July 21, 2011

SINGAPORE: Bald and bold

SINGAPORE / AsiaOne / Health / July 21, 2011

PEOPLE assume that senior citizens are not bothered about hair loss. Or that they accept a thinning pate as part of ageing.

On the contrary; a shiny scalp does have an impact on one's looks and confidence. Older people who are still in the workforce can be self-conscious about hair loss. Some resort to treatment, which can add up to quite a tidy sum. But there are those who just learn to live with less - hair that is.

Take actor, comedian and TV host Zainal Ariffin Abd Hamid, who has a receding hairline and is stuck with the monicker Zaibo, which means "baldie". But he doesn't mind.

Master of his life: Theatre heavyweight Zaibo began losing hair in his early 20s but he has not let it rule his life.

"Zai is for Zainal and Bo for botak. I got the nickname while studying at Universiti Sains Malaysia," says the 54-year-old, who majored in performing arts.

"My mother was the queen of hair - she had big hair. My father and uncles started losing theirs in their 40s, which is natural. But I began losing mine in my early 20s."

It started when he found strands of hair on his pillow and on the floor after every wash. "It was frightening," Zaibo recalls.

He tried all sorts of remedies, including a jar of smelly cream, but nothing worked. He then went for a free hair consultation but "ran away" when the "consultant" tried to coax him to sign up for a RM1,800 (S$729) treatment!

After a decade of failed attempts to halt his hair loss, he cut his hair short. Nowadays, Zaibo does not give a hoot what people think of his scalp showing through his thinning pate.

"I decided that I should be the master of my life and not let hair rule it," says the actor, who recently finishing filming the second season of the cooking show, Pelik Tapi Sedap.

"I have more hair on the armpit than my head!" quips Zaibo, who says he uses shower cream for both his body and scalp. "No need for shampoo!"

No drastic measures for Andrew Philips.

Businessman Andrew Philips, 50, is thinning at the crown. For a year now, he has been using a hair tonic after every shampoo and finds that it helps.

Five years ago, he went for a trichometry examination and was diagnosed with an oily scalp.

"I had itchy scalp, receding hairline and weakly rooted hair. I started using a pre-treatment tonic and shampoo which cleared the itch and strengthened the hair roots."

"A year ago, I found a thinning spot on the crown. My wife recommended a Japanese brand of after-shampoo lotion. After a year, hair grew back on the spot and my hair is not weak like before," says Philips.

He used to think that keeping his hair long could prevent baldness. But his dad busted that myth.

"My grandfather had good hair, and my 84-year-old father, too. On my mother's side, some members of the family are bald as coots."

But he will not resort to drastic measures to keep his hair.

"I can't imagine making appointments for hair treatment. I'll just cut it short and if I eventually go bald, so be it."

Philips adds that people with hair can flaunt it any way they want. "But if you don't have it, don't get stressed. Bald heads are quite fashionable these days. Just make sure you apply sun cream!"

Bald but still in demand, that’s Pansha.

Pansha, 62, decided to go totally bald two years ago as he found it too troublesome to maintain his hair weave after almost two decades.

"It costs RM7,000 to get a hair weave and you have to spend RM4,500 on the annual fee. Each time your hair grows, you need to go for monthly 'tightening' of the weave," says the film producer, director and actor, whose real name is Panchahcharam P. Nalliah.

Back then, he decided on a hair weave because he needed "to look good" for his acting roles. These days, he finds that he continues to get roles even though he's bald!

Pansha began noticing that his hair was thinning after he turned 25, but did not seek treatment for some years. He thinks his problem is hereditary.

"My father and elder brother had hair loss, too, but not those on my mum's side."

When he first shaved off his wisps of remaining hair, he thought he needed a cap to hide his baldness. But, eventually, he got used to his new look.

"My wife doesn't mind my baldness and tells me that I'm nice as I am," Pansha says.

"I don't need a sunscreen because I'm used to the sun here. But in extremely cold countries, you need sun protection on a bald head or you risk getting a headache."

Copyright ©2011 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.
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