The bathroom of a college male can be a scary place. Dried toothpaste covers the faucet, beard clippings litter the counter, the shower liner molded months ago and everyone pretends not to notice.
But this is expected of bachelors in their early-20s.
Hair loss isn’t.
On top of a cabinet in senior Samuel Potter’s bathroom rests a box of blue powder-free latex gloves and a small bottle of Kirkland brand Minoxidil Hair Regrowth Treatment.
Potter cranes his neck to the side and parts his hair. But his part is not on the side like most men. Potter’s part is between the still-full back half, and a wispy brown patch in front.
He screws off the cap and puts a few drops on his bald patch.
“You’re supposed to do 1 milliliter direct topical solution. You just apply and rub it in. I try to get it right into the crown because that is where the hair-loss is.”
He screws the cap back on the bottle, snaps the glove off, and sighs.
“There you go. Do you like that? Twice a day.”
Potter didn’t believe he was losing his hair until his sophomore year when a woman who was normally complimentary of his looks responded to a snapchat with a fatal phrase:
“You have no hair.”
That event coincided with his father’s decision to finally shave his head after slowly balding over the past 20 years. Potter said hair regrowth is not very likely, but products like rogaine can help slow the balding process.
“I told myself: just swallow your pride and get something before you lose it all.”
Though Potter admits he worries about self-image, he said he believes his condition has helped him overcome some of his vices.
“Having a natural tendency toward vanity, I will sometimes look at myself and say, ‘What is happening?’ It’s aging. You look at your body and realize you are already starting to look uglier. Everyone has to come to terms with that eventually. Time is already taking away my beauty.”
Though it is likely an old wives tale that early baldness is a trait passed from mothers to sons, Potter, Braden Kelley ’17 , and senior Daniel Cody all said family members had lost their hair early and believed that they had a genetic predisposition to it.
These men are not alone. According to a study conducted by the American Society of Dermatologic Study, 16 percent of men aged 18 – 29 experienced hair loss.
Kelley first realized his hair was thinning during his junior year of high school when his psychology teacher made a joke concerning his follicular density.
And during his freshman year at Hillsdale, it grew back some. But that proved the high water mark. By the end of his senior year, the only part of Kelley’s head covered in hair was in the very back between his ears.
Up until recently, he had kept his remaining hairs well-shorn. But his coworkers suggested that he should consider shaving his whole head. Though Kelley has a beard now, he didn’t think he looked good bald at first.
“I looked like Caillou from the cartoon,” he said.
After growing out his beard, he said he is happy with his appearance.
“Some guys don’t have the face or jawline for a bald head,” Kelley said. “Some guys don’t look as good. I just got lucky.”
When Cody first asked his current girlfriend, senior Callista Ring, on date, he confrontred her with serious news.
He told her, “I gotta warn you. I am gonna be bald. And soon. By the time law school is over, it is all going to be gone.”
Despite this warning, she agreed to a date.
Cody said he had less hair than most people in high school and had been in denial since 7th grade.
“I used to just say I had a weird hairline,” he said. “But by the middle of high school, I knew. I knew what was happening.”
Over the years, Cody saw the peak of his hair slowly inching back from his forehead and recognizes that soon, he will have to shave all of his hair. But he said he is fine with it, considering the alternative.
“Any effort to stop it or fight it ends up making you look more pathetic,” he said.
He likens himself to Jason Statham, who he calls “the patron saint of baldness” — an action hero who didn’t need hair to be a hero.
“It is a mercy to lose your hair when you are young or at least know you will,” Cody said. “The guys who baldness affects the most are guys who had really great hair when they were young. In their thirties when their hair starts to thin out, they are all, ‘I am going to die someday, blah blah blah.’”
Cody said the best approach for balding men is not found in a tube or in laser therapy. For him, the best approach is cheerful acceptance.
“Find a woman who will love you for your baldness who will support you for your long, hairless years to come,” Cody said.
Like Cody, Potter doesn’t believe that baldness is anything to bemoan.
“If you have good hair, that is a gift,” Potter said. “But if you are balding, that is a gift too, because God is reminding you that you are getting uglier and you are going to die soon.”