"There's never been a single study to show they work," Bernstein says of the alternative remedies. "It's conceivable that some might have some minor impact. But the real problem is that people waste valuable time experimenting with them when they'd be much better off spending their money on something proven to work. The window for Propecia passes, and if you've spent two years with this herbal thing instead, that can make a big difference in the results you ultimately get."
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Oral supplements can also be effective if the result of the problem that causes the hair loss in the first place. For example, women with a lack of iron or zinc in their diet may have thinning hair. Or persons taking certain medications may not absorb enough nutrients from food to support healthy hair growth. Also, remedies like saw palmetto and Fo-Ti appear to block the production of DHT.
"Despite some of the claims, a shampoo or conditioner won’t be able to stop or slow hair loss, nor help with a receding hairline or thicken hair that’s becoming thinner," says trichologist Anabel Kingsley from The Philip Kingsley Trichology Clinic in London. "At best, a thickening shampoo will make hair temporarily thicker for a short period of time, but they certainly won’t help with hair loss or thinning."
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 »
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.
Thanks for the article with great info. I’ve been taking minoxidil 5% for the last 2 years. I’ve tried a generic minoxidil brand and also Kirkland to no effect. I’ve been hoping it’s maybe slowed the hair loss process. The hair around my crown just keeps getting thinner. Do you think changing to another “better quality” brand like Lipogaine or Rogaine could work? Or does it appear that any minoxidil brand is not going to work?
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