Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Finasteride is a powerful hair loss treatment that is used by millions of men worldwide. It works to block DHT: the hormone that is primarily responsible for male and female androgenic alopecia (pattern hair loss). But, even though finasteride is one of the most effective treatments we currently have on the market, it isn’t full proof. In fact, it is only effective in somewhere between 60-65% of men who take it.
Everyone is different and reacts to finasteride differently. Some men are able to regrow all of their hair, others will not grow any hair but their hair loss will stop progressing, and then there are a few unfortunate people who will not respond at all.
Since finasteride is one of the only FDA approved hair loss treatments, it is often the only course of action that doctors can recommend, but what are you supposed to do if you are one of the unlucky few who doesn’t respond to it? For starters, don’t give up.
Important: due to the nature of the hair growth cycle, you should wait at least 6 months before you decide if finasteride is working or not
In this article, we are going to talk about the best course of action for someone who has determined that finasteride isn’t going to work for them.
Try to remain calm
Finding out that finasteride isn’t working can be a very stressful experience for a person, I know it was for me. It’s an emotional rollercoaster because you might have held out hope that your hair loss would be cured, only to find out that it’s getting worse.
But, there are alternatives to finasteride (which we will get to in a bit), there is hope, and stressing out about finasteride not working will only, unironically, make things worse: stress can cause temporary hair loss called telogen effluvium.
Although it may feel like the world is crashing down and you will never have those beautiful locks that you did as a teen, you need to find ways to deal with the stress. Whether it be working out, meditation, or something else, make sure that you have a calm mindset moving forward.
Do your research
The number one thing that you do not want to do is replace finasteride with the wrong type of treatment. Many people fail to educate themselves about how hair loss works and that may lead them to a dead end if finasteride doesn’t work.
Finasteride’s only effect on hair loss is that it blocks DHT by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase. Replacing it with a treatment that works differently (commonly minoxidil) and does not target DHT will not work and your hair loss will only worsen. Do your research so that you understand which treatments do what so that you don’t end up with a missing piece of the hair loss puzzle.
Here is an article that I wrote about the three most trustworthy sources of hair loss information.
Find a finasteride alternative
As you should know: finasteride blocks DHT, and if a person responds well it can be very effective at doing so.
But finasteride is not the only treatment that works to block DHT, in fact there are quite a few. Since finasteride is the only FDA approved DHT blocker, it is usually peoples first (and sometimes only) choice, but a little bit of research quickly reveals that not only are there many alternatives to it, but one in particular may be even more effective: dutasteride.
Dutasteride, often called finasteride’s big brother, works similarly to finasteride, but it is likely much more effective. A meta-analysis of clinical trials comparing the two revealed that finasteride blocks around 70% of DHT while dutasteride blocks 90+%.
There are also many natural treatments that work to block DHT as well. Here I have written an article talking about the 6 most effective ones.
Again, make sure to be patient. When starting a new hair loss treatment, due to the nature of the hair cycle, you need to wait at least 6 months to a year before you decide if it’s working or not.
Strengthen your regimen
Once you have found a DHT blocker that is effective for you it’s time to work on the other aspect of your hair loss regimen: re-growing hair.
Although DHT blockers are important because they stop the progression of hair loss, often they will not help much with regrowth. Luckily there are many treatments do that target regrowth such as minoxidil, low-level laser therapy, and even our own hair supplement Follicle Foundation (plus many more). Many of them work to increase blood flow, which is the most important aspect of re-growing hair (learn why here).
Adding several of these treatments on top of your DHT blocker will ensure that you have a well-rounded regimen, which is the key to success in overcoming hair loss.
Many people think that it is the end of the line and they might as well go completely bald if finasteride isn’t working for them. Hopefully this article has convinced you otherwise.
There are many different treatments that can work just as well as, if not better than finasteride. If you can stay calm, do your research, and find a viable alternative to finasteride, you can get yourself right back on track to getting your hair back.