OTC treatments for minor hair loss
Assuming you’re experiencing androgenetic alopecia and not a more serious underlying issue, there’s a number of effective over-the-counter shampoos, treatments, and supplements available to try.
Minoxidil is the only FDA-approved ingredient found to improve hair loss, and it’s available as an over-the-counter treatment or prescription. “Minoxidil can enhance the size of the follicle so that it produces a bigger strand of hair,” explains Wilma Bergfeld, MD, a Cleveland Clinic dermatologist. A small, recent study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that men with androgenetic alopecia who applied a Minoxidil topical foam experienced hair growth in both the frontal and vertex scalp.
Shampoos for hair loss
Shampoos that moisturize the scalp can create a healthy environment for hair regrowth. Anti-dandruff shampoos like Head & Shoulders and Dove Dermacare Scalp contain zinc pyrithione (ZPT), an ingredient that removes dead skin cells that could be preventing growth. Plus, all of that itching and scratching from a dry scalp can lead to excess shedding.
What’s more, hair thinning can also stem from a hormone called DHT (a derivative of testosterone). DHT signals hairs to shrink and become vellus hairs (aka small, short hairs), says Caroling Chang, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Rhode Island Hospital and member of the Prevention Medical Review Board. “It does this by changing the hair cycles and causing a shortening of the growth phase and increase in the resting phase,” she explains. In this case, consider a DHT-blocking shampoo like Alterna Haircare.
Nutrients and supplements for hair loss
Eating a nutrient-rich diet can keep your hair healthy, too. And while hair supplements won’t cause hair growth, they can help your strands grow stronger. “The combination of fish protein, vitamin C, zinc, biotin, and niacin in Viviscal supplements encourages the body to produce healthier, thicker strands,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
Nutrafol is another hair supplement to consider, according to Dendy Engelman, MD, board-certified dermatologic surgeon at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City. “This uses highly concentrated botanicals to address every stage of the growth cycle. It has excellent clinical studies to support its efficacy. I recommend it daily to my patients,” she recently told Prevention.
OLLY Hair, Skin & Nails supplements also contain a blend of biotin, vitamin C, E, and keratin protein to help you fight free radicals that damage hair follicles. You can also take a biotin supplement alone, which helps the body break down fats and carbohydrates to grow stronger strands.
Lifestyle changes that may slow down hair loss
Just like lifestyle choices such as poor diet and smoking can contribute to health conditions like cardiovascular disease, they can also play a role in your ability to maintain healthy hair.
Eat the right nutrients
Again, hair thrives on protein, iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, magnesium, and vitamin B12. To ensure you get the most nutritional bang for your buck, load up on foods that fight hair loss with these nutrients, like lean meats, leafy greens, nuts, beans, sweet potatoes, and fish.
Massage your scalp
You’re halfway there every time you shampoo: Massaging your head in the shower can increase blood flow to the the scalp. This means a better environment for hair growth, and it also aids the penetration of any treatment shampoos you use.