When I was seventeen, my parents got the family a camcorder for Christmas and to test it out, I decided to record a music video to the song “Video Killed The Radio Star,” which mostly consisted of me standing there while the camera was set to the strobe effect. I wanted to look like I was from the era, so I put on some hair gel. A clump of hair came out from near my temples. I looked in the mirror and everything looked fine. Okay…nothing to worry about…
Fast forward to college and I was showering one day and I noticed a lot more hair than usual in the bottom of the shower. Later that day I looked at my hairline. It looked different than it had back in January. It had receded in the front of my scalp, across my forehead and temples, and a small bald spot was developing in the back.
I suddenly started to get worried. I was only eighteen. I couldn’t believe I was starting to go bald. At the time, I already considered myself at a dating and social disadvantage, and I hated that I may have had to add baldness to that. And, my dad went bald at a young age, and I always worried I would be next. And, my twin brother Jonathan was going through the exact same thing (not a surprise).
I have always been proactive, and fortunately the FDA had literally just approved minoxidil for over the counter use. I went to the local K-Mart and bought a month supply of the 2% solution, since that was all that was available at the time. A few days later Jonathan decided to as well.
Luckily, since I started using it early enough, that alone caused frontal regrowth as well as growth at the vertex. I have used minoxidil 2% since fall of 1996, and my head has just as much hair as it did then. In fact, in recent years, my hair has actually gotten thicker, and I’ll explain how. Jonathan has used the exact same treatment and experienced the same positive results.
I make no guarantees (so consult your doctor!) of general safety or effectiveness for what I list below. It is simply based on my experience.
I list all the anti-baldness treatments I have used, along with discussion related to them, and they are all available over-the-counter (minus Retin-A), and cost next to nothing. Note that the key to effectively stopping and treating hair loss is to catch it early. In fact, a lot of my success is related to the fact that I caught it in its earliest stages.
I have faithfully used generic 2% minoxidil since 1996. When I started using it, my hair loss stopped immediately. Within a few weeks I noticed small, fine, hairs coming in.
Within a few months, I saw normally colored hair growth around my temples and front of my scalp, and I assume in the back as well (since minoxidil has actually been proven to cause growth there). That hair remains to this day (well, not the exact hairs but you get my point).
Without being on sale, minoxidil sells for around $20 for a three month’s supply. Most guys today use 5% minoxidil, which is just as cheap, and more widely available than 2%, but with theoretically more risk of side effects. The instructions say to use a dropperful (1 ml) twice a day. I am down to once a day (if that) thanks to using other treatments. So, for about $20, I get what amounts to a six month supply. Right now you can get generic 5% minoxidil for under thirty dollars on Amazon, for a six month supply.
Now I add Retin-A to my minoxidil because it seems to increase its effectiveness. However, that is only available by prescription. If your doctor will prescribe it, you can add some to your minoxidil bottle.
Minoxidil likely works by bringing more blood to the scalp. It doesn’t address the main cause of male pattern baldness, which involves DHT. This article briefly explains how DHT causes baldness if you want to know. So, minoxidil may result in diminished returns after a while for a lot of users.
Also, one side effect of using it regularly is dry scalp. I had extremely dry scalp after using it. The solution? This thing called a “pocket hair brush,” which I call a “head scraper.” Give your scalp a vigorous once over with it every few weeks to a month, and you’ll notice you’ll pull up a lot of dead skin. It also may stimulate the scalp and clear any gunk on your scalp that may be hypothetically worsening your hair loss.
Some people claim other side effects, but the fact is that it is a commonly used, over-the-counter drug. While not risk free, it is generally thought to be safe when used topically.
Internal Saw Palmetto And Plant Sterols (Phytosterols)
This small study showed that a combination of saw palmetto and beta-sitosterol (a specific plant sterol) taken internally (I assume) had positive results in treating hair loss. This is because saw palmetto and plant sterols may block DHT. I have taken saw palmetto extract since around 2001, and plant sterols since about 2007. I take a daily saw palmetto and sterols a few times a week.
I have noticed no negative side effects from taking these chemicals. Granted, I don’t take a whole lot compared to what others do, but I can say that they haven’t negatively impacted me.
Since starting this, I began cutting my minoxidil usage down to once a day, and nothing on my hairline changed. If anything, I saw an improvement in my hair count, so I continue taking them internally.
Topical Saw Palmetto and Plant Sterols
In 2011 I decided to start applying these elements to my scalp topically. That actually resulted in an expansion of my frontal hairline, for the first time since 1996. I mix some water and coconut oil, heat that in the microwave, and then whisk in a few sterol softgels, saw palmetto softgels, and sunflower lecithin powder. It turns into a yellowish gel.
After using this, my frontal hairline expanded about 1/4 inch, particularly on the front right and left sides near my temple. And, that is using this very lazily, i.e. about once a week. I am currently expanding my usage of this to three times a week and seeing what happens.
I just started this, but a few studies suggest that this anti-dandruff shampoo may be just as effective as minoxidil in treating hair loss. That doesn’t mean it will be magic, but could be a cheap part of a hair-loss program.
Nizoral is available from Amazon and drug stores. Online advice from successful users seems to be that the OTC concentration (1%) works well. Shampoo with your regular shampoo first, rinse, and apply the Nizoral. Massage in your scalp and leave on for about three minutes. Use it every third day. Sadly, in some people it can cause hair loss, so watch out for that side effect.
I will update this article if I see any noticeable improvement or side effects.
I’m not convinced much else that is available over-the-counter will help with baldness, except perhaps topical azelaic acid. This means that I don’t think various supplements like Biotin or Silica will have much of an effect. I do take a lot of supplements, but I don’t think any of them directly impact hair loss, except the two I mentioned above. I do take Stinging Nettle for allergies from time to time, and it may inhibit DHT, but likely no better than the two I mentioned.
I have not mentioned Proecia/finasteride (aka Proscar) in this article. The reason is that I haven’t used it. It is available only by prescription. It is proven effective, and works in the same way saw palmetto and phytosterols hypothetically do, by blocking the effects of DHT. Some people swear by it, while a small percentage of others claim it ruined their lives by causing horrible side effects, including sexual performance related ones. Personally I avoid any pharmaceutical if I can.
Remember, this is just my experience. But, whatever I’m doing, I’m doing right. I have kept my hair 19 years after seeing it start to recede. A good friend of mine started balding at exactly the same time. He dismissed it. He is completely bald. There is nothing wrong with that, and he owns it perfectly. However, there are things you can do, especially if you catch it early enough!
In honor of our newest book release, Lose Weight And Be Healthy Now: Forty Science-Based Weight Loss Tips to Transform Your Life, I wanted to write a post related weight loss and male social success, and guess what? It has nothing to do with physical looks.
The obesity epidemic spreading across Western countries is having dangerous side effects for men, and they are both physical and social. To see the obesity epidemic in action, have a look at the animated gif on the right. Click on it for a bigger version.
One of the biggest side effects related to obesity in men is the fact that obesity destroys a man’s testosterone levels, and that is bad for a variety of reasons.
While many people think of testosterone as a bad thing (like guys with their hat backwards grunting at each other while listening to Limp Bizkit music), the reality is much different. Not only do high testosterone levels not cause aggression, but they actually can cause guys to be fairer and less aggressive.
Other research suggests that high testosterone levels increase the desire for social dominance, but that doesn’t necessarily increase aggression, unless it is expected in the environment (i.e. the men with higher testosterone in prison would be more violent; the men with higher T in a private school would simply be more charming and assertive).
Also, if you are still thinking of testosterone as a “bad” chemical, low testosterone is a risk factor for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even atherosclerosis.
And to emphasize this point further, low testosterone levels could be why you’re perpetually single and stuck in a rut at work. Testosterone is important for attracting women, with women preferring men with higher T levels and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. That high testosterone to low cortisol ratio is also what is seen in people who are leaders in any given situation.
So: higher testosterone (and lower cortisol) makes you healthier, more relaxed, socially dominant, attractive, and more likely to be a leader. That is the good news.
The bad news is that obesity lowers testosterone levels, which in turn promotes obesity, creating a downward spiral that makes both losing weight and raising testosterone levels very difficult. Many guys have been significantly overweight for years, and it is no surprise that it has turned them into socially frustrated and angry guys.
And, even though it is commonly assumed, testosterone naturally declines with age, a recent study found that it wasn’t necessarily age that was the main problem, but weight gain that often comes with age! So, that expected decrease in energy, desire, etc., that comes with age? It likely doesn’t have to happen – if you aren’t overweight at least.
While we talk about personality factors a lot, the bottom line is that your weight may be killing your social life, even beyond appearance issues.
For the new year, losing weight and working out could seriously help your social success. While I suggest any type of exercise that burns calories, if you focus on weight loss that helps raise your testosterone levels, your social (and physical) results will be magnified because it will address the low testosterone-obesity downward spiral.
Aerobic exercise can increase testosterone levels, but if you run, stick to sprinting and avoid extra long distance runs. Otherwise, interval training increases testosterone levels, so try a program like Insanity. Weight lifting also boosts testosterone (as does any weight resistance, particularly chopping wood).
Happy new year!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. OK, maybe it isn’t for everyone. We all know that Christmas can be stressful and annoying, whether it’s dealing family and friends or doing the last minute shopping.
Of course, Christmas can also be difficult for people who are lonely on the holiday. In that case, they might hope for a few more annoying people in their lives, at least to remind them that they aren’t alone.
Whatever your situation this Christmas, remember that your life is in your hands. Change is possible. The best gift you can give yourself is personal transformation…being your best self in all areas of your life: relationships, work, and more.
So, if you’re not at your best (and who is), start thinking now about how you can become your absolute most excellent self. We’re always here to help.
Have a Merry Christmas!
Jonathan and David Bennett
While seemingly normal throughout most of history, relationship and attraction age gaps are a controversial topic these days. Sometimes people barely bat an eye, like when young women swoon over hot older celebrities. In other instances, the reaction may be creepy, like when a fat old guy gets caught checking out a college girl.
I’m not going to tackle the question on whether large age gaps are natural here. However, I do want to provide some background research and highlight a recent study.
An OKCupid analysis showed that men of all ages (yep, all ages) find women in their early twenties the most attractive, and guys regularly message women much younger than their “looking for” information suggests (see Dataclysm by Christian Rudder). Guys still, however, generally date women closer to their own age. So apparently most older men would gladly enter into a relationship with a much younger woman if given the chance.
One recent large, cross-cultural study showed the concept of “cougars” is largely a myth, and that women still prefer dating older men, and men, younger women. And, common experience is that women are more likely to date much older men than men are much older women, although large age gaps are pretty rare.
So, it seems that age gaps in attraction and even relationships aren’t going away any time soon. None of this shocks me because it makes sense when understanding the evolution of human attraction, however some people like to shame women who like older men as having “daddy issues.”
Well, a new study suggests women who date much older men have no “daddy” issues, and have the same type of attachment women in similar-age relationships have.
So, ladies, keep crushing on Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt. It’s perfectly natural, and not a reflection on you or your relationship with your dad. Although if you are twenty and start dating a ninety-year old, I admit, I might at least give you a slightly shocked look.