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Experts Weigh in on Hairstyles for Thinning Hair

Every guy will experience some hair loss throughout his life. But, thinning hair doesn’t mean you have to lose your personal style. We talked to the experts for some styling solutions to help you resist the urge to comb over in the face of receding hairlines and thinning crowns.

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Why is My Hair Thinning?

Whether you’re noticing less hair around the crown or a receding hairline, every guy asks himself this question at some point during his life.

Hair loss, however, can’t always be pinpointed to a single cause. For both men and women, the condition may be restricted to your scalp - or could spread out over your full body - and it could be a result of genetics, hormonal changes, a medication, or a medical condition like alopecia.

Headshot of Sting

Seeing a few hairs in the shower drain, however, isn’t always a cause for concern. The average person sheds about 100 hairs per day while growing new hairs at the same time. Yet, hair loss often comes down to the follicle: It’s damaged or destroyed and scars over, typically preventing hair from growing ever again.

Your own issues may come down to:

Heredity

Called female- or male-pattern baldness, this genetic condition is associated with ageing often follows a few common patterns:

  • Receding hairline: Men will start to notice an M-shaped or zigzag line forming near their hairline that gradually deepens.
  • Thinning on top of the head: This is the most common pattern and occurs in both men and women. Male-pattern baldness, however, starts from the hairline and goes backward, while women first notice it with a widening part.
  • Round or patchy bald spots: These spots tend to be no larger than a quarter, but can occur all over the top of your head, plus your beard area and eyebrows. Some individuals report feeling an itchy, irritated sensation before the hair starts to fall out.
Man with faux mohawk

Hormonal Changes or Medical Conditions

Certain conditions may result in temporary or permanent hair loss. For women, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause may be the culprit. For both sexes, hair loss may be a result of alopecia areata, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), lupus, diabetes, liver conditions, renal failure, a thyroid issue, a scalp infection like psoriasis or dermatitis, or trichotillomania.

Patients may also experience hair loss when they have certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies, like B12, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, zinc, copper, selenium, or biotin. Diet adjustments or even hair vitamins may gradually help the hair return.

Surprisingly, several medications and supplements may also contribute to hair loss. Patients report this side effect for certain blood pressure, arthritis, cancer, and heart drugs, as well as for some antidepressants. Additionally, radiation treatment for some medical conditions may also result in temporary hair loss.

Extreme Stress

We’re not talking about every day, work-related stress. Rather, when one goes through a traumatic incident, whether physical or emotional, hair loss lasting over several months may be a response - albeit one that’s usually temporary.

Side part hairstyle but long on top

Some Hairstyles and Treatments

Your own haircare routine might play a role in that growing bald spot or a receding hairline. In this case, pulling back the hair tightly has been known to contribute to traction alopecia, while hot oil treatments and perms may inflame the follicles. Should scarring result in either instance, what seems like temporary hair loss might eventually become permanent.

How to Stop Thinning Hair

Do you know that 66 percent of men will start to lose their hair before the age of 35 and it’s totally preventable? Most men think hair loss is inevitable and starts later in life than it actually does, so they wait until it’s gone before they act.

Currently, there are two FDA-approved hair loss treatments on the market, Finasteride and Minoxidil. Research shows that while they only regrow up to 20% of lost hair, they are up to 90% effective at halting hair loss when used preventatively, either together or separately. Aside from these two medications that commonly go by names Propecia and Minoxidil, respectively, transplants and hair grafting are two growing options.

Although hereditary conditions can’t be stopped completely, diffuse hair loss - medically known as Telogen Effluvium - can be addressed in a more efficient manner. This condition often goes back to factors within your control - particularly stress and diet - and making lifestyle changes can stave off any permanent changes.

man with buzz cut and beard

If you’re noticing thinning hair, you may want to think about:

  • Hair treatments: By this point, you could be over-treating your locks with coloring, rollers, perms, relaxers, and harsh gels and sprays.
  • Hair styling: As mentioned above, if you’re in the habit of wearing tight hairstyles - even something as seemingly minor as a ponytail - you might be tearing the hair from the hair follicles.
  • Diet: Iron, folic acid, and certain vitamins may be missing from your diet, interrupting how your hair regenerates.
  • Stress: Such events raise your cortisol levels, which might disrupt your body’s hair growth. See if you can get your stress levels down for an extended period of time.
  • Hair washing: Be gentle, from the shampoo you use to the conditioner and other treatments to the comb you run through after. Avoid the hot oil, and try out a wide-tooth comb.
  • Medications: Check all medications and supplements you regularly take for hair loss as a side effect.
  • Lifestyle factors: Just as with your skin, smoking and long-term exposure to UV light affect hair growth. Stop smoking and tanning, if you regularly partake in these activities, and limit how long you spend outdoors in direct sunlight.

Expert Tips to Fix Thinning Hair

I always tell my clients to build on the hair they have left. If your hair is thinning, book a consultation with a stylist who offers a microscope assessment to check the health of your scalp. A product containing minoxidil, like Nioxin, is usually the answer to clogged hair follicles.

- Bryant Anthony, Artistic Designer, Salon Eva Michelle


Hair loss is usually hereditary, although certain medications, thyroid diseases, protein deficiencies, or skin conditions can cause hair loss, so see a doctor to determine treatment accordingly.

If you’ve been thinning for a while and are starting to bald, prescription medications, surgical hair transplantation, and platelet-rich plasma or PRP injections can all help. We offer PRP injections to our patients suffering from hair loss. The process involves withdrawing a patient’s own blood, processing it so that only the enriched cells remain, and injecting it into the scalp to stimulate natural hair growth.

- Dr. Jamie Schwartz, Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon and RealSelf Contributor

Jude Law head shot

How to Fix a Receding Hairline

Unfortunately, you can’t control where your body starts to lose its hair. That’s up to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), the hormone behind if and where your body will start to shed its hair.

However, certain habits may help stave off male-pattern baldness and the subsequently receding hairline:

  • Protein affects keratin, the protein key to thicker hair growth. Although it’s not an absolute correlation, individuals with low-protein diets tend to have finer hair.
  • B vitamins, zinc, iron, and silica also affect hair heath, especially Vitamin B12. Generally, you’ll see vegetarians - who are often deficient in this vitamin - with thinner, finer hair. 
  • Addressing dandruff isn’t just for appearances. Rather, many men who live with male-pattern baldness also have dandruff - both symptoms of an unhealthy scalp. Thus, dealing with this issue can clean up the scaling that may permanently damage hair follicles.

“Avoid pompadours, and don’t comb your hair towards the back. This will just emphasize your receding hairline. Also, when styling hair, avoid thick products that clump hair strands together, making the hair look even thinner.

However, if you’re already quite worried, talk to a hair loss specialist. They’ll be able to gauge your current rate of hair loss and help find the cause and the best course of action for fixing your hairline. 

If diet, stress, or other lifestyle factors are causing you to lose hair, the first step is to address these underlying issues. There are also medical hair restoration options, such as medications and medicated shampoos, which include hair loss drugs like Minoxidil and Finasteride, and alternative hair loss treatments like vitamin infusion therapy and laser therapy. Hairline transplant using FUT and FUE hair transplant techniques is also an excellent option.”

- Dr. Michael May / Medical Director / Wimpole Clinic


"My name is Madison Dufour, I am licensed and practicing Master Barber and Cosmetologist, as well as owner and author of The Exquisite Find Hair Blog.

The best advice I can offer men with short haircuts and receding hairlines, is not to try to cover it up. If you try to cover up a receding hairline you actually draw the eye to the area where you’d rather it wouldn’t go.

The best way to deal with it is to try out a different style, not a different haircut, but to style it a little differently. For example, use pomade to style the top into a faux hawk, don’t just brush up the front. Or part the hair to the opposite side than what you normally would.

As a professional, I recommend using Nioxin treatment 1 or 2 for preventing further hair loss and encouraging hair growth and follicle health."

- Madison Dufour / Master Barber, Cosmetologist & Author / The Exquisite Find

Beyond the Combover

What to do for Thinning Hair on Top by the Experts

Typically, when guys see their hair thinning around the crown, they’re advised to keep it short, closely cropped, or shave it all off completely. Or, for an alternative, you can work with it like Kevin Costner, for example, by letting your hair grow out a little longer.

Beyond the Combover

Keep it Shorter on the Sides

If your hairline is receding, ask your stylist to carve out sections on both sides of the hairline, like Justin Theroux. Then use a combination of R+Co Continental Glossing Wax to style.

channing_tatum_short_cut_for_thinning_hair

Go Fine All Over

In the case of all-over thinning hair, keep your hair short and close to the head. Channing Tatum has baby fine hair, but you’d never know it because of his signature shortcut.


"First off, the key to hiding a receding hairline is to keep the sides and back of your head shorter than usual. This will draw attention away from your forehead and make it appear less noticeable. You can also opt for a longer style on top if you’re willing to commit to styling it every day. Try using some product such as mousse or gel to keep it looking textured and full.

- Krysta Biancone / Co-founder of Amari Salon & Spa and Hair Stylist / Hair by Krysta

Thicken Your Hair

R+Co also has some great shampoos for making the hair appear thicker, like Dallas Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner, Cactus Texturizing Shampoo, and Badlands Dry Shampoo Paste.

- Thom Priano, Celebrity Men’s Stylist and R+Co Co-Founder


Create an Illusion with the Right Cut and Products

"For hair that is thinning on top, keeping a relatively short hairstyle with tight sides and back will give the illusion of volume on top. Use a texturizing spray like Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray to give the hair grit, and make it appear thicker. For a stronger hold, try a paste with a matte finish like Oribe Rough Luxury Soft, which will keep the hair from looking greasy and in-turn, thinner."

Jackie Wright, Artistic Designer Salon Eva Michelle


"Men with thinning hair should seek out a Barber who specializes in men's cuts and with experience cutting thinning hair. Ask them! 

You’ll be sorry if you don't properly vet your barber and this is the first style they have attempted to conceal or minimize the appearance of thinning. You could end up with an old school comb over or worse. 

Once you’ve identified an experienced barber, be open to suggestions and unafraid of trying something they may recommend. The area and degree of your thinning may mean a better stylish solution for you. 

Lastly, don't be embarrassed - this is what they do all day everyday. 50 million men in the US suffer from male pattern hair loss. You aren't the only one."

- Alexia Donovan, Director of Client Services, Barber Surgeons Guild


For thinning hair on top, I recommend going with a classic short cut. This will help create an illusion of fullness and provide more structure for styling products like wax or pomade. To add even more volume, go for a layered cut that will create movement and texture in the hair.

The best volumizing haircuts for thinning hair are those that are kept short and cropped close to the head. Short layers will help give your hair more body and texture while keeping it looking neat and tidy. If you want something a little longer, try a longer messy style with lots of texture – this will give your hairstyle that extra oomph without making it look too thin or flat on top." 

- Krysta Biancone / Co-founder of Amari Salon & Spa and Hair Stylist / Hair by Krysta


lemon-sage-thickening-shampoo

If you have thinning hair, creams or matte products work best. Products that leave the hair with a shine are only going to draw attention to those thinning areas.

You could also try a body building shampoo and conditioner to help with thinning hair. Paul Mitchell has a lemon sage shampoo and conditioner that help build up the individual strands. To keep the hair healthy and prevent stripping it of its natural oils, I would suggest using these products every other day.

- Holly Prinds, Salon Manager at Supercuts in Kansas City


"Thinning hair and receding hairlines can be a source of insecurity for many men. Fortunately, there are several modern hairstyles that can help disguise hair loss and make the most of what you have. The key to finding the right cut is to choose a style that will help create the illusion of thicker hair. Here is the number one hairstyle that can help men with thinning hair:

A buzz cut is a great option for men who have receding hairlines. The short length will reduce the contrast between thinning hair and the scalp, making it appear fuller.

With all other hairstyles, you will be essentially trying to use your hair to hide thinning areas, but with a buzz cut, you embrace it and make it look stylish. If you want to learn more about buzzcuts and thinning hair, I have written a comprehensive guide you can read here that covers everything you need to know."

- Russell Stanley / Barber / Founder & Owner, The Men’s Attitude

Try a Comb-Over, But Be Careful

Regis Powder Boost

I typically recommend leaving the hair longer in the areas of recession. This gives you more styling options to disguise the receding areas. Adding a root booster like Regis Powder Boost, coats the hair and gives it body.

If you have a receding or thinning hair in the front, try to steer clear of styles that pull the hair backward like a pompadour. The pompadour look is one of the most popular styles we get asked about, but it is not right for everyone. This style is only going to draw attention to your thinning areas.

Doing a tight, fade cut on the sides and then blending the hair up into that thinning area, can help camouflage the problem. It makes the thinning look more intentional.

- Holly Prinds, Salon Manager at Supercuts in Kansas City


Comb overs don’t have the best reputation. Unfortunately, that grotesque display of fakery also reflects its origins: Starting in the 1920s, men requested this hairstyle to cover a growing bald spot.

The deal with comb-overs is, if your hair’s thinning or you have the small, patchy pattern, this hairstyle offers some degree of camouflage, provided you’re not swooping the long part over, holding it in place with product, and hoping no one notices the lack of thickness over that particular patch.

Man with short sides and back hairstyle but longer on top

To successfully do a comb-over, you first have to understand the modern revival: shorter, often with a fade on the sides, or with a longer top, either neat or with a bit more texture. You should see a distinct change in pattern and volume, and to some extent, the comb-over is basically a classier, updated version of the undercut.

To achieve this combination, you have a few choices:

  • The low-fade comb-over keeps the fade close to the skin, with a clear tapered effect. For small patches of thinning hair along the sides, this helps diminish their appearance.
  • The long comb over is about extremes: Short with a close fade on the sides, with a medium to longer length on top. However, if the top of your head is exactly where the bald patch is forming, skip this hairstyle, as it will only highlight the ever-thinning area around your scalp.
  • A short comb over fade, to some degree, offers the greatest mileage. A shorter top and shorter sides with a fade avoids accenting any thinning or bald patches and may help conceal these spots along the sides.

Big picture, if your hair is thinning and you’re not quite ready to live in hats or take a razor to your head, talk to your barber or see a hair loss specialist.

Writer

Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.