If you’ve recently noticed your hairline starting to recede or some thinning around the crown of your head, you’re definitely not alone.
Androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness, is a common form of hair loss that can affect men over time. It affects an estimated 50 million men in the United States alone and can range in severity from a mild receding hairline to noticeable, obvious baldness.
Hair loss can be a frustrating issue to deal with, especially when it has a visible effect on your appearance. However, it doesn’t need to be permanent.
In fact, with the right combination of medications, hair care products and good habits, it’s often possible to slow down, stop or reverse hair loss and maintain your hair over time.
Below, we’ve explained how and why male pattern baldness hair loss occurs. We’ve also listed six science-based strategies that you can use to slow down the effects of hair loss, stop it from worsening and maintain as much of your hair as possible as you age.
It’s common to gradually lose hair as you age. In fact, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, more than 50 percent of men above the age of 50 have some degree of hair loss.
Hair loss can occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, hair loss is caused by stress, either at work or at home. In other cases, a temporary form of hair shedding, called telogen effluvium, can be triggered by certain types of medication, such as blood thinners or beta-blockers.
However, most hair loss that develops in men is a form of hormonal and genetic hair loss that’s referred to as male pattern baldness.
Male pattern baldness is caused by a combination of genetic factors and a hormone referred to as dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
DHT is a powerful androgen hormone. During puberty, it’s responsible for giving you masculine features such as facial and body hair. In adulthood, DHT can bind to receptors located in your scalp and cause damage to your hair follicles, preventing them from growing properly.
This process often happens gradually, meaning you may first notice a receding hairline or hair loss around the crown of your head if you’re prone to male pattern baldness.
Not everyone is equally sensitive to the effects of DHT, which is why some men lose their hair faster than others. We’ve talked about this topic more in our complete guide to DHT and male pattern baldness.
The most effective way to prevent hair loss is by using FDA-approved medication. Currently, the FDA has approved two medications to treat hair loss in men, each of which treats hair loss via a slightly different approach.
The first of these medications is finasteride, an oral medication for hair loss. Finasteride comes in tablet form and is designed for use every day.
Finasteride works by stopping your body from converting testosterone into DHT. According to research, a typical dose of finasteride can reduce the amount of DHT in your blood by around 70 percent — enough to slow down or stop male pattern baldness in most men.
Research shows that finasteride is effective. In a 10-year study, more than 99 percent of men with hair loss who took finasteride experienced no further hair loss, with more than 91 percent reporting some degree of improvement in hair growth.
Another study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology produced a similar outcome, finding that finasteride increased hair growth in men with symptoms of male pattern baldness over the course of two years.
Minoxidil is a topical medication for hair loss. Unlike finasteride, which requires a prescription, minoxidil can be purchased over the counter.
Minoxidil works by increasing blood flow to your hair follicles. It also shortens the telogen (rest) phase of your hair’s growth cycle, encouraging your hairs to prematurely enter into the anagen (growth) phase.
Unlike finasteride, minoxidil doesn’t appear to have any effect on DHT levels on your scalp or throughout your body.
Research shows that minoxidil is effective at preventing hair loss, especially when it’s used at the same time as finasteride. For example, one study found that 94.1 percent of men with hair loss who used minoxidil and finasteride together showed improvements after 12 months.
Our Hair Power Pack features minoxidil and finasteride together, along with other products that can promote fuller hair.
Contrary to popular belief, hair loss usually isn’t caused by not washing your hair often enough or forgetting to use a conditioner. However, if you’re prone to hair loss, certain aspects of your hair care routine may have an impact on your hair’s thickness and density.
For example, some scientific research shows that hair loss shampoos made with the ingredients saw palmetto or ketoconazole may help to slow down hair loss.
Saw palmetto is an herb that’s long been used for its medicinal properties. In one study, experts found that men with male pattern baldness who were treated with a topical saw palmetto extract experienced an increase in hair growth over the course of 24 weeks.
You can find saw palmetto in our Thick Fix Shampoo, which is formulated to reduce buildup and promote volume and moisture.
Like saw palmetto, some research has found that shampoo containing ketoconazole may help to prevent hair loss.
In one study, researchers found that ketoconazole shampoo had similar effects to minoxidil at stimulating the growth of anagen hair. However, other studies into the effects of ketoconazole have produced mixed findings.
We’ve talked more about how ketoconazole may work, its benefits and more in our full guide to ketoconazole shampoo for hair loss.
Since male pattern baldness is caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors, living a healthy lifestyle won’t stop you from going bald.
However, making certain changes to your lifestyle and habits can help you to foster better hair growth, especially if you’re already treating your hair loss with medications like finasteride and minoxidil. Try to:
While it won’t stop or reverse hair loss, you can often make the effects of male pattern baldness by choosing a hairstyle that doesn’t emphasize your hairline.
As we’ve explained in our guide to hairstyles and haircuts for men with thinning hair, some cuts work better than others for hiding a receding hairline or diffuse thinning.
Good short options include the buzz cut, crew cut and skin fade, as well as the nuclear option of simply shaving your hair off. If you prefer to keep your hair a little longer, a pompadour, mop top or slicked back hairstyle can all help to make your hair loss less visible.
If you’ve searched online for hair growth devices, you may have come across hats, combs and other products that use low-powered lasers to stimulate your scalp and promote hair loss.
Known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), this type of hair loss treatment involves stimulating the scalp using near-infrared or red laser light. Proponents of laser therapy believe that this helps to enhance blood flow and promote the growth of new hair.
Laser hair growth devices can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand for more advanced and powerful caps, combs and systems.
As we’ve discussed in our guide to laser hair growth treatments, the science behind most laser devices is mixed. While some studies have found that they might be helpful, the research that’s currently available on this topic isn’t very comprehensive.
Finally, if you have obvious hair loss — for example, your hair loss pattern is classified as Type 4 or higher on the Norwood Scale — medications like finasteride and minoxidil may not be enough to restore all or even most of your hair.
If you’d like to restore your hair in this case, you may want to consider surgical procedures such as hair transplant surgery.
This type of procedure involves surgically extracting active hair follicles from the back and sides of your scalp — areas that are unaffected by male pattern baldness.
These follicles are then transplanted to your hairline, scalp, crown or other areas with noticeable hair loss. Over time, the newly transplanted hairs will grow to their normal length, restoring your hair and reversing the effects of baldness.
Hair transplant surgery is effective, but it isn’t cheap. Our hair transplant guide goes into greater detail about how this type of procedure works, what to expect, average pricing and more.
It’s best to start treating hair loss as soon as you notice symptoms. The earlier you begin using medications like finasteride and minoxidil, the more likely you’ll be able to successfully prevent further hair loss and maintain the hair you have.
Once you start treating your hair loss, it’s important to:
If you’re starting to lose your hair, it’s important to take action as soon as possible to prevent it from getting worse.
You can treat hair loss by using science-based medications such as finasteride and minoxidil. In addition to medication, simple things such as using the right shampoo, changing your habits and styling your hair a certain way can either improve hair growth or make hair loss less obvious
To get started, you can view our range of science-based hair loss treatments online and consult with a licensed healthcare provider to learn more about what’s best for you.