Few moments are as frustrating as looking into the mirror and seeing that your hair just isn’t as thick as it used to be.
The upside of this realization, however, is that by identifying the signs of hair loss early, you can put yourself in a good position to take action and prevent your hair loss from getting worse.
When it comes to treating hair loss, a year is usually enough time to turn things around and, for many guys, stimulate new hair growth in areas like the hairline and crown.
Below, we’ve explained how your hair grows, as well as how much hair growth you can expect over the course of one year.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the hair on your head grows by six inches per year, or approximately one inch every two months.
Several factors can affect the rate of hair growth. For example, male hair grows at a slightly faster rate than female hair. Certain genetic and nutritional factors may also affect your hair growth.
Each and every hair on your head goes through several distinct phases as it grows -- a process that’s referred to as the hair growth cycle.
The first of these phases is called anagen, or active growth. During this phase, your hair grows to its full length over a period of several years. The second phase is referred to as catagen, or regression. In this phase, each hair transitions from growth into rest.
The third phase is referred to as telogen, or rest. When hair is in this phase, it does not actively grow. As each hair passes through the telogen phase, it detaches from the follicle and is shed from your scalp.
The length of the hair growth process -- or, more specifically, the length of each phase -- varies depending on the location of each hair follicle on your body.
For hairs on the scalp, the anagen phase typically lasts for two to six years, compared to three to six months for body hair. This difference in hair cycle duration is what allows your scalp hair to grow significantly longer than the hair on your face and body.
Finasteride is one of the most popular, well-studied medications for treating and preventing male pattern baldness. It works by blocking the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and is supported by numerous studies showing that it can slow down, stop and even reverse hair loss.
When it comes to reducing DHT levels, finasteride starts to work a short amount of time after it’s absorbed by your body.
However, it may take several months before you begin to see any changes in your hairline, hair thickness or the overall appearance of your hair after you start treatment with finasteride.
This is because new hair needs time to grow out from the hair follicle. Over the course of a few months, new hair strands that grow as a result of finasteride’s effects on DHT eventually become long and large enough to see.
Research shows that improvements from finasteride are usually visible after about three to four months, with “final” results visible after one to two years of use.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers found that men with male pattern baldness who used finasteride grew back an average of 107 hairs in a one-inch area around the crown (top of the scalp) after one year of treatment.
In comparison, men who used a non-therapeutic placebo experienced progressively worsening hair loss.
Put simply, one year is more than enough time for finasteride to begin working and either slow down, stop or reverse the effects of male pattern baldness.
Minoxidil is a popular non-prescription medication for hair loss. It’s sold as minoxidil foam or liquid and works by directly stimulating hair growth.
Research suggests that minoxidil stimulates the flow of blood to the scalp and encourages hair follicles to enter into the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle. Remember: scalp health is important in maintaining hair growth.
Like finasteride, minoxidil starts working as soon as it’s absorbed by your body. However, it can take several months before you’ll be able to see any improvements in hair growth or your hair’s thickness around the hairline or crown.
Most studies show that the effects of minoxidil on hair growth start to become visible after three to four months of regular use.
For example, in one study, researchers tested the effects of minoxidil on men with male pattern baldness by comparing it to a non-therapeutic placebo.
After 16 weeks, they compared the men’s results and found that the men who were treated with minoxidil showed a statistically significant increase in hair count compared to the men who were treated with the placebo.
A longer-term study found that 84.3 percent of men with hair loss who used minoxidil rated it as either “very effective,” “effective” or “moderately effective” at promoting hair regrowth after using it for 12 months.
In short, one year is more than enough time for minoxidil to stimulate hair growth and produce a noticeable improvement in most men’s hair.
When using minoxidil, one thing to be aware of is that your hair may look thinner before it starts to improve.
This is the result of a phenomenon known as “minoxidil-induced telogen effluvium.” It’s a form of temporary hair shedding that occurs when minoxidil shortens a hair’s telogen phase, causing it to fall out prematurely.
Hairs that shed due to minoxidil eventually enter the anagen phase and start growing, but it may take a month or two for this to happen.
If you notice your hair looking a little thinner than normal during the first few months of treatment with minoxidil, don’t panic. Instead, keep using minoxidil as normal and wait until month three or four to assess your results.
As we’ve explained in our guide to how long minoxidil takes to start working, you’ll eventually be able to see real improvements in your hair’s thickness, density and overall appearance.
A lot can happen in one year, especially when it comes to your hairline. If you’re starting to spot some of the early signs of male pattern baldness, taking action now can help you to stop further hair loss and set the stage for a thicker, healthier head of hair one year from now.
To stop your hair loss from worsening and promote optimal hair growth, try to apply the following hair growth tips and techniques.
Finasteride and minoxidil both work well as treatments for male pattern baldness when used on their own, but they’re especially effective when they’re used together.
In a study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy, researchers found that 94.1 percent of men with hair loss who used finasteride and minoxidil showed improvements in hair growth after 12 months.
In comparison, 80.5 percent of men who used finasteride alone and 59 percent of men who only used minoxidil showed improvements.
While medications like finasteride and minoxidil tend to have the biggest impacts on the rate of hair growth, other hair products can also help to keep your hair thick, strong and healthy.
If you’re aiming for optimal hair growth, one of the hair products that you’ll want to include in your hair care regimen is a hair loss prevention shampoo.
These shampoos are formulated to prevent hair shedding and put your hair in an optimal state for growth. For example, our Hair Thickening Shampoo uses saw palmetto, a herbal ingredient that’s linked to DHT reduction, to stop hair loss and promote volume and moisture.
Our guide to what to look for in a hair loss shampoo lists science-based ingredients that help to stimulate growth and keep your hair looking and feeling its best.
Although diet doesn’t seem to have any effect on male pattern baldness, some foods are rich in nutrients that your body uses to produce strong, healthy hair.
In general, a diet that’s balanced and good for your overall health will also be good for your hair health. Try to prioritize foods such as eggs, green vegetables, lean cuts of beef and lamb, fresh fruits, nuts and sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon.
You may also want to consider adding a hair healthy vitamin supplement like our Biotin Gummy Vitamins to your daily nutrition routine. Other vitamins for hair growth include vitamins A, C and D.
Our guide to the best foods for hair growth goes into more detail about the specific types of food to include in your diet for thicker, better looking hair.
Like diet, your day-to-day habits don’t play a significant role in the development of male pattern baldness.
However, certain habits can interfere with healthy hair growth in other ways, such as by contributing to hair shedding or damage to your hair’s structure.
To put your hair in the optimal state for growth, try to follow a healthy lifestyle that minimizes any potential sources of damage to your hair.
Our guide to lifestyle changes for improved hair growth lists simple habits and changes that you can use to minimize stress, nutritional deficiencies or environmental damage to your hair.
Your hair grows about one inch every two months, meaning you’ll grow approximately six inches of hair over the course of one year.
These hair loss medications need time to start working. However, after one year, you should be able to see an improvement in your hair’s thickness, scalp coverage and overall appearance.
Our guide to male pattern baldness provides more information on the symptoms you may notice if you’re starting to lose your hair, as well as the most effective options for stopping hair loss and stimulating an increase in hair growth.