People can be cruel when to comes to hair loss. I should know: as someone who is suffering from something of a follicular deficit, I've been on the receiving end of a fair few barbed comments about the 'bald truth' in my time. Hair-larious.
Many years ago, however, before my male pattern baldness engaged in such expansionist tendencies, I had a more modest amount of hair loss – so I’m well versed in the tricks and techniques men use to disguise their hairless crowns. It's a toolkit that Prince Harry might be advised to acquire: pictures of him in South Africa taken in 2015 appear to reveal that the Prince has the beginning of a bald patch.
Harry's fatal mistake is turning a blind eye to what's going on upstairs. Like many men in his situation, he's letting his thinning hair grow rather than trimming it back and the result is that his fluffy and fine thatch now looks like something found on a newly hatched chick. Rather than disguise the burgeoning bald patch, all this actually does is draw attention to it. First thing he needs to do is acknowledge what's going on and the second is to pay a visit to a sympathetic barber.
Of course, there are more extreme measures available. Before I go on I should say that, personally, I think bald patches are a bit like parliamentary misdemeanours insomuch as it’s not the patch itself that’s the crime but the attempted coverup - something David Cameron might have considered when he quipped in 2014 that his priority for the year was keeping his own bald spot under control. But, anyway, if you must attempt a disguise, here are your options…
Option One: Comb-over
Fiddly, time-consuming and the butt of many a Bobby Charlton joke, comb-overs occasionally work a treat, until the wind catches them, at which point it’s like a trap door opening up onto a chamber of horrors. Big reveals like this boost your popularity at press conferences, but the same can't be said for your sense of self-esteem.
You might just be able to disguise a modestly-sized sized patch with a quiff and plenty of hairspray – but resist the temptation to brush hair forward or from one ear to another, and at all costs avoid doing a Donald Trump, whose hair has been folded back upon itself more times than Mary Berry’s filo pastry.
Option Two: Sprinkle!
Volumising hair fibres - microscopic, electrostatically charged fibres which stick to the hair to create the appearance of a full thatch - have been around for years and appeal due to the promise of an instant solution to gaping holes in your hair. And products like Nanogen,TecTrich and Viviscal Hair Thickening Fibres do work (sort of) if you have a relatively small patch on the very top of your head and don’t permit your scalp to come under too much scrutiny.
You basically sprinkle the products on like salt (and like salt it’s best to sprinkle them sparingly) and the fibres miraculously fill out any gaps. It’s crucial to get the colour just right or it’ll be obvious and it also helps if you’re be 6’ 3” and your crown is beyond the visual reach of friends and colleagues.
Having tried fibres once, many years ago, I can confidently report that you’ll never have more fun trying to camouflage your bald patch. But then, you’ll never feel more ridiculous doing so either.
Option Three: Spray!
A bit like sprinkling, but even more bonkers sprays like GLH Formula Number 9 and Mane Hair Thickening Spray are made of tiny coloured fibres that allow you to kind of paint over your patch. Several A-list celebrities have been photographed with pates looking suspiciously "augmented" in this fashion.
My favourite advice on how to apply such products comes from an Amazon customer reviewing Mane who helpfully points out: “Less is more. If you spray all over and use too much your hair can look a little bit wig-like.” ‘Nuff said.
Option Four: Thicken and strengthen
There are scores of hair thickening products on the market these days, most of which contain special polymers that temporarily thicken the hair shaft to make it look plumper. Other products, like Head & Shoulders’ Extra Strengthening Tonic, aim to give hair a little more resilience to everyday wear and tear.
They aren’t going to entirely remedy your problem but they do help, and ensure you make the most of what hair you do have, as well as keeping the scalp from which it grows as healthy as possible. Definitely worth having in your grooming armoury.
Option Five: Tattoo
We all know tats are trendy but, hey, why stop at a pair of sleeves when you can do you head too? More for the bald than the patchy, Scalp Micro Pigmentation is a technique where your scalp it tattooed with tiny dots of pigment, matched to your existing hair colour, to create a uniformly even stubble effect.
When I asked an online representative of His Hair Clinic, who offer the treatment, whether it worked on bald patches they informed me that it would but only if you keep your hair short to a grade 0 so it might be better for total baldies. On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is something you might consider after a few shandies and 10 is pure madness, I reckon Micro Pigmentation is around a 15.
Option Six: Go for the chop
Over the years I’ve asked countless hairdressers, stylists and barbers what to do if you start to go bald and it’s remarkable how many of them give the same answer, which is very straight-forward: get a crop.
The general consensus is that if you’re going bald on top it’s not worth trying to grow your hair to disguise it but to embrace your hair loss and go for a shorter, more textured look.
“The hair should be as short as you can go without revealing scalp and cut blunt rather than choppy,” says Gavin Cornwell of The King’s Canary hair salon in London. Using the right styling products can help too. “The best products to use if you’ve thinning hair are sea salt spray or a matte wax.” He recommends Salty Dog Sea Cocktail Beach Spray and Cushy Clay, both by Evo.
Mr Cameron, are you listening? The solution to all your hair problems lies in…cuts.
Option seven: Put the wind up it
“When the hair is wet the cuticles open slightly and the shafts bind together a bit like Velcro,” says Daniel Davies, General Manager of Pall Mall Barbers in London. “Blow dry your hair and you reverse this, instantly making hair look thicker and fuller.”
Don’t flame grill your barnet though. “A medium setting is best as it allows you chance to manipulate your style into place and won't damage the hair you do have left,” he says.
To prevent the wind revealing your bald patch, fix hair in place with a little hair spray. “Simply spray a little onto a round brush when blow drying,” says Davies. “Then add a little more to fix the style in place.” Go easy though – hair should look like hair not a helmet.