Effectiveness: Minoxidil works for about 2 out of 3 men. It’s most effective if you’re under age 40 and have only recently started to lose your hair.
● How to use it: Twice a day, when your hair is dry, apply minoxidil on your scalp where the hair has started to thin. Then be patient. You may not notice changes for 4 months or more.
● What it doesn’t do: Minoxidil does not cure baldness. If you stop using it, you will start losing hair again. Your hair may fall out faster than before.
● Side effects:You may have redness, itching, dryness, flaking, or other scalp irritation, though this is uncommon. It’s more likely if you use the stronger 5% solution.
This medication stops your body from making the hormone at the root of male pattern baldness, DHT (dihydrotestosterone). It is available under the brand name Propecia.
● Effectiveness: Finasteride is very effective. It slows or stops hair loss in nearly 90% of men. About two-thirds of these men also regrow some hair.
● How to use it: Finasteride is a pill. Usually, you take it once a day. Your dermatologist may recommend using it in combination with minoxidil.
● What it doesn’t do: Like minoxidil, it doesn’t cure hair loss. If you stop taking it, you will lose hair again.
● Side effects: Finasteride can cause erectile dysfunction and other sexual side effects, though this is unusual. If it happens to you, it will likely clear up once you stop taking finasteride. But for some men, that can take 3 months or more.
Biotin and Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
Biotin is a B vitamin that is essential for your health. You most likely get plenty of it in your diet in egg yolks, yeast, liver, and other foods. That’s good news because too little biotin can cause hair loss. Does that mean that taking mega-doses of it will give you more hair? Probably not. No scientific studies have shown biotin to prevent or treat hair loss.
You may have heard that laser combs, brushes, hoods, and caps can help halt hair loss. The theory is that when hair follicles absorb laser light at a certain level, it stimulates hair to grow. But there’s not enough evidence that any of these devices restore hair or prevent balding.
If you’re not game for prescription medications, or surgery, or if you just want to add to the hair you’ve got, you also can experiment with cosmetic accessories and styles. Tracy, now 43, has used minoxidil for 16 years. She tried a hair weave, where artificial hair is added to existing hair, as part of a makeover. And while she was happy with her hair before the weave, she notices a real difference in the way people respond to her with a full head of thick, auburn hair.
While Tracy doesn’t plan to keep the weave — which requires maintenance every four weeks and can damage the natural hair — it inspired her to look into other hair augmentation products like wefts (small hairpieces that cover the crown of the head) and falls (hair attached to combs or clips). “Hollywood stars have secretly been using these products for years,” she says. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t be!”
Tracy’s final message to women is this: Get treatment if the hair loss bothers you. “Whether you lose 5% of your hair or 55%, it can be devastating. But you don’t have to just let it happen — especially not now.”