For the Right Condition, a Hair Loss Concealer May “Work”


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PROVIDED YOU HAVE ENOUGH HAIR, HAIR LOSS CONCEALERS CAN BE A SIMPLE AND INEXPENSIVE WAY TO ACHIEVE A NATURAL LOOK.

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Hair loss is always going to be a matter of degree. You might have a little thinning at the top, if you are a guy. It’s the beginning of a progressive condition that could leave you with a predominantly bald pate a few years down the road. Women with androgenic alopecia more commonly lose their hair in a generalized distribution, but the loss can range from minor to extensive. Alopecia areata loss is distinct and asymmetrical but with wide variation in size and location.

So it makes sense that the solutions for achieving the look of a fuller head of hair would come in a broad variety as well. This article is about hair loss concealers, the various products designed to address thinning areas where some follicles are still present and long enough to support externally applied, pigmented fibers.

Hair loss concealers: because you still have some hair there

The cause of androgenic alopecia is DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which causes hair follicles to lose color and shrink in size. But during the early stages of the balding process, those follicles are thicker and longer, even if more scalp is visible.

The purpose of hair loss concealers is to thicken those still-present fibers as well as to provide color. There are multiple products available on the market that accomplish this, with some that apply pigment to the scalp itself to enhance the illusion of thick hair.

Do they work? Apparently for some, they do. Web sites for these products suggest that you may never notice concealer on those who wear it because their products are so convincing. But most acknowledge limitations, largely defined by the degree of thinning the individual experiences. In other words, it works best on people with early-stage hair loss, less so on people who have advanced baldness.

It also depends on how the hair is styled, says a prominent Orlando hair stylist. “They do help only if the hair has been given an appropriate haircut,” says Mike Van den Abbeel, owner of Mosaic Hair Studio in Orlando, Fla. “What I mean by ‘appropriate’ is short enough to help make the hair appear fuller. On long hair, the best they can do is hide the scalp on the part. Some people swear by them, while others don’t see much difference.”

Hair loss concealers: different products, different applications

There are many manufacturers of hair loss concealer products, sold online and available through salons as well. Most are made from keratin, the protein that is naturally present in human hair, others with botanicals (plant-derived) and emollients (substances that soften and smooth skin and hair). The form they take and how they are applied fall roughly into four categories:

  • Granular sprinkles: Applied with a shaker; the powdery product adheres to existing hair shafts thanks to an electrostatic charge. Use of a brush or comb evens the distribution.
  • Aerosol: Applied just like hairspray; similar to the sprinkles. Users need to be very good at the application technique, particularly if you need to use mirrors to hit your target.
  • Solid: Applied with an applicator (brushes and wipes) that coats and thickens the hair. This is a little more time consuming but can create a more convincing appearance if done correctly.
  • Expanders and lotions: Expanders add volume to hair, with at least one manufacturer claiming to increase the size of individual fibers by 50 percent. Masking lotions are topically applied, viscous liquid compounds.

Most of these products have very specific instructions for application and, in general, should be applied to dry hair that is not styled with other products. Clumping can occur if the hair is wet or coated with something else.

Van den Abbeel urges careful selection of products and use occasions. “Ease of use and color tones should be considered,” he says. And while some products claim you can swim and perspire without adverse consequences, he advises caution concerning anything that might dislodge the concealer by friction or moisture. “These products work best when you are going out in some social setting, at work or on a date.”