"I went and bought a pair of clippers and accepted my doom. And it’s one of the best decisions I've ever made."
Good news, fellas! (And also for the ladies that love us, amirite?!) Those unsightly chrome domes are a thing of the past! And it's not just a sportsman paid by a laser-peddling company that's saying so, but a dermatology professor at a proper hospital.
An even more credible source than Warnie has emerged to help blokes who notice that their hair is receding. Or that their bare scalp is expanding, if they want to be glass-half-full about it.
An article published by Fairfax this week reassures us gentlemen that there's no need to worry about baldness any more. "The take-home message for boys staring at their bald fathers' scalp and wondering what their genes have in store for them," says Professor Rodney Sinclair, is "don't panic, but don't leave it too late."
Apparently there are two effective pharmaceutical treatments which can not only arrest hair loss, but promote hair regrowth. Finasteride is a tablet that is taken daily, while minoxidyl is a lotion which you apply to your scalp.
Hair loss is undoubtedly unpleasant, and can be quite debilitating. It can make men feel unattractive, and indeed, less masculine – ironically, since it's caused by testosterone, but nevertheless, it's unpleasant. And now, if you're willing to take tablets and rub chemicals into your scalp, it need not be a problem.
I have only one minor quibble with the good professor's article. As effective as these two drugs apparently are – albeit despite some side effects which we'll get to later – I have come up with an even more effective regime to deal with hair loss. I am in a position to absolutely guarantee it, because it's the one that, after considerable research, I adopted myself.
When you start losing hair, you could adopt a daily two-drug regime designed to stop this scourge from depriving you of your hard working follicles. Or, get this – you could decide not to care.
That's right! Rather than feeding yourself chemicals and rubbing them into your scalp morning and night, you can simply shrug, adopt an ironic grin, and make some comment about it all being the price you're willing to pay for being a seething morass of studly-as-all-heck testosterone.
Now, I'm not trying to downplay the psychological impact of hair loss. It sucks, it really does. When I realised at about the age of thirty that I was going to be prematurely bald, it threw me bigtime. The irony of my body supplying an unwelcome surfeit of hair in lots of places where I didn't want it, and then at the same time denying me the very same substance on my scalp, struck me as cruel indeed.
A helpful doctor suggested I try minoxidyl, which I duly did (it's available from pharmacies without prescription). I worked my way through a large bottle, rubbing it into my head, day and night. I'm not in a position to say whether it worked or not, since I didn't use it for long enough. And that's because when I imagined shelling out for this fairly pricey stuff for the rest of my life, and having to use it twice a day, I ended up deciding – screw it.
Screw it, even though I'd have to take extra precautions against sunburn – I went and bought heaps of hats.
Screw it, even though most bald men on the big screen are evil (thanks for the blow to my self-esteem, Dr Evil).
And screw it, even though I worried that it might reduce my attractiveness and self-confidence even beyond the considerable limitations that already seemed to be in place.
Screw it, I decided, because there was something about the sheer vanity involved in carefully applying chemical fertiliser to my head that really didn't appeal. I decided that anybody who wanted to be with me would have to overlook my lack of hair, just as they'd have to overlook a multitude of other things.
So instead of buying more minoxidyl, I went and bought a pair of clippers and accepted my doom. And it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.
It seemed like an even better decision when I read the article by the good professor, because there was something about minoxidyl that I hadn't quite realised. See, it doesn't just promote hair growth on your scalp. It promotes it everywhere.
Professor Sinclair fairly blithely solves this problem as follows: "Hair removal laser has led to a renaissance in the use of minoxidil tablets, as doctors can now effectively manage the unwanted hair that was previously a deal breaker."
Yeah, wait just a moment, Prof. So my alternatives are that the annoying hair everywhere grows even more aggressively, or that I have to have laser treatment? How many thousands of dollars would it cost to get everything lasered, exactly?
And even if I had shelled out for this, I wouldn't feel like myself anymore. I've had an abundance of body hair since my somewhat early puberty. It's a part of who I am. And while I've suffered the mockery of many people because of it – the comments in my yearbook were a tad depressing, since they revealed that 90% of my single-sex school classmates could only think of a comment about that, instead of, say, my engaging wit or fabulous personality – I find the idea of no hair utterly unthinkable. So thanks, but no thanks, Prof.
Seriously, lasering everywhere? What kind of solution is that?
Then there's finasteride. I trust drug companies – after all, their asthma drugs help me breathe – but I don't trust them so completely that I want to take one of their products for decades for purely cosmetic reasons.
And remember how I said that balding made some men feel less masculine? Well, it turns out that finasteride has been linked with several kinds of sexual dysfunction, as Professor Sinclair acknowledges. There's a detailed US NIH review of this here, and I won't try to summarise it except to say that even the small percentage chance of an impact is, in my view, too high when, as the report says, "male pattern hair loss is only a cosmetic condition".
Furthermore, the NIH says "It is better to avoid the drug for any patient who has prior history of oligospermia [and] infertility, particularly if he is newly married and is trying to raise a family." Yeah, thanks, but no thanks.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the professor's third option: hair transplants. I have, if anything, an abundance of follicles which show every inclination to keep growing lustrous hairs, but if I may give a considered opinion on a medically sensitive matter, eew. I especially can't be bothered with this option. Again, it just seems expensive and vain.
I don't want to downplay the psychological impact of balding. I've been there. I've looked in the mirror and felt rotten. I've been shocked when a screen in a lift showed the view from the security camera above, and I realised just how bare the top of my scalp had become. It's far from fun, and if there was an instant way to snap my fingers and get all my hair back, I'd be more glad than I can say.
But surely it's smarter to try and treat those feelings than the condition? (And, by the way, may I congratulate the Fairfax web team on a brilliantly insensitive bit of clip art to accompany the article? That pic of a despairing bald guy is just the thing balding guys' self-esteem needs!) Shouldn't we try to promote acceptance of our bodies the way they are? And will taking these treatments even make these feelings go away, if we're constantly living in fear that the drugs will stop working?
We all have to come to terms with ageing. Balding is highly noticeable, but it's nevertheless just one part of the ageing process. Even if I had a full head of hair, the sad truth is that most of it would be grey, anyway – and no, I definitely wouldn't bother dying it. either.
So instead, I've decided to make my follicular hero a guy whose hypermasculinity simply cannot be challenged, and who hasn't a single hair on his head – Vin Diesel. (His character in the Fast and Furious movies is called Dom, too.) Mess with bald dudes, and you're messin' with Vin. (Take note, Fairfax photo editors).
Vin doesn't give a damn about your minoxidyl or your finasteride, Professor. He's too busy pumping iron, driving awesome cars and charmin' tha ladies.
Okay, so there are very few Vin Diesels in Hollywood, admittedly – but Bruce Willis looks pretty great bald too. That'll do me for role models.
So guys, the drugs are there if you want them, and it's good to know that they work. But there are so many things to worry about in life, why worry about your scalp? Maybe spend the time and money you were going to spend on all of that medication in the gym, like Vin does, and I bet you'll be too busy feeling awesome to give the state of your scalp a moment's thought.