Much like acne, the apparent signs of hair thinning and loss can make you self-conscious and somewhat frustrated, not knowing how to treat it.
Not to mention, there’s a Persian buffet of different hair types, textures and genetic factors that make up each person’s condition (just check out the best shampoos we tested and our personalized haircare review for proof).
That said, we consulted Lian Mack, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and medical director and founder of Gramercy Laser and Medical Dermatology in NYC and Scarsdale, to answer medically backed questions we’re all silently asking about the somewhat-taboo topic of hair loss and thinning hair.
But, it shouldn’t be taboo. Hair loss is natural — even anticipated — at times.
“Hair loss can be genetic,” Mack told the New York Post. “This type of hair loss is more specifically called androgenetic alopecia.”
Ahead, find the 15 best hair growth products based on the top ingredients Mack outlined in our FAQ section. If you have additional questions about these formulas, consult your dermatologist to see if it’s right for you.
Click to jump to the best hair growth products:
What’s the difference between hair thinning and hair loss?
“Hair loss is usually sudden in onset and is caused by external or internal factors; It may be caused by certain drugs and treatments (for example chemotherapy), tight fitting hair styles and harsh hair-care products,” Mack explains. “Hair thinning on the other hand is a very gradual process and does not cause discrete areas of baldness like hair loss does. “
What’s more, individuals with hair thinning usually appear to have less hair, but no discrete patches of baldness, per Mack. Some causes include vitamin deficiencies, menopause or other hormonal imbalances like PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome).
What are signs of hair thinning and hair loss, respectively?
“Signs of hair thinning include thinning of the hair shaft,” Mack said. “The hair feels coarser and more brittle; it typically starts at the top of the crown and radiates from the area in a diffuse pattern.”
Unlike hair thinning, hair loss occurs when the hair falls out in such a significant amount that it creates frank areas of baldness. “Hair loss occurs very quickly, while hair thinning happens gradually over time,” she adds.
What ingredients to look for in hair growth products
Below, Mack details the main ingredients to look for in products to help combat hair thinning and hair loss:
- Minoxidil: This ingredient is found predominantly in serum formulations but may also be found in shampoos at varying concentrations.
- Finasteride: As a dermatologist, Mack prescribes Finasteride orally for many of my male patients suffering from hair loss secondary to androgenetic alopecia. Plus, there are more natural renditions of this formula to consider.
- Red Clover Flower Extract: This natural herb contains a very high level of isoflavones — a type of phytoestrogens. The phytoestrogens are plant derived molecules similar to female estrogens. This extract has been shown to help with hair loss associated with hormonal changes in women.
- Saw Palmetto: New, exciting research is pointing to saw palmetto as a natural alternative to preventing/minimizing hair loss. The research suggests that saw palmetto is a natural blocker of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the molecule known to shrink hair follicles promoting hair thinning/hair loss .
How to treat hair loss and thinning hair, respectively
“The workup for hair loss or diffuse thinning typically starts with a series of blood tests,” Mack explains. “With blood work, I am able to figure out if the hair loss is related to a systemic condition like a vitamin deficiency or thyroid disease .”
If the blood work is normal, she recommends a small scalp biopsy to determine the state of the hair follicles (ie are they miniaturized or smaller, are they still functional).
That said, there isn’t one best treatment for hair loss. Speak with your doctor to find out what’s best for you.
Best Hair Growth Products
1. Amazon Basic Care Minoxidil Topical Solution Hair Regrowth Treatment for Men, $32, original price: $37
As an “Amazon’s Choice” product, the Basic Care Minoxidil Topical Solution is an approved-ingredient-filled treatment for men. It’s a six-month supply that’s unscented, reactivating the hair follicles to stimulate regrowth.
Interestingly, it’s Amazon’s brand that compares with Men’s Rogaine Extra Strength ($45).
2. Shapiro MD Hair Growth Experts Women’s Regrowth Kit, $64, original price: $80
Chock-ful of hair growth products in your customized kit, you’ll find a shampoo, conditioner, 2% minoxidil treatment and a leave-in foamer. So, across the board, you’re snagging an all-encompassing blend of hair- rejuvenating products.
Not to mention, each formula is free of harsh sulfates and additives.
3. Keranique Hair Regrowth Treatment 2% Minoxidil (3-Pack), $59, original price: $87
With the superstar ingredient minoxidil, Keranique’s Hair Regrowth Treatment is a three-pack of foamers designed to help render your hair into a thicker and fuller state.
To use, apply six sprays twice daily directly onto the scalp in the hair loss area. Be sure to use this product continually for best results and to wash your hands after treatment.
4. Regenivade 5% Minoxidil Topical Foam Hair Regrowth Treatment for Men with Biotin (3-Month Supply), $40
With a three-month supply of minoxidil-infused topicals for men, Regenivade is a leading brand to look into, namely for including biotin as a supplementary ingredient in its formula. This product is ideal for the early stages of hair thinning.
5. Keeps Minoxidil Foam for Men, $8 a month, original price: $15 a month
Keeps is one of the premier brands for hair thinning and loss we came across, as most of its formulas are individually curated to target the dermatologist-recommended ingredients for hair growth.
Specifically, its Minoxidil Foam for Men is offered either in three, six or 12-month bundles, starting at $8 a month on your first order. Not to mention, this minoxidil treatment is about half the cost of those stocked on pharmacy shelves — and delivered right to your door.
6. Vitue Flourish Minoxidil Hair Regrowth Treatment, $28
As one of the only dermatologist-backed hair growth formulas sold at Sephora, it’s worth picking up Virtue’s Flourish Minoxidil Hair Regrowth Treatment if you’re a beauty junkie who also wants an effective formula.
Wonderfully, it contains minoxidil, along with being vegan, suitable for all hair types. Plus, it doesn’t contain any fragrance and is cruelty-free.
7. Hers Triple Threat Shampoo with Saw Palmetto (2-Pack), $25
Designed specifically for women, Hers Triple Threat Shampoo with Saw Palmetto is the two-pack on Amazon that’s calling your name if you’re experiencing thinning hair or hair loss. There’s even a formula for men — you guessed it, named His — which is another bestseller.
8. Hers Hair Regrowth 2% Topical Minoxidil Solution for Hair Loss and Thinning Hair (2-Pack), $28
To accompany the brand’s shampoo, pick up the Hair Regrowth 2% Topical Minoxidil Solution. It helps reactive the hair’s follicles to stimulate growth over time and you’ll see results in as little as three months, with even more after six months of use.
9. IxYay Research Finanutride Natural DHT Blocker & Hair Growth Capsules to Prevent Hair Loss (30-Count), $25
Though Mack recommends finasteride — which, she typically prescribes for certain individuals — finanutride is an OTC capsule that’s vegan, non-GMO and includes saw palmetto and biotin as well, locking in another dermatologist-recommended ingredient.
These capsules from IxYay Research are an Amazon’s Choice product, too.
10. Keeps Finasteride for Men (1mg), $13 a month, original price: $25 a month
Staying true to its effective-for-men formulas, Keeps has a Finasteride for Men that comes in a subscription model. For $13 a month, you can work on problem areas characteristic of your hairline, crown and vertex with this expert-backed ingredient.
11. HawaiiPharm Red Clover Alcohol-Free Liquid Extract, $20
According to Mack, Red Clover Flower Extract is recommended and you can’t compete with its purest form from HawaiiFarm. It’s alcohol-free and is supposedly the best on the market, with backing from Amazon as one of its most-recommended products.
12. Kerotin Hair Growth Vitamins with Saw Palmetto (60-Count), $35
If you’re seeking more of a vitamin, you can still reap the benefits saw palmetto will bring to your hair with Kerotin’s Hair Growth Vitamins. This 60-count package has capsules that contain biotin and folic acid, too, the latter especially beneficial for pregnancy and found in many multivitamins.
13. Pura D’Or Deep Moisturizing Biotin Shampoo & Conditioner with Saw Palmetto, $29, original price: $40
Try out saw palmetto in your shampoo and conditioner, specifically within this two-pack from Pura D’Or. Currently on sale, it’s a great option to help reverse the effect of thinning hair, as well as dryer strands.
14. Elevate Hair Growth Oil with 5% Minoxidil, $18, original price: $35
Much like facial serums — like niacinamide and retinol — dermatologist-approved minoxidil is apparent in your favorite potion-like container. For less than $20, Elevate has a bestselling formula that also contains biotin.
15. Rogaine Women’s 2% Minoxidil Topical Solution for Hair Thinning & Loss (3-Month Supply), $49
Rogaine is one of the most popular brands for hair loss, containing ingredients that are dermatologist-backed at a fair price. This three-pack conveniently offers you a three-month supply, too, so you won’t run out of your treatment as quickly.
16. Nutrafol Women’s Hair Growth Supplement, $88
As one of the best hair growth supplements on the market (trust us, we’ve tried it), Nutrafol has a wonderful formula that includes hyaluronic acid (you know, the skin-boosting ingredient) and ashwagandha root, which has been clinically shown to improve the feel of your scalp. Buy now, thank us later.
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