Hair loss can’t always be prevented and can be caused by either genetics or the environment. But there are treatments and remedies that might help slow down the process.
Before you go out and buy supplements and special tonics, learn which ones have shown some promise in preventing or treating hair loss.
In this article, we use “male and female” to refer to someone’s sex as determined by their chromosomes, and “men and women” when referring to their gender (unless quoting from sources using nonspecific language).
Sex is determined by chromosomes, and gender is a social construct that can vary between time periods and cultures. Both of these aspects are acknowledged to exist on a spectrum both historically and by modern scientific consensus.
Was this helpful?
Hair loss could be caused by:
- Genetics and family history: If your relatives have hair loss, you’re more likely to develop it. Male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia is a genetic condition where people gradually lose hair. This could show up as a slowing receding hairline or thinning patches on the crown of your head.
- Medication conditions: Some medical conditions like hormonal problems or autoimmune diseases cause hair loss. For example, thyroid problems, scalp infections, or trichotillomania (a hair-pulling disorder) could lead to thinning hair or bald patches. An autoimmune condition called alopecia areata develops when the immune system attacks hair follicles resulting in bald patches.
- Medications and medical treatments: Hair loss is a potential side effect of several medications for conditions like cancer, depression, gout, heart disease, and arthritis.
- Stress: Chronic stress or stressful events could lead to temporary hair thinning.
No matter the cause, finding a treatment can vary based on the factors listed above and personal preference. To weigh your options, see which type of treatment could work best for you from our picks below.
Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medication
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two medications to treat male pattern baldness:
- Minoxidil (Rogaine): Rogaine is available over the counter as a liquid or foam in a Men’s Rogaine and Women’s Rogaine formula. It’s applied to the scalp twice per day to help encourage hair growth and prevent hair loss. Minoxidil is the active ingredient in Rogaine, and it’s also available in a generic form as a liquid solution or as an oral tablet. Both Rogaine and minoxidil can take 4–6 months to see results. Results also depend on proper application and dosage.
- Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar): Finasteride is a pill that you take daily. It’s only available with a prescription from your doctor. The FDA states that it will generally take at least 3 months of daily use to see results from the drug.
- Combination minoxidil and finasteride: Some people experiencing hair loss may benefit from combining minoxidil and finasteride together through a prescription treatment. While minoxidil is available over the counter, the highest available concentration is 5%. A prescription is required for anything above 5%, but through services like Roman, Keeps, and Happy Head, subscribers can be evaluated to see if they would benefit from this treatment and a minoxidil concentration above 5%.
For both minoxidil and finasteride, it may take up to 1 year to see results, and you’ll need to keep taking them to maintain the benefits.
Can I buy hair loss medication online?
You can buy many of the most popular hair loss medications online and in most cases, have them shipped discreetly to your home. Here are our reviews of two of the top places to buy these medications online, including a closer look at how they stack up against each other:
- Keeps Review 2023: How Well Does It Work for Hair Loss?
- Hims Hair Loss Treatment Review
- Hims vs. Keeps: Which Hair Loss Subscription Is Right for You?
- A 2023 Review of Happy Head for Hair Loss: Does it Actually Work?
Was this helpful?
The two most popular hair transplant procedures are follicular unit transplantation and follicular unit extraction.
Keep in mind that both hair transplant procedures are considered surgery, so they can be expensive and may cause some level of discomfort.
There are also certain risks, including infections and scarring. You may need to do multiple hair transplant treatments to get the desired outcome.
Follicular unit transplantation (FUT)
FUT is the more “classic” method. It involves removing some skin, typically from the back of your scalp, where there’s an abundance of hair. A surgeon then removes the follicles from that strip of skin. Finally, they reinsert the hair follicles into the part of the scalp where you’re experiencing hair loss.
Follicular unit extraction (FUE)
In FUE, a surgeon removes hair follicles directly from the scalp and transplants them into the bald parts of the scalp. Direct hair implantation (DHI) is a modified version of this technique in which a specialized tool is used to complete the procedure.
Laser treatment is thought to help reduce the inflammation in follicles that prevents regrowth for some types of hair loss like alopecia areata. For other types of hair loss, a 2013 reviewTrusted Source suggests that treatment from low-level laser therapy (LLLT) may increase hair growth through other mechanisms.
There are limited studies to support the effectiveness of laser treatments for hair loss. But a 2015 reviewTrusted Source indicates that LLLT is safe and effective when used to treat male pattern hair loss.
According to a 2019 reviewTrusted Source, more research on LLLT is still needed.
If you’re a smoker, you’ve likely heard about the negative effects smoking has on your lungs. But did you know that smoking may be associated with hair loss?
A 2020 study involving 1,000 men found that the majority of those who smoked had some degree of hair loss, compared with less than half of the participants who did not smoke.
If you smoke, quitting may help decrease hair loss.
Not only do massages feel wonderful, but they may help with hair loss, too. Massaging the scalp stimulates the hair follicles.
In a small 2016 study, healthy Japanese men who received 4 minutes of scalp massage each day for 24 weeks had thicker hair at the end of the study.
Research from 2019 also showed that scalp massages were associated with self-perceived improvements in hair density.
A balanced diet may help keep your hair healthy. It’s important to include a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, unsaturated fats, and lean proteins in your diet. Limiting sweets is also helpful.
A 2018 literature reviewTrusted Source suggests an association between certain vitamins and minerals found in food and healthy hair. Consider adding these foods to your diet:
- iron-rich foods, including lean beef, beans, green leafy vegetables, iron-fortified grains, and eggs
- foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, flaxseeds, egg yolks, hemp seeds, and walnuts
- high protein foods, such as eggs, lean meats, and seafood
Drinking plenty of water is also an important part of a balanced diet.
Stress can have adverse effects on the body, including your hair, and can lead to hair loss.
Strategies to help reduce stress include:
- regular physical activity like exercising
- listening to music
- practicing yoga
- getting enough sleep
A 2013 studyTrusted Source indicated that rosemary leaf extract improved hair regrowth in mice.
Saw palmetto is a plant with small berries.
While research is sparse on saw palmetto’s ability to treat hair loss, a 2020 reviewTrusted Source suggests it may help with hair growth while having few side effects.
Biotin is a vitamin found naturally in foods like:
- sweet potatoes
There’s some evidence that taking biotin may help slow hair loss, but most of the researchTrusted Source has been done in women with a biotin deficiency. However, there is a lack of evidenceTrusted Source to support supplementing with biotin actually has a noticeable effect in healthy individuals.
A small 2014 studyTrusted Source showed that the use of onion juice as a topical treatment resulted in significantly more regrowth than just tap water in people with patchy alopecia areata. More research on people with male pattern hair loss is needed.
A rat study from 2008Trusted Source showed that extracts of the herb resulted in better hair regrowth than minoxidil. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects in humans.
Another purported herbal remedy for hair loss is green tea.
In a 2005 study in miceTrusted Source, the polyphenolic compounds present in green tea showed promise as a natural remedy for hair loss. But there have not been any human studies to confirm these effects.
Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is marketed widely in India for hair growth. A 2003 study in miceTrusted Source showed positive effects on hair follicles, but no studies have been done in humans.
Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is an inherited trait. Medline Plus states that it affects more than half of men over age 50. However, stress or other autoimmune conditions such as alopecia areata can also affect hair loss.
It’s typical to lose around 50 to 100 hairs every day. Usually, this loss isn’t noticeable because new hair grows to replace the hair lost. Hair loss and baldness occur when hair falls out too quickly or new hairs stop growing.
Depending on the cause of hair loss, you may notice slowly thinning hair or a sudden bald patch. Hair loss can impact just the hair on your scalp or the entire body.
Be gentle with your locks
Try to be as gentle as possible when brushing or styling your hair. Constantly twisting, twirling, or pulling your hair tight can lead to hair loss.
If you’re worried about hair loss, you may want to avoid the following:
- tight hairstyles, such as pigtails, cornrows, braids, and buns
- chemicals used in perms and hair straightening treatments
- hot curling irons or straightening irons
- bleaching your hair
If you do use chemicals or bleach in your hair, get help from a trained professional. Do not try to do it yourself at home.
Get a checkup
Aside from your genetics, several medical conditions can cause hair loss. Treating any underlying medical conditions can help address your hair loss.
The following conditions could lead to hair loss:
- lichen planus
- scalp psoriasis
- alopecia areata
- thyroid conditions
- eating disorders, due to poor nutrition
- iron deficiency anemia
- hair-pulling disorder, known as trichotillomania
- celiac disease
If you have any of these conditions, or if you’re experiencing other symptoms besides hair loss, talk with a doctor about treating underlying conditions. Your hair loss should improve as your condition improves.
Discuss your medications with a physician
Certain medications can lead to hair loss. Examples include:
- chemotherapy and radiation treatments
- some blood thinners (anticoagulants)
- some depression medications
- medications used to treat high blood pressure
- some heart medications
- gout medications
- isotretinoin (Accutane), an acne treatment
A note on prescription medications
Talk with your doctor before stopping or changing a medication you’re currently taking.
Was this helpful?
If you’ve started noticing thinning hair or have a family history of male pattern baldness, you may not be able to completely stop your hair loss. But you may be able to slow or prevent it.
Consider trying these tips to help prevent hair loss in males:
- Find ways to lower your stress levels.
- Support your overall health by eating a nutritious diet and staying physically active.
- Avoid hairstyles that tug and pull on your hair.
- Use hair products that support preventing hair loss.
- Avoid smoking.
- Try scalp massages.
- Talk with a healthcare professional to see if any medications or medical conditions could be increasing your hair loss.
The cost of hair loss treatment depends on which treatment you decide to try.
- Brand name prices for Rogaine can cost around $53 for a 3-month supply, while the generic minoxidil treatments can cost around $51 for a 3-month supply.
- Brand name Propecia prices start as low as $110 for a 1-month supply, while the generic version (finasteride) is available at a potentially lower cost through companies like Roman for $20 per month and Keeps for around $27 per month.
- Hair transplants can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000.
Generic medications, as well as OTC supplements, tend to be less expensive.
*Prices are accurate as of November 2023.
Consider seeing a doctor if you:
- experience sudden patchy hair loss
- think a medication may be causing your hair loss
- also have a rash
- have scaly skin