Bald is not a haircut. Bald is not a hairstyle and bald is most definitely not a choice. If I've learned anything, it's that balding is a lesson in grace, so when it comes for you, you must make your peace with it. Because nothing is worse than a bald man pretending he is not.
Hair loss can be an inevitable part of getting older. It comes in many varieties, ranging from a slightly receding hairline to complete baldness to whatever it is that happened to Mr. Cage. The causes are multiple, and most often genetic. You can fight hair loss or you can handle it gracefully. And while a lot of that grace comes from your confidence, the rest comes from your haircut. The common solution, the buzz cut, is a fine one, but not always the most appropriate. Or flattering. So to help you look your best, here are the five basic categories of balding. Find yours and you've found your new haircut.
"A man can be short and dumpy and getting bald, but if he has fire, women will like him."
- Mae West
In this case, your hairline hasn't gone anywhere. But from certain angles, in just the right light, you're stuck with a full head of hair you can see right through. Matt Lauer had this problem until he decided to buzz it all off. You can do that, or have it layered and cut forward, without a part. Whatever you do, don't comb it back.
The hair above your temples is usually among the first to go, the last is on the nape of your neck. That rarely stops growing. When it recedes more than a couple of inches, leaving you with a finger of hair pointing to where your hairline used to start, don't try to compensate for it with your remaining hair. Ask your stylist for a finger-length cut — about an inch all over — and to take the length down on the sides to give balance to your head. And don't use a product that dries hard or sticky like a pomade or any gel. Your remaining hair should be able to move.
When the recession at your temples meets in the middle and starts its march to the back of your head, you have few options. Because it's contrasted by your bald scalp, the hair on the sides actually looks thicker and draws attention to your baldness. Ask your barber to blend from the thin spots to the corners, so there's a smooth transition from scalp to hair.
If you are faced with a little thinning on the crown, this is the one occasion when you're allowed a comb-over. A variation on it, at least. Grow everything out about an inch, keeping the hair around your bald spot slightly longer than on the rest of your head. This is best for people with curly hair since curls mask the difference in length.
If you're left with nothing but a ring around your head, you should probably pull out the razor and take it down to the skin. Or do whatever you want. At this point, people are going to know you've lost your hair. You might as well make it clear that it doesn't bother you.