Baldness, it’s a dirty word right? Unless you’re Bruce Willis or Jason Statham, that is.
It happens to a lot of men, sometimes from their late teens. It’s mostly genetic or hormonal, and can affect men’s confidence, relationships, and mental health.
Men see losing their hair as losing a part of their identity, a sign of getting old.
But imagine being just eight and going bald – it’s unheard of. Except, it’s exactly what happened to me.
I’m from a close-knit Sikh family. I had a great childhood in West London, and was your typical young boy. I had loads of friends, loved playing football – I was happy and confident.
My journey with hair loss wasn’t some major traumatic event. I didn’t find huge clumps of hair on my pillow – it started off as a bald patch in the middle of my scalp.
To be honest, I hadn’t really noticed it until friends started pointing it out, asking: ‘Hey Jags, what’s that?’ It was never said maliciously and I wasn’t bullied for it.
My parents said it must be to do with genetics and nothing more was really said or done about it back then in the early 90’s. It didn’t bother me – until I hit my teens.
Being at secondary school, the hair loss worsened, making it much more noticeable. More people commented and pointed it out.
It was from the crown area – like a crack in the middle of the head. I wanted to be like a regular boy, going to the barbers, but knew the hairdresser would automatically point out I was receding and I couldn’t face the embarrassment.
I didn’t feel normal.
Looking back, I think because there was no social media, or phones, my life was made easier. The only time a camera came out was for special occasions and I was good at hiding at the back.
When I went to university, my baldness made me feel like an old man, not a fresher. And the more I worried, the more the hair loss increased.
It’s safe to say I missed out on a lot at uni. I didn’t go to clubs or socialise as I was ashamed of the way I looked. I stayed in a lot, and wore my ‘signature’ baseball cap all year round – afraid to let anyone see the real me.
I studied to become a chemical engineer, and by 23 I’d never had a girlfriend. My lack of confidence meant I struggled to even talk to women.
I started to invest time and money into everything and anything that might cure my baldness, instead. I tried alternative therapies for hair growth, saw specialists, changed my diet – you name it, I did it. Surprise, surprise, nothing worked.
Soon, my confidence hit rock bottom. Here I was: a young man, with a new job, great friends and a close family but I couldn’t enjoy all the experiences of a young person – I just couldn’t accept I was bald.
After doing some research online into hair transplants, I found the London Hair Clinic that 3D-printed hair to help with baldness.
They take a hair sample of your own hair, then a 3D mould of your head and create something called a ‘hair system’, which basically creates an ultra-thin second scalp.
I was really nervous and felt vulnerable allowing people I’ve never met to see my receding hairline at my first consultation, back in 2005.
It lasted about an hour, and my consultant actually wore a hair system – making me realise that I wasn’t alone.
I had a mould taken of my scalp and a hair sample, which was then sent off to a lab where my own hair was matched. At my third appointment, three months later, my hair system was finally fitted.
I use adhesive strips of hair, which match my hair type and colour, and last up to four weeks.
At first, you have to have your hair shaved in the middle, so you have to be 100% sure it’s what you want. The system, once fitted, is quite long, so you’re then matched up with a stylist who cuts it.
My first haircut was a medium-length, messy style – a bit like David Beckham’s when he first started dating Victoria. I was literally on cloud nine when I saw the final result. I couldn’t believe how natural it looked.
Maintenance of the new hair is down to personal choice and preference, though. I use ‘mono tape’, which means I can remove my system at home, wash my scalp and hair and then re-apply it using fresh tape once a week.
I go to the salon every month, where my stylist washes and conditions my hair system. Then it gets reapplied and my natural hair is trimmed to ensure the overall style continues to look natural.
When I got it done, the cost was around £600, but as the technology has evolved, it’s now £1200-£1500 for a hair system. Then there’s the monthly salon trip, which is £79 – although that’s not much more than a top London salon for a men’s haircut.
I consciously took time off work after the system was fitted – I didn’t want to turn up to work with a full head of hair and have people stare.
It was a new experience for me, and it took weeks for me to have the confidence to not wear a cap and start going out. I think friends looked at me and thought: ‘He’s had something done,’ but were either too polite to say, or couldn’t put their finger on it.
Once I properly started socialising again, and experiencing new things – I even started dating. I met someone and we got married back in 2017.
If I told you it has changed my life, it would be an understatement.
Sadly, I think society’s attitude towards baldness hasn’t changed since then – it’s still a defining characteristic of a lot of people, which is sad.
Still to this day, I don’t know why I lost my hair so young, but I want to let people – other men – know there are options out there.
That you don’t have to suffer in silence.
As told to Denise Palmer-Davies
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