We Asked an Expert About Home Remedies for Hair Growth and Thickness

When faced with hair loss or thinning hair, there are tons of home remedies for hair regrowth and thickness out there. The good news: Unless you’re already bald, there’s a lot you can do from home to regrow any recently lost hair. Recessed hair cannot be restored without transplanting it. However, your at-home efforts can significantly slow recession and crown hair loss, all without breaking the bank, too.

It’s never too early to start a hair-loss regimen, either. That’s because a preventative approach can often be the best strategy, as opposed to being too late and wishing your hairline was what it once was. (Again, you can address that with a hair transplant, but that’s a severe, last-resort step for many men.)

Before you get started, the best thing to do is to talk with your dermatologist, who will consider your age, growth/loss patterns, health risks, and more.

We reached out to Dr. James Collyer, M.D. and board-certified dermatologist at Modern Dermatology in Seattle, WA. We asked him to comment on at-home remedies for hair growth and thickness. Here are the measures you might consider, along with a few product recommendations.

The Essentials: Home Remedies for Hair Growth and Thickness

Minoxidil

What Is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is a topical liquid or foam, applied once or twice daily to the scalp. It opens blood vessels and improves blood flow (and thus, nutrient delivery) to the hair follicles. This strengthens the hairs and can even stimulate regrowth in the weakened follicles that are dormant but not growing. (Any dead follicles will not regrow hair.) It is most efficient at stalling the thinning of hair on the crown of the head. Generic minoxidil was, until recently, better known as Rogaine, until the brand’s patent expired and allowed other brands to sell the remedy. It’s available without a prescription, though a dermatologist can advise you on whether a 2% or 5% dose is right for you.

What the Experts Say:

“When using 5% [dose]. try to apply to the scalp at least one hour prior to bedtime to ensure maximum absorption and decrease the risk of medication ending up on your pillowcase and face,” says Collyer. “It will take four to six months of treatment to see improvement. If minoxidil is stopped, the effects of the drug wear off within three months and the previous pattern of hair loss resumes. You will lose the hair you kept by using the minoxidil.”

Roman, Hims, and Keeps all offer minoxidil, mailed quarterly to your home. They require digital approval from one of their board-certified dermatologists, and tend to cost around $100 for a 3-month supply.

Finasteride

What Is Finasteride?

A once-daily, 1mg finasteride prescription will regulate hormones (namely enzyme production). This in turn limits the production of the hormonal byproduct dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. DHT is what weakens and chokes your follicles, so by inhibiting it, finasteride, formerly known as Propecia, reduces hair fall and even allows the regrowth of recently compromised follicles. (Again, like minoxidil, it can only help restore growth to dormant follicles.) Finasteride works to restrict hair recession. Typically, finasteride in larger doses (5mg) is used to treat enlarged prostates and can have other side effects, which is why its use (even in micro daily doses) needs to be closely monitored by a dermatologist.

What the Experts Say:

“This medicine usually does not cause any serious side effects but may cause decreased sex drive and reduce amount of semen released during sexual intercourse,” Collyer says.

Roman, Hims, and Keeps again all offer prescriptions, mailed quarterly to your home. They require digital appointments with one of their board-certified dermatologists, and tend to cost around $75 for a 3-month supply.

The Supplementary Steps

DHT-Blocking Shampoo

What Is DHT-Blocking Shampoo?

A shampoo packed with ingredients that also inhibit the production of the hair-thinning hormonal byproduct dihydrotestosterone (DHT). You can ignore the claims of any that solely tout vitamin-rich formulas. Yes, you want vitamins and nutrients in your shampoo, but you can also ingest those vitamins in your diet or as daily vitamin supplements. Instead, look for two core ingredients: ketoconazole and saw palmetto.

Ketoconazole is an active ingredient also found in many dandruff shampoos (since it also counters fungal growth). Both ketoconazole and saw palmetto can further inhibit DHT production, similar to finasteride, and using a DHT-inhibiting shampoo during the week can be a great supplement to your hair-retention plan. However, it’s by no means going to have the same effect as the aforementioned drugs, and should not be your standalone solution if you expect serious results. Lastly, most OTC ketoconazole washes use a 1% blend of the ingredient to counter dandruff and fungus. You can use this as a good habit, but a prescription-strength 2% is more commonly used for severe hair thinning, and must be obtained from a dermatologist.

What the Experts Say:

“These may possibly help thicken hair,” Collyer says. “Some shampoo formulations actually contain minoxidil, too.”

Hims Saw Palmetto DHT-Blocking Shampoo [$19; forhims.com], Nizoral 1% Ketoconazole Shampoo [$15; amazon.com]

Hair-Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner

What Is Hair-Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner?

Simply put, hair-thickening shampoos and conditioners plump extra moisture and proteins into the hairs to give them a temporary fullness, helping to reduce the space between each strand. They’re great for daily use, in that they give an overall illusion of fuller, denser hair by thickening each individual strand. If you want to use a DHT-blocking shampoo, followed by (but not at the same time as) a thickening conditioner, then you can enjoy the benefits of both.

What the Experts Say:

“Protein-based shampoos will also infuse the strands of hair with panthenol,” says Greg Ruggeri of Ruggeri Salon in New York City. “This will help to plump out each strand of hair to give additional volume, while the protein will temporarily strengthen the outer layer of the hair. Additional ingredients will be added to give moisturizing effects as well as attractive scents, but it is the protein and the panthenol that gives the illusion of thickness.”

Sachajuan Hair-Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner
[$26, shampoo; amazon.com] [$31, conditioner; amazon.com]

Super Supplements

What Are Super Supplements?

There are hundreds of different supplements out there touting hair-strengthening benefits, but only a couple of them really take it to the next level by packing every possible ingredient into a little pill, all targeted at the hair. Some claim to regulate DHT levels, decrease inflammation and follicle/root damage, boost nutrient delivery, and with all of these steps combined, promise to grow thicker, stronger hair—and to even help some dormant follicles regrow their hairs. If you go this route, you will probably see a couple brands, including Viviscal and Nutrafol.

What the Experts Say:

Collyer especially likes Viviscal: “Many clinical trials show an increase in the number of hairs and the diameter of hairs, and a decrease in hair shedding after six months of use,” he says. “It contains a proprietary marine complex containing shark cartilage available as a byproduct of the fishing industry from non-endangered species. Take twice a day for six months to see improvement. If stopped, the effects wear off within three to six months.”

Nutrafol 1-Month Hair Super Supplement [$88; amazon.com], Viviscal Men’s Hair Supplements [$45; ulta.com]

Biotin + Saw Palmetto + Daily Multivitamins

What Is It?

Biotin (Vitamin B7) is known to speed up hair growth (and nail growth). In fact, the entire range of B-complex vitamins can work wonders for the hair, in that they help numerous body systems—all of which end up reflecting themselves in your skin and hair health. But biotin gets the most attention for its direct impact on hair growth. And as previously mentioned, saw palmetto works to inhibit DHT production, which can help prevent hair follicle suffocation. It’s also often found in DHT-blocking shampoos. Lastly, numerous other vitamins are beneficial to hair growth, similar to the universal benefits of the B-complex range. For this reason, daily multivitamins are often recommended by dermatologists in order to promote healthy skin and hair.

What the Experts Say:

Collyer notes that many studies around saw palmetto and biotin are inconclusive in proving that they fortify hair growth. That’s not saying they don’t ultimately benefit the hair in the end. It just isn’t a standalone way to get results. “If you want to try biotin supplementation, take 1-3mg daily,” he says.

Low-Level Laser Therapy

What Is Low-Level Laser Therapy?

Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is usually sold as cap- or comb-like devices that help stimulate blood circulation and regrowth in dormant follicles. It’s said to thicken existing hairs.

What the Experts Say:

“Hairmax Laser Comb is the only at-home laser treatment for hair loss to have received clearance to market by the FDA,” notes Collyer.

Hairmax Ultima 9 Classic Laser Comb [$199; amazon.com]

Prioritize Omega 3s and Other Protein-Rich Healthy Fats

What Are Omega 3s?

If you’re able to prioritize a diet in protein-rich healthy fats, as well as omega 3 fatty acids, then do so. As for omega 3s, this can include whole eggs, fatty fish like salmon and trout, plus chia seeds. As for protein-rich options, look to cheese, eggs, fish, and nuts.

What the Experts Say:

“If you can get your nutrients from your food instead of a vitamin, then it’s far preferred, since your body doesn’t need all of the excess vitamins and minerals,” Collyer says. “So, for hair health, focus on your omega 3s, which can nourish hair follicles.”

Healthy Habits + Lifestyle

What Is It?

Having a healthy lifestyle reflects itself in your hair (just as it does your skin). If you get around eight hours of sleep each night, stay hydrated, cut back on processed and sugary foods, limit alcohol and caffeine intake, cut out smoking and drug use, and ingest necessary vitamins and minerals, you should notice a difference in your hair health, but it may take some time.

What the Experts Say:

Collyer notes a few other bad habits that can compromise hair health: “Don’t pull your hair into tight ponytails or man buns. The tension can cause hair loss (tractional alopecia). Using too much heat or harsh chemicals (e.g. relaxers and blow dryers) can cause hair loss. Lastly, certain medications (like statins, antidepressants, anti-anxiety agents, and anti-hypertensive medications) or hormones (like thyroid replacement drugs) can cause hair loss and disrupt or interfere with the normal cycle of hair growth, causing hair to go into a resting phase and fall out prematurely.”

And, if you’re using a blow dryer on your hair, it’s important to remember a few key things. “When using a dryer, always start from the lowest setting, never use the hottest setting,” Ruggeri says. “This is used more commonly for hair past the shoulders that needs a little more heat in helping with the drying process. The hotter the setting and the closer the dryer is to the hair, the more damage you can create.”

A Scalp Massage

What Is It?

In theory, a daily scalp massage could help stimulate circulation and help deliver more nutrients to the hair follicles. If your hair is strong, this also won’t trigger any additional hair fall.

What the Experts Say:

Not much, really. Collyer was skeptical about this being a solution to any problems. There’s no doubt that a scalp massage would help, but we’re talking trace levels, inconsequential by comparison to everything else here.

DIY Hair Mask

What Is a Hair Mask?

As an all-natural home remedy, you can mix an egg with a tablespoon of olive oil and a half-cup of water, or double it if you need to. The idea here is that the lecithin and protein in the eggs will nourish the scalp and stimulate growth in weakened or dormant follicles. It can be messy, and it’s a lot of work for a one-off solution.

What the Experts Say:

“You can do this mask, sure,” Collyer says. “But if you want to avoid the mess you can also just use the minoxidil since it doesn’t have many side effects in men.”

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