Like minoxidil, finasteride, the active ingredient in Propecia, was originally created with a different purpose in mind -- to treat enlarged prostate glands -- and researchers observed it came with a side effect of hair growth. Unlike topical minoxidil, finasteride requires a prescription, is taken orally and addresses hormonal causes of hair loss. It inhibits the enzyme type II 5-alpha reductase, which converts testosterone into DHT. As it was the first truly effective treatment for hair loss that provided nearly guaranteed results, finasteride revolutionized the hair-loss-treatment industry.
The good news: Hair transplants don't look like dolls' hair anymore. The bad news: You won't be able to go anywhere to show off your new 'do because you'll be broke. The average recipient of a follicle transplant receives several thousand grafts -- strips of hair removed from bushier parts of the head -- at a cost of several thousand dollars. The cost continues to mount when patients come back for added thickness over the years.
Men's Rogaine Extra Strength Hair Regrowth Treatment (5 percent minoxidil) boasts impressive hair growth rates, slowing hair loss for the vast majority of men who use it diligently. The hair-loss treatment is available over the counter and leads to only minimal side effects, all of which go away when treatment is discontinued. See our full review »
1. Minoxidil. It’s the only FDA-approved topical nonprescription medication that can claim to regrow hair — and it should be part of any hair-loss plan if you have serious thinning, says Rogers. Minoxidil has loads of research to back it, but it requires commitment. If you quit using it, your hair will start to lose ground again. Use a 5 percent strength, like Women’s Rogaine 5% Minoxidil Foam ($30), once daily to see results in three to four months, says Rogers.
Experts say that Men's Rogaine Extra Strength Hair Regrowth Treatment (Est. $45 per 3-month supply) is a good starting place for men, and some women, in the early stages of pattern baldness. Studies show that approximately 90 percent of the time Rogaine at least slows the progression of hair loss and, for many, hair loss stops completely. It contains 5 percent minoxidil, which studies show to be more effective than the original strength of 2 percent (Est. $25 per 1-month supply). Both forms have been approved by the FDA for topical treatment of pattern baldness, but only the 2 percent strength has been approved for women; although, studies suggest that both forms are more effective on women than they are on men. Minoxidil is also available in several generic store brand products.
Retin-A, or topical tretinoin, is sometimes used as a combination therapy with minoxidil for androgenic alopecia. It’s important to use this type of medication under the guidance of your doctor. In some circumstances, tretinoin can actually cause hair loss. Some people who have used it at home report that topical retinol creams, serums, and lotions may make hair loss worse.
The Ultrax Labs Hair Lush treatment is an effective serum that can instantly thicken hair by up to 150%. Breakthrough caffeine innovation technology can minimize hair loss and jump-start the hair follicles to grow healthy hair more quickly. The highly effective advanced thickening treatment serum adds fullness and body to thinning hair for a fuller, thicker looking head of hair, while speeding up the production of new hair. It will leave your hair immediately thicker, fuller, and softer, and the results will get better with time.
"I recommend that everyone [with any hair loss] take finasteride," says Robert M. Bernstein, MD. Bernstein is associate clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University and founder of the Bernstein Medical Center for Hair Restoration. "To patients who are younger,” he says, “I also recommend minoxidil. But the mainstay is finasteride. The data show that, over five years, it significantly retards hair loss in 85% of users."
Finasteride inhibits an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, the hormone that causes hair loss in men, and unlike minoxidil, this drug can actually help hair grow back, as well as prevent further loss. All you have to do is take one pill a day, and according to Dr. Evan Rieder, dermatologist in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Health, two-thirds of men taking this treatment will see improvements in hair density over time.
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.