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Some companies market special hair growth vitamins and supplements that you can buy to make it easier for you to stay healthy and help prevent hair loss. In general, however, all you need to do is make sure that you are getting enough protein in your diet (eating lots of protein-rich foods like dark green leafy vegetables, fish, eggs and beans), and the right levels of iron, zinc and vitamin A. B, C and folic acid. 

Why? Unwanted hair growth (sideburns, for example) is a reported side effect of minoxidil. The belief is that a higher concentration of minoxidil would result in more unwanted hair, which is why women are instructed to use it less often. However, the study in Skin Therapy Letter reports that unwanted hair was more common in 2 percent minoxidil solutions than 5 percent, and women are instructed to use Rogaine’s 2 percent solution twice daily — so what gives?
Joseph Greco, Ms. Telford’s practitioner, who shares a patent for a process to remove growth factors from platelets, said he gets results in 80 percent of patients, more than half of whom are female. Roughly half of them fly in and out, often on the same day, he said, because the procedure doesn’t require downtime and has minimal side effects. (Small clinical studies suggest further research is necessary but acknowledge the procedure’s “excellent safety profile.”)
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The second member of “the big three” and another extremely effective FDA approved hair loss treatment is minoxidil. Minoxidil was originally an oral medication for high blood pressure. But after a while, patients started reporting hair growth — all over their bodies. And not much longer after, the minoxidil topical solution for treating hair loss was born.
Results from clinical studies of mostly white women ages 18 to 45 years with mild to moderate degrees of hair loss report that after using minoxidil for eight months, 19% of users had moderate regrowth and 40% had minimal regrowth. Of those using a liquid without active minoxidil (a placebo) during the same time period, 7% reported moderate hair regrowth while 33% had minimal regrowth.
Some women find that the minoxidil solution leaves a deposit that dries and irritates their scalp. This irritation, called contact dermatitis, is probably caused not by the minoxidil itself, but rather by the alcohol that is included to facilitate drying. A 5% solution (available only by prescription and approved only for men) is more effective than the 2% formulation and may be prescribed off-label for women. The 5% version comes in a foam, which appears to cause less irritation than the liquid.
Coconut oil contains fatty acids that penetrate inside the hair shaft and reduce protein loss from hair. Coconut oil can be used either before or after you wash your hair depending on your hair type. If your hair tends to be oily, you can do a leave-in treatment overnight or for a few hours before you wash it. Massage coconut oil into your scalp and all of your hair. If your hair is dry, you can also use it as a leave-in treatment. There needs to be more research on coconut oil as a promoter of hair growth, but it’s been shown to improve the health and luster of hair and has been used for centuries.
The second member of “the big three” and another extremely effective FDA approved hair loss treatment is minoxidil. Minoxidil was originally an oral medication for high blood pressure. But after a while, patients started reporting hair growth — all over their bodies. And not much longer after, the minoxidil topical solution for treating hair loss was born.
The earlier you begin treating hair loss, the more effective the treatment will be. Androgenetic alopecia is a condition that gradually worsens over time, so the general rule is that the earlier you seek treatment, the better. “If you’re losing your hair and you have genetic hair loss, using medication such as Propecia or minoxidil is most effective when started early,” says Dr. Robert M. Bernstein, Dr. Wolfeld’s colleague at Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration. Because not everyone loses hair on the same timeline, you can’t rely on statistics to tell you when you should start treatment. Some men start to notice thinning in their early 20s, while others maintain a thick head of hair well into their 50s. If you suspect that you’re starting to lose your hair and want it to stop, act quickly.
The follicles on the sides of the scalp are more genetically resistant to DHT, which is why male pattern baldness often results in a “crown” of hair. But its downsides are serious. “With women, finasteride is not an option,” says Dr. Wolfeld. “It’s not FDA-approved for women to take, so we don’t prescribe it.” In fact, due to the drug’s effect on hormone levels, pregnant women are advised to not even touch broken or crushed tablets.
The HairMax Ultima 12 LaserComb ($395) makes for a great addition to any hair loss regimen — provided you can afford it. Dr. Wolfeld notes that it’s a popular option in his practice. “Some people like the action of combing something through their hair,” he says. “They find that to be a little bit easier to do as part of their routine in the morning.” Dr. Khadavi also recommends using a laser treatment of some kind in conjunction with other treatments. “Lasers do help in stimulating the hair into the growth phase. We don’t know the exact mechanism of how it works, but it definitely helps.”
Thanks for your response and awesome article! Do you recommend sticking with minoxidil for a period of time (i.e. 6 months) before starting finasteride or do it all at once? I would be on finasteride now if I wasn’t nervous about the potential side effects so my plan was to wait to see if minoxidal does anything for me over the next 3 months or so (at that point I will have been on it ~ 6 months). My shedding has certainly reduced so hopefully it is starting to work. I’m in the very early stages of hair loss. No one would notice (except me and my wife). Just looks my hair part on the top of my head even though it really is thinning. 

What worked for me was doing nothing about losing my hair and just letting nature take its course. My hair started receding in my early 20s, but only a little, then it stopped for about 30 years. Then in my early 50s my hair started receding and thinning very rapidly again. I panicked until my wife told me she loves bald men and had been wishing I would go bald. She talked me into just letting myself go bald. In less than two years I went from norwood 2 or 3 to norwood 6. I don’t regret my decision to go bald and have no desire to regrow my hair. My wife and I really enjoyed watching my hair recede and thin away. I love being bald and you couldn’t pay me to regrow my hair. In retrospect, I wish I had kept on balding in my 20s all the way to norwood 7.
Men's Rogaine Extra Strength Hair Regrowth Treatment (5 percent minoxidil) boasts impressive hair growth rates, slowing hair loss for the vast majority of men who use it diligently. The hair-loss treatment is available over the counter and leads to only minimal side effects, all of which go away when treatment is discontinued. See our full review »
Instead, you may want to add vitamin D (about $15) to your shopping cart. A vitamin D deficiency can exacerbate hair thinning and make it almost impossible for any over-the-counter product to reverse hair loss, says Dhaval Bhanusali, a dermatologist in New York City, who recommends taking 5,000 international units of D3 a day (and it’s generally beneficial for bone health in women over 40). “There’s also a link between low iron and zinc levels and temporary hair shedding, called [telogen] effluvium,” says Rogers.
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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