Physicians are reluctant to prescribe systemic treatments (pills or other form of treatment that affects your entire system) because they can tamper with your body's own androgen levels (see Causes for an explanation of androgens). The doctor will first want to confirm that the hair loss is due to an excess of androgen (another name for male hormones) in the system or a sensitized "over-response" to normal amounts of androgen. Therefore, physicians often choose topical treatments, which are applied directly to the scalp.
Anti-androgens. Androgen receptor–blocking drugs such as spironolactone (Aldactone) and finasteride (Propecia) are not approved for the treatment of female pattern hair loss, and there is little reliable evidence that they are effective. However, some case studies suggest that women who don't respond to minoxidil may benefit from the addition of spironolactone. In the relatively uncommon cases where there is an excess of androgen, a clinician may prescribe 100 to 200 milligrams of an androgen receptor–blocking drug daily, together with an oral contraceptive for women of reproductive age. (A woman taking one of these drugs should not become pregnant because they can cause genital abnormalities in a male fetus.) Possible side effects include weight gain, loss of libido, depression, and fatigue.
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.
Oral supplements can also be effective if the result of the problem that causes the hair loss in the first place. For example, women with a lack of iron or zinc in their diet may have thinning hair. Or persons taking certain medications may not absorb enough nutrients from food to support healthy hair growth. Also, remedies like saw palmetto and Fo-Ti appear to block the production of DHT.
Jimenez, J. J., Wikramanayake, T. C., Bergfeld, W., Hordinsky, M., Hickman, J. G., Hamblin, M. R., & Schachner, L. A. (2014). Efficacy and Safety of a Low-level Laser Device in the Treatment of Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss: A Multicenter, Randomized, Sham Device-controlled, Double-blind Study. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 15(2), 115–127.
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.
Instead, you may want to add vitamin D (about $15) to your shopping cart. A vitamin D deficiency can exacerbate hair thinning and make it almost impossible for any over-the-counter product to reverse hair loss, says Dhaval Bhanusali, a dermatologist in New York City, who recommends taking 5,000 international units of D3 a day (and it’s generally beneficial for bone health in women over 40). “There’s also a link between low iron and zinc levels and temporary hair shedding, called [telogen] effluvium,” says Rogers.
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.
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that perform multiple functions when it comes to healing skin issues. Your scalp is an extension of your skin. When this skin is distressed, it affects your hair growth. When fish oil supplements are taken, this stress is taken away by the anti-inflammatory activity of the omega-3 fats. These fatty acids also ensure the healthy development of the skin’s various layers and also their hydration and nourishment (59, 60). Take fish oil supplements on a daily basis for healthy skin and hair growth. You can take cod liver oil supplements instead of the fish oil ones as they also contain the same omega-3 fatty acids (61).

We spend so much time and money piling on the products that it’s easy to forget where hair growth starts: namely, your scalp. A simple way to stimulate hair growth at home is to give yourself a scalp massage—this will increase blood flow to your scalp, enhance the strength of your roots, and help nutrients get to your follicle faster. You can give yourself a scalp massage with dry hair, but adding a nutrient-rich oil to the mix will only double the benefits (just keep it to once a week if you have oily roots). Rosemary oil, in particular, has been used for centuries to stimulate hair growth. It dilates blood vessels and, in turn, stimulates your follicle to produce new growth.

Men may also experience some sexual and emotional side effects while taking it: In a study published in the June 2011 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Dr. Michael Irwig of George Washington University found as many as 92 percent of test subjects reporting problems in the bedroom. The study also reported that “the mean duration of finasteride use was 28 months and the mean duration of persistent sexual side effects was 40 months,” meaning that side effects lingered long after subjects stopped taking the pill.

Folic acid is also known as vitamin B9. Folic acid supplements are often recommended to improve hair growth and treat hair fall. It plays an important role in the formation and function of red blood cells in the body. These cells are responsible for transporting various nutrients, enzymes, and hormones to different parts of the body, including the scalp and hair (18, 19). Supplements can be taken for this on a daily basis to help in hair growth.
That said, there are products that don’t have FDA approval or clearance, but may help prevent hair loss. For example, shampoos with ketoconazole, a chemical with anti-DHT properties, is widely used to treat fungal infections but has become popular among consumers as a hair loss treatment. It makes sense — research shows that ketoconazole actually has beneficial effects on hair growth (especially for those with seborrheic dermatitis).

That’s why I created this guide. I want to help steer you in the right direction. There are many new treatments and possibly even cures on the horizon, but for now, stick to what is proven to work. After all, the best way to treat hair loss is to start managing it early on. It’s much easier to keep your remaining hair compared to growing it back. And worst case scenario, you will slow it down to a degree it may take several years to show any further recession.


It works. Im on my second three pak. At 6 weeks its scary. You will lose more hair. Then it will grow back. Thicker, in my case with more gray and darker. But lots of healthy shiny hair that is not 'shedding" or coming out in huge amounts. My widows peak has rescinded and my part looks great. Im starting my 5th month. People who know me (because my hair was so thin prior) tell me/ask me if Ive used it. (In a whisper, like its a bad thing. Im like HELL YEAH, cmon, cmon, pull it..it feels great) People who dont know me compliment my thick hair. Get a good haircut and give it three months. Very happy and the best beauty value at 15.00 a month that I can imagine.
Viviscal is a natural hair-growth supplement that promotes hair growth in people with thinning hair. It contains a marine complex known as AminoMar C. This is made of minerals, vitamins, and shark and mollusk powder. These ingredients help to regenerate new cells and strengthen existing cells. You have to take the pills twice a day for at least six months in order to see results. Viviscal also makes a shampoo and conditioner.
What should I be using for early stages of hair loss? I have some thinning around my crown. It’s not too bad, but it’s obviously not going to get any better. Should I just be using a shampoo for hairloss, or more serious measures like Reganine or Fin tablets etc? I don’t mind, but I don’t want to use products that could somehow make the situation worse. Thanks.
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I had a fue hair transplant on top of my crown where I had started thining a lot so it’s been over a year now and I look the same before my hair transplant my surgon said give it a year buts its the same if not worse. I started using 5% minioxodil generic version and not notice any growth it has been a month twice a day application. I don’t want to take any tablets either
2. Oil-rich conditioner. “Oils improve hair’s tensile strength,” says Paradi Mirmirani, a hair-loss specialist and dermatologist in Vallejo, California. In other words, oils make hair less likely to break under pressure, which is especially important for thinning hair that’s prone to snapping when brushed or styled. Mirmirani recommends using a conditioner fortified with natural oils, like Burt’s Bees Very Volumizing Pomegranate Conditioner, which contains avocado oil ($8), or Honest Company Conditioner with coconut oil ($10). That one’s got an added benefit: “Coconut oil has been shown to penetrate hair,” says cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller, so it makes your hair stronger from the inside out. (Just don’t load up on pure coconut oil. “You might overshampoo your hair to get it out, and then you’ll end up drying your hair and undoing any benefit,” says Fusco.)
I have to say I was skeptical about seeing any results with this product. After my last baby I had a lot of thinning in my crown area. Since using this product as recommended two times a day, I have honestly seen so much baby hair come out, that I am genuinely excited to keep buying and using this product. I have also increased my daily vitamins including biotin, Hair Skin and Nails & fish oil, but I think with this product combined, it has made a real difference!
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.
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.[1]

These anti-androgenic effects can be used to help treat hair loss. Nizoral shampoo contains 2% ketoconazole and is prescribed not only for the treatment of scalp conditions, but also in combination with other treatments for androgenetic alopecia. A 1% version is now available over-the-counter, but it may not be as effective as the 2% prescription strength. There are no significant side effects.

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.


*Photograph used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. This photograph was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. # 60, Gathers RC, Jankowski M, Eide M, et al. “Hair grooming practices and central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia,” 660-8. Copyright Elsevier (2009). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.   

The second spot on the list goes to an awesome product from root recovery. The unique formulation is formulated with a blend of all-natural 14 DHT blockers which antagonize the functions of the detrimental hormone DHT. It is formulated in a unique serum form to make it easy to be absorbed in the scalp. The treatment serum also contains a number of other ingredients having a myriad of properties from anti inflammatory to anti-dandruff for an effective and complete hair hair regimen.


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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.
The Rogaine rep we spoke to explained that the different packaging (and therefore different prices) has to do with the FDA-approval process: “We discovered in clinical trials that the hair loss patterns between men and women are different,” she said by way of explanation. “Men typically have that bald spot on the crown of their head, where women generally have a general thinning throughout, but concentrated more on the top of the head. So for FDA approval, we had to come up with two different, gender-specific products, so the directions were more explanatory.”
Pay attention to the foods you eat and how much you’re eating. For example, eating a variety of whole foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals will help fuel your body and the areas responsible for hair regrowth. If you suspect you may be deficient in certain vitamins, visit your doctor to get a blood test and address other dietary issues, such as eating disorders or health conditions that might block nutrient absorption.
It can cause unwanted hair growth. Some women may experience facial hair growth when they use minoxidil. That can happen if the medication trickles down onto your face or simply as a side effect when you apply it only to your scalp. The risk is lower for women who use the 2 percent concentration of the drug, as opposed to the 5 percent concentration that’s designed for men.
Since birth control pills decrease the production of ovarian androgens, they can be used to treat women's androgenetic alopecia. Keep in mind, however, that the same cautions must be followed whether a woman takes contraceptive pills solely to prevent contraception or to treat female pattern baldness. For example, smokers age 35 and older who take the Pill are at higher risk for blood clots and other serious conditions.
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.
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.

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.
Thanks for your response and awesome article! Do you recommend sticking with minoxidil for a period of time (i.e. 6 months) before starting finasteride or do it all at once? I would be on finasteride now if I wasn’t nervous about the potential side effects so my plan was to wait to see if minoxidal does anything for me over the next 3 months or so (at that point I will have been on it ~ 6 months). My shedding has certainly reduced so hopefully it is starting to work. I’m in the very early stages of hair loss. No one would notice (except me and my wife). Just looks my hair part on the top of my head even though it really is thinning.
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