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.


Spironolactone, brand name Aldactone, is in a class of drugs called potassium-sparing diuretics (often called water pills). Spironolactone is typically used to reduce fluid in your body without causing the loss of potassium. It is also used to treat potassium deficiency, high blood pressure (hypertension), swelling (edema), and a hormonal disorder called hyperaldosteronism.
Minoxidil was the first drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of male pattern baldness. For many years, minoxidil, in pill form (brand name Loniten), was widely used to treat high blood pressure. Just like finasteride, researchers discovered a very interesting side effect of the drug. People taking the medication were growing hair in unexpected places, such as on their cheeks and the back of their hands. Some people grew hair on their foreheads.
But in November, after 10 years of research, Rogaine introduced a new 5 percent minoxidil formulation for women. It’s a mousse (instead of a liquid) that needs to be applied only once a day instead of twice, which means that it can be more easily incorporated into a woman’s evening skin-care routine. Teal replaces the blue and silver palette of the men’s Rogaine, and the packaging bears a lotus flower. (Also last year, Pantene introduced its Hair Regrowth Treatment for Women, which is 2 percent minoxidil.)
In either sex, hair loss from androgenetic alopecia occurs because of a genetically determined shortening of anagen, a hair's growing phase, and a lengthening of the time between the shedding of a hair and the start of a new anagen phase. (See "Life cycle of a hair.") That means it takes longer for hair to start growing back after it is shed in the course of the normal growth cycle. The hair follicle itself also changes, shrinking and producing a shorter, thinner hair shaft — a process called "follicular miniaturization." As a result, thicker, pigmented, longer-lived "terminal" hairs are replaced by shorter, thinner, non-pigmented hairs called "vellus."
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