To us, that meant any product with zero proven ingredients, case studies, or FDA clearance — which shrunk our list by a whopping 180 contenders. That’s right, there are only three treatments that have actually been cleared by the FDA and supported with clinical studies: finasteride (commonly marketed as Propecia), minoxidil, and laser treatments. And, since finasteride is prescription-only, it left us with two.
Drink plenty of water and keep yourself well hydrated. Cut down on smoking and alcohol drinking which makes you dehydrated. If you are not consuming enough water to meet your body’s daily oxygen requirements, the cells responsible for hair growth will not be able to grow and reproduce. This will make your hair brittle, withered and very dry. Not drinking enough water can stop the natural growth cycle of your hair. So drink plenty of water to get a long, shiny and luscious mane!
Laser therapy is available in salons and administered by a hair professional who has been trained in the procedure. Treatment is usually two to three times a week. Generally, each session involves a short 8-15 minute exposure of the scalp to the laser device. There is generally no prescribed period of time that the treatment should be administered, although the more frequent and longer the duration, the more effective results have been observed. Noticeable hair growth can be observed after 12 to 26 weeks of treatment. The LLLT is also prescribed as a complementary treatment in post-operative hair surgery.
Hair grows everywhere on the human skin except on the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet, but many hairs are so fine they're virtually invisible. Hair is made up of a protein called keratin that is produced in hair follicles in the outer layer of skin. As follicles produce new hair cells, old cells are being pushed out through the surface of the skin at the rate of about six inches a year. The hair you can see is actually a string of dead keratin cells. The average adult head has about 100,000 to 150,000 hairs and loses up to 100 of them a day; finding a few stray hairs on your hairbrush is not necessarily cause for alarm.
The average person loses 50 to 100 hairs per day naturally due to this cycle. But if the process is interrupted at any stage—for example, if the follicle doesn’t come back out of resting mode or starts to shrink—hair loss and hair thinning can result. Interruptions to the cycle can be caused by hormones, stress, poor diet, chemical hair treatments, certain medications, and, of course, good ol' genetics.
Somehow stress has an effect on the hair cycle. Typically about 90 percent of hairs are in a growing stage, and about 10 percent are in a resting stage, and it’s these resting-stage hairs that shed. Stress seems to prompt more of the growing hairs to go into the resting phase and then fall out. The good news is that this type of hair loss is temporary; after the hair falls out, a new hair usually will replace and prevent stress-induced hair loss, maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, and a nutritious diet.
According to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, hair health is tied to two things: kidney energy and the blood, which nourish the hair. The solution: acupuncture and Chinese herbs. While there isn't a lot of hard science to back this up, Maureen Conant, a TCM practitioner at Full Bloom Acupuncture in Seattle, says that she's seen women's hair stop falling out and then gradually regenerate after a few months of weekly treatments.
Topical creams and lotions: Over-the-counter minoxidil (also known as the brand name Rogaine) can restore some hair growth, especially in those with hereditary hair loss. It is applied directly to the scalp. Prescription-strength finasteride (Propecia) comes in pill form and is only for men. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AFP), it may take up to six months to tell if these medications are working.
If you’re a gentleman who’s been noticing a receding hairline or is worried about balding, the first step is to schedule a visit with a doctor or dermatologist and make sure your hair loss isn’t a sign of a more serious health issue. “Not all hair loss is male-pattern hair loss,” explains Dr. Marc Glashofer, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss and practicing in northern New Jersey. A thyroid disorder, an autoimmune disease, or even a scalp issue could be making you look like Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2. But most hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, also known as male-pattern baldness, and fortunately (or not, depending on your perspective), it’s just a symptom of getting older.
Propecia (finasteride) is a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor. It works by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that plays an important role in hair loss. Propecia is a prescription medicine and is only approved for use in men. There are other 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors on the market but Propecia is the only one approved for androgenetic alopecia.
"This is an oral, prescription-only medication with the brand name Propecia that’s also FDA approved to treat hair loss," says Spencer. Male pattern hair loss occurs when a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) prevents hair follicles from getting the nutrients they need. Finasteride works by blocking the production of DHT, which protects the follicles.
What to do: Like anemia, simple supplementation should help the problem. So can dietary changes. Find natural vitamin B in fish, meat, starchy vegetables, and non-citrus fruits. As always, eating a balanced diet plentiful in fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein and “good” fats such as avocado and nuts will be good for your hair and your overall health.
Patel said the problem with those treatments is that they have not been subjected to large or head-to-head research. There's great variation in how doctors give the plasma treatments and in laser-based devices, so it's hard for patients to know whether they're getting a proven regimen. Nutrafol seems promising, he said, but he does not think that company-funded research showing its effectiveness has been replicated. He has not recommended it yet.
Surgery or hair transplants: Surgical hair restoration approaches include various versions of hair transplantation (taking hair from the back and putting it near the front) or scalp reduction (cutting away bald areas and stitching the rest together). Transplant procedures have improved greatly in recent years. They can produce much more attractive and natural-looking results than older methods that sometimes leave a "checkerboard" or hair plug look. Many transplant patients now take Propecia to maintain or keep what they've transplanted. When considering a hair transplant, check the surgeon's credentials and experience carefully. Micrografts are some of the newest techniques whereby surgeons transplant single one to two hair follicles. Hair transplants may be very expensive and time-consuming procedures ranging widely anywhere from $1,000-$20,000, depending on the number of hair grafts transplanted. Typically, 500 or more hairs may be transplanted in a session.
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“If you don’t want a scar because you like to wear your hair short, you might opt for a “scarless” hair transplant,” says Dr. Joyce. Also known as follicular unit extraction (FUE), grafts are harvested one at a time with tiny punches that heal virtually undetected so you can still buzz your head. “If you’ve gone so bald that you don’t have a lot of donor hair on your head, we can do FUE extractions with body hair such as on your chest, stomach, back, and sometimes even the pubic area,” says Dr. Joyce.
As a senior writer for Live Science, Laura Geggel covers general science, including the environment and amazing animals. She has written for The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site covering autism research. Laura grew up in Seattle and studied English literature and psychology at Washington University in St. Louis before completing her graduate degree in science writing at NYU. When not writing, you'll find Laura playing Ultimate Frisbee. Follow Laura on Google+.
Wash your hair at least once every three days with a gentle hair cleanser or shampoo to remove all the accumulated dust, dirt, oil, and bacteria build up. Keep it clean at all times to avoid hair fall from clogged follicles. It is also important not to wash your hair more than thrice a week. Overwashing will strip your scalp and hair of the natural oils that are essential for healthy hair growth.
One is how much emphasis the company places on compliance, the major stumbling block in the efficacy of any treatment, said Dr. Senna, an author of studies on the subject. Prospective users are questioned about their ability to stick to a regimen because the extract must be applied every day, and they are told that the more conscientious they are, the better. Users are also reminded and encouraged with regular check-ins.
While diet alone won’t save your hair, there may be some truth to the old adage that you are what you eat. “You’re not going to have the healthiest hair if you’re living off doughnuts, because being nutrient-deficient weakens strands and makes them more prone to breakage,” says Denise Kernan, owner of DK Hair Techs, Inc., a member of the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery, and a hair transplant technician who has worked on everyone from senators to sports stars to actors to mafia guys (she won’t name names to protect the privacy of her clients).
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.)
It’s become “trendy” to not wash your hair for several days; in fact, some believe it’s beneficial for the hair. While you shouldn’t over-wash your hair, under-washing—washing your hair once or twice a week—and camouflaging dirt and grime with dry shampoos isn’t good for your hair either. “Overuse of dry shampoos leads to clogged follicles, which, over time, can cause permanent damage leading to hair loss,” warns Halasz. “To prevent this from happening, try to wash your hair a minimum of every three to four days.” Learn all the tricks you need to know when using dry shampoo.
Testosterone replacement is becoming popular for men. Cotsarelis warns that this may accelerate hair loss. Propecia might help -- but because it prevents testosterone breakdown, it might affect the dose of male hormone replacement therapy. Cotsarelis warns men taking both Propecia and testosterone replacement to make sure their doctor carefully monitors their testosterone levels.
You lose up to 100 hairs from your scalp every day. That's normal, and in most people, those hairs grow back. But many men -- and some women -- lose hair as they grow older. You can also lose your hair if you have certain diseases, such as thyroid problems, diabetes, or lupus. If you take certain medicines or have chemotherapy for cancer, you may also lose your hair. Other causes are stress, a low protein diet, a family history, or poor nutrition.
Daily hair counts are normally done when the pull test is negative. It is done by counting the number of hairs lost. The hair from the first morning combing or during washing should be counted. The hair is collected in a clear plastic bag for 14 days. The strands are recorded. If the hair count is >100/day, it is considered abnormal except after shampooing, where hair counts will be up to 250 and be normal.
It is likely that several genes determine susceptibility to baldness. Some of these genes come from your mother’s side and some from your father’s side of the family. Identical twins lose hair at the same age, at the same rate and in the same pattern. This indicates that genetic factors are more important than environmental factors in causing hair loss.