Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. Its applications are many, and some researchers believe that it may help with hair loss from alopecia areata. How? The needles inserted into the scalp may help stimulate hair follicles and promote regrowth. More research needs to be done in this area, but consider asking your doctor for a referral to a licensed acupuncturist if this treatment sounds appealing to you. (Learn more about acupuncture for hair loss.)
There’s also a women’s version (Women’s Rogaine Foam) — but a three-month supply costs $22 more online. The only difference between the two products are the instructions; women are instructed to apply once a day instead of twice. If you’re a woman who doesn’t feel like paying extra for marketing, the men’s product will suffice. A cheaper generic version is Kirkland Signature Minoxidil Foam, but with a longer history on the market and more customer testimonials, Rogaine is our first choice.
A clinician diagnoses female pattern hair loss by taking a medical history and examining the scalp. She or he will observe the pattern of hair loss, check for signs of inflammation or infection, and possibly order blood tests to investigate other possible causes of hair loss, including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and iron deficiency. Unless there are signs of excess androgen activity (such as menstrual irregularities, acne, and unwanted hair growth), a hormonal evaluation is usually unnecessary.
The main type of hair loss in both sexes — and the subject of this article — is androgenetic alopecia, or female (or male) pattern hair loss. In men, hair loss usually begins above the temples, and the receding hairline eventually forms a characteristic "M" shape; hair at the top of the head also thins, often progressing to baldness. In women, androgenetic alopecia begins with gradual thinning at the part line, followed by increasing diffuse hair loss radiating from the top of the head. A woman's hairline rarely recedes, and women rarely become bald.
Rogaine’s foam squirts out just like hair mousse and is applied with “cool, dry hands.” Applying means working the foam down to the scalp where you want to see thicker growth — for it to work, “it has to get into your scalp,” Dr. Wolfeld explains. “If it sits on your hair, it’s not really as effective.” Once massaged, it dissolves into a watery liquid that leaves a tingly sensation, “but no burning!” one of our balding testers was happy to discover.
First, reduce your stress. It will improve your ability to cope with hair loss as well as help solve the problem. You might find relief with deep breaths, performing physical exercise, or laughing at cat videos online. If your stress level is high because you’re upset about losing your hair, experiment with keratin hair fibers to disguise the thin spots. It’s an inexpensive way to feel better about a tough situation.
There’s no cure for baldness, but there are ways to hold on to what you've got. The six dermatologists and the clinical studies point to three methods: minoxidil, laser treatments, and prescription finasteride. The key is finding the combination and hair loss regimen that works for you. A doctor is your best bet for that kind of guidance — but we found a few trustworthy products that will work for most people.
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With those pinned down, it wasn’t hard to determine which don’t actually work. Pretty much all the “active” ingredients listed in ineffective treatments — from biotin and zinc to emu oil and saw palmetto — have never been proven, and are instead marketed based on logical-seeming correlations. It would make sense that biotin, a B vitamin readily found in hair, skin, and nails, could help hair grow more quickly. And caffeine is a stimulant that works in coffee, so rubbing some on your scalp might wake some of those sleepy follicles… right?
The trick about all of these hair-loss products and treatments is that they’ll stop working as soon as you stop using them. “They have to be ready for a lifetime commitment,” says Rieder. But, just like brushing your teeth, as long you keep on keeping on with the scientifically proven preventative treatments, those hairs on your head should be just fine.
Oral supplements like Viviscal Extra Strength dietary supplements (Est. $50 per month) have also been proven to have a measurable effect on hair regrowth; a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that the nutritional supplement significantly increased hair growth among women with thinning hair.
2. Oil-rich conditioner. “Oils improve hair’s tensile strength,” says Paradi Mirmirani, a hair-loss specialist and dermatologist in Vallejo, California. In other words, oils make hair less likely to break under pressure, which is especially important for thinning hair that’s prone to snapping when brushed or styled. Mirmirani recommends using a conditioner fortified with natural oils, like Burt’s Bees Very Volumizing Pomegranate Conditioner, which contains avocado oil ($8), or Honest Company Conditioner with coconut oil ($10). That one’s got an added benefit: “Coconut oil has been shown to penetrate hair,” says cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller, so it makes your hair stronger from the inside out. (Just don’t load up on pure coconut oil. “You might overshampoo your hair to get it out, and then you’ll end up drying your hair and undoing any benefit,” says Fusco.)
In our research and our conversations with experts, one name kept popping up repeatedly: Rogaine. As the first topical brand FDA-approved to help regrow hair (all the way back in 1988), Rogaine benefits from more than 20 years of clinical trials and consumer feedback. Rogaine was the first brand to offer a 5 percent minoxidil foam solution when it debuted Men’s Rogaine Unscented Foam in 2006, and virtually every treatment developed since (for both men and women) has been an imitation or derivation of that formula.
A unique formulation by Ultrax is the Hair Lush. Formulated in a serum form containing caffeine, immediately adds volume to hair. It also contains a proprietary blend of ingredients which are known to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss. The leave in caffeine formulations are known to improve the health of hair and Hair lush performs up to expectations.
I finally gave in and started taking propecia (1.25mg/day) ~15 weeks ago as Rogaine clearly wasn’t going to stop my hair falling out . . . . .the good thing is that I have had ZERO side affects. In fact it also seemed (so I thought) to stop my hair loss for the first 4 weeks or so. However for the last 6 weeks or so, i have been losing hair faster than ever before. I have read that this common typically between the third and fourth month of taking this. Have you heard anything like that? I hope that is the case and it slows soon. I have continued Rogaine liquid twice a day as well as dandruff shampoo a few times a week.
In men, finasteride (originally marketed as Proscar) is approved for hair loss associated with androgens. In one study, 62% of women also taking oral contraceptives containing the synthetic progestin drospirenone reported improvement. So it may be effective for female hair loss in the setting of increased androgen. But studies are limited and it is harmful to the male fetus so should not be used by women thinking about becoming pregnant or who are pregnant.
Vitamin E has been used as a home remedy for hair growth since ages. Vitamin E oil is rich in antioxidants and helps to fight the free radicals. It increases oxygen in the body and enhances blood circulation in the scalp. Regular massage with essential oils promotes hair growth and reduces hair fall and split ends. This makes your hair softer and smoother (6).
In either sex, hair loss from androgenetic alopecia occurs because of a genetically determined shortening of anagen, a hair's growing phase, and a lengthening of the time between the shedding of a hair and the start of a new anagen phase. (See "Life cycle of a hair.") That means it takes longer for hair to start growing back after it is shed in the course of the normal growth cycle. The hair follicle itself also changes, shrinking and producing a shorter, thinner hair shaft — a process called "follicular miniaturization." As a result, thicker, pigmented, longer-lived "terminal" hairs are replaced by shorter, thinner, non-pigmented hairs called "vellus."