According to the American Hair Loss Association, approximately two-thirds of American men experience some form of hair loss (alopecia) by the time they’re 35 years old, and this percentage only increases with age -- by the time they’re 50, about 85% of men have some degree of thinning hair. Of course, women are affected by hair loss and thinning hair, too, contributing to 40% of total hair loss in the U.S. Despite the prevalence of this phenomenon, though, many individuals who begin losing their hair feel worse about their self-image, and their mental health, social lives, and even career may suffer as a result. It is no wonder, then, that so many people seek a reliable, effective hair loss solution.
Unfortunately, some manufacturers and marketers have taken advantage of this high demand, selling ineffective, overpriced, and/or potentially unsafe products that make big, yet empty, promises. If you truly want to restore your hair or at least slow down the thinning process, you must maintain a discerning eye and know how to spot a scam. Here’s how you can separate the credible hair loss solutions from the deceptive ones.
While hair loss has been around for as long as humans have, it was only a couple of decades ago that researchers and doctors found effective, promising solutions for it. In other words, the science of hair restoration is still in its early stages, and a hair loss cure may still be years -- decades, if not centuries -- away. With this in mind, you should be skeptical whenever coming across a hair loss solution that guarantees hair regrowth and/or features words like “fast,” “immediate,” etc.
Likewise, if a product mentions inaccurate or pseudo-scientific claims regarding hair loss causes (such as diet, stress, etc.) and leaves out proven causes such as the sex hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone), be wary. And even if a product mentions DHT and other scientifically-backed claims, make sure the label clearly states whether it actually blocks DHT and performs other functions that truly slow down or stop hair loss.
Of course, even if you do your due diligence, if hair loss and dermatology aren’t your areas of expertise, it’s easy to be misled by certain products. For this reason, always talk to a dermatologist before deciding on a solution. Indeed, speaking with a professional has several advantages. First, they can help determine the root cause(s) of your alopecia, which will help them create a suitable treatment regimen. Second, they can help you find effective solutions and avoid scams. And third, if necessary, they can prescribe you more potent solutions than what you might find over the counter.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to spot a phony hair loss treatment is knowing this simple fact: as of now, there are only two FDA-approved, clinically-proven hair loss treatments on the market -- minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia). Simply put, if a product does not contain either of these substances, it is not reliable and not worth your time or money.
Keep in mind, however, that even finasteride and minoxidil are not guaranteed to work for everyone, and results do vary from person to person. This is why it is important to manage your expectations and remain patient while you and your dermatologist try to find the right solution for your hair loss. If neither of these options seem to be working, your dermatologist might recommend undergoing hair restoration surgery, such as follicular unit transplants (FUT), follicular unit extraction (FUE), follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS), and laser therapies. These procedures should only be considered after trying various reliable hair loss treatments.
If you’re losing your hair and don’t know where to turn, understand that some entities are out to get your money without providing real value. So, be careful -- read labels and claims carefully, talk to a dermatologist, know what actually works, and keep your expectations in check. Meanwhile, the experts at Vanguard Dermatology are here to help you navigate the topics of hair loss prevention, mitigation, and restoration.