Hair loss is almost inevitable. It’s estimated that 85% of men experience hair loss by the age of 50 and 40% of women experience it by the age of 40. Because of this, many products love to claim that they can prevent or cure hair loss. Everything from shampoos to oils to vitamins to medicines and laser treatments promise to promote hair growth and put a stop to thinning hair. Unfortunately, almost all of them are complete BS. But, there are two forms of FDA approved hair loss treatments which do work: minoxidil and finasteride.

Minoxidil is an over-the-counter hair growth stimulator. It does not stop hair loss, nor is it a cure for hair loss. Instead, minoxidil helps the scalp produce more hair. Once a person stops applying the medication, hair loss will continue. The medication is applied to dry hair twice a day, and can take up to four months before it begins to produce a change. Minoxidil is also available in forms known as theroxidil or rogaine.

Pros: Minoxidil is for both men and women, and has been proven to stimulate hair growth in two out of three men.

Cons: While not limited to certain ages, minoxidil does work better for those under the age of forty, and in those who have only recently been experiencing hair loss. For those who stop using the treatments, hair loss may be more prominent than before. Side effects can include scalp irritations such as redness, dryness, flaking, or itchiness.

Finasteride is specifically for male-patterned baldness and must be prescribed. It slows and stops hair loss, as well as promotes hair growth in two out of three men. It is taken as a pill once a day and goes under the brand name Propecia.

Pros: Finasteride is extremely effective, working for 90% of men who take it.

Cons: Finasteride is only for men and can only be used for male-pattern baldness. It is also not a cure. Once you stop taking finasteride, hair loss will reoccur. In rare cases, finasteride can cause erectile disfunction.

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