Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Scientists have still not yet found a hair loss treatment that can reverse hair loss and regrow hair with 100% success (i.e. a miracle cure).
The hunt for the miracle cure has driven people to experiment and create hundreds, if not thousands, of different hair loss treatments. Some work similarly to each other and some are completely different, while some are highly effective and others are practically useless.
With all of these different treatments, and not to mention the ever-growing amount of information on hair loss, how is a person who is in the beginning stages of hair loss supposed to know what they should and shouldn’t use?
You need to use treatments that are trustworthy; there are too many people trying to scam and take advantage of people suffering from hair loss, but what makes a treatment trustworthy?
You can read all the customer reviews and blog posts you want (these can easily be manipulated to sell you something), but at the end of the day the main factor for determining whether or not a treatment is trustworthy is based on the legitimate scientific studies that surround it.
In this article, we are going to be looking at the 4 most trustworthy hair loss treatments based on the scientific research that is available. All of these treatments have been researched extensively and my hope is that after reading this you will be more confident in knowing what treatments are effective and worth putting your hard-earned money into.
Number one: finasteride
Starting with the obvious, we have finasteride.
Finasteride first hit the market in 1992 as a treatment for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (enlarged prostate). After people began using the drug, they started noticing a peculiar side effect: those who were losing their hair noticed that the hair loss slowed down, and in some cases hair even began to regrow. This prompted scientists to begin studying how finasteride affects hair more in-depth and allured to its potential as a hair loss cure.
Ultimately, the research found that finasteride is quite effective at stopping the progression of hair loss which lead to its FDA approval in 1998 for the treatment of male pattern hair loss.
Finasteride is one of three FDA approved hair loss treatments. Having achieved FDA approval means that it was consistently shown throughout many trials to be effective. Here is an article that talks about everything you need to know about finasteride including what it is, how it works, and looks at some of the studies that have been done on it.
Number two: minoxidil
Another obvious one, but one that cannot be ignored nonetheless. Minoxidil did not become popular by mistake, it became popular because people can trust that it works.
Minoxidil is a highly effective vasodilator, meaning that it helps increase blood flow by opening up blood vessels. It was originally FDA approved to treat high blood pressure in 1979. Shortly after its approval, scientists began to realize the importance of blood flow in relation to hair growth (it’s very important).
9 years and a lot of research/scientific studies later, minoxidil was given the FDA’s stamp of approval for the treatment of male pattern hair loss, although later another less potent version was developed for female pattern hair loss.
Today minoxidil is one of the most well-researched hair loss treatments available. It is highly effective at promoting hair growth via. the stimulation of blood flow. It is often tested against new treatments that are in development because it is FDA approved and the research shows that it is one of the best treatments currently on the market.
Here is an article detailing everything you need to know about minoxidil.
Number three: low-level laser therapy
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a more (relatively) recent discovery that has had an immense positive impact on the hair loss community.
First discovered in 1967 in Hungary, LLLT was originally used for wound healing, more specifically to treat skin ulcers. In the initial trials conducted with LLLT it was discovered that low-level red light effectively grew hair in mice, but unfortunately that important discovery was swept under the rug.
It was only in the early 2000’s that people became curious and began investigating how low-level red light can benefit human hair loss. This eventually, in 2007 and 2011, led to the use of laser combs becoming an FDA approved treatment for male and female pattern hair loss.
Albeit LLLT’s FDA approval works differently than minoxidil and finasteride’s. Because of how much the wavelengths and strength of the light can vary, individual devices need to be FDA cleared instead of LLLT as a whole.
Make sure when you are purchasing a laser device that you do your research and get one that is FDA cleared. There are a lot of cheap devices on the market that will not be effective due to cheap lighting or incorrect wavelength settings. Going for the cheaper option, although I normally would recommend it, is not the correct way to go about buying a laser comb/helmet.
Learn all about LLLT here.
Number four: dutasteride
Think of dutasteride as finasteride’s older brother.
Sold under the brand name “Avodart”, dutasteride, just like finasteride, is a medication that is used to treat an enlarged prostate (it was approved in 2001 to do so).
It works similarly to finasteride by blocking DHT, although it does not have the FDA approval status like it. But that doesn’t stop many people from using it, and even doctors prescribing it, off-label for hair loss.
Dutasteride is commonly used as an alternative to finasteride in the case that a person does not respond well to finasteride, although studies have revealed that it is likely much more effective.
In short: dutasteride is a 5-alpha reductase (5-AR) inhibitor, as is finasteride, but it blocks both type 1 and type 2 5-AR, whereas finasteride only blocks type 2. This translates into dutasteride effectively blocking 90+ percent of DHT while finasteride is only capable of blocking around 70 percent.
There is a healthy amount of research surrounding dutasteride for hair loss, and it may even become the next FDA approved treatment in the near future. You can learn all you need to know about it here.
Finding the right hair loss treatment can be a daunting task. Everyone responds differently to different treatments and what works for someone else may not work for you.
That being said, to give yourself the best chance of overcoming hair loss you are going to want to use trustworthy treatments, or the treatments that have the most scientific evidence supporting them. Doing so will give you a good base to which you can add other, less studied treatments on top of.