Gut punch: an estimated 80% of men under the age of 70 will experience some form of hair loss in their lifetime. And though it happens earlier in some men than others, good-old hair loss rarely fails to make his appearance.
If it’s any consolation to you, thinning locks don’t necessarily diminish your natural sex appeal. According to a recent international survey, a man can be handsome regardless of how many strands he sports on his scalp. Hygiene is more important, say the ladies. And if you’re Italian, that’s a plus.
Emerging studies show immense potential in the ability to pinpoint and successfully treat hair loss in men. Just last month, a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania identified a new culprit behind hair loss previously unconsidered by experts in the field.
There are reasons to be optimistic for men with hair loss. And in this article we’ll review the goods on what makes an effective hair loss treatment, and how to identify the best hair loss treatment for us guys who are follicely challenged.
Androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness, is genetic hair loss. Ninety per cent of men who involuntarily doff their strands do so because it’s in their genes. But now, researchers may have found a new culprit behind hair loss in men. The offender? An abundance of a protein called prostaglandin D2.
While previous hair loss treatments were discovered by chance – Rogaine was originally developed to treat high blood pressure, for example – this new study, published in Science Translational Medicine, is, surprisingly, the first to examine the root causes of hair loss. And notably, may present new insight to an effective hair loss treatment, for both men and the ladies.
The discovery can’t come soon enough. Though sales of FDA approved hair loss treatments, including Rogaine and Propecia, remain steady, new research links the latter to a cringe-worthy list of side effects, including impotence, that may linger even on discontinued use.
Having this, there are safer, more natural alternatives to prescription hair loss treatments. Profollica, for example, consists of herbals and amino acids, and is reported to reduce hair loss in 90% of men using the treatment.
Yet before we go further into hair loss treatment options, there’s another, often unconsidered factor affecting up to ten per cent of guys with hair loss issues. Look twice at these non-genetic triggers of hair loss in men. Do they affect you?
About Hair Loss and Lifestyle Factors
More good news: hair loss is not always a ship without a rudder. In some cases, it’s an issue of lifestyle.
According to this article, a variety of factors that are completely in your control may influence the rate at which you shed your locks. And if you’re destined to lose them regardless, these habits and generally unhealthy lifestyle considerations are an express lane to baldness even faster than you’d otherwise experience:
That last factor might catch you off guard, no doubt, given our tendency to exercise in the great outdoors, but studies show that too much time in the sun can make hair brittle and more likely to break off.
Guys with hair loss would also do well to mix sun block in areas with thin hair coverage. Spray-on products with an SPF rating of 15 or higher are another option and can protect against sun damage to that precious commodity…and reduce your chance of skin cancer.
Yet when it comes down to hair loss in guys, it’s most often genetic. And though live healthy as you may, when hair loss arrives, it hits the ego and can slap your confidence six ways from Sunday.
Fortunately, there are effective ways to manage hair loss. They’re unique to your needs, with your budget and degree of hair loss being contributing factors to the right hair loss treatment for your situation.
Hair loss is not always a ship without a rudder. In some cases, it’s an issue of lifestyle.
As well, keep in mind that hair loss treatments continue to evolve. Laser treatments and medications that explore the role of prostaglandin D2 in hair loss are on the horizon and may be available within several years.
But that’s down the road. For the time being, if you’re struggling with hair loss, consider these options. And be wary of the health risks linked to Rogaine and Propecia. We’ll get to that.
Some guys shave their head when they go bald. Not all guys do this well, but for those who can, hair loss treatment doesn’t get much simpler.
How it Works: With your hair already short, jump in the shower and apply shaving cream to your scalp. Use a high quality razor, preferably one designed for head shaving. Then, in long, smooth strokes, without pressure, shave the growth off your scalp.
The Pros: If you can rock the chrome dome, roll with it. Not only is it the cheapest method to treat hair loss, some men just make it cool to be bald. Michael Jordan would look ridiculous with hair. Jason Statham? He’d b*#%h-slap your whiney little #&% before sporting anything other than that hardcore hairless cranium. Can you do that too? If you can, work it.
The Cons: The caveat here is that some men pull it off…not all.
There’s no harm in giving your head a test shave. Ask a female, or several, their thoughts on if the hairless gig is a good fit for your appearance.
More importantly, how do you feel about the hairless routine for your personal image?
Is it Right For You? – See above. Head shaving works great for guys with masculine looks and piercing eyes. That doesn’t mean you can’t rock it if you don’t fall into either of these categories. As with most things in life, you never know til you try. Give it a shot and see for yourself.
Be very, very careful with traditional hair loss medication.
At present, there are just two FDA approved medications to help men preserve those elusive locks. Both were developed originally for reasons other than to treat hair loss. While they’re both reasonably effective, they come with baggage you need to consider.
And in keeping with our mandate at Natural Health Source, we’ll also review a natural treatment for hair loss than may be safer and just as effecting as traditional, and riskier, forms of hair loss medication.
Perhaps the best known hair loss treatment for men, Minoxidil, better known as Rogaine, is available over the counter. A topical treatment, Rogaine must be used indefinitely to continue hair growth.
How it Works: The mechanism by which Rogaine grows hair remains unclear. Some speculate that it may widen the hair follicles and allow much-needed oxygen and nutrients into balding areas. Rogaine works best for frontal hair loss.
The Pros: Rogaine is a good treatment for men in early stages of hair loss. Of the most common hair loss medications, it has the fewest side effects.
The Cons: Rogaine is less effective against broad hair loss on top of the head. Its effects have been studied primarily among younger men, typically below 40, and may not be suitable for men with advanced hair loss.
Side effects of Rogaine, though fewer than with Propecia, include eye irritations, chest pain, dizziness, swollen hands or feet and unexplained weight gain.
Curiously, Rogaine is lethal to cats.
Is it Right For You? – If you’re in the early stages of hair loss, primarily with a receding hair line, Rogaine might be an effective treatment. Know the health risks, however, and be aware that hair loss is progressive; while Rogaine can protect what’s up front, it may not guard against broad hair loss.
Another popular hair loss treatment, Finasteride, or Propecia, is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor. It’s an oral medicine and it’s made headlines in health circles recently, and not the good kind.
How it Works: Propecia interrupts conversion of testosterone to DHT – the hormone that shrinks hair follicles and is responsible for baldness in 90% of men.
The Pros: Propecia preserves and grows hair, of that there’s no question. In a five year study of men taking the prescription, two out of three men experienced new growth. Also in its favor, Propecia works on both the hairline and the crown of the head.
In 2008, the Swedish Medical Products agency issued a warning that the sexual side effects linked to Propecia may be irreversible, even when use is stopped.
The Cons: Side effects that just might dissuade you from using Propecia completely, including depression, gynecomastia (male breasts), elevated risk of male breast cancer, prostate cancer, birth defects in a fetus and a host of sexual side effects, from ejaculation problems to erectile dysfunction and impotence.
In 2008, the Swedish Medical Products agency issued a warning that the sexual side effects linked to Propecia may be irreversible, even when use is stopped. And in April 2012 the FDA ordered Merck & Co, the maker of Propecia, to label the treatment with the potential long-term sexual side effects that it may induce.
A conservative estimate suggests that up to 18.5% of men using Propecia are afflicted with impotence.
Is it Right For You? – If you’re a younger man, and you’d like to be a father or you want to maintain an active sex life, skip Propecia. The risks simply aren’t worth the payoff.
Older gentlemen going through hair loss might consider Propecia but should immediately consult with their doctor on any of the aforementioned side effects.
As an alternative, men of all ages with hair loss might consider a natural alternative to both Rogaine and those ugly side effects linked to Propecia.
A two-step hair regrowth system, Profollica is a natural treatment for hair loss, consisting of a daily herbal supplement and an activator gel with trichogen. You can buy Profollica without a prescription.
How it Works: Profollica’s formulated to reduce conversion of testosterone to follicle-hating DHT with herbals and amino acids. Think of the activator gel as an alternative to Rogaine and the oral supplement as a natural – and safer – choice to Propecia.
The Pros: If the reports are true, Profollica grows hair like the big boys. In one clinical study, trichogen, found in the activator gel, grew new hair in 90% of participants. And being natural, Profollica is probably much safer than Propecia and even Rogaine.
The Cons: Profollica’s not really a mainstream product and has generally stayed under the radar in health care circles. While that doesn’t diminish the good things that Profollica does, at this time it’s not widely used. On a similar note, you can’t buy Profollica at your local drug store.
Is it Right For You? – Think about it. A natural alternative to traditional, and risky hair loss treatments, with similar results and available without a prescription. I’ll let you be the judge on if Profollica’s right for your needs and situation. And if you’re convinced that it is, you can buy Profollica right here at Natural Health Source.
Another option for guys with hair loss, hair transplants have much improved since those first unsightly hair plugs in the 1950s. Costs can run anywhere between $4,000 and $20,000 and the procedure should be done by an experienced surgical team.
While future hair restoration procedures may focus on stimulating new hair growth at the cellular level, done with laser treatment, at the present time, hair transplants are the only permanent way to address hair loss.
How it Works: Performed under anesthesia, the surgical team removes a strip of the patient’s scalp from a donor area not affected by hair loss (typically the rear of the head, just above the neck), after which hundreds of tiny incisions are made in the patient’s scalp, and thousands of grafts, taken from the donor strip, are planted with hair and painstakingly placed in each incision.
The Pros: With lasting results for the vast majority of patients, hair transplants offer a permanent solution to hair loss. While it’s unlikely you’ll have the flowing locks of yester-year, a hair transplant session, or several, can at least give you a thicker head of hair than you’d otherwise have.
The Cons: There are some.
Hair transplants are a surgical procedure and may put the patient out of commission for up to a week. The usual risks of any form of surgery apply here, including bleeding and infection. Look around for an experienced hair transplant team and you’re in good shape to emerge unscathed. You’ll probably keep a scar from the donor incision, but it will remain hidden.
As well, remember that hair loss is progressive; most men require two to three sessions to really get hair loss where it hurts. Results are dependant on having sufficient donor hair.
If you’re a younger man, and you’d like to be a father or you want to maintain an active sex life, skip Propecia. The risks simply aren’t worth the payoff.
And finally, the cost might be prohibitive. This should be measured against your degree of hair loss and the effects it has on your confidence.
Is it Right For You? – That depends. Is your hair loss minimal or are you further down the road? For the latter, and if head shaving doesn’t work, if you’re looking for a permanent solution to hair loss and you’ve got the bucks to put out, give hair transplants a shot.
Remember, hair transplants don’t grow new hair. They simply move hair from one area of the scalp to another. Be realistic in your expectations with hair transplants. The payoff will be more hair for the rest of your life.
There’s no one answer to this. What works for one man with hair loss may not fly for another. Are you a guy losing your hair? Do this:
Watch your lifestyle factors. As we’ve discussed, they all play a role in hair growth and appearance. Avoid smoking, watch the alcohol intake, wear a hat in the sun, and eat hair-friendly foods.
Hair loss still an issue? You’re in the 90% majority of men with male pattern baldness. Look at the men on both sides of your family. If their hair loss is minimal, or blends in well to their style, that’s good news for you.
Try the chrome dome. Give you head a shave and test the results. If the ladies like it, and more importantly you think it’s cool, there’s your solution. You’ll nary a worry of hair loss again.
The shaved head not working for you? Not to worry. Keep your hair short, as longer hair tends to accentuate thin patches. Try Rogaine if you’re in the early stages, or better yet, try Profollica. Don’t go near Propecia unless you’re good with that whole impotence thing.
If you’ve done all the above, you may have found your best hair loss treatment already. If not, consider hair transplants. You might also consider this option at any point in your hair loss experience if you’re looking for a permanent solution to what affects up to 80% of all men.
Finally, take a deep breath. You’ve got company in the hair loss arena. While it’s uncertain why balding affects so many men, it’s pretty clear that hair loss hasn’t been weeded out of evolution for biological reasons, meaning that it may even play a role in attracting a mate. We’re not Brad Pitt or George Clooney for a reason. You’re a guy without a full head of hair. You’re normal.