Is Balding Unattractive? (What the Science Says)


is balding unattractive?

Most men go bald, at least to some degree. Some people can accept hair loss, while others can’t. After noticing that my hairline was receding, I dove into some research to find out just how attractive or unattractive balding really was.

A few studies showed that baldness decreased attractiveness alone. These studies got participants to rate a person’s attractiveness and compared balding men with those with more hair. Overall, they found that balding people were less attractive compared to non-bald men.

Now, many factors go into a person’s attractiveness. It is also the case that some balding men do not get a haircut that suits them. Below, I will discuss the ins and outs of these studies and what might have skewed the data.

Balding and Attractiveness

Two separate studies revealed that people perceive balding men as less attractive. The first study was done by Muscarella & Cunningham in the Scientific Journal of Ethology and Sociobiology. The researchers provided participants with a set of images that included three different levels of baldness. These were a full set of hair, partial balding, and fully bald. The research showed that people with less hair seemed less aggressive and less attractive. In contrast, men with more facial hair appeared as more attractive and more aggressive.

The study also showed that there were positive qualities of bald men, who were seen as socially mature, wise, and nurturing. These are qualities associated with people who are generally older. Therefore, these qualities may get perceived this way because bald men must appear older.

As part of the study, they also looked at how people see men with facial hair. People with facial hair looked older, as well as less attractive, aggressive, and less socially mature to the participants. However, it is important to note that the study did not discuss the types of facial hair. Janif et al. (2014) found that women find a beard length equal to 10 days, or “heavy stubble,” as the most attractive. The researchers concluded that heavy stubble conveys manliness and maturity with less aggressiveness that is implied by a full-on beard.

So, it may have been the case that some of the people who were shown had sub-optimal length facial hair, which skewed the results. However, it remains the case that this study found that the respondents perceived clean-shaven men as less aggressive, more appealing, more attractive, young, and higher in social maturity.

The International Journal of Dermatology by Lee et al. (2002) published another study that was done in South Korea. They looked at how people who aren’t bald perceive those who are. They found that balding men appeared less confident, boring, and less healthy. They also came off as less attractive and older, as reported by over 90% of those surveyed.

Though it is clear that men go bald the more, some women experience small degrees of baldness as well. Therefore, future studies should look at the perception of attractiveness in women with varying degrees of hair as well to answer the question fully.

More to the point, up until recently and due to the prevalence of the internet, balding men would have had terrible haircuts, growing their hair long when they are balding. Now it is common knowledge that balding men look much better with very short hair such as a buzz-cut. So, balding men with overall poor grooming, which would lower their attractiveness, might have also skewed the studies.

Similarly, some men are more attractive than others based on other factors such as height, muscle development, and handsomeness. Therefore, the data may not be reliable since there is a wide variety of men who have varying levels of attractiveness regardless of whether they are bald or not.

Shaved Heads and Attractiveness

Some people shave their heads even if they aren’t going bald. Research showed that certain face shapes suit a shaved head.

So, it’s true that some men rock a shaved head better than others based on their face shape. Some people also have unusual bumps and shapes to their heads. Genetics, childhood posture, and birth controlled different head shapes, leading to some people looking better with shaved heads than others.

A study looked at how men with shaved head appeared attractive (Mannes, 2012). This study accounted for the fact that some people are naturally more dominant or attractive. So, Mannes presented the same person but with two different hairstyles—one with a full hairstyle and another with a shaved head—to two groups of participants.

Mannes’s study in 2012 showed that shaving your head added almost four years to the men’s average age, and the men were viewed as considerably less attractive with shaved heads than with hair.

However, there were several upsides to shaving. When compared to full-headed men, bald men got rated as:

  • 13% more dominant
  • 6% more confident
  • 10% manlier
  • An inch taller than their actual height
  • 13% stronger

Mannes found that respondents perceived men with shaved heads and a full head of hair to be much more dominant and attractive than men with receding hairlines or obvious balding. This leads to the conclusion that if you are bald, then you should go with a shaved head or very short hair such as a 0.5 or a 1 length on your clippers.

haircut for receding hairline

Balding and Health

Though most of the male population go bald, there have been studies that looked at a link between getting other diseases and being bald. Studies revealed that there is an increased probability that you will get a significant disease if you are bald. The study showed that bald men also had a 32% risk of developing coronary artery disease. It also showed that bald men had a 40% chance of developing prostate cancer.

However, there are many caveats to these studies, such as accounting for lifestyle and environmental factors. For example, men are more likely to have coronary artery disease due to testosterone. Therefore, this is likely a correlation and not necessarily causation because other factors have not been considered.

Best Hairstyles for Receding Hairline

Shaved Heads and Professionalism

In general, a shaved head is considered neither professional nor unprofessional. It is common in masculine professions such as the military, professional sports, and law enforcement.

Unkempt or bad grooming shows a lack of attention to detail. Therefore, having an incompletely shaved head, leaving patches of hair, or having an unevenly shaved head can reflect poorly on you professionally. Take the utmost care to ensure that when you shave your head, you don’t miss any spots. There are many useful resources on YouTube about how to shave your head yourself so that you can do it well enough.

Conclusion

There is plenty of evidence now that being bald is less attractive than having a full head of hair. Keep in mind that some men are naturally more dominant, confident, and attractive, regardless of their hairstyles. But whatever the case, studies have found that if you have a balding head, it is significantly better for you to just shave it. Do not keep a hairstyle which accentuates your thinning hair or bald patches.

However, if you would like to keep your hair and truly combat hair loss, check out our Hair Loss guide.

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