Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/13/2021
Your hair grows approximately half an inch every month, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, meaning you’ll need to wait for around one year to achieve a full six inches of hair growth.
Waiting for your hair to grow can be a slow, boring process, especially if you’re affected by hair loss from male pattern baldness.
Since male pattern baldness harms your hair follicles and stops them from producing new hairs, it can have a serious negative impact on your ability to grow new hair and maintain the head of hair you’re used to.
Luckily, options are available that can treat male pattern baldness and speed up your growth of new hair.
Below, we’ve explained how your hair grows, as well as how male pattern baldness can prevent your hair from growing properly. We’ve also shared two science-based, FDA-approved hair loss medications that you can use to protect your hair and grow back new hair faster.
Finally, we’ve shared a few practical tips to help you keep your hair healthy and promote optimal hair growth.
A variety of issues can affect your hair growth, from male pattern baldness to temporary hair loss caused by stress, illnesses or nutritional deficiencies.
Your hair grows through a multi-step hair growth process. During this process, it passes through several phases, from growth (anagen) to regression and detachment (catagen), rest (telogen) and shedding (exogen).
Currently, the two most effective medications for preventing hair loss and stimulating hair growth in men are minoxidil and finasteride.
Medications like minoxidil work by forcing your hairs to enter the anagen (growth) phase of this process and encouraging them to grow to their full length.
Other hair loss medications, such as finasteride, block hair loss by preventing hormones from damaging your hair follicles.
While hair growth might seem simple, the reality is that each and every one of the 100,000 hair follicles on your scalp goes through a complex, multi-stage process to produce new hairs.
Your hair begins to grow when blood supplied by blood vessels in your scalp supplies nutrients to your hair follicles. This stimulates the creation of new cells and causes new hair to grow out of each follicle.
As each hair grows longer, it passes through your skin. Your hairs are attached to glands called sebaceous glands, which supply a type of natural oil called sebum. Sebum plays a major role in keeping your hair shiny, soft and protected from wear and tear.
During this process, each hair passes through four distinct phases:
The anagen phase. This is when your hair actively grows. It generally lasts for several years. By the end of the anagen phase, your hair will have reached its full length.
The catagen phase. Also known as the “regression” phase, this occurs after your hair has reached its full length. As it stops growing, your hair detaches from the hair follicle.
The telogen phase. Also known as the “resting” phase, this is when the old hair rests, with a new hair growing from the hair follicle in its place.
The exogen phase. Also known as the “shedding” phase, this is when the old hair falls out from your scalp, with the new hair replacing it.
Our guide to the hair growth process explains each phase of this process and its effects on your hair in more detail.
Hair loss occurs when something disrupts this process. For example, some temporary forms of hair loss, such as telogen effluvium, occur when a type of physiological stress causes your hair to suddenly move from the anagen (growth) phase to the telogen (resting) phase.
This process could be triggered by illness, stress, medications, surgery or even a traumatic life experience.
The most common cause of hair loss in men, male pattern baldness, disrupts your hair growth cycle through a slightly different process.
Instead of just forcing your hairs out of their growth phase, male pattern baldness occurs when your hair follicles are physically damaged.
The main culprit behind this process is a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. As our guide to DHT and male hair loss explains, DHT can miniaturize your hair follicles and prevent them from producing new hairs.
This process usually starts at your hairline or crown. Over time, it may affect large amounts of your scalp and have a serious, noticeable impact on your appearance.
Currently, the FDA has approved two medications -- minoxidil and finasteride -- as treatments for hair loss.
If you’re losing your hair, these medications may help to slow down or prevent hair loss. They may also stimulate hair growth and help you to grow back hair in parts of your scalp that have noticeable hair thinning.
Minoxidil is a topical hair loss medication. It’s available as a liquid solution or foam and is sold over the counter.
Minoxidil prevents hair loss and promotes hair growth by shortening the telogen (rest) phase of the hair growth cycle and encouraging your hairs to prematurely enter into the anagen (growth) phase. It also extends the anagen phase, allowing your hairs to grow for longer.
Research shows that in addition to stimulating growth, minoxidil may also increase the diameter and length of your hair.
Minoxidil is easy to use. It’s designed for use twice a day -- once in the morning and once in the evening -- and generally produces noticeable results after three to six months of regular use.
As an over-the-counter medication, you can purchase and use minoxidil without any need to talk to a healthcare provider. We offer minoxidil online, with convenient and discreet home delivery.
Finasteride is an oral medication for hair loss. It comes in tablet form and requires a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.
Unlike minoxidil, finasteride doesn’t stimulate blood flow to your scalp. Instead, it treats hair loss by blocking your body from converting testosterone into DHT, the hormone that’s responsible for male pattern baldness.
This stops DHT from damaging your hair follicles, preventing hair loss and allowing your hairs to grow to their full length via their natural growth cycle.
Research shows that finasteride is effective at treating hair loss and promoting hair growth. In a long-term study, more than 99 percent of men with male pattern baldness who used finasteride over a period of 10 years experienced no further hair loss.
In the same study, 91.5 percent of the men treated with finasteride experience improvements in hair growth.
We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Although minoxidil and finasteride are both effective when used on their own, research suggests that they’re more effective when used together.
For example, a study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy compared the effectiveness of minoxidil, finasteride and both medications used simultaneously.
It found that 59 percent of the men who used minoxidil on its own experienced improvements in hair loss and hair growth. Of the men who used finasteride, 80.5 percent showed improvements after 12 months.
In comparison, 94.1 percent of men who used both medications throughout the 12 month period showed improvements.
As well as using medication, you can keep your hair healthy and in optimal condition for growth by practicing good habits. Try to:
Use a shampoo that promotes hair growth. Shampoos that contain ingredients such as saw palmetto or ketoconazole may help to prevent hair loss and stimulate the growth of healthy hair.
Our Thick Fix Shampoo features saw palmetto to promote volume and moisture while reducing buildup on your scalp.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Minerals such as zinc and iron play major roles in your body’s hair growth process. In fact, nutritional issues such as iron and zinc deficiency are both associated with hair shedding.
Try to eat a balanced diet that’s built around mineral-rich foods such as fresh fruit and leafy vegetables, whole grains and lean, healthy sources of protein.
Take a vitamin supplement. Several different vitamins, including vitamins A, B12, C and Biotin (B7) all play a role in the hair growth process -- a topic we’ve discussed in more detail in our guide to essential vitamins for hair growth.
If you smoke, quit. Although smoking doesn’t cause male pattern baldness, research has found that smoking may be linked to hair loss. Experts suspect that this could be due to the damaging effects of the chemicals in cigarette smoke on the hair’s DNA.
If you smoke, make an effort to quit. Not only is it quitting for your hair, but it also offers numerous benefits for your overall health, wellbeing and longevity.
Dealing with hair loss can be a frustrating experience. Luckily, it’s possible to slow down or stop hair loss and stimulate hair growth using science-based, FDA-approved medications.
Currently, the most effective medications for preventing hair loss and stimulating hair growth are minoxidil and finasteride. Research shows that these medications are most effective when used together as part of a combination treatment.
We offer finasteride and minoxidil as part of our range of hair loss treatments, along with several other products for maintaining and caring for your hair.
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