Feeling a little thin on top? Brittle hair bothering you? Noticing larger amounts of hair at the bottom of the shower drain every morning?
Research shows that slightly more than half of all men experience moderate to severe hair loss by their late 40s, making male pattern baldness one of the most common appearance-related issues for men.
The good news is that if you’re starting to lose your hair, you can make a surprising amount of progress in six months with hair loss medications like finasteride and minoxidil.
Below, we’ve discussed the basics of how your hair grows, as well as how much hair you can expect to grow over a period of six months.
We’ve also covered how much hair growth progress you can expect from science-based hair loss medications like finasteride and minoxidil over the same time period.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, your hair grows at a rate of approximately six inches per year, or about half an inch per month.
This means that over the course of six months, you can expect the hair on your head to grow by approximately three inches.
Your rate of hair growth involves several phases, which are referred to as the hair growth cycle. About 85 percent to 90 percent of the hairs on your head are in the anagen (active growth) phase of this process at any one time, meaning most of your hair is growing on a daily basis.
The other two phases are the telogen phase (resting phase), and the catagen phase (transitional phase), and they account for the remaining 10 percent of the growth cycle.
It’s important to keep in mind that it’s natural to shed some hair, even when your hair is actively growing.
On average, you can expect to shed between 50 and 100 hairs per day as a result of your hair follicles entering different phases of the hair growth cycle. This range is considered normal hair loss.
Finasteride starts working right away, but it usually takes several months before you’ll be able to see any changes in your hairline, hair thickness or the general appearance of your hair.
As we’ve discussed in our finasteride results timeline, you’ll usually start to see an improvement after using finasteride consistently for three to six months.
In a study published in the European Journal of Dermatology, researchers found that “significant improvements” from finasteride were visible after 12 weeks (just under three months) of use.
In clinical trials, most men who use finasteride show the most noticeable improvements after 12 months of treatment.
Overall, you should be able to see some improvements in your hair after using finasteride for six months, although it may take 12 months for the medication to become fully effective.
Like finasteride, minoxidil starts working as soon as it’s absorbed by your body, although it takes a few months for its effects to become noticeable.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers found that minoxidil produced a “statistically significant increase” in hair growth in balding men after 16 weeks (just under four months) of daily use.
Since minoxidil works by moving hairs into the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, your hair may look thinner than usual during the first few months of treatment.
Our guide to how long minoxidil takes to start working goes into more detail about what you can expect during the first few months of treatment with minoxidil.
If you’re starting to lose your hair, there are several steps that you can take to stop further loss and stimulate healthy, sustainable hair growth.
Research shows that finasteride and minoxidil are more effective at promoting hair growth when used together.
For example, a study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy found that 94.1 percent of balding men who used these medications together experienced improved hair growth over one year, versus 59 percent and 80.5 percent of men who only used minoxidil or finasteride, respectively.
Our Hair Power Pack features minoxidil and finasteride, plus other science-based hair products that you can use for optimal hair growth.
Used alongside finasteride and minoxidil, a good quality shampoo can provide an extra layer of protection against excessive hair loss. Make sure to wash your hair whenever your scalp starts to feel oily, which may be daily, every other day or twice a week.
While diet doesn’t play a role in male pattern baldness, certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients are important for keeping your hair healthy and promoting growth.
For optimal hair growth, try to eat a balanced diet that’s rich in nutrient-rich foods such as eggs, avocados, spinach, almonds, beans and berries. When it comes to protein, prioritize sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, as well as lean cuts of beef and lamb.
We’ve discussed these ingredients and their hair-related benefits in more detail in our full guide to the best foods to eat for hair growth.
Certain habits and lifestyle factors can affect hair growth by contributing to a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium.
Other research has even found that drying your hair using overly hot air or holding it too closely to your hair can cause damage to your hair shafts that may affect your hair’s strength and texture.
Our guide to lifestyle changes for improved hair growth lists science-based techniques that you can use to limit hair damage and grow thicker hair as quickly as possible.
On average, your hair grows about six inches in length over the course of a year, meaning you can expect about three inches of growth over a period of six months.
Although the first few months of treating hair loss can feel boring, it’s important to take action as soon as you notice the early signs of balding to prevent your hair loss from getting worse.
Our guide to male pattern baldness goes into more detail about the causes of hair loss, as well as your options for stimulating growth and maintaining a thick, full head of hair.