According to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, hair health is tied to two things: kidney energy and the blood, which nourish the hair. The solution: acupuncture and Chinese herbs. While there isn't a lot of hard science to back this up, Maureen Conant, a TCM practitioner at Full Bloom Acupuncture in Seattle, says that she's seen women's hair stop falling out and then gradually regenerate after a few months of weekly treatments.
*Photograph used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. This photograph was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. # 60, Gathers RC, Jankowski M, Eide M, et al. “Hair grooming practices and central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia,” 660-8. Copyright Elsevier (2009). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Men may also experience some sexual and emotional side effects while taking it: In a study published in the June 2011 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Dr. Michael Irwig of George Washington University found as many as 92 percent of test subjects reporting problems in the bedroom. The study also reported that “the mean duration of finasteride use was 28 months and the mean duration of persistent sexual side effects was 40 months,” meaning that side effects lingered long after subjects stopped taking the pill.
Her hope is that the procedure (she has helped start a company named Rapunzel to develop it) will eventually become another lunchtime cosmetic treatment. Once a patient has had her cells harvested and cultured, they could be stored indefinitely; then, after giving her doctor a month’s notice (the time it takes to grow the million needed), she could pop in for injections. Costs would likely be on par with hair transplants, roughly $10,000 and up.
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.
Other options include microneedling ($1,200 and up per treatment) and platelet-replacement therapy (also $1,200 and up per treatment), which are usually offered in conjunction. Your scalp will be numbed first so you don’t feel the pinpricks involved in microneedling. They promote hair regeneration by spurring wound healing, and platelet-replacement therapy involves injecting growth factors into those wounds. “Combination therapy typically works better than monotherapy and usually yields results after three monthly treatments,” says Sadick, and should be teamed with an at-home minoxidil treatment.
That meant new products like Hims and Keeps were out.Hims and Keeps are relatively new companies that allow you to set up a subscription for hair loss treatments. Both offer finasteride (after an online consultation with a doctor) or 5 percent minoxidil. However, their minoxidil solutions contain propylene glycol, so we cut them from consideration.