The sad truth about medicine is that it’s almost never completely effective. We have treatments that mitigate the symptoms of a lot of diseases, but rarely have cures that fix the root problem and make it disappear.
While a cure for hair loss does not exist, we do have evidence of a proven and effective treatment for male pattern baldness.
That’s great news for the almost three-fourths (75%) of men who suffer from male pattern baldness-- the most common form of hair loss both in Singapore and around the world.
Hair loss doesn’t mean you have to stop feeling strong and masculine, but if we’re being honest, everyone loves having a full head of hair. It makes you look younger, and it makes you feel more attractive and confident.
Because male pattern baldness is so common and so seemingly unavoidable, tons of men dream about being able to reverse their receding hairline. All we need are the right kinds of treatments and an actionable, surefire plan to make it happen.
And guess what? We’ve got one.
That’s right, scientists know enough about hair growth and hair loss that they’ve been able to develop some pretty potent treatments for balding over the years.
Now these treatments, in isolation, might not be enough to fully regrow your hair. We’ve written previously about both minoxidil and finasteride, two treatments for male pattern baldness that act on your body in different ways.
Neither of these treatments is totally complete. On their own, they might slow hair loss, but not stimulate hair growth enough to offset your body’s overwhelming determination to get your hair to fall off.
Together, though, they complement each other and deliver a one-two punch to male pattern baldness.
In this article, we’ll discuss how minoxidil and finasteride work separately, together, and how their synergy could possibly create a permanent solution for hair loss in men. Science says that this, plus a few key dietary supplements, could relieve your hair loss problems effectively.
First, let’s talk about minoxidil.
Minoxidil, a topical ointment sold under the brand names Regaine and Rogaine, promotes hair growth by allowing more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to flow to your hair follicles. With more raw materials to work with, the follicles can produce hair more quickly.
While proven effective, minoxidil treatment comes with a problem. Balding isn’t a hair issue, it’s a hormone issue. Your hair isn’t falling out of its own accord, it’s being halted by hormonal changes that occur as you get older.
If the hormonal effects are especially strong, minoxidil on its own may not be enough to offset them and cure your hair loss.
The hormone in question is, no surprise, testosterone. As you get older, testosterone gets converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that blocks hair growth on the scalp. This is what gives male pattern baldness its characteristic “M”-shaped hairline (Case-Lo, 2018).
That’s where finasteride comes in. Sold as Proscar or Propecia, finasteride targets the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, called 5-alpha-reductase (Zito et al., 2020). By blocking hormones rather than bolstering hair, finasteride treats the root cause of male pattern baldness.
But again, like minoxidil, finasteride might not yield maximum results if used on its own. If your hair isn’t getting the kinds of nutrients it needs, then it doesn’t matter how much DHT you can block. You need both strokes.
A 2015 study by Chandreshakar and colleagues showed that using minoxidil and finasteride together reversed hair loss better than either of the treatments used on their own. It makes sense: stopping hair loss with finasteride while also promoting hair growth with minoxidil is the double-whammy you need for effective hair treatment.
Something else to keep in mind is where you get the nutrients your hair needs to be made. Minoxidil doesn’t provide extra nutrients, it just lets nutrients get to your hair follicles more easily.
Nutrients mostly come from your diet, and two key nutrients that have been proven to promote healthy hair growth are vitamin B and iron.
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin within the vitamin B family. Studies have shown that hair loss is one of the symptoms of biotin deficiency (Zempleni et al., 2008). However, biotin deficiency can be rare because biotin can be found in a wide variety of foods such as meat, fish, whole grains and leafy greens. Other B vitamins also help in the development of red blood cells, which carry important nutrients to hair follicles. Iron is abundant in red meat and leafy greens. Iron helps in the transport of oxygen from red blood cells to the whole body, which is crucial for many functions, one being the growth of hair (McDonell, 2016). Both of these nutrients are essential for a balanced diet in general, but they have the added benefit of making your hair strong and healthy!
Case-Lo, C. (2018, Aug 22). Hair loss and testosterone. (Link)
McDonell, K. (2016, Aug 6). The 5 best vitamins for hair growth (+3 other nutrients). Healthline. (Link)
Zempleni, J., Hassan, Y. I., & Wijeratne, S. S. (2008). Biotin and biotinidase deficiency. Expert review of endocrinology & metabolism, 3(6), 715–724. (Link)
Zito, P. M., Vistas, K. G., Syed, K. (2020). Finasteride. StatPearls. (Link)