Losing Hair Gracefully In Your Late Teens And Early 20s

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Ok, I am not one to share too much about myself.

Especially in such an open forum setting like this one.

But if there is one thing that I feel passionate about, it has to do with my hair, or lack thereof.

Back when I was only a junior in college and before I was legally allowed to drink beer, I came to the dark realization that I was balding.

But it wasn’t that I just woke up one day and was ok with it.

In fact, just the opposite:

I struggled with this notion of losing my hair for years.

While I wasn’t ready to accept defeat, all I had to do was look at my family tree for evidence.

My father and grandfather are both thinner on top, same goes for my mom’s side with her brothers and my grandfather as well.

Needless to say, I was predisposed to balding (more on this in a minute).

But this still didn’t stop me from accepting this very harsh fact.

Here’s the reality:

I was stressed.

Not only was I a kid in college dealing with the regular issues of cramming for exams, but I was wholly self-sufficient and worked 30 hours a week to pay my own bills.

I guess this was my parents way of making me grow up…

…and no, I am not looking for pity points.

In fact, when look back on it, I am pretty happy with the lesson this taught me.

Needless to say though, I felt like I was always drowning in work, school, and financial burdens.

Which forced me to chalk up hair loss as a stress related factor and made me squeeze in a visit to the Dr.

When I was there, I was looking for answers…


…I don’t care what it was, but something to explain why my hair was thinning and that this would only be temporary.

But you know what:

Nothing happened.

I still remember the gist of what the Doctor said to me that day:

‘While it’s a bit early, hair loss is completely normal for your age.’

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Now, I don’t feel like a very vain individual.

But this one hurt.

I wasn’t married, I was broke, I didn’t even have a degree, and the cherry on top of the shit popsicle was that I was going bald.

In short, it crushed my confidence.

So, enough about me (I really don’t like talking about myself this much).

Now on to you, and the reason why you are here:

Is Balding Normal In Your Late Teens And Early 20s?

losing hair in your 20s

In short, yes.

I can confirm this based on my first-hand experience.

In addition, I can further confirm this from the countless emails I get from men who are going through the very same issue.

So, while it absolutely sucks, don’t feel like you are the only one dealing with this.

Other men, and likely a few you know, are also dealing with this issue (only they aren’t advertising it as well).

So while you might have just made your way through the minefield of puberty and started growing your first beard, just know that the thinning of your hair up top does and will happen to plenty of men.

Hair Loss Is Largely Genetic

older bald man

Examining your family tree is a great way to see hair loss traits among the men.

While this always isn’t 100% predicable of your future, many men often use this as a peek of what’s to come.

Not only is studying your family tree a great indicator for how your future hair growth patterns may be, it’s also a helpful for you to get ahead of the balding issue before it sneaks up.

While 99% of men are pretty private on their personal matters, if you have a close relationship with your uncle(s), grandfathers, or own father, ask them when they started experiencing their own hair loss.

Sure, you might be going bald at 19, 20, or 21, but I am willing to bet that the majority of your hair loss will occur much later in your life (and likely the case for your extended family as well).

Areas Where You Can Expect Hair Loss

Most men in their late teens and early 20s will start experiencing a receding hair line on the front of their heads.

What’s called the widow’s peak (that classic M shape of hair growth), you will notice the sides of the front of your head quickly disappearing.

Another common area of balding (and the area where I noticed hair loss first), is going to be at the crown of your head.

This one is a bit more tricky for men to identify.

The reason being is that we very rarely check the back of our heads (unless after just finishing a haircut at the barbershop – in that case, we are just trying to get out of there as quick as possible).

Here’s why the hair in the front and crown area are more susceptible to thinning than the side and back of your head:

DHT sensitivity.

DHT (dihydrotestosterone), is a hormone that is responsible for hair loss.

Therefore, men may take DHT blockers to slow down or try and reverse the signs of hair loss (more on this below).

Hair Loss Options Vary Greatly

A search for ‘hair loss products’ online will yield endless results:

hair loss options

170,000,000 results!

That’s insane!

While we would love to talk about every single option that exists on the market, your time is a bit more valuable than that!

So, we just want to cover the more popular (and effective) solutions that aren’t just some generic supplement with spotty results and lack any substantive research from independent sources.

Here’s some proven products that have worked for men:

Minoxidil (Rogaine)

Found in over-the-counter products like Rogaine, Minoxidil has been approved by the FDA as an effective way to regrow hair.

But here’s the kicker:

Minoxidil only works on areas where hairs (even slightly small ones), still exist and haven’t completely fallen out.

Therefore, if you are completely bald, this (or any other) options mentioned in this article aren’t going to magically regrow hair where a follicle doesn’t exist in the first place.

While commonly used by men as their first choice of treatment, not all men will experience hair regrowth with regular application of minoxidil.

However, we do want to note the following:

If you are going to try and slow or reverse your current hair loss, we would recommend holding onto those receipts.

If you check out the Rogaine website, they do offer a money back guarantee if their product doesn’t work (really it can’t hurt to try it out).

Finasteride (Propecia)

Originally designed to be a medicine for an enlarged prostate (something you might learn about much later in life), it has a common side effect of regrowing hair.

How incredibly convenient!

Acting as a DHT blocker, finasteride will help to reduce the androgen activity on your head.

It gets better:

Unlike Minoxidil that often requires twice daily application (which can be both messy and time consuming), finasteride is taken orally.

This is both a good and bad thing:

It’s bad because you can’t do spot treatment.

Therefore, if you want to only target your crown or widows peak, you can with minoxidil, but not with finasteride.

Opposite of this though, the easy daily application will target all the hairs on your head.

As we mentioned earlier, once the root of the hair follicle no longer exists, you won’t be able to magically regrow the hair again.

What does this mean?

Well, when you take finasteride for an extended period of time (~ 6 months), you will see much thicker volume for your hair line.

This will help to diminish the appearance of a widow’s peak or crown area when all the other hairs are considerably thicker.

Secondly, the thinner hairs that do exist will be thicker as well, helping to drastically reduce the appearance of pre-mature balding.

Can You Buy Propecia/Finasteride Online or Over The Counter?

While you might find some sketchy retailers online offering this medicine, you will need to talk with your doctor, as its only available as a prescription.

Different Hair Styles To Consider

bald lifting weights

Men largely go in two separate directions when their hair starts to thin:

Grow it out much longer to increase the overall appearance of hair, or cut it really short.

Very few ever take the plunge to shave their head completely bald.

Depending on your personal style and current state of hair loss will largely dictate the type of style you go with.

As a man that went through the balding journey myself and leaned towards the shorter hair styles, here are some general pointers I learned along the way:

Accessorize when possible.

Hats, glasses, or sunglasses are a perfect way to offset any roundness when it comes to your face and head.

All too often, men who both shave their face and their head feel like they look like an egg.

Simple accessories like those mentioned above are a great way to counteract this feeling.

Speaking of facial hair, this can also be a great way to balance the look as well.

Whether you go with a full beard, mustache, or simply a medium or thick stubble, it’s a great way to look more masculine and balanced.

For men with longer hair styles, here’s what we observed that works:

Don’t go with a man bun.

Know your limits.

Seriously, a man bun mixed with a thinning crown or widows peak makes it look like you are trying too hard.

Secondly, don’t do the comb over.

While tempting as it may be, it will be something that many men try to rely but very few (i.e. 1%) can pull it off.

All Men Deal With Balding Differently – Really Its Up To You And The Decisions You Make

We want to leave you with this parting thought:

Going bald is completely natural.

While having it start while you’re in your late teens or early 20s can be a bit unsettling, just know that you are definitely not the only one that goes through this.

In addition, its completely fine to try out some of the hair loss solutions that we talked about before.

In fact, the hair loss industry is a $2.5 billion dollar market (source).

While many men will never admit to trying hair loss products and alternatives to going bald, clearly the sheer size of the market would suggest otherwise.

Lastly, once you come to the full realization and acceptance of going bald by shaving your head, you will quickly find that it’s not only empowering, but will take a huge weight off your shoulders!

About Shawn Burns

Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn's expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.

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