Hair loss

How long will it take to see results from finasteride?

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Medically approved by Dr Earim Chaudry
Chief Medical Officer
iconLast updated 16th February 2024
In 30 seconds…

Finasteride is a treatment for hair loss caused by male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia). It works by making your hair follicles more resistant to the process that changes testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by interacting with the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase.

DHT makes your hair follicles shed hair more readily, which then reduces your overall amount of hair – because natural shedding outpaces natural growth.

Giving your hair follicles greater resistance to this process means that your overall amount of hair increases and the appearance of your hair improves.

Finasteride (brand name: Propecia) works as part of the natural cycle of shedding and growth, which means that it takes approximately three-to-six months for a visible difference in your hair to come about. Baby hairs and incremental change may appear before this, but for the majority of men, the maximum effect will be achieved in around 12 months.

Fighting Hair Loss with Finasteride

Hair loss in men is most commonly caused by male pattern baldness (MPB) – a near-universal phenomenon in adult men which is driven by a reaction in the hair follicles on the scalp to DHT. 

Male hormones can give us a muscular body shape and lend us deeper voices, but they can also have undesired side-effects, and one is to interfere with the growth and shedding cycle of our hair. From the day your male hormone production increases in your early teens, it’s a mixed blessing – and male pattern hair loss becomes a real possibility.

Naturally, this could be irreversible, but the hair growth (and hair loss) process is cyclical – and overall growth and loss depends on a constantly-fluctuating reaction to the body’s internal chemistry.

So in this case, nature can certainly be improved upon. Enter: Finasteride.

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Reliable & Trustworthy: FDA-approved Treatments

We all try products that are supposed to help us live our best lives, and the market is awash with products claiming to reverse hair loss and leave you with an incredible head of hair. The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted that many of those claims are just that: incredible.

So how to tell which cures are little more than magic beans? Well, at this stage there’s no evidence that any of the leaf rinses, powders or potions available over the counter have a significant and verifiable impact on balding and hair regrowth– regardless of how nice they smell, or how medicinal they may look.

Many men struggle because, although hair loss comes for most of us at some stage in life, the time when it hits varies wildly from the late teens to middle age. The occasional lucky soul makes it much longer.

This scattergun pattern means the average man can’t easily have the benefit of knowing what has worked well for his friends and family when he starts to consider hair retention when faced with a receding hairline.

For many men, it’s embarrassing to talk about in a casual chat because of the fear of appearing vain, yet we all like to look our best – and hair is part of an identity. In the face of these social obstacles, private research is often the preferred guide for what treatments to consider – and, in this case, we’re here to help.

One of the Best and Most Effective Treatments

As one of two FDA-approved medicines and a strong performer in clinical trials, Finasteride is undoubtedly one of the best options to consider. It can also be combined with another leading treatment called minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine) – a topical treatment applied to the scalp directly – which also stood up well in clinical testing. This can help make the medium-term results even more noticeable. 

When thinking about taking a new supplement or treatment, anyone would expect to seek out all the information and get a realistic sense of how it works, what benefits it could offer, and on what time scale.

Finasteride is a medicine rooted in science as opposed to a magic wand, which means that although the benefits are visible and significant in the vast majority of men in combating male pattern baldness, it does not regrow your hair overnight.

The reality of trying to achieve lasting natural results is that we have to work with the physical resources of the body. It’s therefore important to not set yourself up for disappointment and deprive yourself of good results in the medium-term. It takes patience. Stick with it!

What Happens During the First Few Months?

If you’re wondering about how long it takes to see positive results from Finasteride, it’s important to bear in mind that hair growth in general falls roughly into three phases. These are resting, visible growth, and shedding.

The net loss or increase in hair, and the appearance of your head of hair, relies on rebalancing the relationship between these phases. Finasteride acts by lengthening the growth phase and making the shedding stage less frequent. In the case of male pattern hair loss, it also makes the behaviour of the follicles on different areas of your scalp more consistent.

Male pattern baldness tends to target the susceptible areas on the crown and front of the scalp, which means that the disruption of its mechanism will yield the best results in these areas. The hair growth cycle takes at least 3 months to return an average-length short male hair to the point of needing to be cut again after natural shedding. For that reason, it takes approximately this long to observe noticeable Finasteride results.

Visible Results Can Take Up to Six Months

However, it can take up to six months for you to observe it at home by yourself. Hair follicles reach the stage where they’d normally begin to shed, but instead of losing those hairs, your scalp remains fuller as new hairs grow through. The results build over the following months.

In the early days, it’s possible that your barber or stylist will start to notice the baby hairs coming through before you do. But regardless, it’s important to be consistent when taking finasteride. Regularity is key, because the more regular you are, the better protected your hair follicles will be from testosterone-derived DHT. Thus, the better your head of hair will become over 12 months and longer.

For some men, it will initially be more about stopping loss than restoring what has been lost already – but progress builds up over time. Aside from surgery, there is no faster approach with more robust evidence. Indeed, hair plugs and hair transplants also take time to appear normal and healed on your scalp. And many surgeons still recommend taking finasteride to help retain the hair gained via the transplant and prevent further natural hair loss.

Key Takeaways…

Unfortunately, overnight total hair growth isn’t possible in any real or sustainable way.

However, the good news is that in the short-to-medium term there are safe, well-evidenced treatments like finasteride available to buy online. If taken consistently over time, this will help (and keep helping!) in your ongoing fight against hair loss. Especially when combined with topical minoxidil for the ultimate hair regrowth treatment.

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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