My journey started at least five years ago.. if you’re reading this contemplating ‘shall I?’ ‘shan’t I?’ then I would imagine it’s been at least that for you as well. Losing our hair really shouldn’t matter should it? I mean.. there are far more important things in life right? Far worse things happening around the world. But despite all that.. I imagine like me your self-confidence hits rock bottom when you catch that reflection in a mirror.. you know the one right? The angle that catches your hair loss to maximum effect.. or maybe it’s that random holiday snap that a friend or loving family member has taken to capture the great time you’re all having.. or maybe it’s the clothing store changing room that has convenient surrounding mirrors so you can’t escape looking at it.. because that’s all we focus on right? That’s all we see when we look at ourselves.. it’s soul destroying… confidence debilitating… no.. it shouldn’t matter at all.. but unfortunately to us it does and we can’t escape the negative affect that it has on our mental well-being.
Or maybe we can?
The receding hairline over the years had never really bothered me much.. it was the crown.. that thinning.. that spot widening as time passed.. to me it typified ageing.. looking old.. which in itself was a ridiculous mindset because age isn’t the only factor to losing our hair. I needed to find a solution one way or another.. an end result that I could accept and finally leave all the mental angst behind me.. it’s exhausting having it on your mind practically all the time and continually dealing with that crushing blow to your self-confidence.
I’ve never bothered with hair products that apparently add density.. I’ve never considered hair transplants.. that looks like mental torture in itself to me.. is a never ending process and takes ages.. aside from the horrendous cost. I want an instant fix more or less.. the only real option for me was just shaving my head.. finally taking that plunge to grade zero the lot of it.. if Jason Statham can pull it off right?
I came across SMP around five years ago.. here was something that both embraced my willingness to shave my head but also give the impression that I had simply made that conscious decision to shave my complete head of hair.
Like you’ve no doubt done.. I poured over numerous before/after pictures from multiple companies.. looking for those ones that particularly compared well to myself.. because that’s what were trying to do isn’t it? Imagine it as if it was our head on that ‘after’ picture. My typical repeat thought process would be..
“That guy had similar hair loss to me and his head is the same shape to mine.. has fair skin.. result.. looks really good.. just looks like he’s shaved his head.. sign me up!.. oh but wait.. that one doesn’t look as good does it?.. and my word that one looks way too false and hardly what I would call natural looking.. what if I end up with that?!.. how will I deal with that mentally?.. how would I face people I know?.. the people at work?!.. what would I say?.. god.. perhaps it’s better with the devil you know right? Abort Abort!!”
So many companies now offer SMP.. its popularity is increasing all the time.. lots of choice and with it so many great end results but also many poor examples highlighting the potential risk if choosing the wrong technician.
For at least three years I mulled over multiple websites and examples.. finally after a particularly low self-confidence day I made an appointment with another very well known company. A simple video call.. my mind put at rest.. deposit and appointment was made for a few months down the line. At last.. the end is in sight.. those first few days I experienced massive relief.. I was finally going to put this issue to bed and be able to move on with my life. Then as the appointment for session 1 approached the self-doubt took hold.. “what if this goes wrong?” .. the closer the date the more nervous I became.. mentally torn between the potential solution being so close and my own self-doubt that it would be a success.. two weeks out I bailed. Initially I was relieved.. convinced I’d made the right decision.. losing my hair is not an issue and mentally I can accept it and just move on.. wrong!.. within a matter of weeks my mindset had returned to it’s previous deflated default setting.. now I was taking pictures of the back of my head to take my self-confidence in my appearance to a new low.
Six months ago, as I write this, I made another appointment.. this time with a different vendor. Scalperfection.. like before I’d poured over numerous before/after examples.. lots that I liked and others that I thought wouldn’t suit me.. just like before an initial video call.. with a guy called Grant. This time though it was a little different to the last.. Grant actually seemed to genuinely care and empathise with my state mind.. appreciate the angst.. the journey.. and spoke to ‘me’ as an individual with confidence, expertise and certainty that this would work really well for me .. before I’d felt a bit like the ‘next-one-up’ cash cow.. this was more personal and it helped put my mind at a greater ease than before. Appointment booked for early new year. Feeling good again!.. end in sight!.. but still.. as the session one appointment approached the nerves increased.. the worry about something going wrong or it just not suiting me took hold. Early new year I cancelled.. so disappointed in myself that I couldn’t follow through.. in my heart of hearts I knew that this was the answer and that I could finally move forward without this virtual chain around my neck.. two months passed.. a late night of taking more pictures of the back of my head triggered me to react again.. I reached out to Grant on Whatsapp. Just as before he was almost immediate in his reply.. with his willingness to listen and desire to help. I said I needed to book again and as quickly as possible to avoid a mind change for the third time. He literally called my bluff and offered a session one date at the end of the following week when I had some holiday booked off work.. right Max.. hold your nerve. Appointment booked.
I’m not going to say that the next two weeks were without any doubts.. there were plenty.. in my head I probably changed my mind at least thirteen times.. but Grant was there to bounce off as and when.. he knew my mindset and it’s ability to bail.. he gave me the constant reassurance I needed and enough confidence to get me to that session 1 appointment. Let me just say here.. Grant is an SMP expert.. I don’t say that lightly.. his skill and knowledge with the ink is second to none as far as I can tell.. but it’s also his ability to personalise it to you.. the individual.. what suits one may not suit another for a whole variety of reasons.. when you undergo this with Grant, he is going to do what is and will look right for you.. trust him.. his expertise.. and the process.
Obvious nerves when I arrived for session 1.. but I was going through with it now.. this was going to happen. First up was the head shave.. depending how much existing hair you have will I guess dictate how big of a deal this initial shave is, if you have little then I would imagine it to be a relatively easy step. I still had quite a bit of hair so this was a big deal for me.. .5 grade shave performed in front of that mirror. It’s pretty brutal mentally really but I did feel a massive wave of relief once it was done.. not so much with looking at my reflection because I wanted hair.. but just with the fact that finally.. finally.. I had taken that leap.
For the next four/five hours Grant did his thing with a combination of background music and conversation.. all very relaxed.. virtually zero pain as far as I was concerned. I never once looked in the mirror for the entire process.. I didn’t want to.. that was my choice. Session 1 complete.. no avoiding it now.. the mirror was waiting.. this was a big moment for me even if I didn’t let on how much so.
I’m not sure how to describe what followed next.. and in particular for the next few days. Any words I write for you to read here will not convey to you the affect that it had on me. Suffice to say if I tell you that at one o’clock that following morning I sent Grant a message saying that I was still wide awake and buzzing.. I’d been taking those same old videos and pictures of my head.. but this time instead of beating myself up I was smiling when I looked back at them.. sure.. getting use to my now completely shaved head was still a thing and a new experience but it’s one that I liked and embraced.. clean and sharp.. but it was my confidence most of all.. I could not only feel it return in waves.. I could see it on my face.. I felt so much happier in myself and just a complete sense of relief.. that mental anxiety had simply disappeared. It was a defining moment for me personally that others will never know or appreciate.. one I’ll not forget.. I was already thinking to myself ‘I should have done this sooner’.
How was it going back to work I hear you say? Facing your friends? Easy.. I only experienced some minor redness and to be honest I could have gone back to work (an office) the following day.. as it was it was five days later. Comments like “so you’ve shaved your head then?”, “it suits you”, “blimey, makes you look younger” were all recorded.. I just brushed them off very casually as if it was nothing much at all.. but inside I was beaming with confidence and it just reenforced what I already thought. When I picked up my teenage daughter, who I’m incredibly close to, she said “so you finally got the barber to do it then?!”… followed by the one comment which she made that really convinced me how good it looked “well, I don’t hate it”.. coming from a teenage fashion obsessed daughter.. vindication itself.
I did experience some minor fading, part of the process which Grant will always point to, I was keen to get back for session 2 ten days later, where Grant’s expertise in reviewing how well session 1 had settled and taken dictated what was required for session 2.. he was spot on again.. it just built on the great result of session 1. Session 3 will do the same and complete the process.
It’s been a long mental journey.. should a simple thing like hair loss have such a defining influence on our mental well-being? Probably not.. but I can only convey to you the major positive impact doing this has had on me, I’m far happier in myself and about my appearance than I have been for a long time.. which in turn means I’m living a better life, interacting with others more confidently and enjoying the moment far more.. as for hair loss now?.. I just don’t think about it.