There comes a time in most men’s lives when it begins to look like there’s more hair stuck in the comb or going down the drain than there is on our heads. The American Hair Loss Association reports that nearly two-thirds of American men will see “appreciable” hair loss by the age of 35. Some men accept their fates and start experimenting with gravity-defying styling techniques or; as is more common lately, shave their heads and embrace baldness. Others take more aggressive measures; seeking out weaves, plugs, or (just say no) toupees.
If, however, you are just starting to notice that your mane is looking a little less thick than it once did, dry your tears. With an early start, you may be able to have an appreciable effect upon nature’s assault. In fact, men’s hair growth treatments are on the forefront of the blurring lines between grooming or self-care and modern health care. Here are a few options to consider in that ongoing battle between hair loss and hair growth.
Best Hair Growth Product Overall: Nutrafol for Men
Hair growth supplements can be a dubious market, but Nutrafol for Men is the real deal. The brand’s secret sauce is a formula of natural ingredients that stave off DHT, the dreaded hormone that speeds up hair loss. Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank is one of many dermatologists we’ve talked to who recommend Nutrafol for guys with visibly thinning hair (which usually begins at 30). Of course, results may vary, and swallowing four capsules daily ad infinitum sounds like a hassle, but we noticed increased hair thickening after three months of use.
Hair goes through several phases, including the anagen, when it’s actually growing; the catagen, when things slow down a bit; the telegen, a resting phase when it shrinks and detaches from the follicle; and the exogen, when it falls out from your scalp, to be replaced by a new hair. Minoxidil “reactivates” hair follicles in the anagen phase, stimulating regrowth by relaxing the blood vessels in our scalp, making it easier for blood to flow to the hair follicles. In fact, initial use may cause old hairs to to fall out in large numbers, seeming as though you are losing more hair than normal. Don’t panic. In three to five months you should start to see moderate to dense hair regrowth.
Because minoxidil is a vasodilator (meaning it widens blood vessels), you’ll want to check with a doctor if you or your family have a history of heart disease. According to Drugs.com, there can be some side effects, so call your doctor if you experience severe scalp irritation, unwanted facial hair growth, chest pain, fast heartbeats swelling in your hands or feet, rapid weight gain, light-headedness, headache, dizziness, confusion, or flushing.
Hims is a topical, liquid product, applied with a dropper for precise deployment. Once or twice a day place a few drops on the area of your scalp where hair is looking thinner. Let dry for two to four hours. It’s great if you want maximum control over where the product is applied.
Hims follows a subscription model: a two-ounce bottle is shipped to you once a month, for $15. You may also consider a “Complete Hair Loss Kit,” for $44, which includes minoxidil, an extra-strength shampoo, vitamin gummies with Biotin, and finasteride (see below) pills.
The company also offers both over-the-counter and prescription treatments for skin, as well as for sexual health issues like erectile disfunction, cold sores, and genital herpes; supplements for sleep, and immunity boosters and collagen for skin and hair. Hims even offers online therapy and anonymous support groups. It also recently launched COVID-19 testing with a saliva-based screening that typically provides results in three to five days.
Rogaine, perhaps the grand-daddy of all hair growth treatments, was invented in 1986. It also incorporates minoxidil (in something the company calls Tricho-Prime technology), but is delivered as an easy to apply foam. Twice a day, dispense foam onto clean, dry fingers, then massage into your scalp where hair is thinning. Allow it to absorb and air dry completely before blow-drying or styling. Rogaine suggests to start using the product as soon as you notice hair is thinning.
The product includes botanical extracts and emollients to maintain a healthy, conditioned scalp, as well as alphahydroxy acid to promote natural skin exfoliation, keeping hair follicles open and scalp primed for treatment.
While you can subscribe to the product from the brand’s website (a one-month supply is $28), it’s also readily available at drug store chains like Walgreen’s or CVS.
Although minoxidil was originally developed to treat hypertension, you won’t need a prescription to get it as a hair growth treatment. On the other hand, finasteride —which you may know by Propecia, Merck’s version of the drug — does require one, so you’ll need to meet with a doctor to get it. Luckily several places now offer easy virtual appointments, so you won’t have to go out of your way or sit in a waiting room. The drug is said to increase the volume and health of your hair in three to six months by preventing testosterone from breaking down into dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, a hormone that actually damages hair follicles.
Roman Propecia (Finasteride)
One of Roman’s physicians will set you up with a generic prescription that can be delivered with “discrete” two-day shipping. Just take one pill every day and call us when you have a thick head of hair. A Roman subscription to the product is $60 for a 90-day supply, but your first order is just $20. The company provides free unlimited doctor follow-up visits.
Similar to Hims, Roman offers one-stop-shopping for sexual health, hair, and skin, allergies, and supplements, as well as smoking cessation and weight management solutions.
More Hair Loss Treatments
There are many, many hair growth options out there. Here are two more that we like, but if you just want to throw in the towel, consider Mantl, a company that supports men who have accepted their baldness with products like cleansers, moisturizers, sun-block, and no-shine sheets.
Similar to Hims and Roman, Keeps offers finasteride with a doctor consult ($25/month), minoxidil in a dropper form ($10/mo.), or minoxidil foam like Rogaine’s ($15/mo).
Sayar offers what it says is a natural approach to blocking the development of DHT with Retain, a natural formula containing argan, jojoba, grapeseed, lavender, rosemary, cedar, and peppermint. Complement the treatment with the brand’s anti-thinning biotin shampoo.
Capillus Laser Hair Regrowth Therapy Cap
Our sci-fi (if expensive at nearly $1,000) solution, the Capillus cap is said to rejuvenate hair by stimulating follicles with laser light technology. 82 medical-grade lasers emit red laser light waves to boost circulation and encourage restoration of damaged follicles. The product claims results in as little as 12 weeks with daily six-minute treatments. (Editor’s note: This may seem like a more desperate solution but I do know someone who used a similar product and has been very pleased with the results.)
After all, what have you got to lose?
Simple Steps to Prevent and Reverse Hair Loss
- Start by being kinder to the hair you have. Go easy when towel drying after a shower and consider ditching the man bun (it’s time anyway). Even wearing a baseball cap worn too tight can cut off circulation to your scalp and hinder new hair growth. Remember that harmful UV rays are no friends to follicles, either.
- Check the ingredients in your shampoo, pomade, and styling creams. Harsh chemicals and artificial fragrances won’t help the situation. Look for gentle products that contain natural ingredients like tea tree oil, which are easier on your hair and scalp.
- Clean up your diet. Better nutrition can help slow hair loss. Avoid the usual suspects, such as dairy, sugar, and booze. Instead, seek foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, white fish, egg yolks, and walnuts to balance your hormones and bring down inflammation. You can also supplement your diet with fish oil, B-complex, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin D.
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