Minoxidil (Rogaine): This topical medication is available over the counter, and no prescription is required. Men and women can use it. It works best on the crown, less on the frontal region. Minoxidil is available as a 2% solution, 4% solution, an extra-strength 5% solution, and a new foam or mousse preparation. Rogaine may grow a little hair, but it's better at holding onto what's still there. There are few side effects with Rogaine. The main problem with this treatment is the need to keep applying it once or twice daily, and most men get tired of it after a while. In addition, minoxidil tends to work less well on the front of the head, which is where baldness bothers most men. Inadvertent application to the face or neck skin can cause unwanted hair growth in those areas.
While pregnant, many women notice that their mane becomes thicker, fuller, and shinier, thanks to a surge of pregnancy hormones. However, once they deliver, this flood of hormones leaves their body at a rapid pace, often leaving them with little time to adjust. One side effect of this depletion of hormones is hair loss. Thankfully, for many women, their hair goes back to normal a few months postpartum. Check out these other surprising ways you look different when you’re pregnant.
A good hair care regimen and diet can prevent hair loss and promote longer hair in combination with vitamins. In many cases, hair loss is caused by vitamin deficiency called telogen effluvium, which temporarily pushes hairs from the growth phase of the hair growth cycle to the resting phase, causing hair loss. Telogen effluvium is temporary and the treatment is to eat more of the key vitamins that contribute to healthy hair growth. You can prevent hair loss due to vitamin deficiency or other nutritional deficits, such as key minerals and proteins, by having a good hair care regimen and eating a well-balanced diet of hair loss foods.
Hair transplants will likely lead to better results in the long run (you are introducing new hairs to the balding areas), but you’ll still need to use minoxidil or finasteride after surgery to maintain the results. Like all hair loss treatments, hair transplants are best when combined with other methods, and you’ll want to speak with your doctor to see what combination is best for you.
Though not as common as the loss of hair on the head, chemotherapy, hormone imbalance, forms of hair loss, and other factors can also cause loss of hair in the eyebrows. Loss of growth in the outer one third of the eyebrow is often associated with hypothyroidism. Artificial eyebrows are available to replace missing eyebrows or to cover patchy eyebrows. Eyebrow embroidery is another option which involves the use of a blade to add pigment to the eyebrows. This gives a natural 3D look for those who are worried about an artificial look and it lasts for two years. Micropigmentation (permanent makeup tattooing) is also available for those who want the look to be permanent.
Thinning hair in women is worth investigating for more than its impact on physical appearance. While many conditions that lead to temporary hair loss will go away without treatment or with simple lifestyle measures, others may be signs of potentially irreversible loss or health conditions. Others yet may respond well to treatments to promote regrowth, so starting sooner rather than later is key.
Just like with your hair color and hairline, your genes often determine whether you’ll experience thinning hair. It’s a myth that you inherit your hair loss gene from your mother’s father, says Dr. Zeichner. “There are many genetic causes. Women tend to develop a widening of their part line and thinning of hair on the top of the head, but typically do not fully lose their hair in the way that men do.” You can help stem the tide of hair loss by reducing stress, avoiding very tight hairstyles (ponytails, braiding) that contribute to hair loss, and eating a nutrient-rich diet, but once the hair is gone, your best bet may be camouflage. “In situations where there is no treatment, women can hide bald or thinning spots by changing their hairstyle or wearing hats, headbands, and scarves,” says Ramon Padilla, founder of EverTrue, a Microblading Salon in Manhattan. “But a more long-term solution is permanent makeup, such as our Hairline Rescue treatment, where we re-create the look of hair strands stroke-by-stroke.” The Hairline Rescue treatment is like a semi-permanent tattoo that lasts about 18 months.
SOURCES: George Cotsarelis, MD, director, Hair and Scalp Clinic, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Andrew Kaufman, MD, assistant professor, department of dermatology, University of California, Los Angeles; medical director, Center for Dermatology Care, Thousand Oaks, Calif. Tom Barrows, PhD, director of product development, Aderans Research Institute Inc., Atlanta. Cotsarelis, G. and Millar, S.E. Trends in Molecular Medicine, July 2001; vol 7: pp 293-301. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery web site. American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery web site. American Hair Loss Council web site. Springer, K. American Family Physician, July 1, 2003; vol 68: pp 93-102. Hair Loss Help web site, "Interview with Dr. Ken Washenik from Bosley." Fuchs, E. Developmental Cell, July 2001: vol 1: pp 13-25.
Minoxidil (Rogaine) is available over the counter and available in 2%, 4%, and 5% concentrations. It may be something of a nuisance to apply twice daily, but it has been shown to help conserve hair and may even grow some. Minoxidil tends to grow very fine small hairs wherever it is applied. It is important to avoid running the liquid onto the face or neck where it can also grow hair. It is marketed for women at the 2% concentration but may be used in higher strengths as directed by a doctor.
Natural hair that is subjected to constant physical trauma from excessive brushing or combing, tight braids or ponytails, or extreme scratching or massage can cause hair at the temples to become weak and to stop growing to its normal length. Clean shaving, especially for men, can cause white bumps to appear on the area where the hair was shaved short, and at times can become infected with pus and leave permanent scarring, affecting hair growth.
Consider other factors besides color. Color is important - your wig or hair piece should match your natural hair to look natural. However, consider also texture. You wig should feel like real hair; it should have a smooth and silky feel. For those that need full coverage, choose a wig that bounces to give the illusion of volume. A wig that has a lacing that fits your natural hair also helps in making sure that you have a more natural looking hairline.
The HairMax Ultima 12 LaserComb ($395) makes for a great addition to any hair loss regimen — provided you can afford it. Dr. Wolfeld notes that it’s a popular option in his practice. “Some people like the action of combing something through their hair,” he says. “They find that to be a little bit easier to do as part of their routine in the morning.” Dr. Khadavi also recommends using a laser treatment of some kind in conjunction with other treatments. “Lasers do help in stimulating the hair into the growth phase. We don’t know the exact mechanism of how it works, but it definitely helps.”
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.