Friday, 25 March 2011

Baldness and ageing: stop trying to cure us

I've been approached by a PR whose client offers cures for baldness. And I keep seeing adverts for anti-ageing creams and preparations, for men as well as women - it's no longer a single sex thing. So I thought I'd explain why you're not going to see reviews or write-ups about them on this blog.

Flickr: Joelk75
Let me preface this by saying I don't link the pressure young women come under to conform to a particular body shape, usually an unhealthily thin one, to the commercial pressure on middle-aged blokes. We have a walk in the park compared to the harmful stresses some sections of the media put on younger members of the opposite sex.

But there are pressures nonetheless, and I'm going to state my view: ageing and baldness are not illnesses. There is therefore no cure which is either feasible or desirable.

I should qualify that a bit. There are illnesses which can lead to baldness, there are conditions whose cure causes hair loss and of course premature ageing is something which can have medical roots. All of these are grounds for treatment and medical investigation.

But the ordinary ageing process, the reason my hair is changing colour and my skin tone and texture doesn't have the same structure it did 20 years ago, is a perfectly natural thing. It happens to everyone and I refuse to attempt any "cures".

Yes you can take this to extremes. I shave, I get my hair cut and use a bit of hair clay in it, I put clothes on, I have central heating and live with a roof over my head. None of these things are natural, I understand that. But attempting to hold back the changes that come with time is to me a denial of who I am.

And anyway, men trying to reverse the ageing process end up looking stupid. A bit of moisturiser can actually make skin more comfortable and protect it from the sun, but skin tones change with time - the colour fades a bit, like it or not. This is where hair dyes don't help; try to preserve your original colour (no, not your "natural" colour, my natural colour at the moment is dark flecked with grey, I don't have to dye it to get to that) and it no longer matches the rest of you. The colour rarely works, too; check Sir Paul McCartney's barnet. I bow to no-one in my admiration of the ex-Beatle but if he can't look convincing with the money he has at his disposal I suspect it can't be done (a hairdresser once confirmed this to me - to get an even colour they have to strip out any remaining darkness then re-colour the lot, and after a few washes it starts to go orange).

A short while ago I was reading an article by Dame Joan Bakewell in which she said looks don't fade as you get older, they just change. I couldn't agree more. Granted, ageing kills you in the end but it's honestly not a clinical malaise and neither are the alterations it brings.

So you won't be reading about baldness cures on this blog. I'm all for curing illnesses, but I have several bald friends and they're perfectly well, thanks.


  1. Writes a bloke with a full head of hair...
    Actually, I agree on this one. Being older doesn't need curing and themes nothing intrinsically better about looking younger. It's just different to being older.

  2. You're right about the hair of course and people have commented before that it's OK for us hirsute types to condescend and say there's nothing wrong with going bald when it's not happened to us. On the other hand think about how people age; you could look like Sean Connery or Michael Winner - personally I think that illustrates how irrelevant a full head of hair can be!

  3. I think that plenty of women find bald men attractive. Even some bald women are attractive!

    Boots Serum 7 is pretty good by the way.

  4. Yes - I really think the baldness thing is an irrelevance. What I really object to is the idea that it should be "cured" as if it were an illness when it's a perfectly natural development over many male lives.

  5. I've said for many years that if a man with a bald head goes into a pub, nobody takes a blind bit of notice. If a man in a toupee goes into a pub, everybody in the pub sniggers at him.


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