Grooming

How 6 Young Men Overcame Male Pattern Baldness With Style

Step one: Acceptance.
IMAGE Bardo Wu / Jason Uy / Kevin Belleza / Maco Custodio
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Male pattern baldness has been likened to menopause, a sure sign of the inescapable and of the body’s diminished capability to regenerate. This, among other misconceptions, has led to the stigma around losing hair on the head—with some men even refusing to broach the subject despite being fully bald.

Here, six men, who lost their hair early in their 20s, discuss how they managed thinning hair and balding with grace plus a few grooming and style maneuvers.  

1| Jacky James A. Gimenez, program management analyst

“My barber already noticed my receding hairline when I was still in high school. In college, I briefly thought about seeking treatment, but I really didn’t want to waste my time and money.

After college, with the freedom to grow out my hair, I enjoyed having shoulder-length hair for two to three years. It all ended when my friend Ayanna Tan made me realize that my crown was thinning as well. I wouldn’t have minded it at all if she didn’t persistently ask me to change my hairstyle to help slow down the inevitable.

I was only 23 when this change was in full force. I went all the way and bought a shaving device, the Bald Eagle Smart Shaver from Skull Shaver, and 'skinned' my head.

Baldness runs in the family, but I didn’t expect it before the age of 30. It didn’t help at all! At least my father went bald in his late 30s while I, on the other hand, went bald in my early 20s. He actually made fun of us. My brothers went bald in their early 30s, so I’m the real winner here. (Laughs.)” 

2| Jake Jereza, 25, filmmaker


“I kind of always knew that I didn’t have great hair so I didn’t really think much about it. Of course, at the start, I got very insecure, but as I got older, I learned to find more confidence in myself and what my idea of beauty is. I mean, I have a lot of body issues too, but it helps that my boyfriend keeps telling me how cute I am. (Laughs.)

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Some people are just good at looking good; I’m not one of those people. I think of myself as silly and goofy and with humor that’s often baduy and self-deprecating.

And I put a lot of value in being vulnerable when it’s time to get serious. I think we’re supposed to be imperfect. Isn’t that what makes us interesting? I think there’s a lot of ways to be graceful about getting older if we allow ourselves that grace.

These days I don’t really do much. I just have this aloe vera gel that I put on every time I go out, because it makes my hair softer and easier to comb with my fingers. I hate using waxes and pomades. They just make thin hair look worse.” 

3| Jason Uy, 24, distributor manager


“What I miss the most is being able to style my hair. At some point, I wanted to sport a man-bun, so I had to say goodbye to that. Instead, I wear caps more often now, but not for the reasons most people would assume—which is to hide thinning hair. I wear caps for style, but also to protect my scalp.True story: I’ve experienced sunburn on my head because I left it unprotected under the sun. Same goes for the rain—straight to the scalp.

The thinning seemed to bother friends and family more than myself. This, I think, is why some people find trouble cultivating acceptance and confidence amid thinning hair. Embrace yourself and others will follow suit.” 

4| Blui Arriola, businessman

“When the signs of balding were obvious I was really scared and insecure and nobody could make me feel okay that time. I was 18 years old and very worried. My friends were shocked because I was too young to show signs of balding, but I was lucky because most of them were hesitant to tease me in front of everyone. They’d tell me personally. I was also a ramp model during my college days, and my manager was very concerned. Then I grew my beard, and it helped because now everyone notices my beard first.” 

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5| Kevin Belleza, 26, self-employed


“I used to spend a lot of time and effort on my hair, using gels and waxes. At first, I thought it was the chemicals from the products I was using, so I stopped using them. The problem persisted.

My mom noticed it as well. She told me how my dad decided to marry her in their mid-20s because of three things: He loved her, he was ready, and he wanted to still have hair in their wedding photos. And there it was—genetics. I couldn’t fight it. 

I remember I was severely insecure about my thinning patch. I was working as a consultant at that time, and I remember lacking confidence when facing clients, as if my performance depended on my hair. 

Before I was ready to commit to shaving off everything, I tried the usual tips I found online: side-swept bangs, the comb-over, hats. I even grew and frizzed my natural waves. After shaving off my hair, I felt more confident, like I didn’t have anything to lose. It made me feel in control to decide when to lose all my hair.” 

6| Maco Custodio, shoemaker and accessories designer

"Maybe I just felt that the hair wasn't really part of my career, and with or without it, my life should go on. It was when I cut my hair semi-kal that my family and friends reacted. They said it was bagay, so I maintained it ever since.

I like hats now. Maybe that's my pseudo hair. My first hat was an impulse buy at Zara in 2010, then I got another color and so on. I have 85 hats now, a mix of caps, berets, turbans, etc."

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Vincent Ong
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