Karamo Brown is the confident, stylish "Queer Eye" star Netflix viewers have come to know and love over the last few seasons. But the 39-year-old wasn't always so comfortable in his skin.
In fact, Brown was secretly struggling with his own insecurities while filming the first two seasons of "Queer Eye." And as he helped provide confidence-boosting tips to the show's makeover candidates, the reality star was doing everything he could to cover up the one thing that made him feel uncomfortable: his thinning hair.
"I started going bald around the age of 23. I felt embarrassed and thought people were judging me. It became my biggest insecurity," he told TODAY Style.
By the age of 30, Brown was almost entirely bald and he had developed a few ways to cover it up. "I knew that a wig would look fake so I figured making it seem as if I had a 'low' haircut would look more natural," he explained. "So I would use an eyeliner pencil and black mascara to create the illusion (of hair)."
After years of fighting his thinning hair, Brown realized he was better off embracing it. And on the night before the season one premiere of "Queer Eye" (the first two seasons were shot simultaneously) in February 2018, he decided to shave his head.
"As the show was coming out, I said 'enough is enough.' I wanted to step into this new chapter of my life not feeling ashamed of what naturally happens to so many men," he said.
Two years later, Brown is releasing his own personal care brand for bald men. Mantl is a collection of skin care and grooming products that's available exclusively online. The line currently includes a Face + Scalp Cleanser ($17), a Face + Scalp Age Defense Moisturizer ($25), an Invisible Daily SPF 30 ($27) and No-Shine Sheets ($10).
Each Mantl product is pH balanced and can be used on both the face and scalp. Brown uses all of them regularly but says he definitely has a favorite: "It would be the clear SPF 30. Everyone needs to use SPF, no matter if you have white or brown skin and the SPF is clear so it doesn’t get in your hair and it’s lightweight."
Creating the collection has been a true labor of love, and Brown hopes it will inspire men who are going bald to embrace the process.
"Every advertisement I had ever seen about male pattern baldness was negative and made me feel bad. There was never an ad or company that said 'balding is natural, you’re still beautiful,'" he said. "That is why I co-founded Mantl: to let people know that it’s OK and that they can still have the life they want even though they are losing their hair."
The culture and lifestyle expert hopes Mantl will help men feel supported in their hair loss journey, but he also wants to make one thing clear: the collection is for ladies as well!
"Women can use them, too. My sisters have been stealing all my products from my house and I encourage it," he said.