Just letting go is possibly the most challenging of the available options. It’s also the cheapest and ultimately the most effective in the struggle with hair loss. Given the imperfections of surgical, medical, and technological options, there are many who advocate simple acceptance. (BaldRUs.com is one of several sites devoted to embracing the scalp's natural fate.) What's more, the health benefits of happier mirror time -- and fewer years of harmful anxiety -- just might offset the loss of those Samson-like powers.
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In the past few years, medicine has made tremendous strides in the treatment of men's hair loss. With the advent of 5-alpha-reductace inhibitors such as Propecia and the evolution of surgical hair restoration, living with noticeable hair loss is no longer inevitable. For the first time in the history it is now possible to stop or slow the progression of hair loss and to replace lost hair through surgery with completely natural results.
1. Minoxidil. It’s the only FDA-approved topical nonprescription medication that can claim to regrow hair — and it should be part of any hair-loss plan if you have serious thinning, says Rogers. Minoxidil has loads of research to back it, but it requires commitment. If you quit using it, your hair will start to lose ground again. Use a 5 percent strength, like Women’s Rogaine 5% Minoxidil Foam ($30), once daily to see results in three to four months, says Rogers.
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?
These are products designed specifically to stimulate hair regrowth in balding areas. Some are shampoos formulated with essential oils and keratin in the ingredients, which make hair healthy and resistant to breaking and thinning. Some are tablets which contain the proper vitamins to nourish hair back to a healthier state and promote newer, healthier hair to grow where the balding has occurred. And some are topical scalp treatments that include the medicine Minoxidil. Minoxidil absorbs into the scalp and stimulates the hair follicles to begin growing new hair as well as to prevent any further hair loss from occurring. These results will only last for as long as the medicine is being used. With so many choices, choosing the best method can prove to be overwhelming. Below, we have listed the 10 best hair growth products for men currently on the market and reviewed each one. There is definitely a product out there for everyone regardless of the cause of hair loss and whether or not a chemical or medicated treatment is needed.
Laser devices: Brushes, combs, and other hand-held devices that emit laser light might stimulate hair growth. These devices might make hair look more youthful in some people. Because the FDA classifies these products as medical devices, the products do not undergo the rigorous testing that medicines undergo. The long-term effectiveness and safety for these devices are not known.
Testosterone replacement is becoming popular for men. Cotsarelis warns that this may accelerate hair loss. Propecia might help -- but because it prevents testosterone breakdown, it might affect the dose of male hormone replacement therapy. Cotsarelis warns men taking both Propecia and testosterone replacement to make sure their doctor carefully monitors their testosterone levels.
Like minoxidil, finasteride, the active ingredient in Propecia, was originally created with a different purpose in mind -- to treat enlarged prostate glands -- and researchers observed it came with a side effect of hair growth. Unlike topical minoxidil, finasteride requires a prescription, is taken orally and addresses hormonal causes of hair loss. It inhibits the enzyme type II 5-alpha reductase, which converts testosterone into DHT. As it was the first truly effective treatment for hair loss that provided nearly guaranteed results, finasteride revolutionized the hair-loss-treatment industry.
A little farther up the follicle is the mysterious feature called the bulge. That's where follicle stem cells live. When they get the right set of chemical signals, these self-renewing cells divide. They don't divide like normal cells, in which both halves become new cells that keep splitting and developing. Only one half of the follicle stem cell does that. The other half becomes a new stem cell, and stays put for future regeneration.
Also new is the HairMax Laser Comb. It's a red light therapy hairbrush-like device that increases circulation and the biological march that makes hair. It's only approved in men (though some women are using it) and in my experience, is not as good as minoxidil. But in one study, 45% of users reported improvement after eight weeks, and 90% saw improvement after 16 weeks.
You can maximize your results from minoxidil by dying your hair after two to three months of treatment. Minoxidil tends to create very fine hairs at first, and dying the hair increases the contrast between the hairs and the scalp, making the new hair growth area look denser. This is one common technique in before/after photos for hair loss treatments.
The good news: Hair transplants don't look like dolls' hair anymore. The bad news: You won't be able to go anywhere to show off your new 'do because you'll be broke. The average recipient of a follicle transplant receives several thousand grafts -- strips of hair removed from bushier parts of the head -- at a cost of several thousand dollars. The cost continues to mount when patients come back for added thickness over the years.
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.
Side effects and concerns: Minoxidil is safe, but it can have unpleasant side effects even apart from the alcohol-related skin irritation. Sometimes the new hair differs in color and texture from surrounding hair. Another risk is hypertrichosis — excessive hair growth in the wrong places, such as the cheeks or forehead. (This problem is more likely with the stronger 5% solution.) Because the patent on Rogaine (the brand-name version of minoxidil) has expired, many generic products are available. They all contain the same amount of minoxidil, but some include additional ingredients, such as herbal extracts, which might trigger allergic reactions.
Men’s Rogaine Extra Strength Solution is the liquid version of our top pick. It didn’t make our final cut because it includes propylene glycol, which causes irritation in roughly one-third of its users. With that said, Dr. Wolfeld finds that it can be even more effective in practical daily use. In his experience, “the solution can penetrate and get into your scalp a little bit better” than the foam — especially if you’re not taking the time and effort to apply the foam correctly. This seems crazy to us since the foam so quickly dissolved into a liquid in our tests, but if you’re worried, try a one-month supply of the liquid and make the switch to foam if you notice any irritation.
As with any new technology, there is still a lot of educating that needs to happen, at both the physician and consumer level, when talking about robotic hair transplants. Some people have the misconception that the ARTAS robot is operating on it own when, in reality, the robot is simply an extension of the operator, working within parameters programmed by the surgeon. Its effectiveness, therefore, is tied directly to the expertise of the surgeon and the end result — as with any hair transplant — is only as natural as the artistic skills of the surgeon behind the machine.
When it comes to prescriptions, Propecia (finasteride) stands as the strongest oral option for treating balding. If used consistently, this hair-loss treatment stops the progression of pattern hair loss, caused by genetics, for most users -- no messy application necessary. Although the drug has yet to earn FDA approval for treatment of women, recent studies have shown that it is both safe and effective for female users. See our full review »
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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.
While biotin is a type of vitamin that plays a functional role in hair growth, there are other vitamins that can help improve the overall health of your hair. Vitamin E is one such key vitamin that acts as an antioxidant and helps to reduce the oxidative stress on your scalp. This greatly affects hair growth, and this was proven by a study published in the Tropical Life Sciences Research journal (2). Another vitamin that is useful is vitamin C. It removes the dead cells build-up from the scalp and unclogs the hair follicles. This can improve hair growth as well (3). Vitamin C tablets can be added to a carrier oil and used to massage the scalp. Internal supplements of both these vitamins also help.
The most unique ingredient in this tablet formulation is solubilized keratin. It is a breakthrough supplement proven to help reduce hair loss and promote regrowth. The tablets also contains a blend of 23 essential vitamins essential for micro-circulation of blood within the roots of the hair. The product is suitable for both men and women and has been shown to effectively combat the balding.
If a pregnant woman comes in contact with crushed or broken Finasteride tablets, wash the contact area right away with soap and water. If a woman who is pregnant comes into contact with the active ingredient in Finasteride, a healthcare provider should be consulted. If a woman who is pregnant with a male baby swallows or comes in contact with the medicine in Finasteride, the male baby may be born with sex organs that are not normal.
The dermatologist also will carefully look at your scalp and hair. During an exam, the dermatologist may pull on your hair. Sometimes a dermatologist needs to pull out a hair to get the necessary evidence. And sometimes a dermatologist needs to look at the hair on the rest of your body to see whether there is too little or too much hair in other areas.
In clinical testing, nearly nine out of 10 men noticed results. The solution is intended for men only and is easy to use on a daily basis. Simply dispense 1/2 capful of foam in your hands, part your hair, and apply in the area where your hair is thinning. Use your fingers to massage throughout the hair loss area twice a day and you should notice regrowth in as little as two months. Results last only as long as you use the medicine.
Massaging the scalp can help to restore hair growth and can be used in conjunction with hair oils and masks. This stimulates the scalp and can improve hair thickness. Taking the time to massage your scalp each day can also help you relieve stress and tension. It’s thought that stretching forces during the massage encourage hair growth and thickness in the dermal papilla cells.
Not surprisingly, treatments with 5 percent minoxidil work better than treatments with 2 percent minoxidil. A randomized clinical trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology in 2002 found that, in men with androgenetic alopecia, “5 percent topical minoxidil was clearly superior to 2 percent topical minoxidil and placebo in increasing hair growth.” The difference was actually pretty astounding — after 48 weeks, the men who used 5 percent minoxidil experienced 45 percent more hair growth than the men who used the 2 percent treatment.