Androgenetic alopecia is the medical term for the inherited form of hair loss, and while it affects both men and women, it is men whose anxieties tend to be targeted by the hair loss industry. Estimated to be worth at least £1.5bn a year worldwide, this industry services the needs of millions of men and is becoming increasingly adept at persuading them to part with money.
A casual internet search returns a disorienting array of options that promise to alleviate the misery of the balding man: from herbal remedies to surgical procedures, from magic foams to fancy hairpieces, from restorative shampoos to nanofibre sprays for “colouring in” bald patches. Some of them work, in the sense that the hair loss might be made less apparent, but what succeeds for one person might turn out to be a disaster for another. The resulting arguments play out daily across dozens of websites, helping to generate a smokescreen of confusion behind which snake-oil salesmen can operate freely.