Do you nervously check for a receding hairline in the mirror every day? You're not alone. Androgenetic alopecia or male-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss in men, and it most likely runs in the family.
If there's any hope, then it's in the early stages of detection, experts tell us. So before you consider expensive hair transplant options, try these topical products to slow down hair loss.
What causes hair loss in men?
Male-pattern baldness doesn't result in drastic hair fall, rather it begins with the thinning of the hair in certain areas, says Michael Ryan, a trichologist at the holistic medical centre Wellth in Dubai.
"First, the temples recede after puberty and then you get a recession in the crown area, followed by hair thinning on the top," explained Ryan. This gradually progresses to complete balding over time, and you've probably recognised it in a family member or a distant relative.
So, what's actually happening on the scalp? DHT (dihydrotestosterone) plays a huge role. This androgen (male hormone) is derived from testosterone in the body and attaches itself to the hair follicles in the scalp, causing the follicles to shrink. "The next time the growth cycle starts, the hair won't be as strong as before, leading to thinning," said Ryan.
It may be that your follicles are more sensitive to DHT, making you prone to androgenetic alopecia, notes Dr Mona Mady, a specialist dermatologist at Medcare Medical Centre, Dubai. She also tells us that there are hormonal disorders, thyroid diseases, infections and psychiatric causes that can lead to balding, besides having a genetic disposition.
Can hair loss be reversed?
This depends on how early you take action. In-clinic treatments, such as peptide sprays, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell serums, only work when there's still detectable hair growth, notes Ryan. The areas lost to balding will not recover, unless you opt for a hair transplant.
Professionals do counter hair loss with topical products, but you should only expect a slowing down of progression. "If it's still early hair loss, you can go for over-the-counter products. However, these won't stop the process but delay the start or the worsening of it," said Dr Mady.
If we're looking for a star ingredient, it's the DHT blockers. Ryan recommends finasteride, which has been proven to inhibit the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. A close second, as far as OTC treatments go, is minoxidil, which works on opening up shrunken follicles.
These active ingredients can come in the form of sprays, lotions and shampoos, while oral doses, as is in the case of DHT blockers, are up to your medical provider's discretion. Hair loss also calls for an entire hair routine revamp, says Dr Mady, who advises against styling products and chemical treatments that can further stress out the hair.
We've taken expert advice and recommendations to draw up a list of products to help you fight against hair loss. Make sure you've subscribed to Amazon Prime, if you'd like free, fast delivery.
1. Best Overall: Rogaine Men's Extra Strength Solution (Pack of 3)
A 5% minoxidil hair serum, the Rogaine hair regrowth treatment is exclusively for men who suffer from vertex hair loss. It only targets the top of the scalp, and isn't advised for a receding hairline. The solution is applied to dry or damp hair and massaged evenly, to help revitalise dormant follicles. You can expect to see results in three to six months, given you commit to daily application. This FDA-approved product is the only pure active on our list, though Ryan does note that minoxidil might not be for everyone. While some see improvement in hair density over time, mentioning baby hair growth, others report back little difference in the reviews. Our pick offers a three-month solution aimed at early stages of hair thinning.
2. Best Lotion: Ducray Neoptide Men Hair Lotion
Recommended by Dr Mady, the Ducray Neoptide lotion prevents hair loss with two active ingredients in its formula. We have the peptide, Peprtidoxyl-4, which stimulates microcirculation of the scalp to encourage new growth. There's also monolaurin, a derivate of lauric acid, to inhibit DHT production. The no-rinse hair lotion should go onto your scalp once a day for at least three months, per Ducray. It has a light scent and feels non-greasy after application. Some reviewers see better results when paired with the Ducray Anaphase Shampoo.
3. Best Shampoo: Isdin Lambdapil Anti-Hair Loss Shampoo
A medicated shampoo can boost your overall anti-hair loss routine, says Dr Mady. Her choice is Isdin Lambdapil, a line that features an excellent spray to go with it. You'll find trichogen, a multi-active complex that increases blood flow to the scalp, along with saw palmetto, a natural ingredient both Dr Mady and Ryan highlight for its potential as a DHT blocker. This anti-hair loss shampoo can be used daily, and just as with our previous picks, continuous use for three months is recommended. Reviewers mention growth in sparse areas of the scalp, leaving five stars.
4. Best Ampoule Treatment: Migliorin Hair Loss Treatment Vial
For a pick-me-up, treat your scalp to a Migliorin vial two times a week. Formulated with panthenol, keratin, biotin, iron, zinc, copper and magnesium, this booster vial reactivates the hair bulbs and makes it easier for new growth to come through. All you have to do is pour the contents into the palm and give your scalp a thorough massage. There are 10 ampoules in this pack, more than enough to last you a month. Those who've received a hair transplant, use it on doctor's advice in the reviews. Dr Mady recommends Migliorin's entire anti-hair loss range.
5. Best Supplement: Pure Saw Palmetto Extract Capsules
Ryan tells us that natural saw palmetto supplements could help in DHT blocking. Our choice of capsules is vouched for by men who've experienced male-pattern baldness in the reviews. This Nature's Craft bottle houses 100 capsules of the herbal DHT blocker, which is to be taken once daily for at least 90 days. Impressed buyers relay their accounts of regrowth in the crown and the vertex, while others supplement saw palmetto with active hair loss treatments, like minoxidil.
6. Best Minoxidil Alternative: Spectral.DNC-N Leave-In Serum
DS Laboratories offers men who don't want to use minoxidil an alternative - their very own hair growth active called Nanoxidil. This water-based spray penetrates faster into the hair follicles to make way for denser growth. Caffeine and azelaic acid stand in as active ingredients that fight DHT conversion. To be applied twice daily, the 60ml bottle should be used for 90 days, which buyers find pricey as they top up. However, unlike Rogaine, the serum works on frontal and vertex areas. Those who found minoxidil ineffective or irritating, find the Spectral.DNC-N spray to be a welcome change, in the reviews.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.