Aside from medication and lasers, some opt for hair transplants — a procedure where hairs are removed from another part of your body and then transplanted to the thinning or balding areas. Does it work? In a word, yes. Research suggests that most hair transplant recipients report are "very satisfied" with their results. While successful, transplants are also far more expensive than medications, foams, or lasers with costs averaging anywhere from $4,000 or $15,000.
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.
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.
SOURCES: George Cotsarelis, MD, director, Hair and Scalp Clinic, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Andrew Kaufman, MD, assistant professor, department of dermatology, University of California, Los Angeles; medical director, Center for Dermatology Care, Thousand Oaks, Calif. Tom Barrows, PhD, director of product development, Aderans Research Institute Inc., Atlanta. Cotsarelis, G. and Millar, S.E. Trends in Molecular Medicine, July 2001; vol 7: pp 293-301. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery web site. American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery web site. American Hair Loss Council web site. Springer, K. American Family Physician, July 1, 2003; vol 68: pp 93-102. Hair Loss Help web site, "Interview with Dr. Ken Washenik from Bosley." Fuchs, E. Developmental Cell, July 2001: vol 1: pp 13-25.
Adam Friedman, a program director at The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, is on the same page as Romanowski. "While it does have antimicrobial properties which may be useful in terms of fighting off bacterial or fungal overgrowth on the scalp that can lead to hair-damaging inflammation, there is zero evidence [showing] it is helpful for hair growth," he says, adding that some people can actually be allergic to castor oil and experience inflammation, ultimately doing more damage than good to the scalp. "To propose that castor oil accelerates hair growth, a tightly regulated process (one centimeter per month) for which FDA approved medications for hair loss do not impact, is ridiculous," he states.
Laser treatments are the latest frontier in staving off hair loss, and they’ll be the first choice for fans of sci-fi. As silly as they may sound, these treatments do work — the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology in 2014 reported a “statistically significant difference” in hair density with no “serious adverse events” or side effects.The bad news: Laser treatments tend to be expensive, progress is slow, and they don’t always produce stellar results.
The most common kind of hair loss is pattern baldness. It happens when hair follicles shrink and stop working. The first sign is the appearance of strands that are thinner and more fragile. Then the scalp becomes more visible as fewer hairs grow to replace those that shed. That’s because the anagen phase becomes too short for the hair to grow out of the scalp. Plus, the hairs that remain aren’t securely anchored. And this condition happens to both men and women.
How to use minoxidil: Be sure that your hair and scalp are dry. Using the dropper or spray pump that's provided with the over-the-counter solution, apply it twice daily to every area where your hair is thinning. Gently massage it into the scalp with your fingers so it can reach the hair follicles. Then air-dry your hair, wash your hands thoroughly, and wash off any solution that has dripped onto your forehead or face. Don't shampoo for at least four hours afterwards.
Hair: It’s a natural part of being a human. But when the temperature climbs, and skin is exposed, it’s one of those things that a good many of us want to control. This week, we’re tackling hairlessness, not just the process of hair removal (electric shavers and ingrown-hair treatments and aesthetician-approved tweezers) but also what to buy when you’re losing your hair, and even how to take care of a Sphynx cat. Here, we’re talking to dermatologists and hair-loss doctors about hair-loss treatments that actually work.
Male pattern baldness (also known as androgenic alopecia) is estimated to affect about 50 million men in the United States. It starts with hair loss above the temples generating the typical "M" shape. Over time, the loss of hair continues around the top of the head and sometimes claims the hair on the sides and rear of the head as well, leading to complete baldness. If you experience male pattern baldness and do not feel comfortable with your appearance, there are certain treatment options available.
Hair loss can be devastating for both men and women, even more so when there are loads of products on the market that don't work. According to the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), two thirds of American men experience some degree of hair loss by the age of 35. By the age of 50, approximately 85 percent experience significantly thinning hair. Balding is commonly associated with aging, but for 25 percent of men the process begins before the age of 21. What's more, hair loss is not limited to men: The American Hair Loss Association reports that women make up about 40 percent of hair-loss sufferers in the United States.
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?
And though this treatment appears to be safe and somewhat effective, it’s hard to tell who will react well to this low-level light therapy, which is why the doctors I spoke with were hesitant to fully endorse it. “We’re not sure what the optimal power is, what the optimal wavelength is, we don’t even really know the mechanism of action of how this is working,” says Rieder. Plus, it doesn’t work on everyone. “There are subpopulations of patients who do respond to low-level laser light, but this is not easily predictable,” explains McMichael, though she adds that the risk of using the LaserComb is low.
in clinical studies of mostly white women aged 18-45 years with mild to moderate degrees of hair loss, the following response to minoxidil topical solution 2% was reported: 19% of women reported moderate hair regrowth after using minoxidil topical solution 2% for 8 months (19% had moderate regrowth; 40% had minimal regrowth). This compares with 7% of women reporting moderate hair regrowth after using the placebo, the liquid without minoxidil in it, for 8 months (7% had moderate regrowth; 33% had minimal regrowth).
“I think their effectiveness is not as significant as finasteride or minoxidil,” says Dr. Wolfeld, “however, it’s something that can be used quite easily by patients at home. If they use it two or three times a week, I tell them it can help to thicken their hair.” Results can take up to 18 months to show up, so Dr. Wolfeld stresses that patience is a virtue.
As with transplants, the word toupee conjures an outdated and disagreeable image. The 70s-style rugs have mostly been traded in for spiffier "hair replacement systems." But the basic concept -- a foreign object atop your head -- can only evolve so far. Of course, the effectiveness of hairpieces is tough to evaluate. You may spot an awful one now and then, but the ones you do spot are just the awful ones. Who knows how many masterpieces slip undetected under the radar?
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.