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Sun, May 09, 2010
Urban, The Straits Times
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Mane concern
by Ian Lee

It is not just old fogeys who are losing hair. The young and good-looking are facing balding woes too.

  • The first big mistake is to comb your hair straight back. This may cover bald spots but it exposes your forehead and draws attention to what you are trying to hide - that you are going bald, darn it.
  • Don't grow your hair longer at the back to make up for what is lacking on top. This creates a sense of imbalance and draws more attention to the scalp.
  • The combover is a definite no - unless you think Donald Trump looks good with his. This is the classic look beloved of older men where hair is grown longer on one side and combed over the bald area. This strategy spells disaster even in the slightest of breezes and is to be avoided.
  • At just 28, Prince William's position as one of Europe's royal crowns is becoming more established in more ways than one.

    The heir to England's throne was photographed at a rugby match in London earlier this month and at the Australian Open tennis tournament last month with a visible bald patch (above).

    American actor Ben Affleck, 37, British singer Will Young, 31, and British actor Jude Law, 37, are also part of the crop of baldies-to-be.

    Premature hair loss is a problem that is rearing its shiny head among young Singaporean men too.

    Hair experts say cases of premature hair loss are on the rise here.

    Dr Eileen Tan, a dermatologist who has nine years of clinical experience treating hair loss, estimates that the number of men under 40 seeking treatment has jumped 20 per cent since 2005.


    Serene Wong, senior manager at hair care centre Beijing 101, has also seen a 10 per cent rise in customers from this age group since 2008.

    Male pattern balding, a form of balding caused by genes, is the most common form of balding in men, forming up to 70 per cent of cases, she says.

    It begins with a receding hairline on the temple, followed by the crown and a bald spot at the back.

    Dr Tan says 20 per cent of men in their 20s develop male pattern baldness and the percentage goes up to 50 per cent for men in their 50s.

    More men are balding at an earlier age due mainly to a combination of stress, smoking, a poor diet and lack of sleep, she adds.

    Beijing 101's Wong describes hair loss in young men as more of a psychological concern, given the common implications that come with a thinning pate.

    'They fear the stigma of getting older and becoming boring, unmanly and lacking in sex appeal,' she says.

    Siew Kum Hong (Picture 2), 35, a corporate counsel and former Nominated Member of Parliament, is one prominent local male who has male pattern baldness.

    His hair started thinning eight years ago when he was 27.

    'I decided to shave it all off in 2006 as the thinning had become evident,' he reveals.

    The thought of going completely bare-headed was something he had toyed with for a while.

    His then-girlfriend, and wife now, Marianne, 33, finally convinced him to take the plunge.

    'It used to bother me that I looked much older than I am. I figured I would look fresher with a shaven head,' he says.

    His thinning mane also drew the attention of former colleagues.

    'I remember a fellow lawyer once went out of his way to pass me a traditional Indian remedy for hair loss - a black, strong-smelling substance to be applied to the scalp. It was nice of him but I never used it.'


    Peer pressure and a poor business image are two key reasons young men are turning to the experts for help, says Dr Tan, who operates her own skin and hair transplant clinic at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.

    In Prince William's case, both the Windsors from his father's family and his mother's Spencer side have long-running balding problems.

    His father, Prince Charles, started balding at 28 and his uncle, Prince Edward, even earlier at 21.


    For those guys trying to stem the tide of hair down the drain, there are various shampoos and treatments to try.

    Dr David Tan, medical director of David Tan Medical Aesthetics who has been treating hair loss for 10years, teamed up with haircare brand Redken and Monsoon Hair Salon last November to launch the Medi-Scalp Treatment at Monsoon's Novena Square branch.

    This comprises three consultations and 12 'hair growth' sessions that rely on hair growth shampoos, conditioners and solutions for $2,550.

    On how well the various treatments actually work, experts vary.

    Dr Eileen Tan, who launched a book titled A Guide To Healthy Scalp And Hair on Wednesday at her clinic and Popular bookstores, advises balding men to seek a proper scalp and hair analysis from a dermatologist early 'for the best chances of retaining your crowning glory'.

    However, prevention is better than cure. To maintain your locks, she advises: 'Keep your scalp clean by shampooing daily, wear a cap to protect the scalp from the sun, maintain regular sleep patterns and avoid crash diets.'

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    This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.

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