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WebMD health-e head2toe: skin care today

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Men's Hair Care Essentials

The must-have products for a smarter, no-fuss style routine.

SPF Sun Protection for Men

Thinning hair and bald spots are more than just a blow to your vanity. They also increase your exposure to damaging ultraviolet rays, which can cause premature aging of the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer.

"Most men know they should use sunscreen, but they often forget to think about their scalps," Jacob says.

Look for sunscreen lotions with an SPF of 30 or more if you have distinct bald spots.

If you have thin spots and don’t want to put lotion on your head, look for sunscreen in spray form. Or buy hairspray and styling gel with SPF protection built in.

Rx for Thinning Hair

Products containing minoxidil, the medicine shown to reverse thinning hair, are now available over-the-counter. Unfortunately, most men need prescription-strength formulas to see real results. Even prescription forms of the drug work in only about half the men, Glaser says, and usually they take about six months to show results. If they do work, you have to continue using them indefinitely.

Try using an extra-body conditioner and a little dab of styling gel to make a thinning patch look a little thicker.

Styling Gels for Men

Another way to give hair body and shape is using a styling gel. Men’s hair care companies have flooded the market with different varieties of styling gels and waxes. Here are the main choices:

  • Water-based gels consist of polymers that form a film around individual hairs, making them easier to shape.
  • Spray gels deliver tiny droplets of polymers.
  • Pomades are oil-based and give hair added shine.
  • Hair waxes clump individual hairs together to create a firmer hold.
  • Paste is a combination of oil and wax.
  • Hair creams blend oil, wax, and polymers for maximum control.

Whatever you choose, use the product sparingly, especially if you have thinning hair.

A little bit goes a long way, stylist Julio Rodriquez, owner of Jules Cooper Color & Design in Montclair, N.J., says. He recommends starting with a dime-shaped amount in the palm of your hand.

Look for a styling gel without alcohol if you have trouble with dry scalp and dandruff. Alcohol tends to cause dryness.

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Reviewed on November 12, 2012
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