When the newest addition to the Harry Potter cinematic universe, Fantastic Beasts 2: Crimes of Grindelwald, hits theaters this weekend, the most magical curiosity in the movie isn’t the fantasy world shown on screen. No, it’s actor Jude Law’s ever-changing hairline. The actor’s magically disappearing and reappearing hair has been subject to public discussion ever since he shot to fame in the late 1990s.
With this new role as a young Albus Dumbledore, discussions of Law’s looks have reached a fever pitch. Fans have latched onto Law’s leading man good looks and dubbed his character “Yum-bledore,” “Dumble-daddy,” and “Dumble-damn” (which is Law’s personal favorite). And so, his hairline is under scrutiny once again.
(Related: 5 ways to stop hair loss in its tracks)
Law, like most men, struggles with a receding hairline. Unlike most men, it’s been well-documented by paparazzi and media throughout his career. Even more unlike most men, Law’s hairline recedes and grows back at a rapid and unpredictable pace.
One day it’s nearly at his crown and the next it’s back toward his eyebrows. Throughout the years, Law has become the patron saint of hot-guy hair issues and, sure, he might dabble in the Dark Arts to keep it in check, but the real answer might be more straightforward.
(Related: Going bald? Here’s when you should shave your head)
So what’s going on with his hair? Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., won’t even speculate. “Hair loss is multifactorial, which means that we cannot identify one specific reason it happens,” he says, admirably. There are over-the-counter solutions, medical treatments, cosmetic hair pieces and even surgical solutions like hair transplants (which many speculate Law has had).
(Related: 10 things you should know about hair loss)
While it’s impossible to know exactly what Law has used to treat his hair loss, a look back at his journey offers inspiration for us all.
The Young Drone
In his first major movie role, a young Law showed up his youthfully thick head of hair as well as his trademark v-shaped hairline. The bad thing about this shape of hairline is that it can end up showing recedation more obviously as the “v” becomes more and more dramatic with age. The good thing is that it looks great, especially if you’re Jude Law.
(Related: How to fight male pattern baldness)
The Dickie Greenleaf
Law’s role as Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley catapulted him to stardom and required him to have the iconic 1950’s handsome dude haircut: a classic side part with long-ish sides and even longer on top. Even a young Jude Law had a slightly higher hairline, but the length and natural wave of his hair helped to camoflauge any loss that might have already occurred.
(Related: 8 hair loss myths explained)
When hair is this long, but still thinning, Dr. Zeichner warns that the type of shampoo you’re using could have a big impact. “Using the wrong shampoo and conditioner can actually weigh down the hair and make it look thinner,” he says. “Products designed for thinning hair can hydrate and plump the individual hair shafts themselves.”
The Front Brush
In the early aughts, Law became known for a sort of messy, disheveled look that sparked millions of copycats (and the sale of more tubs of hair wax than we can count). It’s clear that this isn’t just a stylish choice though – it’s expert-level camouflage. Notice how all the hair is pushed toward the front, to cover up the receding hairline above the temples, and tousled to create volume. You need a bit of length to achieve this look, but it definitely does the trick.
(Related: 5 lifestyle factors that can cause hair loss)
The Long and Wild
Taking the lessons from the period above, a hairstyle that Law would eventually become known for, it’s easy to assume that the longer the hair, the more it helps cover things up. Law himself made this assumption and… while it sort of works, it can easily draw attention to places you originally want to hide. Longer hair is heavy and harder to control, which means you can’t shape it over thin spots as easily, and it also makes places where there is no hair hard to overlook by contrast.
(Related: What’s the best haircut for your face shape?)
The Hat Trick
By necessity or choice (or the influence of fashionable ex-girlfriend Sienna Miller), Law was an early adopter of the actor-in-hats archetype. For years, he was rarely seen in public without a head covering, most often a knit beanie. It’s impossible to know for sure what was going on under there, but we’d venture to say he fell into a common fear-based solve for men struggling with hair loss: “cover it up and no one will know.”
(Related: Why bald men are more confident and attractive)
When Law finally took off the hats around 2012, it was the reveal heard round the… Men’s Health grooming department. To deal with his hair loss issues, he did what millions of men have done before him: shaved it all off. This solution looks great (if you have a good head shape) and it is a very common solution to hair loss. Shaving your head will never cover up thinning hair, instead it lets the world know that you DGAF.
(Related: 8 best shampoos for thinning hair)
The Something’s Different
Coming off the no-secrets buzz cut, when Law started making the rounds to promote Fantastic Beasts 2, his hair was noticeably fuller. It’s hard to tell whether the hairline has actually moved or if the all-around thicker hair works as an optical illusion. One possibility is a new technology called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). It uses a patient’s own plasma, which is high in growth factors, to stimulate growth.
(Related: 10 ways to thicken your hair)
“Think of PRP like fertiliser for your scalp to help your follicles function to the best of their ability,” says Dr. Zeichner. “I tell patients they can expect up to 25 per cent improvement in hair density, but response varies. At the very least, most patients experienc maintenance of their hairline or less hair loss.” It’s possible Law has undergone this new treatment since his hair still looks like his, but just slightly fuller. Whatever he’s doing, it’s working.