Regaine along with other products on the market contain minoxidil. It probably won’t restore what’s lost, but it can help you hold on to what’s left and even help you regrow a bit. The topical med increases bloodflow as well as oxygen and nutrient delivery to the follicle. The liquid version of the product can cause irritation and leave a greasy coating on your hair, so opt for the 5 per cent foam, says hair-loss expert Dr Melissa Piliang. Rub it into your scalp in the morning and again at night for the most benefit. Be warned: this is a serious financial commitment. You have to use it forever to retain any gains. Bonus: unlike the oral medication finasteride (sold as Propecia, which is available by prescription only), minoxidil isn’t linked with erectile dysfunction or decreased libido.
Meditation and Exercise
In balding men, periods of rapid shedding are often brought on by stress. The reason? Stress floods your body with the hormone cortisol, then other hormone levels fluctuate in response, Piliang says. If you’re predisposed to balding, this can speed the process. To better control your stress, you might want to try traditional meditation or, if the lotus position isn’t your thing, an active meditation regimen such as yoga or tai chi. And commit to getting in better shape. A 2015 study in PLOS One found that older men with a high level of cardiorespiratory fitness release 42 per cent less cortisol throughout the day than unfit men do. The stress hormone has been linked to all sorts of diseases.
Swap your standard shampoo for a brand with one per cent ketoconazole or ask your GP to prescribe the two per cent version. “It’s marketed as an anti-dandruff ingredient, but there’s solid research ketoconazole is an anti-androgen,” says Piliang. Anti-androgens block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, the hormone that shrinks hair follicles. That’s how finasteride works too, but because ketoconazole is confined to the scalp, it doesn’t have the risk of negative sexual side effects, she says. Massage the shampoo into your scalp, step out of the shower stream, wait two minutes and rinse.
Besides minoxidil and finasteride, laser devices are the other major player in home hair-loss treatment. The devices are sold as wands or Star Wars–worthy helmets. In the largest study, published in 2014 in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, men who zapped their scalp three times a week saw a significant increase in hair density after 26 weeks. One theory is that lasers have an antioxidant effect on hair follicles. But before you invest (and these things aren’t cheap), understand that “hair growth” doesn’t necessarily mean “hair other people can see”. You will likely feel it, though, which may have a placebo effect on your confidence.
A British Journal of Dermatology study reported that people with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss, were three times as likely to be D deficient as those with healthy hair. “Vitamin D helps hair reset its growth phase,” explains Piliang. To jumpstart your follicles, she recommends taking 2000 IU a day of vitamin D3, especially in winter when you’re exposed to less sunlight. But don’t try baking your bald spot in the sun to ramp up your vitamin D production. That might result in an even bigger problem. “Men should be careful about sun exposure on a balding scalp, since it’s a common location for skin cancers,” Piliang warns.