate, and the condition eventually leads to baldness.


Androgenic alopecia (otherwise known as male pattern baldness) is the main cause of this thinning in men, affecting up to 75% of men during their lifetime. It is mainly caused by the effect of the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on their hair follicles. Genetic factors play a large part in whether or not a man‘s hair follicles will be susceptible to the action of DHT, and the genes responsible are inherited from his parents.


A cure for male pattern baldness has been the subject of a lot of misleading practice over the years with many unscrupulous entrepreneurs cashing in on various lotions and potions. However, only a few drugs have been proven to slow down, or in some cases reverse hair loss; the most popular being Minoxidil and Finasteride.

Minoxidil (better known by the brand name Regaine) is a topical liquid treatment which is bought over the counter in a pharmacy and is applied to the scalp twice a day. It comes in varying strengths and can be used by both men and women. It works better with some clients compared to others, and it‘s important to know that if a client stops using Minoxidil, any hair that grew back with the product will eventually fall out again.

Finasteride (also known by the brand name Propecia) is available only on prescription. It‘s a tablet which is taken daily and is normally only suitable for men because of significant risks if it is taken by women. Finasteride helps to inhibit the enzyme type II 5-alpha reductase, which changes Testosterone into DHT. Propecia, like Minoxidil, is effective only for as long as it is taken and hair gained or maintained is lost within 6–12 months of ceasing therapy.


Because androgenic alopecia cannot be totally cured, stylists can only aim to make the remaining hair look it‘s best. This involves the following steps:

  • Keeping the hair shorter. This is because if thinning hair is worn longer, it can appear even thinner.
  • Club cutting the hair helps to make it appear thicker so it‘s normally not advisable to slice, point cut or thin the hair over the affected areas.
  • Avoid shiny or reflective hair products and instead choose products which have a matt appearance; and go sparingly on the amount of hair product you use.
  • Finally, be sympathetic in your attitude to a client with thinning hair. Androgenic alopecia can cause a client to lose confidence in themselves and being frivolous about the condition can provoke a client into losing their self esteem.
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