While minoxidil has been clinically proven to slow the progression of hair loss and regrow some hair, most experts see it as a relatively marginally effective drug in the fight against hair loss. Since minoxidil has no effect on the hormonal process of hair loss, its positive effects are at best temporary and usually yield somewhat disappointing results.
Not surprisingly, treatments with 5 percent minoxidil work better than treatments with 2 percent minoxidil. A randomized clinical trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology in 2002 found that, in men with androgenetic alopecia, “5 percent topical minoxidil was clearly superior to 2 percent topical minoxidil and placebo in increasing hair growth.” The difference was actually pretty astounding — after 48 weeks, the men who used 5 percent minoxidil experienced 45 percent more hair growth than the men who used the 2 percent treatment.
SmartGraft is a new, breakthrough device that helps surgeons and their specialized teams perform FUE or Follicular Unit Extraction hair transplantation. Less invasive than traditional linear “strip” harvesting, Follicular Unit Extraction uses no scalpel, no stitches, no staples in the donor area–allowing for faster healing, less discomfort after transplantation, quicker return to athletic activity and leaving absolutely NO tell-tale linear scar. It yields only grafts which contain as little as a single hair follicle, which — when used artistically — can result in a 100% natural appearance.
Thinning hair in women is worth investigating for more than its impact on physical appearance. While many conditions that lead to temporary hair loss will go away without treatment or with simple lifestyle measures, others may be signs of potentially irreversible loss or health conditions. Others yet may respond well to treatments to promote regrowth, so starting sooner rather than later is key.
Coconut oil contains fatty acids that penetrate inside the hair shaft and reduce protein loss from hair. Coconut oil can be used either before or after you wash your hair depending on your hair type. If your hair tends to be oily, you can do a leave-in treatment overnight or for a few hours before you wash it. Massage coconut oil into your scalp and all of your hair. If your hair is dry, you can also use it as a leave-in treatment. There needs to be more research on coconut oil as a promoter of hair growth, but it’s been shown to improve the health and luster of hair and has been used for centuries.
Minoxidil (Rogaine). This is an over-the-counter (nonprescription) medication approved for men and women. It comes as a liquid or foam that you rub into your scalp daily. Wash your hands after application. At first it may cause you to shed hair as hair follicles. New hair may be shorter and thinner than previous hair. At least six months of treatment is required to prevent further hair loss and to start hair regrowth. You need to keep applying the medication to retain benefits.
Castor oil, as some might already know, is one of the most popular all-natural "panaceas." Go ahead, Google it: What you'll find is article after article about how the viscous oil can help with shedding, breakage, and regrowth. But unlike rosemary oil and vitamin B5, both of which have studies that back up their aid in hair growth, scientific evidence surrounding castor oil is lacking. (Any testimonials about castor oil for hair growth are anecdotal, coming mostly from blogs, Reddit, and YouTube.)
First, reduce your stress. It will improve your ability to cope with hair loss as well as help solve the problem. You might find relief with deep breaths, performing physical exercise, or laughing at cat videos online. If your stress level is high because you’re upset about losing your hair, experiment with keratin hair fibers to disguise the thin spots. It’s an inexpensive way to feel better about a tough situation.
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. Its applications are many, and some researchers believe that it may help with hair loss from alopecia areata. How? The needles inserted into the scalp may help stimulate hair follicles and promote regrowth. More research needs to be done in this area, but consider asking your doctor for a referral to a licensed acupuncturist if this treatment sounds appealing to you. (Learn more about acupuncture for hair loss.)
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With those pinned down, it wasn’t hard to determine which don’t actually work. Pretty much all the “active” ingredients listed in ineffective treatments — from biotin and zinc to emu oil and saw palmetto — have never been proven, and are instead marketed based on logical-seeming correlations. It would make sense that biotin, a B vitamin readily found in hair, skin, and nails, could help hair grow more quickly. And caffeine is a stimulant that works in coffee, so rubbing some on your scalp might wake some of those sleepy follicles… right?
Studies show that Propecia is effective for 86 percent of men who use it, but doctors interviewed by USA Today say that "anyone who expects miracles will be disappointed." They explain: Only about one-third of men in the early stages of hair loss will regrow some with Propecia. These doctors say that it "primarily slow(s) down hair loss and improve(s) hair quality." As reported at HairLossHelp.com, a five-year study published in 2001 found that Propecia continued to prevent hair loss but there was a "progressive decrease in the amount of hair grown over the five-year period." Experts say that it is effective at growing back more hair than minoxidil (Rogaine) but that it can take up to a year to see results.
In men, finasteride (originally marketed as Proscar) is approved for hair loss associated with androgens. In one study, 62% of women also taking oral contraceptives containing the synthetic progestin drospirenone reported improvement. So it may be effective for female hair loss in the setting of increased androgen. But studies are limited and it is harmful to the male fetus so should not be used by women thinking about becoming pregnant or who are pregnant.
If you think over-the-counter hair loss shampoos are for you or just want to promote growth and strength, Dr. Schwieger recommends formulas with antioxidants such as vitamin E and ginseng, amino acids, and B-vitamins to help rebuild hair and reduce environmental damage. She cautions against those with parabens, sulfates, and fragrances, which can irritate hair and reduce moisture. Ahead, eight vetted hair loss shampoos to try.
"Despite some of the claims, a shampoo or conditioner won’t be able to stop or slow hair loss, nor help with a receding hairline or thicken hair that’s becoming thinner," says trichologist Anabel Kingsley from The Philip Kingsley Trichology Clinic in London. "At best, a thickening shampoo will make hair temporarily thicker for a short period of time, but they certainly won’t help with hair loss or thinning."