Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, MSCIS, MPhil, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/21/2021
If you’ve ever looked into wearable treatments for hair loss, you’ve likely come across low-level laser therapy (LLLT) devices such as the Capillus Laser Cap.
Capillus is marketed as a way to treat hair loss at home, without any need to use medication or undergo hair surgery. It’s an innovative, interesting-looking product, but does it actually work as a treatment for hair loss?
Read on to learn more about Capillus, including the technology behind hair growth caps, and the latest research to determine whether or not Capillus and similar devices actually work.
Below you’ll also find treatment options you might want to consider if you’re starting to lose hair and want to stop it from getting worse.
Capillus is a brand of laser caps designed to stop hair loss and stimulate hair growth. The caps sold by Capillus contain low-level lasers that claim to stimulate, energize and renew cells inside your hair follicles through the use of targeted light.
Unlike most hair loss devices, the caps sold by Capillus look discrete and normal, with a design that’s almost identical to an off-the-shelf baseball cap.
Capillus offers several different caps, starting from the entry-level CapillusUltra to the mid-range CapillusPlus and CapillusPro.
The Capillus hats vary in laser energy output, spanning from 410 mW all the way up to 1,360 mW, with prices ranging from $999 to $2,999 per device.
According to Capillus, wearing a Capillus device for just six minutes a day is enough to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss from androgenetic alopecia from worsening.
Laser hair growth devices have been around for quite a while, but it’s only recently that discreet, non-bulky devices like Capillus have come onto the market.
Before getting into the specifics of Capillus, it’s helpful to understand why hair loss affects men in the first place.
Hair loss can occur for a variety of reasons, but by far the most common cause of hair loss for men is androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness.
Male pattern baldness develops as a result of genetic and hormonal factors.
If you’re prone to hair loss, a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can bind to receptors in your scalp and cause your hair follicles to gradually miniaturize, or shrink.
And as your hair follicles shrink, they stop producing new hairs, resulting in the classic thinning that occurs in men with male pattern baldness.
This process usually starts around your hairline and gradually progresses, affecting your crown and eventually most of your scalp.
This guide to DHT and male pattern baldness goes into more detail about the hair loss process, as well as the biological mechanics behind DHT.
Most treatments for hair loss work in one of two ways. Some work by blocking DHT, either at its source or at the hairline, while others have no effect on DHT, but work by stimulating hair growth at a local level, usually by promoting healthy blood flow or extending the hair growth cycle.
Laser devices like Capillus fall into the second category. Capillus doesn’t block DHT, but it does use focused, concentrated laser light to stimulate blood flow to your scalp.
Right now, there isn’t a large amount of scientific research on the effectiveness of low-level laser therapy devices such as Capillus for preventing hair loss and stimulating hair growth.
However, a few studies that looked at the effects of laser hair growth treatments have produced some promising findings.
In a review published in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine in 2014, researchers looked at studies of low-level laser therapy technology in animals and in humans.
They found that laser technology helped stimulate hair growth in mice with hair shedding, and in men and women experiencing pattern hair loss.
The researchers theorized that laser technology may treat hair loss by increasing hair in the anagen (growth) stage of the hair growth process.
Despite these findings, the scientists also mentioned in their review that more research is required before we can know the long-term efficacy of laser treatments for hair loss.
Another review, published in Lasers in Medical Science in 2015, looked at several studies of laser therapy treatments for hair loss.
The researchers found that the devices appear to be both safe and effective for treating pattern hair loss in men and in women.
A more recent review published in Skin Appendage Disorders also concluded that laser devices appear to be effective for treating pattern hair loss in men and women.
However, it also stated that physicians should take caution when drawing any conclusions from the existing research, as some studies were associated with the laser hair growth industry.
In simple terms, although there isn’t a lot of research available on the effectiveness of laser hair growth treatments, the research that is available is largely positive.
Laser hair growth technology appears to work — and it does so in men and in women. And since laser devices aren’t pharmaceuticals, they may also work without the side effects that can sometimes accompany other hair loss treatments.
As for Capillus products specifically, they’re backed up by a small study that looked at the effects of a 650 nm laser sports cap on women experiencing pattern hair loss.
The study had a positive outcome, with the women achieving an average 51 percent increase in hair growth over the course of 17 weeks of treatment.
So, does this mean that Capillus products work? Since there are only a few clinical studies available right now, it’s tough to draw any conclusions about how products like Capillus perform over the long term.
However, the research is certainly intriguing, with the findings of existing studies serving as good evidence that laser products like Capillus might potentially offer benefits for treating hair loss.
Low-level laser therapy devices such as Capillus appear to be safe, with only minor side effects reported in most research.
Side effects associated with laser hair growth devices include dry skin, itchy skin, irritation, scalp tenderness and a warm sensation at the scalp.
Some study participants have also noted a small increase in hair shedding during the first few weeks of treatment.
Capillus hair growth caps start at $999, with the CapillusPro (the company’s most powerful and expensive hair growth cap) available for a purchase price of $2,999.
Payment plans are available for all Capillus caps, allowing customers to pay for their device on a monthly basis instead of all at once.
From a value perspective, products like Capillus might be mixed. Although they’re far from cheap, they’re available via a lump sum, without the need and added expense of monthly medications or supplements.
As for customer feedback, most reviews of Capillus on websites such as Trustpilot are positive, although some customers have shared complaints about the company’s customer service and return policy.
While laser products like Capillus can seem appealing, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re not the only options available for treating hair loss from male pattern baldness.
Currently, the most effective way to stop hair loss and stimulate new hair growth is by using hair loss medications such as finasteride and minoxidil.
Finasteride is an oral medication. It works by preventing your body from converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, or DHT: the hormone that binds to receptors in your scalp and thus harms your hair follicles.
Used on a daily basis, finasteride can lower your DHT levels by 70 percent and slow down, stop and possibly reverse your hair loss.
Research shows that finasteride and minoxidil work — especially when they’re used together. In a 2015 study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy, researchers found that 94.1 percent of balding men who used both medications showed improvements over 12 months.
If you have mild to moderate hair loss, you may be able to restore part or all of your head of hair through hair transplant surgery.
This type of surgery involves extracting hair follicles from the sides and rear of your scalp (areas that are unaffected by hereditary hair loss), then moving the hair follicles to fill in thin areas such as your hairline or crown.
When performed well, a hair transplant is an effective treatment for male pattern baldness that creates a thicker, fuller head of hair.
Although they’re less effective than medication or surgery, hair care products such as a hair loss prevention shampoo, conditioner and supplements can improve hair growth and help stop the progression of hair loss.
These products work best when they’re used with FDA-approved, science-based treatments like finasteride and minoxidil.
Laser therapy caps like Capillus are commonly promoted as at-home options for slowing, stopping and even reversing the effects of male and female pattern hair loss.
Although research is limited, some scientific studies suggest that Capillus may help stimulate hair growth and help you maintain healthier hair if you’re in the early stages of hair loss.
If you’re losing your hair, it’s important to consider your options. While the Capillus laser hair cap is an interesting treatment, it comes with a hefty price tag and isn’t backed up by even a fraction as much research as hair loss medications such as finasteride and minoxidil.
If you have thinning hair and don’t know where to start, you can find out more about the best ways to stop hair loss, stimulate growth and promote thick, healthy hair in this complete guide to the best treatments for thinning hair.
You can also set up an online consultation about hair loss with a healthcare professional, to see what treatments might be best for you.
Insider tips, early access and more.