Few people would chose to be bald; we all assume that it makes you less attractive. This consensus has been around at least since the Bible was written and certainly since then. It isn’t just Western culture either. Native American Indians tried to cure baldness with herbal remedies. It is surprising how often generally held beliefs like this turn out not to be true. But not this one.
I have just reviewed some papers that confirm it. In one report, bald men are rated by a panel as less attractive than men with a full head of hair. In another study, although females didn’t show any preference for males with hair over the bald, but did rate men with a full head of hair as more dominant, dynamic and masculine. Thanks girls. Yet another study was extremely sophisticated using computer-morphing procedures to produce a “full cranial hair” photograph for comparisons by 96 undergraduates. The assessment was done using a set of enhanced photographs of a naturally bald 30-yr.-old man to which varying degrees of hair were applied. No fewer than 13 dependent measures were assessed. Analysis showed the full-hair condition was rated significantly more dominant, dynamic, and masculine than the bald condition. While the model was also perceived as younger in the full-hair condition, there was no difference in mean ratings of attractiveness between photographs.
The only shred of comfort that might be pulled from the data is that the difference isn’t perhaps as great as one might suppose. Its bad – but not perhaps quite as bad as you thought it was. Also there is also data showing that bald men are rated as more intelligent.
It isn’t the purpose of this website to mock or depress, but it isn’t intended to give false hope either. These are the facts, straight. Treat them as a general might, who has just been given an accurate but depressing report of the battlefield situation. When you know where you are, you can evaluate your options.
First off, hair loss is not a medical condition or some kind of failure of the body. It is programmed deep in your genes and controlled by your hormones. When we have fully mastered the secrets of the human genome it may be possible to manipulate the way your body works to make your hair grow differently to how nature intended. I can foresee the day when you can choose your hair in much the same way you can choose at hat. But we aren’t anywhere near that now.
Hair transplant surgery obviously does work, but that is a radical intervention. Any simple treatment applied directly to the scalp is very unlikely indeed to make a big difference. Any product making big claims is almost certainly out to relieve you of your cash rather than relieve you of your baldness. The big name in baldness is Minoxydyl – the active ingredient in a product called Rogaine in some countries and Regaine in others. This is a serious pharmaceutical product with proper clinical trials behind it. Nobody is quite sure how it works, but it seems to have something to do with nitric oxide metabolism. The drawback is that it doesn’t work for everyone, and it only works while you use it. Stop the treatment and its benefits are rapidly lost. If may well help, but you will be putting your hand in your pocket for as long as you want to enjoy the benefit.
There are reports of blends of essential oils being effective for hair loss. At least one of these reports is a properly reviewed scientific paper. There may be something in this and it is something I intend to look into a bit further. But although both Minoxydyl and essential oils might prove to be helpful, the plain fact is that they aren’t going to restore hair to someone who is completely bald.
So what are the options?
Being bald makes you slightly less attractive, all other things being equal. So the important thing is to make sure that all other things are not equal. The most important first step is to remember that it is only a slight effect. You are a bit less attractive than you would be if you had a full head of hair. You haven’t been transformed into Gollum. Don’t let your lack of hair drag down your frame of mind. Confidence is an attractive feature and lack of confidence an unattractive one. So don’t worry or obsess about it. It isn’t in your power to make your hair follicles behave differently, but it is in your power to decide what your attitude to it should be. And your attitude should be one of indifference. You are who you are. Be happy with it.
A couple of specific things to keep in the back of your mind. People perceive bald people to be older, so you might well be being judged to be older than you actually are. This of course can be an advantage in some circumstances. But generally it is better to appear as youthful as possible. It might be as well to drop your actual age into conversation. Once people know how young you actually are they will probably rate your appearance more favourably. The other thing is to dress younger. It might well help.
Thomas F. Cash (1990) Losing Hair, Losing Points?: The Effects of Male Pattern Baldness on Social Impression Formation Journal of Applied Social Psychology 20 (2) , 154–167
Moerman, Daniel E. (1988). The meaning of baldness and implications for treatment Clinics in Dermatology 6(4): 89-92
A. F. Dixson et al., Masculine somatotype and hirsuteness as determinants of sexual attractiveness to women Arch Sex Behav, 32:29-39, 2003
The impact of the face on long-term human relationships. Homo, 45, 74–93.
Butler J, Pryor B, Grieder M Impression formation as a function of male baldness School of Communication, University of Central Florida, Orlando 32816-1344, USA.A