Hair loss treatments don’t have a good history. As long as men have been losing hair, we’ve been drinking miracle cures and rubbing all kinds of substances on our heads. The problem is that none of them worked. But then in 1992, along came finasteride.
Now it’s the go-to treatment for many guys to tackle male pattern baldness. But it can take time to see results with finasteride. Here we explain what you can expect from it and what you can do to get the best results with finasteride, as fast as possible.
What is finasteride?
Finasteride (also sold under the brand name Propecia) is a scientifically proven treatment for male pattern baldness (MPB) – the most common cause of hair loss in men.
How does finasteride work?
MPB is all about a mix of aging, genetics, and hormones. And the biggest culprit when it comes to hormones is DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT attacks the hair follicles in your scalp, causing them to shrink over time and produce thinner and shorter hairs, and eventually no hair at all.
Finasteride fights back against this by reducing how much DHT you have in your scalp. It blocks the enzyme (called type II 5α-reductase) that converts testosterone into DHT. This lowers DHT levels and stops it from shrinking your hair follicles. That’s what we’re talking about!
Does finasteride work?
And this is the biggie, compared to loads of MPB treatments. It’s a big fat yes. Finasteride is one of the few treatments for MPB that works. In clinical trials for finasteride, around 70% of men stopped losing hair and between 37% and 66% of men regained some lost hair. So, can finasteride regrow lost hair? Yes it can. Nice!
How long does finasteride take to work?
So, how long does it take to see results from finasteride? This will vary by man. Generally, with daily use of finasteride, you can expect to see noticeable results within three to six months. This is because hair follows a growth cycle, which means you must wait for the older, thinner hair to fall out and be replaced with a new growth of thicker hair.
As you continue to use finasteride and as DHT is kept at bay for longer you can see major improvements after one year. After five years of continuous use, you’ll have up to 10% more hair.
How do i know if finasteride is working?
Be consistent and keep using finasteride every day and you will begin to see results. If you don’t feel like it’s working, it may help to take regular photos of your head. Hair growth can be subtle. You may not notice it day to day, but photos can reveal changes over time.
How to speed up finasteride results
Yes, you can get impressive results with finasteride. But when it comes to our hair we’re not always that patient are we guys? So, what can you do to speed up hair growth with finasteride?
Try these tips:
Combine finasteride with minoxidil
Minoxidil (also sold under the brand name Rogaine) is the second major treatment for MPB. Like finasteride, minoxidil is proven to slow and stop hair loss and can even regrow some lost hair. You use minoxidil as a liquid or foam you apply to your scalp. It works by improving the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your hair follicles, which stimulates them to grow thicker and longer hairs.
Because minoxidil works in a different way from finasteride and contains a different active ingredient, you can use finasteride and minoxidil together safely. Research has even shown they can be more effective when used in combination rather than using each alone.
Take a vitamin D supplement
Vitamin D is required to produce new hair and research has suggested that increasing your vitamin D intake (if you have low levels) can limit hair loss to male pattern baldness. It’s not guaranteed, but increasing your intake of vitamin D alongside using finasteride may help you see results faster. You can get more vitamin D by spending more time in the sun and eating food rich in vitamin D (we’re talking eggs and oily fish). Vitamin D supplements are a cheap, easy, and effective way to boost your vitamin D levels.
Try a biotin supplement
Biotin (also known as vitamin B7) is one of the most important vitamins for hair growth. Biotin is needed to produce keratin, which is the main ingredient in hair. Not getting enough biotin in your diet can make your hair brittle and vulnerable to damage. It can even make it fall out. Taking biotin supplements alongside finasteride could improve your chances of seeing faster results.
Eat a healthy diet
As well as vitamin D and biotin, a wide range of other vitamins and minerals are needed to produce healthy hair. These include:
- Vitamin E
- Omega 3 oils
- Folic acid
By eating a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as pulses, whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy, and lean meats, you can make sure you get enough of these vitamins and minerals. This will give your hair the best chance it has to grow thick and full.
Try a daily scalp massage
This might sound a little far-fetched but trust us. Research has shown that daily four-minute massages, over 24 weeks were able to improve hair growth and thickness. It’s not known for sure why this is, but it’s thought it could be due to improving blood flow in the scalp and/or softening skin, and allowing hair to grow more easily.
Try a DHT blocking shampoo
A range of shampoos claim they can block the production of DHT in your scalp. The evidence of how well these shampoos work is lacking so far, but if they do what they claim, they could further help reduce DHT levels alongside finasteride. You can always experiment to see if DHT blocking shampoos work for you.
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- Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue – PMC
- The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review – PMC
- Use of Finasteride in the Treatment of Men With Androgenetic Alopecia (Male Pattern Hair Loss) – ScienceDirect
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