Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body found in your skin, hair, bones, and tendons. Our body produces less and less of it as we age. I’ve long read about the benefits, including improved skin and nails and even pain reduction, of replenishing our depleting collagen stores with a form easily assimilated by the human body including hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin. I became particularly interested in collagen for hair loss when I read about a study published in Science in 2016. It all started with investigating the hair follicle stem cells of mice where researchers discovered that age-related DNA damage triggers the destruction of a protein called Collagen 17A1. The hair follicles of older people then convert themselves into skin cells, and over time baldness ensues. Think of the image of each hair follicle on your head disappearing leaving behind bare skin one at a time and on and on. My favorite brand is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides grass-fed and pasture-raised.
3. Nutriceuticals. Rogers recommends that her patients try Viviscal Dietary Supplements ($50 for a one-month supply) or Nutrafol ($88 for a one-month supply), both of which can often be picked up in a salon. The former contains marine-based proteins meant to beef up thinning hair. The latter is packed with antioxidants, like ashwagandha and curcumin, and boasts impressive clinical results.
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.
Coconut milk / coconut oil. Coconut milk/oil, like aloe vera, is one of the oldest and most common natural ingredients for promoting hair growth and growing healthy, shiny hair. Coconut is rich in protein, iron and other minerals that promote healthy hair and prevent breakage. Apply the coconut milk/oil on your bald spots or all over the scalp, and leave it on overnight. Rinse the next day with cool water. You can do this every time you wash your hair.
Hair-fiber powders: Colored, powdery fiber sprinkles are commercially available and may work to camouflage balding areas. These colored sprinkles have special properties that help them attach to hair and give a fuller appearance. Toppik is one manufacturer of these products and can be found online. These cosmetic products are available without a prescription, are fairly inexpensive ($20-$40 range), and quite safe with minimal risk. Often these may be used in addition to medical treatments like Rogaine, Propecia, and hair transplants, and they are a great temporary measure to tide one over for special occasions.
Central centrifugal cicatricial (scarring) alopecia: This type of hair loss occurs most often in women of African descent. It begins in the center of the scalp. As it progresses, the hair loss radiates out from the center of the scalp. The affected scalp becomes smooth and shiny. The hair loss can be very slow or rapid. When hair loss occurs quickly, the person may have tingling, burning, pain, or itching on the scalp. Treatment may help the hair re-grow if scarring has not occurred.
Two of the most common LLLT products in the market are the Hairmax Lasercomb and the Capillus 272. The Lasercomb is a hand-held device that is used to comb the hair for 10-15 minutes every treatment, and takes about eight weeks of use in order to see a noticeable improvement in the thickness and quality of the hair. The Capillus is a laser cap that must be worn, and is more convenient because this can be used at home or even out in public (it can be worn underneath a cap or a turban).
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.
Retin-A, or topical tretinoin, is sometimes used as a combination therapy with minoxidil for androgenic alopecia. It’s important to use this type of medication under the guidance of your doctor. In some circumstances, tretinoin can actually cause hair loss. Some people who have used it at home report that topical retinol creams, serums, and lotions may make hair loss worse.
Localized or diffuse hair loss may also occur in cicatricial alopecia (lupus erythematosus, lichen plano pilaris, folliculitis decalvans, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, postmenopausal frontal fibrosing alopecia, etc.). Tumours and skin outgrowths also induce localized baldness (sebaceous nevus, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma).
Though, it is important to point out that a lot of these companies are developing procedures that involve implanting hair, which means there is a chance they will be expensive — as we mentioned before, traditional hair transplants are costly. But a few companies and products such as Follicum’s FOL-S-005 and Fidia Pharma’s Brotzu Lotion are being designed as topical treatments.
"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."
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+.
Men’s Rogaine Extra Strength Solution is the liquid version of our top pick. It didn’t make our final cut because it includes propylene glycol, which causes irritation in roughly one-third of its users. With that said, Dr. Wolfeld finds that it can be even more effective in practical daily use. In his experience, “the solution can penetrate and get into your scalp a little bit better” than the foam — especially if you’re not taking the time and effort to apply the foam correctly. This seems crazy to us since the foam so quickly dissolved into a liquid in our tests, but if you’re worried, try a one-month supply of the liquid and make the switch to foam if you notice any irritation.
While trauma can come on suddenly and unexpectedly, you may be able to help manage ongoing stress in your life with exercise, like yoga, or mindfulness techniques, like meditation. Some researchers are even exploring these alternative healing modalities in relation to reversing hair loss. The idea is that yoga and meditation may help regulate blood sugar and enhance circulation, promoting regrowth.
The pull test helps to evaluate diffuse scalp hair loss. Gentle traction is exerted on a group of hairs (about 40–60) on three different areas of the scalp. The number of extracted hairs is counted and examined under a microscope. Normally, fewer than three hairs per area should come out with each pull. If more than ten hairs are obtained, the pull test is considered positive.
You can also get a hair-loss kit from Hims, which comes with both minoxidil and finasteride. Keeps has one, as well. And though it might seem like overkill to take two different hair-loss treatments at once, this is one of those rare instances where more is actually better. McAndrews calls the combination of orally administered finasteride and topically applied minoxidil a “full-court press” against hair loss. “That’s doing the most you can for preventative medicine.” Rieder notes that taking both drugs together is more effective than taking either one alone.
Finasteride (Propecia) is used in male-pattern hair loss in a pill form, taken 1 milligram per day. It is not indicated for women and is not recommended in pregnant women. Treatment is effective starting within 6 weeks of treatment. Finasteride causes an increase in hair retention, the weight of hair, and some increase in regrowth. Side effects in about 2% of males, include decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and ejaculatory dysfunction. Treatment should be continued as long as positive results occur. Once treatment is stopped, hair loss resumes.
DR. WRIGHT: If stomach acid is low, protein isn’t efficiently digested – and hair and nails are made up of… protein! If we are deficient in protein, our bodies know that we can live without hair or nail proteins, but we can’t survive without heart muscle proteins or other important body proteins. So if we are short in supply of protein, the hair or nails are the first to go.
A number of health problems can trigger hair loss, including thyroid condition, insufficient protein in the diet, hormone imbalance (such as underactive or overactive thyroid), fungal infection (such as ringworm of the scalp), lupus, diabetes, undergoing major surgery, excessive vitamin A, iron deficiency (rare), and vitamin D deficiency. Thanks to the recent advances in therapeutic science, these hair loss causes can be treated. Depending on your health issue, keeping hormones in balance, ensuring proper nutrition, taking medications as your doctor recommends, and maintaining tight control of blood glucose levels can help stop hair loss, and hair will usually start to grow back.
Harklinikken (“hair clinic” in Danish) inspires great loyalty. Four out of five users come as referrals from satisfied customers, said Lars Skjoth, the company’s founder and chief scientist. The results are certainly compelling. After four months of daily application — that is, working the tea-colored tonic into the hair section by section, then letting it sit on the scalp for six hours — most users regain at least 30 percent of lost density, and some as much as 60 percent, according to company figures.
Hair may be all about vanity but hair conditions, such as hair loss and balding may have emotional, mental and psychological repercussions: insecurity, the loss of self-confidence, humiliation or embarrassment, self-imposed isolation out of fear of what people might think of how we look with that missing part of ourselves. Hair issues are more than vanity.
How you wear your hair on a daily basis may influence how healthy it is. “Wearing a tight ponytail, braid, or extensions may, over time, put stress on the hair follicle and lead to hair shedding and permanent loss,” says Dr. Zeichner. He recommends wearing looser styles or wearing your hair down as much as possible. Check out these miracle-working hair products every woman needs.
Low ferritin (the stored form of iron) is one of the most common causes of hair loss in women. Given low ferritin is also a common problem for hypothyroid people, it is important to have iron testing including ferritin especially if you are experiencing hair loss. It is not enough to be told by your doctor that your iron levels are ‘normal’. Ferritin levels are not always tested. Get a copy of your lab results and be sure ferritin has been specifically tested. Even if ferritin is within the ‘normal’ range that doesn’t make it ‘optimal’.
Scalp reduction is the process is the decreasing of the area of bald skin on the head. In time, the skin on the head becomes flexible and stretched enough that some of it can be surgically removed. After the hairless scalp is removed, the space is closed with hair-covered scalp. Scalp reduction is generally done in combination with hair transplantation to provide a natural-looking hairline, especially those with extensive hair loss.