by Adam Hurley (GQ Magazine)
Every guy wants to know how to prevent hair loss. Or, every guy wants to cling to the idea that it might be possible—even if he isn’t particularly worried about losing his hair. It’s reassuring to know that there’s some recourse out there if it ever gets bad up there.
But while there are a lot of gimmicky devices and procedures and supplements out there—each of them promising to be the revolution—there are really only a few things that actually work.
So, we’re going to lay that all out for you in the clearest possible terms. We sought expertise from Dr. Michele Green, one of NYC’s most in-demand dermatologists. Here’s what Dr. Green tells her patients to do, if they want to keep and strengthen the hair they already have (and regrow the hair follicles that haven’t yet dried up). Follow her plan at any age, with the help of your own board-certified dermatologist, and you should see long-lasting results within a few months.
See also: How to make the most of your thinning hair
1. Seek help as soon as you notice a change
Dr. Green says that, if you want to fight hair loss, you need to visit your board-certified dermatologist at the first sign of thinning or shedding. “Getting treatment for hair loss in its early stages can help minimize overall hair loss and increase the odds of a treatment’s efficacy,” she says. “Hair loss can seem overwhelming which is why it is necessary to consult with a dermatologist who will assess your condition and explain all of your treatment options.”
2. Build a proactive plan that works for you
There are three hair-loss prevention options that you should consider, and they all work to stimulate re-growth on dormant follicles, too (the ones that have weakened but haven’t died out entirely). Talk to your dermatologist about the following three methods, and how you can use them in tandem for an even better defense.
Finasteride: Finasteride (commonly known as Propecia) blocks the formation of DHT (dihydrotestosterone). “DHT is a male androgen hormone which contributes to hair loss by making hair follicles thin and short,” says Green. “Hair grows in three phases, and DHT disrupts the hair growth cycle (anagen phase). As a result of this disruption the hair goes into a longer rest period, which makes the hair stop growing.” So, by blocking the absorption of DHT, finasteride helps promote hair growth.
Minoxidil: Minoxidil (which you might recognize by its patented name, Rogaine) is available over-the-counter. By dropping it onto your crown twice daily, it increases blood flow to the hair follicles, thus strengthening and thickening them. The hair grows fuller, and is in turn less susceptible to permanent fall. Minoxidil also boosts the hair follicle during its regrowth phase, after natural fall occurs. It’s particularly effective on the crown of the head, and will promote uniform thickness, but isn’t an effective defense against hair recession at the temples.
(Both finasteride and minoxidil are available online, through companies like hims, which connect you with a board-certified dermatologist and ship direct to your home.)
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP): This one might be new to you, and it’s certainly the most unique (and deluxe) option. PRP uses the platelets in your own blood to stimulate hair growth. “The first step in getting PRP is having your blood drawn and then spun in a centrifuge,” says Green. “Spinning the blood separates the red blood cells from the platelet rich plasma. Finally, the plasma is drawn into syringes and injected into the scalp by the doctor. Platelets contain growth factors that promote healing and stimulate the hair follicle to begin a new growth cycle.” Yes, you read that correctly: They draw your blood, separate the plasma, then inject it around your head. For the best results, you should do this once a month for 4 months at the start, and then quarterly or biannually afterwards, at minimum, says Green. (Depending on loss.) It can come with a high cost, though, unlike the now-generic drugs finasteride and minoxidil: A single treatment can run you $1500 or more, so be prepared.
3. Supplement your diet with more than just biotin
There are numerous vitamins you can take that help hair grow faster and stronger; biotin is always mentioned in this vein. In general, however, a nutrient-rich and health-conscious diet will cover many of those same bases. Instead, consider more targeted, specialized supplements: Dr. Green recommends Viviscal and Nutrafol in particular. “Viviscal promotes hair growth by providing nutrients your hair needs to grow such as b complex, and zinc among other nutrients which promotes thicker, stronger and longer hair. Nutrafol is an amazing vitamin formulated with marine collagen, saw palmetto, and ashwagandha,” she adds. “Marine collagen is enriched with B vitamins, which promote hair growth, saw palmetto prevents testosterone from being converted to DHT, and ashwagandha reduces inflammation.”
4. Minimize stress
Stress is one of the biggest culprits behind hair loss: “Stress can cause the hair to stop growing and cause excessive shedding,” says Green. “It can also cause an autoimmune response where the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles resulting in hair loss. The hormones that our bodies release when its stressed is what disrupts the hair growth cycle. As a result of this disruption, the hair goes into a longer rest period which stops growth.” How you minimize your stress is up to you, since it differs from one person to the next. You can start by getting consistent rest, exercising frequently, eating healthy, staying hydrated, and avoiding smoking, drugs, and alcohol. Speak with your doctor about other methods, if necessary.
5. Cut the bad habits
Stress can’t always be mitigated, but bad habits can be. Many of the things you do routinely might be contributing to your hair loss. Consider these big ones, according to Dr. Green: Not shampooing enough, but also shampooing too often. (Twice a week should suffice, with a specialized shampoo for thinning hair. Rinse and condition daily, though.
“Poor diet can also contribute to hair loss,” she adds. “You should consume a diet rich in oils, protein, and nutrients to nourish your body and scalp.” Lastly, as mentioned in the previous tip, smoking and alcohol both aggravate hair loss. While they might seem to calm stress, they in fact restrict the blood vessels, thus reducing circulation and blood flow to the follicles.