1 out of 4. That’s the average number of men who start losing their hair to male pattern baldness before the age of 30.
You are not alone brother; it’s nothing out of the ordinary. As a matter of fact, it’s quite common. Welcome to our club.
Hair loss is a different experience for everyone. And if you don’t care about losing hair, that’s perfectly fine. It’s not always worth stressing over it.
You have a defined jaw line, a strong brow ridge, a nice head shape and have the ability to grow a decent amount of facial hair? Then hair loss may not be a big deal in your case. You won’t lose much (if any) points in the looks department.
But while this holds true for those men, let’s not forget the other side of the coin, men who just don’t look very attractive when they go bald. If you consider yourself a part of this group, then you might want to consider some sort of treatment, particularly if you are still in your younger years.
So let’s pretend you take action and seek treatment for hair loss. Do a search on Google or Amazon. What do you find?
Spoiler alert: an ocean of snake oil – all imaginable ‘natural’ ways how to treat hair loss that won’t do anything, except waste your time and money.
When you just start searching for ways to reverse your hair loss, there is a great possibility you will be misled by companies who want to take advantage of your uninformed state.
To find products that actually work you have to dig deeper. It’s going to take you a bit of time to distinguish what works and what’s bullcrap.
That’s why I created this guide. I want to help steer you in the right direction. There are many new treatments and possibly even cures on the horizon, but for now, stick to what is proven to work. After all, the best way to treat hair loss is to start managing it early on. It’s much easier to keep the remaining hair you got then to regrow lost hair. And worst case scenario, you will slow it down to a degree it will take decades to show any noticeable recession.
Hair Loss Treatments For Men That Actually Work
Years have passed, and ‘The big three’ still reign supreme. The following are the best hair loss treatments for men:
The first member of ‘The big three’ and another extremely effective FDA approved hair loss treatment is minoxidil. Minoxidil was originally an oral medication for high blood pressure, after a while, however, patients started reporting hair growth everywhere on their body, and so the minoxidil topical solution for treating hair loss was born.
What minoxidil does is it stimulates your hair follicles to grow anywhere you apply it on your body. It works by widening blood vessels, allowing more oxygen, nutrients, and blood to the follicle. However, it does nothing to prevent the DHT from shrinking your hair follicles.
Ok, when can I start seeing results?
Results should begin to show anywhere between 2 to 6 months.
How do I use it?
Apply 1 ml of minoxidil liquid (or 1 foam squeeze, if you are using the foam version) all over the top of your scalp twice per day, with at least an 8-hour window of time in-between. It takes only a few minutes to apply, even less with the foam version. It’s faster than washing your teeth.
Some (myself included) use it only once per day, as Minoxidil has a half-life of 22 hours. However, Pfizer, the manufacturer of Rogaine, claims it can prove less effective this way.
Where can I get it?
Anywhere, it’s a medicine available over the counter. You can check it out on Amazon in the links below.
Liquid or foam minoxidil?
Both are equally effective. The topical solution is cheaper, but the foam is easier and faster to apply.
The box says it works only on the back of the scalp (vertex). Will it work in the front (temples) as well?
You bet. But the test was conducted only on the vertex, that’s why it can be only advertised to work on your crown.
What are some minoxidil brands?
There are plenty of minoxidil brands; Rogaine (know as Regaine in Europe), Lipogaine, Kirkland Minoxidil, Regenepure, Foligain, etc.
What are some of the best minoxidil products?
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular, tried, and ‘best’ minoxidil options:
In the 1980’s, Rogaine was the first brand to patent topical minoxidil as a hair regrowth treatment. After their patent expired in the 90’s, many new generic minoxidil brands began appearing on the market, finally plummeting the price down. Rogaine is a ‘well-tried’ and trusted minoxidil brand.
Both, the liquid and foam versions of Rogaine work equally well. Many prefer the topical aerosol, as it’s faster and easier to apply.
Since the FDA pulled every 10-15% minoxidil and anything containing azelaic acid, the golden days of minoxidil products with added DHT blocking substances are over, and a lot of people went back to using regular 5% minoxidil.
They just are not as effective anymore, but supposedly, they are now safer.
Lipogaine used to have 5% azelaic acid, but since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ‘unapproved azelaic acid’, Lipogaine hid the compound under the name ‘AzetinolTM.’ Sneaky Lipogaine.
Although only in vitro, a study has shown that azelaic acid is a potent 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor.
It also contains other ingredients that may prevent hair follicle shrinkage by DHT, for instance, saw palmetto, ketoconazole, emu oil, retinol, etc.
Lipogaine is pricier compared to regular 5% minoxidil brands. If you can afford increased price tag, it’s probably a good idea. The added DHT-blocking ingredients will give you a slight boost, but they can’t compare to finasteride.
Same as Rogaine, but at a lower price.
Why would anyone buy Rogaine if generic brands like Kirkland Minoxidil cost less?
Rogaine supposedly uses better quality ingredients. People report less itchiness, redness, and flakiness when using Rogaine compared to generic brands.
Kirkland minoxidil is cheap. A 6 month supply goes for around $25. This is probably your best budget option.
Rogaine vs Lipogaine vs Kirkland minoxidil
- Known and trustworthy brand
- Quality ingredients (lower chance of experiencing side effects)
- Has a higher price compared to other regular minoxidil products
- Additional DHT-blocking ingredients
- More expensive
- Available only in liquid form
- Works just as good
- Higher chance of experiencing side effects
Minoxidil is FDA approved, has no chance of producing sexual side effects, and regarding potency, only second to finasteride.
2. Finasteride (commonly referred to as Propecia)
Ah, yes. Propecia. The infamous male organ destroyer. If you read the hair loss forums on the internet, you can hear the screams of the few who supposedly got affected.
I’m no doctor, and while it’s definitely recommended you get one’s opinion before you try the drug, some of those claims may just be a little bit exaggerated.
Side effects, which are most often of a sexual nature, like loss of libido and erectile dysfunction, affect only a very small percentage of patients. And more often than not, they are psychological. The chances of you experiencing real side effects are next to impossible.
I don’t get anything out of promoting finasteride. I’m just presenting you my personal experience and overall impression of the drug after reading a ton of user feedback on the web and hearing a number of real life testimonies.
If you have tried the drug and have real experienced side effects, I’m sorry to hear that. You are one of the 1%.
If you think you might be having side effects do the following thing: don’t masturbate, ejaculate, have sex, or even watch porn for that matter for one week. One week. Just do it. Trust me. Many of you will feel silly for thinking you might have had side effects from finasteride.
If the problem persists, go to your doctor. (You might want to read this article on how to alleviate the side effects as well).
One more thing; don’t buy the thing online. Do yourself a favor and get a prescription from your doctor. You can never be too safe about this stuff.
Alright, so what is Finasteride?
Finasteride is a type II 5α-reductase inhibitor, an enzyme that converts Testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone).
If your hair follicles are sensitive to DHT they will begin to shrink, and each time they fall out they will become thinner and thinner until they become so small, they become virtually invisible. This is how male pattern baldness operates.
Propecia can suppress as much as 70% of DHT and can do any of the following: slow, halt, or even reverse hair loss in some cases. Here are tons of before and after photos.
How do I get it?
You can get it from your regular doctor, dermatologist, or online. Be wary if you plan on buying it online. It’s easy to get scammed, get your identity stolen, or something similar on dodgy pharmaceuticals websites. I would recommend you get a prescription from your doctor.
How do I take it?
One 1 mg pill every day is the most common way. Some use it every other day or stick to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, as it may have the same effect.
If you want to save money, get a prescription for Proscar (5 mg finasteride) and cut it into four pieces. It will be a lot easier on your wallet. Propecia is expensive.
When can I see results?
Some users experience regrowth as early as three months, but it may as well take up to a year. Consider slowing or halting your hair loss success as well. After all, that’s what Propecia does best.
Finasteride is FDA approved and arguably the best anti hair loss mechanism available.
Nizoral, or rather, ketoconazole, is the third anti hair loss component of ‘The big three.’
Originally, Nizoral is anti-dandruff and anti-fungal shampoo. But, several studies have confirmed the active ingredient ketoconazole, can help treat hair loss in men with male pattern baldness due to it’s anti-inflammatory, sebum reduction and anti-androgen qualities.
Although not as powerful as finasteride and minoxidil, it’s an excellent addition to your anti hair loss arsenal. To win this ‘war,’ you need every weapon you can get your hands on. Particularly one that’s relatively safe to use.
Nizoral is available in two versions: 1% and 2% ketoconazole. Usually, you need a prescription for the 2%.
Alright, how do I use it?
There are not clear guidelines on what’s the ‘best’ way to use Nizoral. But a good rule of thumb would be every other day. And at the very least, once per week. Apply it like you would any kind of shampoo, leave it on for 5 – 10 minutes, and thoroughly wash it off. Do everything you can it does not get into your eyes, trust me, I’m speaking from my experience.
Don’t go overboard with Nizoral, if you see your hair becoming brittle over time, cut back on the use. And if for some reason you start to feel sick, go to your doctor immediately.
1% or 2%, which one should I use?
Either, they are both effective. The 2% is more potent and may require a prescription. The Nizoral 1% is readily available over the counter.
Are there any side effects?
How long does it take to see results?
Nizoral should be used in conjunction with finasteride and minoxidil. Don’t use it on its own and expect to see huge results. In studies, men with MPB who were using Nizoral lost significantly fewer hairs over the months compared to those who weren’t. So don’t expect to regrow hair using it, but rest assured you hair loss progression is drastically slowed down.
Are there any other ketoconazole shampoo brands?
You bet. If you are having trouble finding this shampoo in your country, here is a complete list of ketoconazole shampoo brands.
Are there any others shampoos that are designed to combat hair loss?
An army of them. These also do not contain sodium laureth sulfate, a cheap foaming agent which causes irritation and inflammation. However, most of them don’t work. They are nothing more that snake oil. Here’s our guide to hair loss shampoos that actually work.
‘The big three’ Conclusion
There you have it. As of now, ‘The big three’ (minoxidil, finasteride, and ketoconazole) are still the best treatment for male pattern baldness. And, well, one could say even a cure, since if you start treating your hair loss with these early on, you can quite likely hold on to your hair for a lifetime.
What else is out there?
There are many more treatments for hair loss available, but they can be either hard to obtain, have a higher chance of side effects or possess little evidence to support their efficacy.
1. Dutasteride (
Dutasteride is a dual 5-α reductase inhibitor manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline under the name ‘Avodart.’ Its primary use is to treat BHP (benign prostatic hyperplasia).
Avodart is essentially a much stronger Propecia. It reduces significantly more serum DHT, but it has a higher occurrence side effects. Dutasteride inhibits both Type 1 and Type 2 5-α reductase, while finasteride inhibits only Type 2.
To get Avodart, you will have to convince your doctor to give you a prescription. Personally, I have not tried the drug. But if you have extremely aggressive hair loss and believe it has a very negative impact on your life, talk with your doctor.
But let’s be clear on this, dutasteride is much riskier than finasteride. Try finasteride first, and if that does not work, only then start thinking about Avodart.
RU58841 is an experimental drug for topical treatment of androgenetic alopecia, acne, and hirsutism.
Since the drug is applied topically, it shouldn’t have systemic effects like oral treatments.
How RU58841 works is instead of suppressing DHT (like finasteride, dutasteride, and ketoconazole), it prevents it from attaching to hair follicles.
For now, the drug is only intended as a research chemical, but you can still buy it online on several websites for ‘research purposes.’
The Dermaroller is a small plastic roller with numerous small needles, designed to improve skin and help treat hair loss by rolling it on the affected area.
Originally, the Dermaroller was just a tool for skin care, but a later study confirmed that if used on the scalp in conjunction with minoxidil, it can help regrow hair better than using minoxidil alone.
‘Dermarolling’ will cause small incisions on your skin. It shouldn’t hurt or cause bleeding, but it leaves your skin a bit reddish after use.
The way it is supposed to work is to cause minor damage to your skin so it starts to heal and ‘regenerate,’ as it wouldn’t do so otherwise. It should also increase collagen and help better absorb nutrients in the area.
While there is some evidence, the efficacy of Dermaroller as an effective hair loss treatment is still widely debatable and has sparked controversy.
There are people online who claim it does wonders for them, but then, there is also an equal amount of those who believe it doesn’t do jack, and may even be harmful.
If you want to try the Dermaroller, I would advise you to go easy on it. Don’t use it more than once a week, and don’t apply minoxidil on the day you do.
You can find a lot more information and read real user experiences (with pictures) in this huge thread.
4. Topical Spironolactone
Spironolactone (Aldactone) is primarily used to treat fluid build-up due to heart failure, kidney disease, or liver scarring. It’s also used for treating high blood pressure, low blood potassium, excessive hair growth in women, and transgender hormone therapy.
While that is not our goal, when applied topically, spironolactone has some evidence it blocks DHT from binding to your hair follicle receptors without going systemic and causing side effects.
Topical spironolactone has never gathered a lot of attention and has a reputation as a weak topical DHT blocker.
Some users swear by it, but the general tone is that spironolactone effectiveness is unconvincing.
Topical spironolactone can be bought here. I would suggest you use it in combination with other, stronger DHT blockers – or preferably, just skip it altogether.
What about future hair loss treatments?
There is a great deal of future hair loss treatments and possible cures in development. But these won’t be available anytime soon. And when they finally hit the market, they most likely won’t be cheap.
HairLossTalk.com has created a great looking visual ‘pipeline’ of upcoming treatments from many different companies, institutions, and research facilities:
‘The big three’ is for now still the best regime to treat hair loss. It is safe, inexpensive and takes only a few minutes of your day.
And best of all, it works.
If you have a friend who is experiencing hair loss and is bothered by it, have him read this article. Friends don’t let friends buy snake oil.
If you have any questions, constructive criticism, experiences, thoughts or ideas; leave a comment below. I would be happy to make any changes if any of my facts are wrong or update if you have some useful information for fellow male pattern baldness sufferers.