While much of the focus on hair loss is towards men, it can be equally challenging for women to find solutions for their thinning hair. In the U.S, approximately one in four women will have this issue at some point in their lives, and companies are finally starting to recognize this. Due to the vast market demand, more and more treatments are coming on the market that claims to help with female hair loss. We have examined some of the most popular and successful brands to find out what you need to know.
There are many reasons that women will suffer from Alopecia, including medical conditions, menopause, medications, physical stress, lack of protein, over-styling, the natural aging process, and of course, female-pattern baldness. Some shedding like that which happens with pregnancy or after a traumatic physical event will fix itself without the need for treatment, while other conditions will leave you looking for ways to grow your hair back. Most women will be able to grow their hair back after losing it, but before looking for a treatment, you need to figure out the cause.
When women lose hair, they tend to see a reduction in volume, rather than loss of the total number of strands (which is what happens to men). As a result, some products that help with the look of volume and thickness that don’t make a difference for men with thinning hair might be an option for some females.
Minoxidil for Females
One of the most successful treatments for both men and women is minoxidil. Minoxidil is the active ingredient in Rogaine®, but you can also get it under various generic brand names, including Walmart and Costco’s house brands (Equate and Kirkland). Pantene also has a minoxidil product available, and another well-known brand is Lipogaine. All of these products listed are available over-the-counter. Generally, the minoxidil products sold to women are 2% strength, except for Rogaine for Women, which is the only FDA approved 5% strength minoxidil product for women.
Minoxidil is one of the few drugs that has research showing that it does help with growth, and, for most women, it is the best option if you are worried about Alopecia.
The downside to using a minoxidil product is that to get the best results, you will have to commit to using it on an ongoing basis. When you stop using it, any results that you have seen will disappear.
Some users do experience side effects, including an itchy or flaky scalp, eye irritation, or unwanted growth on other areas of the body.
The treatment itself involves massaging the product into the scalp twice a day, either on dry or damp hair. Most instructions for using minoxidil products say to wait until the product is dry before applying any styling products. Most individuals can expect to begin to see results after about four months of treatment. The cost averages about $30 per month for the product. If you are interested in minoxidil, here are the most popular over-the-counter options:
Rogaine for Women Hair Regrowth Treatment Foam
Rogaine is the big name in over-the-counter minoxidil products. Women’s Rogaine was introduced in 2014 and was the first FDA‐approved 5% minoxidil foam treatment for women. Before this version came out, women were only using the regular Rogaine, which has been sold since 1988. This version is a convenient foam that is very easy to apply. Small clinical trials have shown that the 5% minoxidil solution is much more effective in keeping the hair that you have as well as re-growth in women with androgenetic alopecia than the 2% solution. To use it, you have to massage it into your scalp twice a day, and you should then begin to see results around the six-month mark. The cost is approximately $50 for a three-month supply.
Equate is the Walmart house brand and is a 2% concentration of minoxidil formula. The treatment involves applying one milliliter of the solution directly onto the scalp in the thinning area twice a day.
Lipogaine for Women is a little different than some of the other minoxidil products available because it has Biotin in the formula. Biotin is a very popular supplement that is believed to help get healthy hair. Lipogaine for Women also contains niacin and other hair nutritious vitamins. You can find out more at Lipogaine.com or check out their shampoo on Amazon
Vitamins and Supplements
Depending on your type of hair loss, you may find you can get some result with the addition of a few essential vitamins or supplements to your diet. It won’t have much effect if your Alopecia is caused by female pattern baldness, but if you are looking for treatments for hair loss caused by other types of conditions, you may find some vitamins in the vitamin b family helpful. Specifically, biotin has become an essential supplement for treating thinning as studies have shown that it can help strengthen texture and appearance.
Biotin or Vitamin B7 is also called Vitamin H or Coenzyme R. It is a water-soluble compound and one of the B-complex vitamins. Results from several small studies suggest that biotin supplements may improve thinning hair and brittle nails. There are many different brands of biotin to choose from, a couple to look for are Sports Research, Natrol, and Nature’s Bounty.
Another top-rated product to help treat hair loss is Viviscal. Not only does it contain biotin, but it also has fish protein, vitamin C, zinc, iron, horsetail extract, and niacin that claim to nourish thinning hair and promote existing growth. In studies conducted Viviscal, the subjects of the study seem to indicated hair regrowth and positive results.
Again if you are looking for a product to help with re-growth if you have female pattern Alopecia, your best bet is to try a product that contains minoxidil as these types of products are what performs best in clinical trials. Although, depending on the cause of your hair loss, you may find some benefit from other kinds of products. The following are products that some consumers have had positive results that also have some clinical studies backing up the company’s claim.
There is some medical research showing the benefits of caffeine to help with fighting against hair loss, particularly for women. Customer feedback also indicates that many users find caffeine shampoos to be effective and easy to use.
Hair Surge Shampoo
Hair Surge is one of the most popular caffeine shampoos around and is a good option if you are interested in trying out a caffeine shampoo. This shampoo contains 0.2% Ketoconazole as well as caffeine and Saw Palmetto. Saw Palmetto is another ingredient that helps treat thinning issues. It is an enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase, which is involved with the change of testosterone into DHT. The company is so sure that you will love this shampoo that they offer a 90-day money-back guarantee.
PURA D’OR Anti-Hair Loss Premium Organic Argan Oil Shampoo
If you are worried about the chemicals in many of the hair loss options and are a looking for something a little more natural to fight your Alopecia, a favorite product that has excellent customer feedback is PURA D’OR. It is a 100% Natural Preservative Anti-Hair Loss Formula that is also certified organic and has no SLS, parabens, and no harmful chemicals. What it does have is a mixture of biotin, pumpkin seed, black cumin seed oil, nettle, and a DHT blocker blend that the company claims can help reduce shedding, as well as thicken and increase the volume. It is also hypo-allergenic, cruelty-free, and safe for colored hair
Another exciting product that comes up a lot is Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. Despite being marketed to help treat dandruff, Nizoral contains ketoconazole, which is useful in helping to reduce the production of testosterone in women (and men) that can be a factor with hair loss. It won’t work for everyone, but if your thinning is caused by too much testosterone, it may work for you. Check out this study that shows how it works for hair loss. To use it is pretty simple, for the first two weeks, use it twice a week and leave it on for around 5 minutes. After the first two weeks, you only have to use it once every two weeks, making it one of the better treatments to try out. It is also one of the least expensive treatments around at only about $10 per bottle.
If all else fails, you may want to have a look at Toppik Hair Building Fibers. Toppik won’t help with growth, but it will help your hair look thicker and fuller. Toppik fibers have colored keratin protein, and they blend in with your existing hair. There are some different hair fiber products on the market to choose from, but Toppik is one of the better ones for women. It only works well if you just have a small patch to fill in. It comes in nine different shades that you mix to find your perfect color, and it will wash out when you shampoo your scalp.
With the explosion of home laser devices for all kinds of different purposes, it’s not surprising there have been a number of new products on the market that claim to help with hair regrowth. Many experts are somewhat skeptical about home laser treatments to help with hair regrowth, but that hasn’t stopped an increasing number of start-ups and established companies from producing elaborate and expensive devices. We have listed a few of the FDA cleared laser devices that are currently on the market. (Be aware that FDA clearance is different than FDA approval. These products are cleared for safety not necessarily effectiveness.)
Some of the most popular products in this category are:
The price and effectiveness of these devices are the major downsides to purchasing. Some studies have shown that as many as 20% of users have success with laser devices while using them in combination with other treatments when trying to regrow hair. So if you purchase one of these types of products, there is a reasonably high risk that it won’t work for you, but then again, you may be one of the lucky 20%.
On the positive side, there are almost no side-effects from using a laser device for hair regrowth. You can do it at home, and it requires a minimal time commitment per day, although you would have to use it over a long period to see results. They aren’t painful and cause no discomfort to the user.
Which Treatments Should Women Avoid?
If you have been reading about Alopecia, you may have come across three medications that are considered useful for getting the best result in treating male pattern hair loss: minoxidil, finasteride, and dutasteride. Of these three ingredients, only minoxidil is generally recommended for women to use.
Finasteride doesn’t work in women because the way that it works for men is that it keeps the male sex hormone testosterone from forming its DHT by-product. Women mustn’t use finasteride if they are pregnant, as it may cause congenital disabilities. In some rare cases, it has been used to treat female-pattern hair loss, but it is generally not approved for women.
Dutasteride should also not be used by women who are pregnant as it may cause congenital disabilities.