Why does hair loss occur?
Stress, tight hairstyles, malnutrition or vitamin deficiencies and aging are some of the main reasons why hair loss occurs.
If you suffer from hair loss or thinning, talk to a doctor if possible to rule out any health conditions that may be contributing to the problem. Depending on the cause, your hair loss could be reversed by lifestyle changes or other treatments that aren’t specifically for hair loss.
Do women also lose their hair with age?
Many do, yes. Often the cause is actually the same: it’s called androgenetic alopecia, and it’s related to hormonal activity.
Androgens, like testosterone, are the sex hormones associated with male sexual development and functioning, but are present in everyone, not just men. Excess testosterone can be converted by the body into another more potent androgen called DHT, which is believed to cause hair follicles to shrink.
Many active ingredients used in hair growth products work by inhibiting your body’s production of DHT, including the FDA-approved active ingredients minoxidil and finasteride, as well as a type of palm called saw palmetto and an ingredient newer one called Procapil.
Will certain products give me more hair follicles?
Unfortunately, no – there’s nothing (yet) that will make your hair look thick and dense if it’s naturally thinner or thinner. What they will do is support the health of the hair follicles you have, usually by increasing blood flow and inhibiting the deleterious effects of certain sex hormones.
“Healthy blood flow and nutrients moving to the follicle are essential for normal hair growth,” dermatologist and skin surgeon Dr. Dendy Engelman told Insider. “Healthy hair can appear shinier and fuller, and will be more resistant to breakage.”
Some products also or instead contain vitamins and other ingredients intended to promote the growth of strong, healthy hair, or to alleviate conditions such as dandruff that can aggravate hair loss.
Can women use products intended for men, and vice versa?
For topical products, gender-specific labels are usually little more than marketing tactics. Dr. Colombo explains, “A common example is Rogaine foam for women or men. They both contain 5% minoxidil in a foam formulation and are basically the same.
As for the Rogaine solution, the only difference is the percentage of minoxidil, the female solution containing 2% minoxidil and the male version 5%. The male version is perfect for women and is actually preferred.”
When it comes to treatments in the form of prescription pills to be taken by mouth, gender matters. Doctors generally won’t prescribe finasteride, dutasteride, or saw palmetto for premenopausal women, and they won’t prescribe spironolactone for men, because these drugs all affect the endocrine system and can cause unwanted side effects.
What about hair vitamins?
There are many vitamins and supplements that can help promote healthy hair growth, and it’s also true that vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be a cause of hair loss in some people. Pharmacies and beauty supply stores tend to stock multivitamins and supplements expressly designed to improve hair health (and sometimes skin and nail health as well).
Many of them contain ingredients like collagen or biotin, which the jury is still out on if they can actually support hair growth when taken orally. But vitamins D, A, and iron can promote hair growth as well as many other bodily functions. Dr. Friedler recommends taking a multivitamin that includes iron, vitamins D and A, and biotin.
It’s also important to note that more doesn’t always mean better when it comes to supplementation: you’ll likely find trendy supplements that contain hundreds of micrograms of biotin.
Too much biotin won’t hurt you, but it won’t help either – your body just won’t be able to absorb it. You’re probably better off getting a supplement mix that includes less biotin and more of the other vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Are there any risks to using hair growth products?
Ultimately, it depends on the type of product. Dr. Friedler warned that because minoxidil and finasteride products affect hormone production, they can cause hormone-related side effects, such as increased hair growth on other parts of the body. Ideally, anyone considering using a product that may interfere with hormone production should consult their doctor first to make sure it is right for them.
However, iron, vitamin D, vitamin A, and biotin supplements have virtually no side effects and may support other bodily functions besides hair growth. For this reason, Dr. Friedler recommends starting with supplements as the first line of defense in DIY hair loss treatment.
It is possible (although rare) for the body to have too much iron, vitamin D, and vitamin A, so avoid taking more than the recommended daily dose of any supplement that contains one or more of these.
What is the difference between prescription and over-the-counter hair growth treatments?
There is often an overlap between Rx and OTC hair growth products. Minoxidil is often found in both, although Rx products can sometimes contain a higher concentration. Finasteride tends to be Rx only. For the purposes of this article, I have focused on products available for purchase without a prescription. When it comes to prescription-only treatments, your doctor can best guide you through your options.
Is there anything people should avoid when buying hair growth products?
Dr. Colombo advised people to avoid using products containing heavy oils, not just in hair growth products, but in any type of hair care products, as they can aggravate dandruff and make hair loss worse. hair.
Also, patience is a virtue. You’ll notice that all of the products in our roundup estimate that it will take at least a few months for results to be seen. Dr. Engelman warned buyers to be skeptical of any product that makes fantastic claims.
“Always be aware of anything that claims to have miraculous or quick results,” she told Insider. “Healthy and lasting results take time, especially when it comes to hair growth.”
What about shampoos, conditioners, and other types of products that claim to help thicken hair?
There are certainly many. For the sake of fair comparison in this article, I’ve stuck with products whose primary purpose is to support hair growth and prevent hair loss, rather than something like a shampoo which is primarily intended to cleanse the hair but can also contain ingredients which, as a secondary function, support hair growth.
But as Dr. Engelman said, “hair growth and health starts with the scalp,” so shampoos and other products that promote healthy cell turnover and prevent product or cell buildup are a good tool to fight against hair loss.
See the “what else we considered” slide for other doctor-recommended scalp health purchases.