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Hair loss products: What really works?

Balding Bob Says: Hey Beauty Brains, I’m enjoying your website but you never have any questions from guys. So here’s your first one: Do all those hair loss products really work? I need to know!

The Brains Respond:

Bob, the sad truth is: No. Those products don’t really do much. Unless you’re talking about the only two drugs that are currently approved by the FDA for combatting hair loss/promoting hair growth: Minoxidil and Propecia.

Minoxidil, trade name Rogaine, is a topically applied liquid that does work in a limited number of cases. But even then it only works partially. You can read more about it here at the National Institute of Health’s site.

Minoxidil (mi-NOX-i-dil) applied to the scalp is used to stimulate hair growth in adult men and women with a certain type of baldness. The exact way that this medicine works is not known.

If hair growth is going to occur with the use of minoxidil, it usually occurs after the medicine has been used for several months and lasts only as long as the medicine continues to be used. Hair loss will begin again within a few months after minoxidil treatment is stopped.

Propecia, on the other hand, is an oral drug, originally designed to treat enlarged prostate glands and it has been shown to have some efficacy against hair loss. If you want to take a pill everyday for the rest of your life, it might be a viable option. Read more about Propecia here.

Now, read this next statement very carefully:

THERE IS NO OTHER HAIR LOSS TREATMENT THAT HAS BEEN PROVEN TO WORK!

Get it? That means that all the other products like Scalp med that advertise that they control hair loss or that they increase hair growth DON’T WORK. They’re not clinically proven – even if they SAY they’re clinically proven, the FDA doesn’t recognize them. By the strictest sense of the law, these products are unapproved drugs and are therefore illegal. But the FDA is busy approving new cancer medications (thankfully!) and so they don’t have a lot of resources to spend on ferreting out manufacturers who make hair growth claims on radio or on the internet. (Have you noticed that you don’t see these commercials on major TV networks?)

Just so you know, most of these products claim to work by blocking DHT , the cholesterol-like material that is purported to clog folicles and inhibit hair growth. Unfortunately, the biology of hair growth is not that simple, and there is no solid evidence to show that topically applied DHA blockers actually stop you from balding. So let the buyer beware!

A good source for more basic info on this subject is Men’s Health.about.com.

And if you want to see some very cool cutting edge hair loss technology, check out this article on gene therapy.

‘Nuff said.

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