The cause of female-pattern hair loss is unknown, but doctors said there is a strong genetic component. The risk can come from male or female relatives. Though it looks as if the hair is falling out, that's not really what's happening. Cotsarelis said hair follicles are becoming smaller and producing hairs that may be so small that you can't see them. Women tend to retain more normal, thick hairs than balding men do.
In this section we discuss some of the future hair loss solutions that will be coming out in the coming years. There are a few hair loss cures coming in or around 2020, and hopefully there will be a mass market solution. It is no surprise that ‘hair loss cures 2020’ is an extremely popular search term in Google. You’d think by that time we’d figure out how to stop hairs from falling out of heads.
But Buckler said hair growth isn’t the only perk to his company’s discovery. It turns out that use in skin repair and tendon regeneration are also possibilities of the technology. “While we were delving deep into the hair follicle, we discovered another cell population,” he said. The hair follicle is actually a minor organ. There are two different cell groupings. One grows hair fibers. Another grows the tissue that the hair follicle fiber grows in.” And it is within this latter cell grouping that the magical main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues—collagen—is found.
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.
Choosing where and who will perform your hair transplant is as important a consideration as to what kind of hair transplant to get. Of utmost consideration is that this should be done by the dermatologist /surgeon, and not his/her technician. The surgeon himself/herself should also oversee the design of your hairline and how the extraction of the graft will be done.
At first the researchers conducted studies using cyclosporine A, an immunosuppressant. One of its side effects is hair growth. That set of testing led them to the SFRP1 protein and the discovery that the protein blocks hair growth. But cyclosporine A has too many side effects to pursue further testing, which is why they set their sights on the osteoporosis drug.
"We developed a protocol to drive human pluripotent stem cells to differentiate into dermal papilla cells and confirmed their ability to induce hair growth when transplanted into mice," said Prof. Terskikh. The next step in their research is "to transplant human dermal papilla cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells back into human subjects."
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.
Iron supplements. Iron deficiency could be a cause of hair loss in some women . Your doctor may test your blood iron level, particularly if you're a vegetarian, have a history of anemia, or have heavy menstrual bleeding. If you do have iron deficiency, you will need to take a supplement and it may stop your hair loss. However, if your iron level is normal, taking extra iron will only cause side effects, such as stomach upset and constipation.
Ms. Imhof, who lives in Land O’Lakes, Fla., was skeptical. The company’s before and after photos seemed too good to be true. But she went for a consultation and made the cut. (Harklinikken’s products are not available to anyone with autoimmune illnesses like alopecia or baldness from scarring, or anyone who is unlikely to see at least a 30 percent increase in growth.)
It’s also possible that some of Harklinikken’s users are women whose hair would have grown back even if they’d done nothing. Many women who arrive in a dermatologist’s office with prior diagnoses of female pattern hair loss actually have what’s called telogen effluvium. That’s a period of acute shedding of hair — meaning up to 60 percent of hair — three months after a triggering event like pregnancy, significant weight loss or starting or stopping hormone medications.
Weinstein has big dark eyebrows and a kind face. Kind of an Elliott Gould vibe. I looked at his head. There was a spotty, thatchy outcropping of gray-black hair. Not exactly an overflowing abundance, but hair, to be sure. “I had nothing on top,” Weinstein said. “You can see—I grew my hair back! And it grew back more or less the color I had when I was young.”
The patient, a small, vaguely European man in his late forties, had rings on his fingers and a bloody, rectangular gash on the back of his head. It looked like a chunk of missing carpet. Bernstein pointed at the white opening of exposed scalp, and explained how easy it would be to stitch skin together over the gap. This was a traditional process for follicular-unit transplantation. Then Bernstein led me into a second room, where another patient was seated with his face in a massage-table-like padded hole. A portion of the back of his head was marked off. To his right was a boxy gray machine, roughly four feet by four feet, with a jutting mechanical arm. This was the ARTAS Robotic Hair Transplant.
"The majority of men lose their hair not through stress, or bad diet, or lack of sleep, but through the genetic trait of male pattern baldness which is hard to treat through shampoos or supplements alone. Women lose their hair for very different reasons, but the argument still stands that a lot of the hair loss products on the market are just offering false hope. That said, there are a few that really work."
Key features: This classic anti-dandruff shampoo by Nizoral uses ketoconazol, an anti-fungal medication, as its main ingredient to treat flaking, scaling, itching, or inflammation caused by seborrheic dermatitis, and is still gentle enough to be used on fine or thinning hair. It's meant to be used just twice a week in between regular shampoos to manage dandruff.
Again, you’ll want to visit your doctor to get a blood test to check your levels in these vitamins. For example, women who have iron levels lower than 70 nanograms per milliliter are considered deficient. From there, work with your doctor to find an appropriate dose according to your deficiency level. Excessive or unnecessary supplementation can be dangerous.
Women’s magazine ‘New Beauty’ recently featured several prospective hair growth therapies in a print article. The feature contains several interesting and worthwhile anecdotes. Check the Articles main page to read about Dr. Cotsarelis’ new research on setipiprant for female alopecia, Histogen’s view on the number of injection sessions which may be necessary to get the most out of HSC, and more.
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.
“Everyone wants to try it,” Altman told me. “We get inundated with e-mails saying, ‘Tell me what the price is, I really don’t care, I’ll buy it.’ ” Weinstein looked at me. “You have your hair,” he said. “I don’t know why you’re interested in this,” Altman chimed in, with wildly unrealistic but much appreciated enthusiasm for my reporting. “ ’Cause eighty million people don’t! There’ll be eighty million people reading this article!”
The Rogaine rep we spoke to explained that the different packaging (and therefore different prices) has to do with the FDA-approval process: “We discovered in clinical trials that the hair loss patterns between men and women are different,” she said by way of explanation. “Men typically have that bald spot on the crown of their head, where women generally have a general thinning throughout, but concentrated more on the top of the head. So for FDA approval, we had to come up with two different, gender-specific products, so the directions were more explanatory.”
A popular skin care drug—which is intended to target eczema—was just found to have an unusual side effect: hair growth. According to an article on Newsweek, the FDA-approved drug dupilumab was given to a 13-year-old alopecia sufferer to treat her eczema. The patient, who hadn’t grown hair on her scalp since she was two, suddenly grew a significant amount of hair on her head after continual use of the drug, a study in the journal JAMA Dermatology reports.
Skeptics (among them, Dr. Wesley) are starting to come around after a 2014 randomized double-blind study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology found a “statistically significant” difference in hair density for women who used a laser comb compared with those who used a sham device. (“Comb” is something of a misnomer. The device looks like a hairbrush crossed with a cordless phone; it is glided back and forth across the scalp, roughly a half-inch at a time, usually about 15 minutes three times a week.)
But you must start these medical therapies before you lose all your hair. McAndrews likens it to brushing your teeth, in that both are preventative measures. “The sooner you start doing it, the better at slowing down this aging process,” he explains, adding, “Is toothpaste perfect? No, you’re still getting tooth decay with toothpaste, but you’re slowing down tooth decay.”
What’s got less evidence supporting its efficacy are the hair-growth shampoos that claim to block DHT (like those sold by Hims in their Rx Hair Kit). Rieder is skeptical that you’re going to see any tangible benefits by rubbing DHT blockers into your scalp. “I find it very difficult to believe that something that’s applied to the scalp and rinsed off is going to have any appreciable effect.” All four doctors also shut down any suggestions that hair-growth supplements or vitamins, like biotin, could help promote hair growth or stop hair loss — though a couple hypothesized that vitamins or supplements could lead to hair regrowth if your hair loss was a result of a nutritional deficiency. But otherwise, if you’re dealing with regular old male-pattern baldness, “There is no such thing as a ‘hair vitamin,’” says McMichael.
Key features: The Thick & full Hair Growth Set by DermaChange is a go-to option for hair loss and thinning strands — it's chock-full of vitamins and oils that promote hair regrowth and prevent hair loss by hydrating, strengthening, and thickening strands with natural ingredients. It's also made with a gentle, sulfate-free formula, so it's a safe choice for color-treated hair and sensitive scalps.
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is another vitamin that you can find in a lot of men’s hair loss shampoos. Like biotin, niacin and its derivatives are scientifically proven to increase hair growth when topically applied to hair growth areas over the course of several months. However, it's important to call out that this pilot study used female participants.
The trick about all of these hair-loss products and treatments is that they’ll stop working as soon as you stop using them. “They have to be ready for a lifetime commitment,” says Rieder. But, just like brushing your teeth, as long you keep on keeping on with the scientifically proven preventative treatments, those hairs on your head should be just fine.
The most popular low-light laser therapy product is developed by Hairmax. They have a series of Hairmax Laser Combs. Treatment is applied weekly or more frequently. Notably, the Hairmax Laser Comb was the 3rd product to receive FDA approval for treatment of genetic balding. It followed Minoxidil and Finasteride. Though some scalps are very responsive to this laser treatment, others seem to only reap the benefit of slowing hair loss. Another downside is that each treatment session takes about 15 minutes, where the laser comb must be directed towards thinning and bald areas. Unless you have a handy device such as the one in the image, you stuck doing things manually.
The dermatologist also will carefully look at your scalp and hair. During an exam, the dermatologist may pull on your hair. Sometimes a dermatologist needs to pull out a hair to get the necessary evidence. And sometimes a dermatologist needs to look at the hair on the rest of your body to see whether there is too little or too much hair in other areas.
The combination of silent suffering, public shame and poorly understood science makes hair loss sufferers easy prey – type “hair loss” into Google and you’ll see what I mean. Kobren tells me that he had to remove the personal messaging function on the Bald Truth message board, as users were being bombarded by scams. Meanwhile, the higher visibility of celebrity transplants means that baldness is at risk of being seen as a sign of poor self-care. Many treat surgery lightly – and enter into punitive financing deals. One of Kobren’s recent guests was The Only Way is Essex star Maria Fowler, who complained that surgery at the controversial KSL Hair in Glasgow left her with an unnatural hairline. “She ended up having a hair transplant because her fiancé was having one. She had always thought her hairline was too high. She went in like she was having her nails painted – and it destroyed her life.”
1. Collagen powder. Preliminary studies suggest that marine-sourced collagen may stimulate hair growth, says New York City dermatologist Yoon-Soo Cindy Bae. Though more research is needed, participants in studies reported thicker hair after three to six months of daily use. Crushed Tonic Original Powder ($105) easily mixes into coffee, tea, and water.