The American Academy of Dermatology reports that male-pattern baldness affects nearly 50 million men in the U.S. And the business of preventing further hair loss or stimulating growth raked in $176 million last year.
And companies are taking notice and are looking to take a slice of this flourishing industry.
Just as there is plenty of cash flowing into hair loss prevention, there are bold and bald pioneers embracing and profiting from smooth scalps.
Here are four small businesses that are taking the idea of “bald is beautiful” to a whole new level.
Todd Greene founded HeadBlade after experiencing difficulty shaving parts of his head that he couldn’t see. "When you use a mirror everything is backward. It's hard to manipulate your hands and look at a mirror. I thought, if I could put a razor underneath my fingers it would be easier to shave," said Greene. That fundamental idea led him to create HeadBlade, a plastic razor with non-slip rubber grips that retails for $13. His line has evolved into six different designs, with a new one due out next year. Since hitting the market HeadBlade earned "Ten Best Designs of 2000” status from TIME Magazine and became part of a permanent collection at the NYC Museum of Modern Art.
Despite these successes, HeadBlade faces the challenge of selling a lifestyle that is not part of everyday conversation. "Even though we have been out there for 10 years our biggest obstacle is recognition," said Greene, "We have to rely on opportunistic marketing, like when somebody famous shaves his head."
If you are not ready to take the head-shaving leap check out HeadBlade's ShaveMyHead I-phone App. "The idea was to create a useful tool for guys who want to shave their heads, but are afraid. Now they can take a picture and see what it will look like."
Howard Brauner founded Bald Guyz after experiencing the standard sunscreen was not enough for his perspiring dome. "The bald head sweats more and sunscreens just didn't stay," said Brauner, "I spent 12 years trying to create this product. In 2005 the time was right, and we started." His products include sunscreen gels, pre-shave scrubs, head wipes and shaving gels that retail between $5.99 and $9.99 and can be found at drug stores, supermarkets and mass retailers. While the men's grooming category is growing, Brauner finds it difficult to get shelf space among consumer giants. "Retailers have to recognize that we are a niche category that needs to be served," he said. Brauner is concentrating on educating his consumer in order to make that shelf space pay off. "A lot of them are not aware that their skin has special needs. Why use a shampoo for color-treated oily hair if they have none?" he said.
If you are looking for some bald bonding, join the Bald Guyz Clubhouse. "We treat bald guys as real people. It’s all about being real and true to yourself," said Brauner. Membership includes product discounts and the opportunity to become "Bald Guy of the Week."
Phil Levine founded the London-based bald grooming service Phil Says Head Designs in August 2006. Levine, who designs art installations on shaved heads, started going bald a decade ago. After shaving his head, he found value in his newly-acquired real estate. "I looked in the mirror and realized why couldn’t I use my head as a canvas for creativity and make designs for where my hair used to be," he said. His services start at $300. Long term, Levine hopes to set up “Head Salons” around the world and 'open a new market in head grooming'.
Levine’s out-of-the box thinking caught the eye of razor company Gillette. Next spring, Gillette will be unveiling an exhibition titled "Headism" with the company as a sponsor. "I saw Gillette as the ultimate supporter of my show because I use their Gillette Fusion Power,” said Levine, “I approached them and they said yes.”
David Klein founded his high-end grooming products company a year and a half ago after noticing that regular products were causing irritation on his bald head. "Bald men are not provide with many choices," said Klein. So, he designed a system to prepare the scalp for shaving. BALDSTYLE's line of products includes pre-shave oil, shave lotion and after-shave balm. Klein says the products are made with all-natural ingredients and are available in scented and non-scented options. The sets cost $41 and can be purchased through the company website. Klein, who holds down a full-time job in addition to operating BALDSTYLE, new nothing about cosmetics before launching the company. "Finding a lab and a manufacturer was a huge challenge," he recalled. While growing his company is his main goal, he also wants to help men feel better about themselves. "Men are still afraid of losing their hair as the age," said Klein, "but if it with confidence, people will look at it as a style choice."
If you are seeking head-shaving advice, check out Klein's Head Shaving Blog. It includes entries such as "Shaved Head? Chose Your Shirt Wisely" and "Head Shaving and Facial Hair - A Perfect Combo?"
Check out four small businesses that are cashing in on the hair-loss industry.