One thing that you learn very quickly when you are trying to overcome hair loss is to hope for the best but expect the worst.
Everyone is different. There is no way of telling how your body is going to respond to different hair loss treatments, and nowhere is this truer than in the case of minoxidil. Studies throughout the years, before and after minoxidil’s FDA approval, have consistently shown it be effective in about 60% of men, but “effective” is relative.
Some men may be able to regrow all their hair on minoxidil, others might only be able to maintain what they have, and a select unlucky few may respond poorly and worsen their hair loss, it all depends on the individual. But what are you supposed to do if you happen to be one of the unlucky few?
Don’t panic. This is a question that many are faced with but few know the answer too. Hopefully this article will make everything clear. We are going to go over what is likely the best course of action for someone who has (probably apprehensively) realized that minoxidil isn’t going to work for them.
It’s important to understand minoxidil
In order to successfully move forward after realizing that minoxidil doesn’t work for you, you need to understand exactly what it is and what it does.
Minoxidil is classified as a vasodilator. A vasodilator is a medication that affects the muscles in your veins and arteries, preventing them from tightening. This allows blood to flow more freely throughout the body (i.e. blood flow is increased). What does this have to do with hair loss?
Red blood cells carry vital oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, but more pertinently to the hair follicles. These compounds are used by the hair follicles to promote hair growth and complete healthy growth cycles. When someone is experiencing hair loss, the blood flow in the scalp is lower and the hair may not be receiving what it needs to function properly (1).
This is exactly what minoxidil works to prevent and reverse, if you respond well to is that it, but again what if you don’t?
There are many minoxidil alternatives
Although scientists aren’t entirely sure how minoxidil increases blood flow, they know for certain that it does. But, there are many other things that you can do/use to increase blood flow to your scalp as well.
Before we get into the different ways that you can increase blood flow, it is important to reiterate, again, that no two people are the same, and what has worked for others may not work for you. Also, minoxidil is still currently the only FDA approved hair loss treatment for blood flow, meaning that other treatments, although they have some data to back them, have not yet consistently shown to be as effective as minoxidil.
I recommend combining several of the treatments we are about to talk about in order to maximize your chances of being able to increase your blood flow and regrow your hair.
Use other topical treatments
Although there is an oral version of minoxidil available, it is typically used as a topical medication. If you want to stick to the topical route there are several alternative to minoxidil that you can use:
Rosemary oil has been shown to work similarly to minoxidil by utilizing vasodilation to increase blood flow. In fact, in one study, it was found to be equally as effective as minoxidil over a period of 6 months (and it even reduced scalp irritation).
Here I have written an entire article about rosemary oil.
In one study, peppermint oil was pitted against minoxidil and emerged triumphant in terms of increased hair length, thickness, and depth.
Although peppermint and rosemary oil are the two most prominent topical alternatives to minoxidil (in terms of solid research available), there are several others that show promise as well. You can read all about them here.
But, topical treatments are not the only way that you can increase blood flow to your scalp. Instead of leaving all the work to the medication you can instead manually stimulate blood flow.
Manually stimulate blood flow
Stimulating blood flow without the assistance of medication or supplementation has been shown to be quite effective at increasing hair growth. There are two main ways to do it: scalp massages and the inversion method.
Preforming daily scalp massages are a great way to increase blood flow. By pressing and rolling with your fingers, you can draw blood flow to the areas where hair loss is occurring, and if done correctly it can be quite effective. Here is an article I wrote detailing everything scalp massage-related.
One study showed that just one 4-minute massage a day can increase hair thickness and density. Another study suggested that scalp massages may be able to affect androgenic alopecia (pattern hair loss) directly by stabilizing hair loss and promoting regrowth.
Even easier than scalp massages, the inversion method is simple: you hang upside down for 2-3 minutes to allow blood to rush to your head. This floods your hair follicles with the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to grow.
Although the premise behind the inversion method makes sense, there have not yet been any scientific studies conducted on it in regards to hair loss. But, there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence of people who have had success using it, including myself in which I can almost certainly attribute some of my successful hair regrowth to the inversion method.
Here is an article talking about the inversion method more in depth.
The last thing that you can use are hair supplements, specifically those that include ingredients which have been scientifically proven to increase blood flow. However, supplements should not be used as a minoxidil replacement, more so as an addition to your hair loss regimen on top of some of the remedies we talked about above.
There are plenty of hair supplements available, some would say too many, just make sure that you do your research. Or you could make it easy on yourself and read up on the ingredients included in our supplement Follicle Foundation.
The harsh reality is that there is a chance that you might not get anything out of using minoxidil. But you don’t have to be like so many others and give up when the going gets tough.
There are plenty of alternatives to minoxidil that work to increase blood flow. All you need to do is be willing to try different treatments, not to mention stick with them, so that you can find out which ones do and don’t work for you. Blood flow isthe most important aspectof regrowing your hair, don’t ignore it.