This is a guest post by Josh Meyer.
Since it’s just us guys here, we can be honest. We men care about our hair more than we would ever let on. It’s not without reason though. Guys with hair well into their 50’s and beyond are usually the envy of men who haven’t been as lucky. There is no miracle cure for thinning or receding hair, but if you follow the men’s hair care tactics below, you can help your hair look its best now.
Table of Contents:
Understanding the Science of Hair
The Basics of Shampoo
What is Conditioner and is it Necessary?
Hair Styling Tips By Face Shape
How to Take Care of Your Scalp
The Real Truth About Dandruff
Thinning Hair and Hair Loss
Before we get too far, let’s jump into some real basic science about your hair. Every strand on your head grows from within follicles in your skin. The part of the hair inside the follicle (below the skin’s surface) is known as the hair root, while the part you see protruding from the head is the shaft. At the base of the hair root, there is a little bulb where all the magic happens. This is where nutrients are received and stored and also where new hair cells are formed.
This is where things get a bit complicated. Within the hair follicle is the dermal papilla (a cone shaped area at the base of the follicle which sends blood and nutrients to the hair bulb). There is also the sebaceous gland (or oil gland) which lubricates and keeps the hair healthy and shiny. These terms are a mouthful but really crucial to healthy hair.
Taking nutrients from the dermal papilla, the hair bulb generates new hair cells. As these cells shoot up through the hair root, they mature through a process called keratinization, filling with fibrous protein and losing their nucleus. When the cell loses its nucleus it is no longer alive. By the time the hair emerges from the skin it is merely fiber made of keratinized proteins (in other words, your hair is really just a formation of dead cells made of up of protein). In fact, your hair is approximately 91 percent protein.
Your shampoo is meant to cleanse your hair of dirt and unnecessary oils while also cleaning the scalp of the build-up of these items. A good men’s shampoo should NOT make your hair feel squeaky clean however. If a shampoo completely cleans the hair, it means it has stripped the natural oils from your hair and can cause permanent hair damage, hair loss, and thin/flat looking hair.
If you are using the right product, your hair should feel only slightly clean, but also a little oily (not greasy), leaving only the key nutrients towards a heathy head of hair.
If you are getting your products from a drugstore you may have already caused some damage, as nearly every shampoo you buy at the drugstore could strip your hair of its natural, essential oils. The most important tip we can offer is to shampoo no more than once a day, and if possible, only three to four times a week. Additionally, there is no need to rinse and repeat like the bottles sometimes suggest. This was a marketing tactic made up by giant personal care companies to make more money at the expense of your hair. Dry/flat and generally unhealthy hair from shampooing too much is the number two cause of thinning hair only to genetics.
I often get asked what conditioner is for and is it even necessary? Basically, conditioners are moisturizers for your hair. With this said, it is hugely important to regularly condition to help maintain healthy, sturdy, and continued hair growth. Each hair strand is covered in tiny cells which look a bit like fish scales. Damage to these cells causes them to stick out, which makes the hair look dull, rough and out of condition.
Men’s hair conditioners work by smoothing down these scales so your hair looks smooth, softer, and shiny again. All men’s hair types, even greasy hair, benefit from regular conditioning (if you have greasy hair, use a conditioner only in moderation, 1-2x per week).
In actuality, whether a men’s conditioner is necessary is a personal choice. If you feel your hair is dull and not very shiny looking, you should probably use a men’s hair conditioner after every shampoo. We recommend that everyone, no matter your style, use a conditioner at least 1-2x a week to replenish any oils and nutrients your hair may need. For more advice based upon specific hair types:
In general, short hair only requires a moisturizing shampoo. The same goes for short hair that feels oily to the touch. Use conditioner only once or twice a week. However, if you have short curly hair, use conditioner with every shampoo. Short curly hair tends to be more dry and frizzy, so a good conditioner will tame any unwanted frizz.
The longer your hair is, the more likely you’ll need a conditioner. Oils produced by the scalp that naturally descend down the hair strand usually struggle to make it to the tip of a strand. If you have long hair, condition it after every shampoo. If you have long, oily hair though, be careful to only condition the ends of your hair that are struggling, the rest of it will already be very well conditioned naturally.
General Hair Styling Tips
To really get the most out of your hair, always customize your hair care routine based upon your hair type and style.
Similar to a well-tailored suit, a men’s hair style tailored specifically for your facial structure and head shape can really help push a guy over the edge. With all kinds of various head shapes, facial structures and hair types, how are you to know what the best men’s hair style is for yourself? Use the quick reference below to learn what hair style will look best for your facial structure and head shape.
A square face is usually created by a prominent and defined jaw line. Men’s medium hair styles such as a fade usually look best. Keep the sides tight with a little extra volume on the top. Toss in a hair pomade on top to add some texture and style.
A round face is pretty self-explanatory. Similar to those with square faces, tell your barber to give you a men’s medium hair style that is short to medium on the sides, with a medium length on top will look best. This square style hair cut will offset the roundness of your face. Use some product on the top to add volume and character.
If you are lucky enough to have the crown jewel of facial structures – just about any men’s hair style will work. The fade, the comb over, the buzz cut or slicked back hair style – it’s all good. Just tell the barber to surprise you and you probably won’t ever be disappointed.
Guys with a long (and narrow) face don’t have to be depressed; these dudes will find hair styles that are of medium and short length work best. Keep the length of the sides and the top the same. Style both the top and sides with product to keep hair where you left it.
Men’s long hair styles work best for this type of facial and head structure. Ask your barber to layer the hair from the sides on up to the top of the hair. Add volume and texture to the top with a pomade.
Upside Down Triangle
A medium or long hair style work best for a triangular face. Parting your hair in the middle of your forehead will give the illusion that it isn’t as wide as it really is.
Maintaining a healthy scalp is one of the best things a guy can do for his hair. The scalp is responsible for the hair follicles, which are the foundation from which a great, healthy head of hair is built. Keeping these follicles as healthy as possible ensures lasting, strong hair growth and strands. Follow these steps for a healthy scalp:
The condition of your hair is often a direct reflection of your overall health. Eat well, exercise, stay completely hydrated. Always get just enough sleep and try to do activities to help reduce excess stress in your life. Living well and staying healthy will result in a healthier scalp, and also increase the rate of hair growth.
Use the Right Tools
While it may seem like an easy way to tame your hair, never use a brush on wet hair. When the hair is wet, it is at its most vulnerable point and highly susceptible to breaking and damage. When combing through wet hair, use a wide-toothed comb and gently work out any tangles. Avoid blow dryers or irons as they can dry and damage hair.
Avoid Chemical Treatments
Coloring or perming hair repeatedly can leave it damaged, dry, and dull. We recommend avoiding all at-home chemical products and seeking a good stylist if you really need these services. A stylist will know how to properly prepare your hair before and can also help you choose the best products for your hair type. Results from a trained professional will almost always look more natural, and infinitely better than those done at home.
We know that sometimes nothing feels better than a steaming hot shower, but did you know that this is causing havoc on your hair and scalp. Very hot water strips too much of the essential oil from the hair and scalp, which leads to dryness and itchiness.
Ever wonder why dandruff happens? About 50% of men in their twenties have dandruff and luckily, that number plummets as guys age. Two-thirds of all people experience issues with dandruff at one point in their lives. For those of you lucky enough to have never experienced it, dandruff appears as white, flakes that pepper the skin, neck, and dress shirts. These flakes are dead skin cells that have been shed from your scalp.
A common misconception is that dry skin is the cause of dandruff, but that’s not the case. Most people with dandruff have oily skin, and research shows that the real culprit is a tiny fungus called malassezia globosa. While the name is a bit scary (and hard to pronounce!), this isn’t anything abnormal–every human being has this little fungus on their skin. It only becomes a problem when the fungus grows too rapidly, and our natural renewal of cells is disturbed. This rapid growth causes skin cells to renew too fast, and thus, the skin cells bond with oil on the surface of your scalp resulting in snow speckled shoulders and hair.
Your scalp and hair have a natural balance that is disturbed every time you wash them. Most shampoos completely strip your hair and scalp of its natural oils and cause imbalance. This creates a need for conditioner and styling products, which act as a substitute for the oils that were stripped from your hair while shampooing. After every wash, your body starts making sebum (oil) rapidly to restore the natural balance. Your hair then becomes oily, very fast and soon thereafter the fungi starts to create dandruff.
What’s the solution? Limit how often you wash your hair and opt for more natural shampoos. This will help limit the disruption of the natural balance on your scalp. While it may seem counter intuitive as compared to what large personal care companies have told you all your life, you will surely see results in just a few weeks.
By age 30, HALF of all men start to lose the thick mane of hair they carried into their 20’s. As time goes on, most guys’ hairlines begin their slow retreat, until much of the scalp is shown on top of the head. This is nightmare fuel for most guys.
Before we get too far let’s cut to the chase–there is no magic pill, lotion, voodoo chant, or anything else that can stop thinning hair or prevent hair loss. It’s almost all baked into your genes. Right now, gene therapy looks to be the most hopeful option for dealing with hair loss, but it’s still too early to know if that will ever be a viable option.
Why does men’s hair thin?
Thinning hair in men occurs when the diameter of the hair follicle begins to shrink. This takes place when dihydrotestosterone (DHT) attaches itself to the hair follicle (why DHT attaches to the follicle as we age is a whole scientific article in itself). If left unchecked, the follicle will eventually die and be unable to produce hair, so prompt action is recommended at the first sign of hair loss. Experts say that 95% of cases of male pattern baldness occur because of the effects of DHT on the hair follicles. How much DHT people produce depends almost entirely on their genetic make-up – the more that is produced, the greater and more widespread miniaturization is, resulting in greater hair loss in men. In case you are wondering, there is nothing you can do to prevent the growth of DHT, unless you really want to start screwing with your genes and hormones (not recommended at all due to some pretty crazy side effects).
Beyond DHT, constant use of hot styling tools, frequent shampooing, vigorous or frequent brushing, and too many hair care products can all contribute to your thinning mane.
Your best strategy against hair loss
Shampooing and conditioning hair, no matter the quality of the products, will cause hair to grow weak over time as both are not “natural” to hair. The rubbing and rinsing also wears away at the hair strand making it weaker over time. Each wash rinses out scalp-borne nutrients, causing your hair to become brittle and break. Instead of daily hair washes, again lower your routine to include a wash only a few times a week. Use a men’s hair conditioner every time you wash your hair to restore moisture.
Towel drying is one of the biggest causes of damage to a guy’s hair. When your hair is wet, it is at its absolute weakest moment. When you aggressively rub your wet hair with a towel, it causes damage to the cuticle (the outer layer to the hair). Blow drying can also dry out your hair and scalp. We highly recommend gently drying your hair with a towel and then letting it air dry.
Avoid wearing tight hats (or ponytails) as they can cause “traction alopecia,” a condition in which hair is pulled out of the scalp. If worn long enough or too regularly, this damage can become permanent.
Use a men’s shampoo with these ingredients:
Aloe really is the premiere moisturizer for your hair as it not only plumps up hair, it hydrates the scalp creating the ideal environment for hair growth.
Pro Vitamin B5 (or D-Panthenol) and Vitamin E have been used for years in hair care products because they function as humectants that increase the water content of hair and improves its elasticity.
Protein and amino acids are the basic building blocks of hair cells so feeding your hair these ingredients will allow it to grow to its strongest potential via cell regeneration.
Hopefully, after reading this guide, you’ll understand your hair better and how the way you treat it can really harm its health. At its core, just like most things in life, you’re the best obstacle in how well your hair looks. Treat it right and you’ll have an awesome mane for years to come.
Josh Meyer is the co-founder of Brickell Men’s Products, high performing natural skincare and grooming products for men. They use powerful, natural & organic ingredients to help men from all around the world look better, everyday.
Credit: The Distilled Man