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George Cotserelis, MD, is director of the University of Pennsylvania's Hair and Scalp Clinic. He agrees that there's no evidence these alternative hair loss treatments have any effect. "If any of it did work," he says, "I'd be very worried about using that product. The fact that it’s working would mean it's doing something to the testosterone and could be having adverse effects."
“There’s people selling pills and creams and lotions and whatever else, and sometimes you can’t even trust what ingredients they have in there,” he warned us when we spoke to him over the phone. Key takeaway: The hair loss industry is crazy dishonest, so we eliminated any treatments (especially homeopathic methods) that aren’t based in concrete, peer-reviewed science.

Oral supplements like Viviscal Extra Strength dietary supplements (Est. $50 per month) have also been proven to have a measurable effect on hair regrowth; a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that the nutritional supplement significantly increased hair growth among women with thinning hair.

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.
Spironolactone, brand name Aldactone, is in a class of drugs called potassium-sparing diuretics (often called water pills). Spironolactone is typically used to reduce fluid in your body without causing the loss of potassium. It is also used to treat potassium deficiency, high blood pressure (hypertension), swelling (edema), and a hormonal disorder called hyperaldosteronism.
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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.
The other main hair-loss treatment that was recommended by all four dermatologists I interviewed is finasteride, often called by its brand name Propecia. This FDA-approved medication is only available with a prescription, but these days, it’s found as a generic and ordered online after a virtual consultation, through start-ups like Hims, Keeps, and Lemonaid.

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.
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