We often forget that cis-gendered men aren’t the only people who experience male pattern baldness.
There are so many assigned-male-at-birth (AMAB) non-binary and trans individuals who experience this type of hair loss, and with it, may experience significant emotional distress or gender dysphoria.
I know this first hand from my experience being non-binary and navigating male pattern baldness.
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Before diving into my own journey, I want to preface this with the fact that I do believe that you can be bald and beautiful. I don’t think there is anything wrong with rocking a beautiful bald head. If that’s your thing, more power to you. Personally, as I began to align myself with my gender identity in my mid-twenties, the fear of hair loss frequently teetered on becoming unhealthy and was a main source of my insecurity, which I’d later understand as gender dysphoria.
For me, the loss of my hair symbolizes a lot more than mere vanity. My hair loss, like for many non-binary individuals, is the presence of unwanted secondary sex characteristics that don’t correlate with our gender identity. This leaves many of us young non-binary or trans people with the reality that we, without medical intervention, will age like cis-gendered men.
Some people can take hormone replacement therapy, but not every non-binary or trans person wants to medically transition in that way. You can also get a hair transplant, but these are incredibly expensive and as such, not accessible to many low-income non-binary individuals.
So, my goal was to find over-the-counter products or treatments that anyone could buy at a reasonable price. It’s important to note that there is NO cure for male pattern baldness, which is a sad reality and a hard truth, but there are things you can do to prolong and prevent your hair loss.
Before we get into the treatments, let’s start with the basics.
What is male pattern balding?
Male pattern balding, also known as androgenic alopecia, is the most common reason for hair loss in cis-gendered men and AMAB individuals. Genetics play a heavy role and it is commonly understood that sex hormones in the body are the main source and underlying reason behind male pattern baldness. Specifically, the presence of an androgen called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
DHT is derived from testosterone and is responsible for the development of male sex characteristics such as body hair, and eventually hair loss with age.
Cis-gendered men and AMAB people typically have more testosterone present in their bodies and a portion of that testosterone is converted to DHT. Once DHT is freely flowing through your bloodstream, they link to the receptors on hair follicles in your scalp, causing them to shrink and become less capable of supporting a healthy head of hair.
Once I understood how and why male pattern baldness took place, I began to find products and treatments that could work for me.
Male pattern baldness treatments
Biotin is pretty universally known. I consider this to be hair loss 101. While it’s great to implement this vitamin as a part of a balanced diet for healthy skin, hair, and nails, there is actually little evidence that biotin alone can reduce hair loss.
Viviscal is an over-the-counter drug-free supplement that supports and promotes existing hair growth. It’s great to help promote growth from the inside out and it is made with a blend of natural vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C and Zinc. It is not harmful to your body with little to no side effects. Think of it as being a level up from biotin and it’s actually okay to take it in conjunction with biotin, which is what I do.
For me, once I found a supplement that I was comfortable with, I wanted to look into topical options.
Topical shampoos, conditioners, and serums
I came across Collective Laboratories, and after spending some time on their site, I became fascinated with their Detoxifying Shampoo, Fortifying Conditioner, and Activating Serum. They break down all of the ingredients and science behind each of their products, and they even go so far as providing clinical studies.
They highly recommend using the entire regimen for optimal results, which can honestly be expensive (around $72). With cost in mind, I was mostly interested in their Activating Serum ($54), which seems to be their staple product, but I did also get the shampoo and conditioner to give the whole thing a try.
I’ve been using the serum, shampoo, and conditioner for a couple weeks now. I use the Activating Serum post shower and apply it directly to the areas that I’ve experienced the most loss while massaging it gently into the scalp. Not long after applying it, you begin to feel a tingling sensation at the follicle, which is simply the activation and promotion of healthy hair growth at the root. Personally, I like it because I feel like I can actually feel it working.
Now that I had a supplement and a topical serum, I wanted something that I felt would really drive it home, and came across high-frequency therapy. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out!
High-frequency therapy has been around for a really long time and people pay big money going to fancy spas to get these sorts of treatments. It’s a non-surgical effective hair treatment used to help cure dandruff, alopecia, gradual hair loss, and itchy scalp. This treatment uses high-frequency and ultra-violet rays to stimulate hair follicles for new hair growth. The positive effects of high-frequency go far beyond hair and scalp, as it can also be used on your face as an anti-aging treatment. Similar to the scalp, high-frequency treatments stimulate cell renewal and increases circulation to stimulate collagen production.
Now, like many of us, I don’t have the money to be shelling out for expensive treatments like this. So in my research, I came across the NuDerma High-Frequency Wand, which is a portable, inexpensive version of these high-frequency therapies. It comes with a variety of intensity settings to be as gentle as you need, with a variety of interchangeable wands that can be used for hair, skin, or as a spot treatment for acne.
I’ve implemented this into my weekly routine and so far I use the NuDerma wand about 2-3 times a week, moving the wand gently around my scalp for no more than 3-5 minutes. It is completely painless, leaving me with a tingling sensation at the scalp for a few minutes after the treatment.
Sometimes these treatments just aren’t enough, and I understand that. Luckily, there are now a lot of subscription-based services like Keeps or Hims that make it fairly easy and inexpensive to get FDA-approved prescriptions, like Finasteride and Minoxidil, to help combat hair loss.
Now, if you’re interested in going this route, it is very important to do your research because both Finasteride and Minoxidil come with their share of side effects. Services like Keeps or Hims do give you the opportunity to talk to a medical professional about your goals and concerns to see if this route is right for you. I personally have used Hims for both Finasteride and Minoxidil for a year with minimal issues.
It is also important to mention that there are many other tips and tricks out there like PRP injections and JetPeel hair restoration that aren’t mentioned in this article, but are significantly more expensive. Like I mentioned earlier, none of these will directly cure male pattern baldness but they can help to prolong pre-existing hair and postpone hair loss. They’ll need to be maintained constantly to garner your desired results, but if it makes you feel more confident and secure in your skin and identity, you should absolutely go for it.