Scrubs, serums, oils, and supplements – people will try anything to stop the thinning of their precious hair and cross their fingers, hoping it might even spring back to life.
While there are only two FDA-approved drugs with clinically-backed evidence for hair restoration (Minoxidil and Finasteride), there is still a massive market for alternative treatments and items for hair loss. Just browse any supplement section at the health food shop and see how many products advertise effects for thicker, healthier hair.
In this article, the focus is on shampoos, a category that appears to have more scientific support than, say, herbal supplements and essential oils. Are there any legitimate hair growth shampoos worth buying, or should everyone just save their money for a sure-bet procedure like hair transplantation or PRP therapy? Let’s find out.
The first thing to understand about hair loss shampoos is that people lose their hair for different reasons, and the “solution” offered by the shampoo will depend on the root cause of the problem.
While most cases of pattern balding are due to genetic inheritance (a subject for later on), doctors agree that hair loss shampoos are most effective when they target issues related to the health and strength of the scalp itself, namely its ability to stay nourished, moisturized, and free of bacteria.
For men and women who suspect they might be dealing with a kind of fungal infection or cannot seem to put an end to dandruff or itching, a product like ketoconazole shampoo can be a highly effective solution. This is an antifungal shampoo that also helps heal the effects of psoriasis and issues like tinea infections.
Although some suggest that ketoconazole shampoo may promote hair growth, there is not enough clinical evidence to support that claim. However, people who can clear up fungal infections and promote general scalp health are less likely to experience accelerated hair loss. That effect may be worthwhile as a standalone benefit.
The idea is that with less inflammation and irritation on the skin, follicles will stay put and grow stronger in the skin as they are not disturbed or dislodged. People are also far less likely to scratch the scalp if they use cooling and calming shampoos that address the underlying issues of infection or stubborn flakiness.
Shampoos infused with herbal extracts may have a similar effect for keeping the scalp clean and combating bacteria with antimicrobial properties. Peppermint, lavender, tea tree, and rosemary are just a few examples of ingredients to look for in shampoos. These can offer a powerful cleaning effect in the absence of medication like ketoconazole or hydrocortisone.
Many shampoos are marketed with the claim that they stimulate blood flow in the scalp and promote hair growth by increasing the level of nutrient and oxygen absorption to the root of the hair. While Minoxidil is known for its vasodilator properties, some shampoos aim for a similar effect with compounds such as caffeine and other plant extracts that engage blood vessels.
The science is a bit shady on whether caffeine works as well for the scalp as it does in our coffee cups each morning. Not enough studies have been conducted to give us a definitive answer, but these shampoos certainly provide a tingling or buzzing sensation that makes the scalp feel like it’s “waking up”. Does this mean that dormant or lost hair is on a return trip? It’s up to the individual to determine that for themselves since the science is inconclusive.
Leading hair loss doctors are in greater agreement on the topic of ingredients like salicylic acid and other exfoliating compounds that stimulate hair more directly, and suggest that patients scrub these shampoos rather aggressively to jumpstart blood flow manually.
Scalp stimulation is a great way to give stagnant hair an extra boost in the shower, but again, it’s not a magic bullet, and there are no shampoos with proven effects in this respect.
We know that DHT, a byproduct of testosterone, is considered the main cause of androgenetic balding in men, so it makes sense that a shampoo that targets this compound would be effective in slowing the trend or possibly reversing hair loss altogether.
Indeed, many shampoos claim to do just that, but mileage may vary depending on the current rate of hair loss and how early the user adds it to his routine. Like the drug Finasteride, DHT-blocking mechanisms tend to be far more effective in the very early stages of hair loss, so the sooner an individual can start using these resources, the better.
Other compounds that might help with androgenetic balding are shampoos loaded with keratin (which comprises the majority of human hair) or biotin. However, these have been shown to be more effective when taken orally rather than topically.
Some shampoos prominently feature mineral content like zinc and magnesium, which may be the missing piece of the puzzle for people who do not get enough of these materials in their daily diets. Once again, these shampoos lack scientific backing, but trial-and-error tends to be the main methodology in the world of hair restoration
The effects of hair loss shampoos are largely speculative, and curious customers will read hundreds of conflicting reviews and reports on the web and beyond. Some degree of experimentation is expected, but it’s smarter to take a more scientific approach to hair restoration with the help of a trusted medical professional in the field.
A hair loss specialist will address the issues from every angle, including lifestyle, supplementation, shampoos, medication, and even alternative therapies. This is a far more effective use of time and money when battling to overcome hair loss for good.
Still, you have so many questions about hair loss: What are my options? What kind of results can I expect? Are my expectations realistic? Hair loss is not a common topic of discussion. So, who do you turn to?
A successful transplant process starts with a consultation with a hair transplant expert who truly wants to understand your personal goals. Dr. Jae Pak of Jae Pak, M.D. Medical is a board-certified physician and a hair transplant artist with 15 years experience. With a complementary background in engineering, Dr. Pak uses precision-like skill to bring his patients a natural and balanced hair line they can be proud of.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Pak today and discover what hair transplants can do for you.
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