LONDON • Mr Spencer Stevenson, 44, was blessed with thick hair as a young man.Then, when he was 21, his hairline began to recede and it made him anxious and depressed.
His experience led him to become a mentor for balding men.
For 15 years he has run an advice website, spexhair.com. He also presents The Bald Truth, an online radio call-in show.
Progress has been steady, if slow, but Mr Stevenson has started to see a shift from the negative notion of hair loss. “Now, all we hear about is hair wellness,” he noted.
He said the stigma of balding added to his suffering.
With their clinical names and imagery of elderly men with comb-overs, treatments were about as appealing as piles cream.
Now, an industry built on fear, vanity and unspoken male vulnerability is undergoing a transformation.
In rebranding hair loss as hair wellness as part of a broader rise of men’s wellness, treatments are being repackaged as aspirational products for millennials who are primed to talk about their problems.
Ms Hilary Coles is co-founder of Hims, a start-up that launched in San Francisco in 2017 and in Britain last year. The British website is a snazzy shop window for just two products.
One is sildenafil, also known as Viagra. The other is finasteride, often branded as Propecia, a medication that inhibits a hormone that may lead to baldness in more than half of men over 50.
Mr Stevenson is sceptical about the opportunism of the new purveyors of hair wellness, but supports their mission to improve access.
“I think it’s positive that good companies are enabling people to keep their hair the right way.”
He credits footballer Wayne Rooney’s headline-grabbing hair transplant in 2011 with beginning to drag the conversation out of the closet. “It was a turning point because of the way Rooney was so open about it,” he noted.
Mr Stevenson has tried everything himself at least once and has spent more than £30,000 (S$54,000) on hair transplants.
He has a thick head of hair to show for it.
In the procedure, individual hairs – or strips of hair – are extracted from well-served areas of the scalp and planted in the bald patches.
Mr Stevenson said surgery should be a last resort and advises men to try the shaved look first.
“It will be a lot less time-consuming and emotionally and financially draining than treatment,” he added.