During the trials on men with prostate problems, researchers noted an intriguing side effect: hair growth. Since finasteride had already been approved by the FDA to treat enlarged prostates in men, Merck decided to pursue the possibility of developing finasteride as the first pill to treat male pattern baldness. Minoxidil, a topical liquid solution, was already on the market (see below).
"Others are taking hair follicles out of human scalp and growing them with dermal papilla cells," Cotsarelis says. "If they grow in culture, you might be able to recombine them with skin cells and form new follicles. This would let you expand the number of follicles you get for a hair transplant. This may not be that far off -- five to 10 years, maybe. There's very good evidence you will be able to do that."
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.
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.
Other options include microneedling ($1,200 and up per treatment) and platelet-replacement therapy (also $1,200 and up per treatment), which are usually offered in conjunction. Your scalp will be numbed first so you don’t feel the pinpricks involved in microneedling. They promote hair regeneration by spurring wound healing, and platelet-replacement therapy involves injecting growth factors into those wounds. “Combination therapy typically works better than monotherapy and usually yields results after three monthly treatments,” says Sadick, and should be teamed with an at-home minoxidil treatment.
P.R.P., considered a nonsurgical treatment, is not covered by insurance, and clinical studies about its effectiveness (and longevity of results) are not conclusive because different doctors use different mixes. But P.R.P. has a long (though also inconclusive) history of use elsewhere in the body. Athletes like Kobe Bryant have received the treatment in an attempt to heal injuries.
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.
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.
Coming in at the fourth position is the all-natural, plant based organic shampoo from PhytoWorx. The shampoo is formulated with plant stem cells to promote hair growth and tackle DHT. Rare plant cells from the plant Malus domestica, along with various essential oils, promote a healthy roots. The shampoo formulation is very easy to use and is completely hassle free. If you are looking for an all-natural formulation, this is one of the best.
Men taking Propecia run the risk of sexual side effects, but most experts say that it only affects a small minority. The risks are greater for women, especially those who are pregnant or may become pregnant. Experts warn that so much as handling the tablets can lead to serious birth defects. Like minoxidil, Propecia use must be continued for as long as results are desired.
A unique formulation by Ultrax is the Hair Lush. Formulated in a serum form containing caffeine, immediately adds volume to hair. It also contains a proprietary blend of ingredients which are known to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss. The leave in caffeine formulations are known to improve the health of hair and Hair lush performs up to expectations.
"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."