I'm 26, and my hair started thinning when I was a teenager. By my senior year of high school, it had thinned enough that I started to notice (though others didn't notice it).
During my sophomore year of college, I was walking around campus one clear, sunny, fall day and saw my shadow when the sun was behind me. That's when I realized that my hair was growing a lot more thickly on the sides than the top. Since that point (about 6 1/2 years), it's thinned out quite a bit. My hairline has receded at least an inch or inch-and-a-half.
Daily, I don't notice the receding hairline too much (it's obvious to me that it's receded, but I don't notice how much it's receded until I see a picture from a few years ago). I do notice the thinness whenever I comb my hair. I've been parting it on the side (when it needs combing) since I first sported a pomp in high school.
As far as cut, I keep it buzzed to about 1/2" or so. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive, but keeping it close minimizes the "thinning" look. Also, the sides grow out MUCH faster than the top (which seems to hardly grow at all, in addition to coming in thin), so frequent, close buzzing is my preferred cut given the hand I've been dealt.
If I could choose, of course I'd choose a full head of hair. Having once had a ridiculously thick, curly head of hair that grew a mile a minute, I can say I prefer that. However, baldness runs on all sides of my family, so I knew it was only a matter of time. I didn't expect it quite this soon.
I keep saying that one of these days, I'm going to just go fully shaved. I shaved it daily for a while in 2007, but just couldn't get used to the look/feel. My head is a bit lumpy, and lint from hats sticks to your bare scalp. Also, it's just too much maintenance for me to daily shave my melon in addition to my mug. I'm thinking that, when the weather warms up, I might go to a closer buzz, bare skin without a guard on the clippers (but not actually shaved). We'll see.
Prilosec is Finasteride, 1mg x 30 pills = $77/month
Proscar is Finasteride, 5mgx30 pills = $10/month (insurance will cover)
Go to Walgreen's and sign up for the W-card. Then get your doctor to write you a prescription for 90 pills "use as directed." Walgreen's will fill the prescription on the W-card program and not use insurance. There you have it - one trip to the pharmacy for a year's worth of Finasteride for $50.
If this stuff ever stops working, I'm going with a guardless trimmer every other day. Not going to even consider the power donut.
I've been shaving (with razor) my head for about 12 to 15 years. It's just part of who I am now. I get complements on occasion, directly or not. Often from short woman who clearly can't see the top/top-back of my head. I could certainly rock the power donut if I wanted as my bald pattern is exactly that. I don't even see hair on the top of my head anymore, but when shaving I can hear it so I know some still exists.
I just make sure to keep up with maintenance. That means shaving no less frequently than every other day. And I also NEVER shave my face without also shaving my head. I would never want the hair on my head to appear longer than that of my face. That's the only time I don't feel handsome.
Most men have handsome head shapes. They just think they look weird because it's not how they perceive themselves. So they think it looks odd. It probably doesn't look odd to anyone else. I have seen a couple odd noggins in my time but they are an exception.
My hair started to fall out when I was still in high school, and was noticeably, painfully obvious when I got through college, so I just shaved it off. Completely shaved does make me look tougher/more crazy, which is a plus when dealing with middle school students. Combined with my large muscles and rigid posture, most of them believe that I was in the military despite my saying otherwise. One is convinced I am an assassin working for the some secret organization (I vaguely resemble Agent 47 from the Hitman series).
The downside is that I look much older than I am (I'm 26). One person told me that I look good for a 40 year old. I was 19 at the time.
I do save a bunch of money on shampoo though.