Just letting go is possibly the most challenging of the available options. It’s also the cheapest and ultimately the most effective in the struggle with hair loss. Given the imperfections of surgical, medical, and technological options, there are many who advocate simple acceptance. (BaldRUs.com is one of several sites devoted to embracing the scalp's natural fate.) What's more, the health benefits of happier mirror time -- and fewer years of harmful anxiety -- just might offset the loss of those Samson-like powers.
Skeptics (among them, Dr. Wesley) are starting to come around after a 2014 randomized double-blind study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology found a “statistically significant” difference in hair density for women who used a laser comb compared with those who used a sham device. (“Comb” is something of a misnomer. The device looks like a hairbrush crossed with a cordless phone; it is glided back and forth across the scalp, roughly a half-inch at a time, usually about 15 minutes three times a week.)
The HairMax Ultima 12 LaserComb ($395) makes for a great addition to any hair loss regimen — provided you can afford it. Dr. Wolfeld notes that it’s a popular option in his practice. “Some people like the action of combing something through their hair,” he says. “They find that to be a little bit easier to do as part of their routine in the morning.” Dr. Khadavi also recommends using a laser treatment of some kind in conjunction with other treatments. “Lasers do help in stimulating the hair into the growth phase. We don’t know the exact mechanism of how it works, but it definitely helps.”
In-office laser light treatments or at-home handheld devices, such as the HairMax LaserComb, supposedly grow new hair by stimulating blood flow to the area (think: an amped-up version of a scalp-stimulating shampoo). Just don’t expect the device to make your noggin go from looking like George Costanza’s to Jerry Seinfeld’s. “These lasers won’t grow any new hair. If anything, they may just help you hang on to some of the hair that you already have a bit longer,” says Dr. Joyce.
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.
Excessive hair loss led me to this product about six years ago, and having sought advice from physicians ("It's stress"), a vitamin guru ($150 later) and all the information I could glean from the internet, I was wisely advised by my dermatologist to try men's Rogaine. The price, however, was a major deterrent, so more sleuthing led me to Walmart, and their version of Rogaine -- just plain minoxidil, but at an affordable price. Equate did wonders! And has continued to work its volumizing wonders over the years. My hair's thick and shiny, and while it undergoes spells of temporary loss, it always returns in full volume. I couldn't live without this product -- and a three-months' supply for a little more than $18 (5% solution), it's not only a bargain, but a blessing!!
Dr. Melissa Piliang, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said that Rogaine works better on the top and crown (for reasons not fully understood, the frontal hairline tends to be more resistant to treatment) and ideally should be started as soon as women notice thinning. “Any regrowth you get is a minimal amount,” Dr. Piliang said. “So the more density when you start, the better results you get.”
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.