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John Travolta’s Hair Transplant: Toupee or not Toupee?

There is a significant online buzz about famous actor John Travolta’s hair transplant. However, those familiar with his appearance are aware that the Pulp Fiction star is presently bald with a beard. Furthermore, he has been progressively losing his hair in the public eye for decades. So why do some people believe he’s had hair restoration surgery?

Being an actor calls for frequent changes in appearance to match character description. And stars often want to look their best for red carpet events. That is why Travolta has made full use of the best non-surgical hair restoration treatments available, such as toupees or hair systems.

Since he could easily afford the best quality products, he was sometimes spotted with a perfect hairline that had a life-like appearance. This led many to believe he had a natural-looking hair transplant. Keep reading this article to discover more about:

  • Whether Travolta has had a hair transplant
  • John Travolta’s hair transformations up until the present day
  • The kind of hair transplant John Travolta would have needed
  • How much would a hair transplant cost John
  • Non-surgical alternatives to getting a hair transplant
Table of Contents

About John Travolta

John Joseph Travolta was born in New Jersey in 1954. He dropped out of high school at 17 to follow his dream of acting. While he is famous for starring in award-winning blockbusters such as Grease, Pulp Fiction and Saturday Night Fever, John started his career in television. One of his first famous roles was in TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter (1975).  

It is common knowledge that Travolta has received numerous accolades for his films, such as a Primetime Emmy, a Golden Globe and several MTV movie awards. However, fewer people know he also had a successful singing career, with 9 music albums launched between 1974 and 2012. He sang together with stars such as Olivia Newton-John, Carly Simon and Miley Cyrus. 

Moreover, just like his character in the Look Who’s Talking film trilogy, John is a licensed pilot who can fly Boeing aircraft and does so regularly. In fact, he was inducted into the Living Legends of Aviation organisation in 2007. 

Did John Travolta have a hair transplant?

It is quite unlikely that Travolta had a hair transplant for a couple of reasons. On the one hand, had he gotten hair restoration surgery, he would not have been completely bald in the frontal and crown areas. Photos from different stages of life show signs of progressive male pattern baldness, which worsened to the present day. 

Travolta spotted without his toupee in 2015
John Travolta, photographed by a fan in 2015, sporting significant frontal hair loss [2]

On the other hand, the actor has been famously wearing hairpieces and toupees – both on-screen and off-screen – which he would not have needed to do had he had hair restoration surgery. The proof that the straight hairline he had occasionally been sporting was not his rests with the many differences in its shape and contour displayed at various times.

Moreover, in January 2015, he was photographed late one night in the gym with advanced baldness despite displaying a full head of hair earlier in the year and once more right after this incident.  

Travolta with different hairlines, likely toupees
Travolta in 2014 (left) [3] and 2015 (right) [4], with full hair and a slightly different hairline

Why would Travolta need a hair transplant?

Since not even movie stars are spared hair woes, John Travolta started losing his signature locks in his mid-thirties. Since a majority of men show signs of androgenetic alopecia by the age of 50, it is not surprising that the actor developed male pattern baldness as he approached mid-life.

Androgenetic alopecia is caused by a multitude of factors, such as age, gender and hormones. It develops as your body converts too much of your testosterone into a different male hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). While some DHT is necessary for healthy sexual and reproductive function, producing excessive amounts can be harmful to your hair. That is because this hormone binds to androgen receptors in your hair follicles, decreasing their size and preventing them from producing hair.

How DHT affects sensitive hair follicles

The first signs of male pattern baldness include a receding hairline and temple hair loss. Then, as the condition progresses, you may also experience a bald spot on the crown. If left untreated, androgenetic alopecia can make you lose all the hair on the frontal and crown areas of your scalp. The back and sides of your head are normally spared, as their hair follicles are less sensitive to DHT.    

While several treatments for male pattern baldness exist, a hair transplant is often the best solution. That is because while hair loss medications and therapies only work for as long as they are actively used, restoration surgery helps you achieve permanent hair growth

John’s hair journey over the years

John Travolta has been through many hair phases, from luscious natural locks in his youth to toupees and hair pieces in his mature days. Fortunately, the actor made peace with his hair loss in recent years, adopting a rugged and confident bald with a beard look. Here is his hair timeline: 

Travolta in his childhood days

The childhood days

There are a few precious photos of Travolta as a child, but those show him with full, dark-coloured, wavy hair. When he was very young, John wore short hair and had a typical boyish haircut. Though the textured locks falling on his forehead cover his hairline, it can be easily seen that he did not have a wide forehead. It is also difficult to tell from the photograph above if he was born with a widow’s peak, but he seems to have one in later pictures.

Travolta in young adulthood

Young adulthood

In his early 20s, around the start of his acting career, John had a full, flowing mane. He wore his wavy locks mid-length, allowing them to frame his face and give him a romantic vibe. While his widow’s peak was sometimes visible, there were no signs of premature hair thinning. His hairline seemed straight and youthful. 

Travolta in his early 20s

However, by the time he reached 24, he transitioned to a more masculine appearance, shortening his hair and combing it back. The new look suited the actor perfectly, as his natural texture made this hairdo look volumised, while the shorter length made him appear more mature and confident.

Travolta’s Grease pomp

The Grease pomp

For 1978 hit musical Grease, John adopted what was about to become an iconic look: a stylish pompadour held in place with a lot of gel which gave it a slick, wet appearance. This was a throwback to James Dean’s famous rebel look and to Elvis Presley’s sensual pomps. The Grease haircut was a hit for Travolta, turning him into a sex symbol as he headed into the ‘80s.    

Travolta in the disco 80’s

The disco 80’s

While he rocked the disco hair in the late ‘70s for Saturday Night Fever, Travolta’s hair was much more subdued in the funky ‘80s. His hairstyles were increasingly shorter and his luscious locks seemed to be left behind for a more down-to-earth, family-man vibe.

However, it is difficult to tell what was going on with his hairline at this time, as it always seemed to be obscured by some rebel locks falling across it or by a side-swept hairdo.  

Travolta’s first signs of hair loss

The first signs of hair loss

By the mid-90s, Johh was already in his 40s, so it is no surprise that he was experiencing the first signs of hair thinning and balding. Despite his natural widow’s peak, his temple hair loss was becoming more and more pronounced as he started developing the tell-tale M-shaped hairline.

His forehead also widened, hinting at a receding hairline and some visible frontal balding where his luscious pomp used to be. There is no information regarding whether the actor was trying hair loss treatments during that phase, but it would have been a good time to start doing so. It could have slowed down the progression of his male pattern baldness, and he could’ve even achieved some hair regrowth. 

Travolta’s wig-wearing years
Travolta’s wig-wearing years
Travolta wearing what appear to be toupees or hair systems over the years 14][15]

The wig-wearing years 

It was something of an open secret in Hollywood that between 2000 and 2020, Travolta has been wearing a variety of wigs and hair pieces to disguise his progressing baldness.   However, since they were of very good quality, it was rarely blatant that they weren’t his real hair.

In fact, many of his fans never realised he was wearing them. However, hair specialists could tell the difference in hairline shape and could sometimes spot other telltale signs, such as traces of the toupee’s adhesive.

Travolta’s toupee adhesive showing
Travolta photographed with visible toupee adhesive around his hairline [16]
Travolta’s toupee edges visible in photo
Travolta’s toupee application systems are visible in some of his photographs [11]

Several photographs have surfaced over the years showing proof that John’s hair was not his own. However, the star never commented on or bothered by the chatter surrounding his hairline. Even after being photographed without his hairpiece in 2015, he still wore hair systems for about a decade before deciding to go bald. 

Travolta rocking the bald look

Rocking the bald look

Finally, on the first day of 2019, John posted a photo of himself that rocked the internet and was taken at his New Year’s party. In it, his head was clean-shaved, and he was rocking a sexy stubble, which gave him a very masculine vibe. This picture was followed by many more during the following years, as the actor decided to embrace his appearance and stop masking his baldness.

The media and fans seemed thrilled by his confident new look, which he still proudly sporting today. He has joined a long line of bald superstars, such as Bruce Willis, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham.  

What kind of hair transplant would Travolta need?

Assuming that at some point in his life, John would have decided to get a hair transplant, he would likely have opted for a Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) procedure. 75% of men who get hair restoration surgery opt for this technique instead of the once-popular Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) [19]. That is because FUT involves harvesting an entire strip of skin from your donor area, which can leave a visible linear scar.

FUE, however, involves using a punch tool to extract individual hair grafts, which only leaves small punctures on your scalp. They heal very well, leaving virtually no scarring.

FUE vs. FUT hair transplant

Since John Travolta is a famous actor, he relies heavily on his appearance. And many of his roles require him to wear short hairstyles. A FUT scar could be visible on the back of his head while he is sporting short hair. So it would be more discreet, elegant and convenient to opt for FUE instead simply. This way, he could have a hair transplant without anyone knowing. 

Travolta with a slight stubble on his scalp

How many grafts would John need to get?

It is difficult to assess the number of hair grafts Travolta would need if he decided to get a hair transplant today. That is because he has been shaving his head for the past 5 years. However, the fine stubble he shows in some of his recent photos indicates that he is likely a Norwood stage 6. This means his male pattern baldness is quite advanced. His receding hairline has probably merged with the bald spot on his crown, leaving hair mainly on the back and sides of his head. 

Hair graft calculator

If this assessment is correct, Travolta would need an extensive hair transplant requiring 3000-4000 hair grafts. This could be problematic, as he may not have sufficient healthy hair left in his donor area to support the procedure without hair transplant overharvesting.

Assuming he does have enough hair follicles to spare, he would still likely need to undergo a 2-step procedure, one to cover his hairline and temple area and one to fill in his crown. 

How much would Travolta’s hair transplant cost?

The cost of a hair transplant depends on a variety of factors. The most important one is the number of hair grafts you will need, as more extensive surgeries will naturally be more expensive. However, the reputation of the clinic, the surgeon’s experience and portfolio, and the level of service offered can also influence procedure costs. 

Average LA hair transplant cost
Cost infographics for a Norwood stage 2-3 hair transplant in LA

Since he is a celebrated actor, John Travolta can afford the most high-end care money can buy. Since he lives in the US and works in Hollywood often, he would probably get his hair transplant at a luxury clinic for the stars in Los Angeles.

In LA, the highest transplant cost reaches upwards of $15.000 (around £11.800) for 1500 grafts. That means for 3000-4000 grafts, the actor would likely need to spend approximately $30-40.000 (approximately £23.600 – £31.500)

Average UK hair transplant cost
Cost infographics for a Norwood stage 2-3 hair transplant in the UK

If John had opted for his hair restoration surgery in the UK, he would likely have paid slightly more for his high-end operation (£30.000 – £40.000). However, if he were a regular person who needed this surgery at an average clinic, he would probably be significantly better off doing so in the UK, as the average price per hair graft is significantly lower than in LA.

Thus, for a 3-4000 graft procedure at an average UK clinic, he would only need to pay around  £9750 – £13.000, while in Los Angeles, he would be set back around £16.400 – £22.000.  

Hair transplant alternatives John may have used

While it doesn’t seem like John Travolta ever had a hair transplant, he did have his ways of masking his M-shaped hairline. Some of these, such as using hair pieces, were rather obvious. However, we can only speculate regarding what the others may be:

Man applying a toupee

Toupees and hair systems

It is an open secret that John Travolta has been wearing hair pieces since his hair loss became more advanced, likely around 2000. This decision isn’t difficult to understand since he could afford top-quality hair systems.

Unlike a regular wig, which you must keep applying and removing daily, a hair system is semi-permanent. You can have it fitted and installed once and not need to remove it for 3-6 months (after which it often needs replacing). High-quality hair systems can look very natural, effectively masking any hair loss. 

Man using hair loss medication

Hair loss medications

John has never spoken out about any hair loss treatments he may have tried, but since he was balding, he would likely have tried popular, effective options such as Minoxidil or Finasteride.

Other therapies, such as PRP hair treatments, could have helped curb his balding had he tried them. However, regardless of their effectiveness, not even the best hair loss treatments work for everyone. Some men are unable to achieve significant hair growth through any non-surgical means, so they may need to get a hair transplant.

Man using hair thickening spray

Hair thickening spray

While there is no information regarding whether Travolta has ever used this kind of product, hair thickening sprays are popular in masking hair thinning. They contain microfibers which stick to your hair strands, making them appear thicker and denser. Since they are inexpensive and easy to use, they are a go-to for many people who want to disguise their thinning areas. 

Man with a hairstyle that masks frontal thinning

Hairstyles that mask frontal thinning

When he wasn’t wearing a toupee, John Travolta had access to the greatest hairstylists to help him disguise his hair loss. If you would like to make the most of the hair you’ve got and cover up your balding areas, you can try some of the best male hairstyles for a receding hairline or some excellent hairstyles for men with thin hair.

Are you considering getting a hair transplant?

If you don’t feel like John’s bald look would suit you and want to put your hair-thinning problems behind you, book a free hair transplant consultation today. Our world-class surgeons will be happy to walk you through the entire procedure and make the best recommendations for your particular hair needs.

The Wimpole Clinic has a 97-100% success rate for hair restoration surgeries, so you know your hair will be in the best hands, regardless of whether you choose to have an FUE or FUT procedure. 

While there is presently no cure for baldness, surgical hair restoration is the closest you can get because, unlike all other treatments, a hair transplant is permanent. The procedure is safe and painless, and you can recover comfortably at home and keep your full head of hair for the rest of your life.

Even after 10 years, a hair transplant can look as good as it initially did. So don’t hesitate to give yourself the gift of a youthful look by regaining your head full of hair.

John Travolta’s Hair Transplant: Toupee or not Toupee?, Wimpole Clinic

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