Hair Loss Treatments: Do They Even Work?

Written by the Manual Team · Medically approved by Dr Earim Chaudry - MD

In 30 seconds…

Do hair loss treatments work? Well, it’s no surprise that you are asking the question. The internet is full of ads and scams about treatment for male pattern baldness that promise the world.

But the answer, simply, is “yes”. Hair loss treatments do work – as long as you get the right one.

Licensed medicines like Minoxidil and Finasteride, for example, are backed by the scientific community and are proven to be effective and safe. Taken together, they’ve been shown to stop hair loss – and even promote regrowth – in over 90% of men.

Are Hair Loss Treatments Effective?

Male pattern baldness (MPB) is frustrating enough on its own. On top of that, you don’t really need the extra worry that your hair loss treatments aren’t going to work.

It’s understandable that you’ll be concerned about treatments for MPB. About whether they’ll be legit or whether you’re just being taken advantage of. Caution is a good attitude to have, because there are scammers out there who’ll happily take your money and leave you without much – including hair.

However, there are hair loss treatments that genuinely work. These are treatments that, in the majority of cases, can stop further hair loss. And for some, the treatments even reverse it. So, be cautious, yes – and go where the solid evidence takes you.

In this article, we’ll show you what the science says about the hair loss treatments that work.

 

Why Am I Losing My Hair?

MPB – or androgenetic alopecia in men – is the most common cause of hair loss in men. It affects an awful lot of us, with 30% of men under 30 showing at least some signs of thinning. If you feel like your hairline is receding, the chances are it is MPB: 95% of all baldness cases in men are caused by the condition. Luckily, we do know how to treat it.

MPB happens because of your body’s production of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. This DHT is produced from testosterone as you get older – typically more during and after puberty – by an enzyme known as 5α-Reductase. 

We need DHT when we are young for us to develop muscle mass, a deep voice, and other features. However, our scalp-level hair follicles can become sensitive to it – meaning the more DHT we produce, the weaker our follicles can become. This is bad news for your hair, particularly that which sits above your temples and on your crown.

However, this is where effective hair loss treatments tend to intervene. By inhibiting the work of 5α-Reductase – the enzyme that creates DHT – drugs such as Finasteride mean there is nothing to damage or weaken your follicles. And this, in turn, means that your hair can continue to grow.

 

Which Are the Best Hair Loss Treatments?

There are two hair loss treatments that a significant number of different scientific studies show to work. These are Finasteride and Minoxidil – and they are effective in the vast majority of MPB cases.

If you are seeking legitimate treatment for your hair loss, these are the two drugs that you should be taking. Anything else, really, is a risk – either in terms of not being safe or not being effective. Let’s take them one at a time. But remember: they can also be used together for maximum effect.

 

Finasteride

Finasteride
Works in 9/10 Men

The most effective oral treatment for receding hairlines and balding crowns. Just one pill a day.
Start from £18

Finasteride is a hair loss treatment that works by inhibiting that 5α-Reductase enzyme we mentioned before. Without the work of that enzyme, there is less DHT in your system – meaning that your hair follicles cannot react adversely to it. Finasteride reduces the amount of DHT in your scalp by over 60%.

This is the most effective treatment for MPB hair loss on the market. Even if you were to undergo a hair transplant, you would still probably be taking Finasteride, as it stops the causes of hair loss at their root. The drug, by the way, is taken daily as a pill.

You’ll no doubt be looking for proof as to whether Finasteride – or Propecia, the branded name – does what is claimed for it. It does: one study found that 83% of long-term users of Finasteride showed no further hair loss, whilst 66% showed hair regrowth.

Further studies have been taken at one, two, and five years on Finasteride treatment. Compared with a placebo rate that showed hair loss in 58%, 72%, and 100% of men in the three respective years, those on Finasteride showed hair loss in 14%, 17%, and 35% of cases.

Finasteride does work. However, it is not an immediate fix. Most men see some results after three months of continued use, but it can take over 12 months before significant visible changes occur.

 

Minoxidil

The Complete Hair Loss Plan
Finasteride & Minoxidil

This powerful combo promotes hair growth by blocking DHT - a hormone linked to hair loss - and by increasing blood flow around your follicles.
Start from £28

An alternative – and potentially complementary – treatment to Finasteride is Minoxidil. Rather than being taken as a pill, it is applied topically. This means that you apply it to your scalp – usually twice daily.

Minoxidil – or Regaine in the UK, as it is known – as a medicine does not intervene in the production of DHT. Rather, its function is to improve the health and increase the lifespan of your hair follicles, so they continue to work for as long a time as possible.

It does this through Minoxidil’s action as a vasodilator. It widens, or dilates, the blood vessels in your scalp, meaning that more blood can flow to the local area, bringing oxygen and nutrients with it. This is key to follicular health. But does it work as a hair loss treatment?

Minoxidil, truth be told, is less effective than Finasteride on its own. However, a study found that 60% of patients saw improved hair coverage after 48 weeks of use. Another study found that, after a year, 92% of 11,000 participants rated the effect of the treatment as excellent, good, or fair.

Finasteride and Minoxidil are very safe to be used together – and the effectiveness of treatment is increased to over 90% when they are combined. They both work in synergy for maintaining hair and giving scope for regrowth, due to their independent modes of action on the hair follicles.

 

Key Takeaways...

So, do hair loss treatments work? Science suggests that the answer is a STRONG yes. But you need to be persistent and patient. Don’t give up too early, because you might miss out on the best outcomes.

Finasteride has been shown to increase hair coverage in nearly 70% of men who have taken it. Meanwhile, over 90% of men who have tried Minoxidil have been happy with the results. Always remember that the results are not immediate. Three-to-six months of continued use is required before you will start to see improved coverage.