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.
First things first: If you're struggling with hair loss or thinning, you're far from alone. It's extremely common, with American women accounting for 40 percent of Americans struggling with hair thinning or loss. It also tends to be most prevalent in your 40s and 50s. This can occur for a laundry list of reasons, including hormonal changes, Alopecia, and stress, so it's always best to visit your doctor to determine what's going on. Regardless of the reason, losing your hair can be extremely devastating for some — make that most — people, seeing as hair is an external factor that can greatly impact a person's self-image and confidence. (Thanks for that, societal pressure.)
The truth is, the amount of propylene glycol in hair loss treatments is not likely to cause any real harm and the FDA has given the chemical approval for many uses. But even though it is safe, we wanted to ensure that our top picks would be as comfortable to use as possible. So when Dr. Khadavi told us that “a third of my patients get irritated from minoxidil products because of propylene glycol,” we decided to cut any treatments with it. In any case, it’s the minoxidil that helps curb hair loss and not the propylene glycol.
Unfortunately, there has been little research into female-pattern baldness. The AHLA says, "While many drugs may work to some degree for women, doctors are reluctant to prescribe them, and drug companies aren't exactly falling over themselves to test existing or new drugs specifically for their ability to prevent and treat female-pattern baldness." The only FDA-approved treatment for hair loss in women is 2 percent minoxidil, although some doctors will prescribe other drugs off-label.
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?
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.
Both minoxidil and finasteride require a lifelong commitment, but for users looking for a treatment with permanent results, hair transplant surgery may be the solution. Over the years, surgeons have developed techniques to deliver natural-looking results that are a far cry from early hair transplants, which had a cornrow-like appearance. These procedures are costly and may require multiple sessions depending on the patient.
“While nutritious eating isn’t going to bring your hair back by any means, eating plenty of protein-rich foods and healthy fats can make the hair that you still have look thicker and shinier.” Skimping on the B vitamins in particular can interfere with the formation of hair cells and, therefore, hair growth. The best sources of Bs are protein-packed foods like chicken, fish, eggs, and pork, as well as leafy greens such as spinach. (These foods are also good for melting belly fat, so it’s a win win).
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.
Using ROGAINE doesn't mean giving up your favorite styling products. So spray away. Gel it up and/or mousse around. Just make sure your styling aids don't interfere with letting ROGAINE become absorbed into your scalp. Always remember to wait until ROGAINE dries before you use your styling aids, and be sure to apply styling aids to your hair--not to your scalp.
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 other main hair-loss treatment that was recommended by all four dermatologists I interviewed is finasteride, often called by its brand name Propecia. This FDA-approved medication is only available with a prescription, but these days, it’s found as a generic and ordered online after a virtual consultation, through start-ups like Hims, Keeps, and Lemonaid.