Choosing the right style is one hurdle that often leaves balding men stumped. The comb over is one style that they often resort to. The question is, what is it, and is it the best style you can go for?
What I’m going to do is explain exactly what a comb over is and compare it to other styles that balding men could go for instead.
When you’re losing hair, it’ll get to a point where you would understandably be left with very few options when it comes to styling.
While some may see this as a disadvantage, in many ways, there is beauty in simplicity.
The fewer the options, the easier your decision becomes.
This post is targeted toward those men who have very few options. We’re talking about advanced balding where there’s very little hair on top but there’s still hair at the sides and back.
When you get to this point, your options are usually: comb over, buzz cut, shaved head, or “bald on top with hair on the sides”.
Before we compare each of these styles to the comb over, let’s discuss what a comb over actually is.
What Exactly Is A Comb Over?
A comb over is a hairstyle worn by balding men where the remaining hair is grown long and used to cover up the bald areas on top.
It does consist, quite literally, of hair that’s “combed over” the bald spots.
In many ways, it’s considered a form of hiding baldness. Camouflaging it so that it looks less obvious.
It’s quite a confusing term because it’s also used to describe a style that isn’t an attempt at covering baldness.
A style worn by men who still have hair – it’s simply swept all the way from one side to the other. It grew popular during the ‘50s greaser movement and is similar to a pompadour given its volume.
Just remember that the style we’re discussing today is not referring to that well-established style.
We’re talking about the “comb over” from a balding man’s perspective, where the hair on the sides is grown long and swept over to the side in an attempt to cover up bare patches on top.
Comb Over Vs Bald
A comb over uses long hair on the sides to sweep across and hide the baldness on top. In contrast, a simple bald style leaves the bare area on top visible and leaves the hair on the sides and back as it is.
It embraces the natural pattern that emerges when you allow male baldness to simply do its thing.
You lose hair from the frontal hairline and lose it from the crown at the back. Eventually, these two balding patterns will meet in the middle and you’ll be left with no hair on top.
You don’t usually lose any hair at the sides and back.
So, what you’re left with is a very normal bald man’s appearance – bald on top with hair at the sides and back.
It looks fine, but many men try to avoid keeping this appearance as it can make them look considerably older. The only reason for this is that it’s the endpoint of male baldness and symbolic of the natural aging process.
Some of these men may avoid the appearance to the point where they try to hide it.
This is where the comb over comes in.
The men notice that the hair at the top of the sides can be grown long and used to “comb over” the baldness on top including the receding crown and hairline.
Which Is Better?
Although the comb-over was a popular method of hiding baldness back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, it’s largely fallen out of favor and is actually actively frowned upon in the modern era.
In general, any attempts at hiding baldness like this should be avoided at all costs given how obvious it can look.
Overall, if you were choosing between a comb over and going bald naturally (bald on top with hair on the sides), go for the natural look.
It may make a man look older, but embracing baldness like this is more attractive.
Comb Over Vs Buzz Cut
The buzz cut is a style where all of the hair is clipped down to a very short and even length. In contrast, the comb over uses long hair on the sides to sweep over and hide baldness on top.
Trimming a buzz cut is a surprisingly effective and simple way of embracing thinning hair.
It isn’t “hiding” thinning hair but it certainly makes it look less noticeable.
Of course, if you haven’t got any hair at all on top, trimming a buzz cut simply won’t be possible.
But even if you’ve got quite significant thinning on top, clipping it all down (top, sides, and back) to the same short length is a great way to make the thinning less noticeable.
It looks more intentional.
How does this work?
What it does is reduces the difference and contrast between the very thin hair on top and the thick hair at the sides and back.
Trimming all of the hair on your head (no matter where it is) down to the same, very short and even length will make the appearance of thinning hair on top less noticeable.
The same effect applies to the receding hairline.
When the hair at the front is trimmed down very short, the transition from the forehead to the hair on top is smoother and less noticeable.
This, in turn, makes receding temples less noticeable.
The shorter the hair, the more pronounced the effect.
Which Is Better?
Buzz cuts are more effective than comb overs at making thinning hair on top look less noticeable. They’re also an excellent way of embracing balding as opposed to trying to hide it.
This oozes confidence and confidence is far more attractive than a full head of hair.
Don’t get me wrong- a buzz cut won’t exactly trick people into thinking you’re not balding. On the contrary, the balding will still definitely be visible.
It’s just less noticeable than it would be with a comb over because you’re not drawing attention to it.
You’d think that a comb over would be more effective than a buzz cut at making thinning hair less noticeable. After all, you’re physically using the long hair at the sides to “mask” the thinning hair on top.
But this isn’t the case. Comb overs often draw attention to thinning hair more than it hides it.
For a more detailed analysis of why buzz cuts are so great for balding men, read this article.
Comb Over Vs Shaved Head
While the comb over grows the existing hair at the top and sides enough to sweep over and hide bald patches on top, a shaved head removes all of the hair at the top, sides, and back altogether.
Shaving the head should be considered the pinnacle of embracing baldness. The look has gained popularity thanks to its adoption by some serious A-list movie stars.
A shaved head may not be for everyone, but it’s a look that every balding man should consider at least one point in their life.
There’s a bit of a learning curve to shaving the head – you do need the right technique and it can be time-consuming.
It’s a much larger area to shave than the face, for instance.
But once you get to grips with it and make it a normal part of your routine, it’s quite likely that you won’t turn back.
Which Is Better?
Shaving the head is often considered a liberating experience for balding men while styling the comb over can be a frustrating one.
While head-shaving is a strong form of acceptance, trying to hide baldness with a comb over can fuel insecurities.
Overall, shaving the head clean is a much better option for balding men than a comb over.
This is especially the case for men who are very bald, to the point where a buzz cut simply wouldn’t be possible.
These men would be much better off shaving the head entirely. Many consider this a more aesthetically pleasing outcome than leaving the hair at the sides and back.
Men often look and feel younger.
Head shape does need to be considered when going fully bald. Men with rounder and shorter faces may find that their face just looks even rounder or shorter when they’ve got no hair at all on their head.
But the same could be said of any balding style and this isn’t exclusive to men with a fully shaved head.
If you’re worried about the roundness of the head as you become balder and balder, the simplest and greatest solution would be to grow a beard.
A beard can be used to elongate the face from the bottom end to compensate for the fact that you can’t do the same at the top.
Of course, the longer the beard, the more pronounced the effect.
Another thing to bear in mind is that shaving the head is time-consuming and should always be considered a high maintenance option.
It takes more time shaving the head clean than it does trimming a buzz cut, for instance. The process of lathering up and shaving with a razor takes longer. Plus, men that aren’t fans of shaving due to skin irritation may also shy away from the option.
These men would be better off simply trimming a buzz cut if it was an option for them. You aren’t going as close to the skin and it’s also a lot quicker.
Ultimately, embracing baldness should always be considered preferable to hiding it.
A great way of embracing baldness is choosing the right style – one that doesn’t focus on camouflage.
Hopefully, this article has given you all the information you need to make your own decision.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.