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Experts share their tips for working with what you got.
There comes a time in every man’s life when he looks in the mirror and wonders where his hair went. For some, it happens early; for others, later. But statistically speaking, it will happen to (almost) all of us. And there are many reasons for it—genetics mainly, but also diet, stress, medication—the list goes on.
When it does happen, it’s easy to freak out, but try not to. There are many different ways to deal with thinning hair, and one of the first should be tailoring your haircut. No two heads of hair are the same, which means no two heads of hair start thinning the same way. But there are ways to change your haircut to either help camouflage or embrace your thinning hair, whatever path you want to take.
OK, there is no one best haircut for guys with thinning hair, just like there’s no one best treatment for it either (sorry to break that news). “A lot of it has to do with where you’re thinning, and what your hairline and head shape looks like,” says trichologist Bridgette Hall. But before you can start thinking about the best haircut for you, it’s best to embrace the reality of what’s happening. While some haircuts can help camouflage overall thinning or specific bald spots, it’s best if a haircut works with what you have, instead of just trying to cover (or ignore) what you don’t. “You want to keep it simple,” says Axe master barber Pedro Rosario.
It might seem counterintuitive, but short can look better for thinning hair; it’s not always about length. “Don’t think in terms of hiding—think in terms of adding volume,” says Hall. There are a couple of ways to do that: adding texture through a choppier cut and by using the right styling products. Hall recommends using thickening pastes, thickening sprays, and dry shampoos that will create volume at the root without weighing down thinner hair. And always go for something that has a matte finish. Products with shine can make hair look wet and inadvertently call attention to spots where there is less of it.
No matter who much or how little hair you have, the right haircut can do wonders. For some, it might be about camouflaging the right way. For others, it might be best to just start fresh. Whichever way you decide to go, start with this list.
As seen on Dwayne Johnson
There’s absolutely no shame in just getting rid of it all and starting fresh. If you’re frustrated with what’s going on up top or feel that it’s just too much work to figure out how to style it, bust out the razor and shaving cream. Bonus: Men who have gone for the full shave have reported a confidence boost.
As seen on Jason Statham
When you’re balding, your best accessory is your facial hair, says Rosario. Buzz your head completely but leave a tiny bit of length to create a shadow. Then leave a similar amount of length on your beard so there is slightly more than a five o’clock shadow. The combination “gives you a rugged look that’s very masculine and attractive,” he says.
As seen on Jude Law
A style like this is particularly good if you’ve noticed your hairline receding. “Wherever you’re thinning is the direction you want to style your hair toward, so you can shroud it a bit and make it look fuller and thicker,” says Paster. Keep a little bit of length on top and ask your barber to create texture. Then, use a lightweight product to mess it up with your hands and push it forward. “It looks effortless,” he says.
As seen on Idris Elba
Sometimes, it might be harder to spot thinning in coarse or highly-textured hair, but the downside is that it’s harder to manipulate to cover up spots with just styling alone. For thinning coarse hair, “I recommend buzzing it down; it’s the easiest way to deal with it,” says Rosario. It’s not really a compromise; a buzz looks damn good.
As seen on David Beckham
Thinning hair doesn’t count you out from classic barber cuts. In the case of a high and tight, how high and how tight you go could help make bald spots and overall thinning less noticeable. “If somebody is balding on the back of their head, for instance, the sides can be taken to the skin very high and very tight so it blends into the bald spot,” says Paster. Be prepared to show some skin on the sides to make the blending work (it’s called a skin fade).
As seen on John Legend
If overall thinning is your issue, you can use length to visually manipulate how much it looks like you have. “The shorter you buzz down the sides, the more strength you’re going to push into the top,” says Paster. Keeping a little more length on the top makes it look like you have more hair and it doesn’t have to be extreme. Even a slight difference like this can work wonders.
As seen on Joel Kim Booster
A slightly trendier version of the Messy Push, this cut also helps conceal a receding hairline. “Shading the sides gives visual strength to the top and then styling it forward helps conceal anything going on if you have a shaky hairline,” says Paster. Choosing a blunt line for the bangs (like this) makes it a younger look, but you can also go a little more messy and natural to get the same effect.
As seen on Tom Ford
This cool, choppy cut relies on texture and volume to soften a receding hairline, without trying to completely cover it up. Keep a little length all over, because this look is more about styling than the cut. “Use a blow dryer to blast it around,” says Paster. “You want to intentionally rough it up so it looks more fluffed, and you get the appearance of texture and fullness.”
As seen on Ryan Reynolds
Even if you’re thinning all over, classic cuts like this can still work for you. “Cut the sides proportionally shorter than the top to push some strength up there,” says Paster, but leave the sides a little longer so they have more “meat” than a fade. Leaving a little more length will make you look like you have more hair.
As seen on Tom Hardy
Don’t call this a combover, but the idea is somewhat similar. “If you’re starting to thin in the back, then you might want to wear your hair slicked back,” advises Paster. If this look is a little too aggressive, you can still achieve a similar vibe by keeping extra length in the front and styling it by pushing it back with your hands, instead of slicking it.