Hair Loss – what you can do about baldness

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.

 

References

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

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Trends For 2019

My predictions for the big trends of 2019.

Cannabidiol is being treated by everyone on the business as the next big thing. It is getting media coverage as a treatment for mental health problems, so its connection to personal care isn’t that obvious. But if you think logic has anything to do with this sort of thing, well you haven’t been paying attention. Anything with a bit of a buzz around it is good enough.  In fact there is a reasonably good case for cannabidiol being of some use on the skin.  If it can affect receptors in the brain there is a pretty good chance that will do the same to receptors in the skin which could be beneficial for pain and itch.  We don’t have any data to back this up yet, but that isn’t the kind of detail that troubles the folk who are looking to get ahead in a crowded market.  

At time of writing everyone is talking about cannabidiol and there are lots of projects going on.  A few pioneering skus have hit the shelves, but it is far from mass market yet.  I predict that by this time next year there will be CBD variations of most of the major brands and maybe even a couple of new ones.

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I’m Fed Up With Facebook – So This Is What I Am Doing About It

You can’t avoid social media in the beauty business. And you can’t avoid the big four platforms – Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. All of them are used by brands to communicate their offerings, and consumers to find and react to those offerings. You also need to use them to promote yourself if you offer a service. I have a business so that is obvious, but I’d argue that if you have a job you need to promote your services as well. Continue reading

Fake Reviews Online

fake amazon reviews
Are people online lying to you about products?

There’s no doubt about it, a personal recommendation from somebody you know and trust is the best possible advert. If I am anything to go by, a good recommendation will actually overrule my own personal experience. If someone tells me something is good, if I don’t find it works for me I’ll often blame myself rather than the product or its fan. Continue reading

Does The Way You Sleep Cause Wrinkles?

Does The Way You Sleep Cause Wrinkles?  It doesn’t sound like an unreasonable proposition in principle. Your skin is in contact with cotton, which is quite a hard and abrasive material, for many hours each night. You might well expected to have a detrimental effect on the Quality of your skin.  Dr. Jaime Davis is in no doubt about it. He attributes the fact that many women have more wrinkles on one side of their face and that the other to the fact that they sleep on that side of their face. This doesn’t happen with men apparently. We are supposedly more likely to sleep on our stomachs. So we get our wrinkles on our foreheads. Continue reading

Sodium Benzoate

Sodium benzoate
Styrax – the shrub from which benzoic acid can be extracted

Sodium benzoate is a preservative that crops up on ingredient lists for skin care products.  It is safe, works well enough and doesn’t give rise to many skin reactions.

I don’t think it is many formulators favourite though, because there are other preservatives that work better. Not every preservative works in every formulation and against every organism, and sodium benzoate is one that really needs a low pH to work well and even then isn’t enormously effective against all the microbes you’d like it to be.  So it has its uses, but it isn’t especially versatile.

Crystals of Pure Benzoic Acid

To a chemist though, the name is quite interesting.  It is the salt of benzoic acid, and benzoic acid has played a key part in the development of organic chemistry.  It was first derived from an asian shrub.  Specifically, it was extracted the gum of the Styrax platanifolius.  This had been used for centuries but was purified still further by a sixteenth century French chemist.  He got it into a crystalline format from which he concluded, correctly, that it must therefore be a single compound.  I think that this was the first pure natural compound to be identified.  

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The chemist’s name was Nostradamus.  He’s still famous, not for his science but for some confusing predictions he made that continue to be talked about.

The chemistry of this compound was the focus of intense interest in the nineteenth century.  It was studied by many chemists. But the prize for working out its structure was taken by Friedrich Wöhler and Justus von Liebig.  These are two of the giants in the history of chemistry.  Their work was later built on to create the discipline of organic chemistry.  

There are quite a lot of cosmetic ingredients that are derivatives of benzoic acid, so you see ‘benz’ quite often on the backs of packs.  It is a neat little history lesson.

Everything You Need To Create Your Own Skincare Range at CCC

Anti Ageing Products – Six Brands with a story each

Olay Regenerist is a classic anti ageing product

When I give a talk I rarely use notes, but I have generally written out what I am going to say in advance and to some extent memorised it. But I am now getting to the stage in my life where I don’t really worry too much about getting up to speak in public. What’s the worst that can happen after all? So when I was invited to speak at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s recent meeting on anti-ageing I decided to risk getting up to speak with very little idea of what I was going to say. I think the technical term for it is ex-temporising.

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Are Floral Waters A Health Hazard?

Are Floral Waters A Health Hazard?

Are Floral Waters A Health Hazard?

I think this is a universal truth, but it is certainly true in labs.  The most stressful role is middle management.  I enjoyed my time as a bench chemist doing the actual work.  I enjoy supervising projects at a higher level.  But most of my bad memories of my career are when I was in between – managing  a team but reporting to senior management.  Continue reading

Your fragrances are safer, but don’t smell as good as they used to

2017 was a remarkable year for the aviation industry.  There was not a single passenger death from flying.  The industry was quick to point out that there was an element of luck involved.  But even so, given that their business is ferrying people around the world in metal tubes at a great height, to not have lost a single person in 12 months is quite an achievement. Continue reading

Marula Oil Sediment

Some thoughts on noticing sediment in some marula oil. #BeautyScientist #NaturalOils

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I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up, or indeed how long people will put up with it for.  But for the last week I have started the day with a 60 second video on my new Instagram account.  If you aren’t familiar with the platform – you can’t post anything longer than 60 seconds.  It is quite tough to say anything in such a short time frame, and I am finding that once I start it is a bit frustrating that I can’t get out everything I want to say.  So here is a bit more detail on this morning’s one. Continue reading