There are just two clinically proven drug treatments which can prevent further hair loss and promote regrowth. Finasteride (most famously marketed as Propecia) and minoxidil (most famously marketed as Regaine and Regenepure Minoxidil Spray). “A combination of both is the best basis for any course of treatment,” advises Doclis.
How does it work? Propecia inhibits the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is responsible for miniaturising follicles, eventually leading to fallout. Take a 1mg pill every day and, provided you’re not one of the around 15% of men who are propecia non-respondent, your hair loss should soon stall – and in time you might well see some regrowth as well. A two-year study of 1553 men with mild to moderate thinning found 83% maintained or increased their hair count. Want to save a bit of cash? “Propecia lasts for about 16 hours so even if you take it every other day it should still work,” says Reddy. Just stick to a regular programme to avoid messing with your hormone levels unduly.
How does it work? This antihypertensive, widely available in 2% and 5% formulations, is marketed under a variety of brand names (Rogaine, Regenepure Minoxidil 5% Spray are the most well-known). Applied directly to the scalp, minoxidil prevents further hair loss and encourages regrowth, but it’s not known precisely how. “Research is ongoing,” says Marilyn Sherlock, chairman of the Institute of Trichologists. “It appears to be connected with activating potassium pathways, but we don’t know any more than that at the moment.” What’s certain is the stuff works: clinical tests found 85% of men who applied 5% minoxidil twice a day had improved their hair count after four months.
Don’t be surprised if new hair is downy at first – and be prepared for some extra shedding in the first few weeks of use.