Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 5/9/2022
Male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) is a common issue that the majority of men will have to deal with at some point in life.
In fact, according to research published in the journal, Dermatologic Surgery, 53 percent of men aged from 40 to 49 have moderate to extensive hair loss.
Up until a couple of decades ago, hair loss was something that guys just had to accept and take in stride.
Then came finasteride, a medication for treating hair loss that gained approval from the FDA as Propecia® in 1997.
As a daily-use medication, finasteride offered men with hair loss the option of slowing down, stopping or even, in some cases, reversing baldness.
If you’re starting to lose your hair, you may have looked into using finasteride, either by itself or in combination with other treatments, to shield yourself from further hair loss.
Below, we’ve explained what you can expect in terms of finasteride results, from how long it takes to produce improvements to the type of regrowth and general success rate you can expect from finasteride.
Finally, we’ve shared a few practical, science-based tips and techniques to help you get the best possible results from finasteride.
Read more: Propecia vs Finasteride
So, what does finasteride actually do? Below, we’ve gotten a little more specific and explained what you can expect if you use finasteride as an effective treatment for male pattern hair loss.
Research shows that the overwhelming majority of men who use finasteride experience no hair loss during treatment.
In a review published in the journal, Drugs, researchers found that 83 percent of men with male pattern baldness experienced no change in their hair count after using finasteride over a period of two years.
In comparison, only 28 percent of men who used a non-therapeutic placebo did not experience any change in hair count.
Put simply, finasteride’s suppressive effect on dihydrotestosterone (DHT) helps to stop hair loss from getting worse in most men.
You can think of finasteride as something like a pause button for your hair loss. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll grow back your hair, the overwhelming majority of men who use finasteride find that their hair loss doesn’t become more severe during treatment.
Although some people may fear waking up one morning without any hair, the reality is that male pattern baldness is almost always a gradual process that happens over the course of years and decades.
If your hair loss isn’t severe, your dose of finasteride may help you to regrow hair in areas of your scalp or receding hairline that only have mild thinning.
In a large-scale clinical trial published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers found that men who used finasteride to treat male pattern baldness experienced a clinically significant increase in their average hair count over a period of two years.
At the beginning of the study, the men had an average hair count of 876 hairs per square inch of balding vertex scalp.
After two years of treatment with finasteride, this increased to an average of 1,014 hairs per square inch, or approximately 16 percent more hair per inch of skin.
The men that took part in the study reported that finasteride increased new hair growth and improved the general appearance of their hair.
A different long-term study published by the Tokyo Medical Clinic of finasteride carried out in Japan found that more than 99 percent of men with male pattern baldness experienced no worsening of their hair loss during treatment.
In this same study, 91.5 percent of the men experienced improvements in their hair growth while using finasteride.
In short, while not everyone who takes finasteride regrows hair, many men experience a modest but noticeable increase in hair growth.
A finasteride results timeline: After about three to four months of taking oral finasteride, you should begin to notice an improvement from taking finasteride. After one year, your results should appear to be significantly visible.
Read more about how long finasteride takes to start working here.
Finasteride is an easy medication to use. It comes in tablet form and only needs to be taken one time per day, either with or without food.
However, taking a few extra steps, such as using finasteride with other hair loss treatments, can increase your success rate with finasteride and speed up your results.
We’ve listed several of these techniques below.
Research shows that finasteride is more effective when it’s used in combination with topical minoxidil, a medication for treating hair loss and stimulating hair growth.
Minoxidil works slightly differently from finasteride. Rather than blocking DHT, it functions locally and encourages your hair to enter into the anagen, or growth, phase of the hair growth cycle.
It also stimulates blood flow to your scalp, which may help to supply your hair follicles with extra nutrients and improve growth.
In one study published in the journal, Dermatologic Therapy, researchers found that 94.1 percent of men with male pattern baldness who used finasteride and minoxidil at the same time experienced hair-related improvements.
In comparison, the rate of improvement was 80.5 percent for men who used finasteride and just 59 percent for men who only used minoxidil.
You may have heard of minoxidil under the brand name Rogaine®. It’s available as a foam and as a liquid and is designed to be applied directly to your scalp.
Unlike finasteride, minoxidil doesn’t require a prescription. We offer minoxidil 5% online, either on its own or with finasteride in our Hair Power Pack. We also offer our Topical Finasteride & Minoxidil Spray.
“I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.”
“Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger!”
“When I show my barber my progress, he is always in disbelief. I have to recommend Hims to any guy who’s experiencing thinning.”
“Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.”
“I noticed a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.”
“Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!”
“I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!”
“In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.”
“4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.”
“I’m a 34 year old father of two and have been using Hims for over a year now. My hair is back to what it was in my mid twenties.”
While using minoxidil at the same time will give the biggest boost to your finasteride results, it’s also possible to improve your hair growth with other products. These include:
Hair loss prevention shampoo. Shampoos made with ingredients like ketoconazole or saw palmetto, such as our hair thickening shampoo, may also help to stimulate hair growth and protect your follicles from the effects of DHT.
Biotin supplements. Biotin, an important B-vitamin, doesn’t appear to stop male pattern baldness. However, it plays an important role in the growth process of your hair and may be a good addition to your hair care routine.
Conditioner. A quality conditioner plays a supporting role in the hair growth process by keeping your hair strong, hydrated and healthy. Our Thick Fix Conditioner is formulated with niacinamide to bolster and stimulate your hair for a thicker, fuller look.
Our guide to hair growth products goes into more detail about non-pharmaceutical products that you can use to keep your hair in optimal condition.
You probably think that the notion of scalp massages being able to improve finasteride’s results is about as far-fetched as they come, but there’s actually science to back it up.
Research on scalp massage published in the journal, ePlasty, found that daily four-minute massages over the course of 24 weeks were able to stimulate hair growth and boost hair thickness.
Now, it’s important to point out that this study was small in size -- it only featured a total of nine men.
However, other research into the effects of scalp massage on hair growth has produced similar findings.
In a study published in the journal, Dermatology and Therapy, researchers concluded that SSM, or standardized scalp massage, appears to stabilize hair loss in healthy men with male pattern baldness.
The survey used in this study was much larger, with a total of 327 men that attempted the scalp massage techniques.
How and why scalp massages are able to stimulate hair growth remains a mystery, but experts speculate that it may have something to do with softening the skin and increasing blood flow.
Male pattern baldness is primarily genetic and hormonal, but this doesn’t mean that your habits and lifestyle can’t play a role in healthy hair.
If you’re losing your hair, making certain changes to your lifestyle may promote hair growth and general hair health, improving your results from finasteride and minoxidil.
Lifestyle-focused steps that you can take to prevent and reduce hair loss include:
Quitting smoking. Although smoking doesn’t appear to increase DHT levels, the toxins found in cigarette smoke may damage your hair follicles at the DNA level.If you smoke, make an effort to quit. You can learn more about the best ways to give up the habit in our detailed guide to quitting smoking.
Eating a balanced diet. Healthy hair growth requires a steady supply of vital nutrients, including zinc, iron and protein. Try to eat a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein.
Avoiding harsh hair products. Many hair care products, including certain shampoos and styling products, contain harsh ingredients that can irritate your scalp and prevent healthy hair growth. Try to avoid shampoos that contain harsh ingredients such as sulfates, and instead opt for a shampoo that’s designed to promote growth and prevent hair loss.
Limiting exposure to stress. Although stress doesn’t cause male pattern baldness, it can contribute to a form of temporary hair shedding called telogen effluvium. Try to minimize your exposure to stress. This could mean making changes to your work habits, making use of therapeutic resources to improve your mental health or practicing meditation to gain more control over your feelings of stress and anxiety.
Finasteride tablets are effective, but they aren’t magic baldness-erasing pills. To continue blocking DHT and protect your hair, you’ll need to continue the use of finasteride every day to fully benefit from its effects.
The same is true of other hair loss treatments, such as minoxidil. To maintain your results, you’ll need to continue using these medications over the long term.
Finasteride is an effective medication that can slow down, prevent and even reverse the effects of male pattern baldness, but it does have its own limitations.
While there are ways to speed up and improve the effects of finasteride, you shouldn’t expect to wake up one day only to find your hair grew twice as thick overnight.
Finasteride and other hair loss medications, like minoxidil, work gradually and require long-term commitment for optimal results. Be sure to seek medical advice from your healthcare provider before using finasteride.
To get the best results from finasteride, make sure to combine it with minoxidil, a balanced diet, a healthy lifestyle and good hair care habits.
Related read: Finasteride before and after photos