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For those whose visages are plastered on increasingly high-def screens around the world, hair loss and balding are nightmares. "As an actor loses hair, they lose work," says David Shusterman, hair transplant surgeon and founder of New York Medicine Doctors, which treats a number of models, producers and actors. In 2011, Chris Evans, aka Captain America, was candid about his hair beginning to disappear: "I'm supposed to be this superior human. How horrible would it be if this superior man has male pattern baldness?" No word on what he has done about it since, because the shroud of secrecy around male hair loss has become only more opaque.
Tom Arnold, John Cleese, Jason Alexander, Dennis Miller, Christopher Knight and Joey Fatone all have been vocal about efforts to regain a healthy pile, from transplants to Farrell toupees, but no longer. Unlike 20 or even three years ago, when plugs came with telltale back-of-head scars, surgeons' best work now goes virtually undetected. "Since [celebrities] don’t have to say anything, they choose not to," says Craig Ziering, aka Doc Hollywood of hair restoration. “They don't have to admit to it.”
Except for Matthew McConaughey, who for 18 years, has religiously rubbed Regenix's bespoke biopharmaceutical liquid into his scalp three times a week, says CEO Bill Edwards: "He has been a client since 1999, and I promise you he has never missed a treatment day. I send it to him when he and his buddies are on a camping trip." Other stars, says Edwards, would talk about Regenix — an oft updated, custom formulation based on lab test results from the Cedars-Sinai clinic ($200 to $250 a month for two to six months initially) — but "agents won't let them because of fear of losing work and insurance" on projects.
These days, early detection is key to treating hair loss. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons recommend testing 250 biomarkers ($400 to $500) to analyze causes — anemia, hormonal issues, genes — before charting a course of action. A-list dermatologist David Colbert predicts that in the future, “unlocking the genetic key of the hair growth cycle and finding a biological control switch in the form of a pill or solution would be the holy grail of baldness." He also cites progenitor cells used to regrow dead follicles — making hair production possible after baldness — and hair cloning, on which billions are already being spent testing on mice, as next-level breakthroughs. Current technologies span the gamut, from robot-assisted transplants to cryogenic head caps to amniotic-fluid injections.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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Melvin Van Peebles