10 Important Questions to Ask When Selecting A Hair Loss Treatment
1. Are the studies on the active ingredients in your hair loss product credible?
Most of the products that I have come across over the years all claim to be backed by research and patient trials. Unfortunately, most people don’t read the claims made and accept what is said and moves on. Don’t be most people because a majority of those studies are not worth the paper they are printed on. For example, I know of a product that claims it is backed by a double-blind study. What people don’t bother asking is how many people were in the study? The answer is 12, nowhere near enough to make claims of true product success.
Another important question to ask about research on a product’s ingredients is, has the study been published in established medical journals or mainstream medical media? Conducting a study and then placing it on one’s website for display doesn’t count. On 4hairloss.org we have studied and test numerous products, but I tell people upfront that it is an informal study that we are doing with our customers to learn more about the product. It’s one of the things we use to decide to keep recommending a product. We do it when we feel we need more information than what the product maker is telling us. For me, a study that has been officially published and picked up by medical journals and mainstream medical news media lends creditability.
I consider all of the products I carry or discuss on this website to contain well studied ingredients and that is for both the prescription products and the over-the-counter products. On some of the product pages I provide links to some of these studies, however, if you do a Google search on the ingredients of the products on this website you will find all sorts of information. Always research the ingredients of a product before you start using just so you don’t waste your time on something that will not work. I have researched dozens and dozens of products over the years and this website contains the best of the best and as you can see there are not too many. That means a lot of products on the market didn’t make my cut.
2. Does your hair loss product give you enough information about the product to make an informed decision?
One of the most important things a company can give you about their product is information. I have seen so many products come and go over the years. They dump a bunch of ingredients in a mixing bowl and spend a bunch of money on marketing, but there is no real science or reasoning behind it. And the information they provide about the product is very little. They are here today and gone tomorrow. However, in the short-term, the product sells because people that are desperate don’t need too much influence to try the product.
I want to give you as much information about all of the products I carry on this website as I can. Products I researched or tried that didn’t provide enough information didn’t make the cut. I encourage you to read through the entire website before making a purchase decision. If something is missing, please tell me. I want all of my customers to be well informed. On each product page I make sure to discuss not only the ingredients but also how the product feels on the scalp or things you have to watch for like side effects. This is key information and never try a product that doesn’t offer this vital information.
3. Are the active and inactive ingredients in your hair loss product from a trusted and reliable source?
Over the years I have come to realize not much is made in America anymore. Everything from the action figures I collect to the mountain bike I ride on the weekends comes from places like China. And most of the time there is nothing wrong with that because they are quality products. However, I feel different when it comes to medicine or lab-created ingredients. Different countries have different standards and the United States actually has some of the strictest standards in the world when it comes to medicine. Which I believe is a good thing. But with international trading sites like Alibaba, a lot of red tape can and is bypassed and because of that so is the quality. Now, there is nothing wrong with ingredients from other countries, so long as they are approved to be sold in the United States because if they are approved then that means they passed all the standards set by U.S. law.
A topical product that I used for a number of years, by a doctor, sourced ingredients from China because it costs much less. When I learned that I was bothered because in my eyes quality should come first and then cost, but for him it was cost and things were overlooked because of it.
All of the products I carry on my website pass my quality standards, both prescription and over-the-counter products. To the best of my knowledge the ingredients in these products are sourced by large and reputable companies, all approved by the FDA for sale and use in the United States. Therefore, all the ingredients are made using the strict guidelines set forth by the FDA.
4. Does your hair loss product give you the reasons or purpose of each ingredient in their product?
I have tried so many products over the years, many with no success. During my journey, I came to realize that it is important to know all the ingredients in your hair loss product. Some companies are vague when it comes to active ingredients. Even less common is getting the inactive ingredients or at least what the base solution is made from and how it feels on the scalp if it is a topical formulation.
As time went on, I really started to pay attention to the list of ingredients and the user experience because of the ingredients. To master hair loss, I would look up the ingredients. What was my conclusion? It was “why?”. Why does your product have three types of oils in it? No wonder it is so greasy on the scalp, you should be clearer with your customers before they buy. In addition, you will always find a few ingredients in your hair loss product that serve no clear purpose. So always ask about ingredients and why it is in the formulation.
My website clearly discusses all of the active ingredients in each product that I carry and what purpose they serve. Most of the products I carry are topical solutions, meaning you apply them directly to the scalp. I also discuss the base solution that each product mixes the active ingredients into. The purpose is to understand how it will feel on the scalp and if it has any potential side effects.
The over-the-counter topical products we carry (Revivogen and More Hair Naturally 9) we don’t control what they are mixed with, but we discuss what the user experience is for those products on each of their pages respectively, so you can understand the type of base or inactive ingredient like an oil (Revivogen) or a water based solution (MHN9).
However for the three prescription topical formulations (Men’s Azelaic Acid formulation, Men’s Finasteride formulation, and Women’s Azelaic Acid formulation) a lot of time and effort went into selecting the right combination of inactive ingredients that were to be used as the base solution for mixing or dissolving the active ingredients into since they are custom made fresh by a compounding pharmacy. We experimented with numerous combinations of ingredients and whole base solutions. Of all the base solutions we worked with, the base solution we decided to use for now is an alcohol-based gel. This mixture was specifically designed for these types of formulations, so the active ingredients dissolve well into the gel. That and their other base characteristics are discussed on each respective page.
In conclusion, always know the active ingredients in the products you try. Due to proprietary concerns we may not always know all the inactive ingredients, however, you should always at least be able to learn about the base solutions that the topical formulations are mixed into so you can understand the user experience. All of the products I carry on this website provide these important details.
5. What is the consistency and other characteristics of your hair loss product?
The consistency and other characteristics of your hair loss product are some of the most overlooked questions in the industry. Most companies give no information on how it feels on the scalp and hair or how it smells. Is it greasy? Does it leave a residue? Is it sticky like a hair gel? Does it smell bad? I am not sure if this is something companies just overlook, or they just don’t consider them important.
Most of the time you find out the consistency and other characteristics of the product in reviews or message boards. To me, these questions are some of the most important questions to ask. With any hair treatment, there will always be something you have to deal with, whether it be a side effect of an oral treatment or a consistency or other issue from a topical treatment.
I make sure to discuss the consistency of each product that I carry on this website. For example, the consistency of Revivogen is greasy because they use an oily base. For More Hair naturally 9 it is a watery base, so it dries on the scalp similar if you wet your hair in the shower.
For the three prescription topical formulations (Men’s Azelaic Acid formulation, Men’s Finasteride formulation, and Women’s Azelaic Acid formulation) we use a gel. The compounding pharmacy and I like using a gel because it dries on the hair and scalp like a hair gel, so it is not greasy. Your hair will feel slightly stiff but should appear to give you more body and it allows you to style your hair into the desired position.
The nice thing about topical formulations is there are little to no side effects. For example, Finasteride pills can cause erection problems in men. But with topical formulations the most occurring side effect is scalp irritation. For some, the prescription topical products that I carry may cause scalp irritation since the base of the gel is alcohol. However, do not let this discourage you from trying the prescription topical products because the instructions that come with each order offers helpful tips that I have learned over the years to lessen the irritation. I have been using topical formulations for so many years I consider my scalp to be sensitive compared to others and none of the prescription topical products have caused me an issue, as of yet.
Another characteristic of topically applied formulations that we will discuss is whether it leaves a residue on the hair and scalp. All of the topical products I carry washes out easily with water or shampoo and doesn’t leave a residue. The only exception is Revivogen, which is an oily based product that will require you to use a shampoo to wash it out of your hair and scalp completely.
A four characteristic of topically applied formulations that we will discuss is the scent of the product. The important thing to consider when it comes to scent is whether it is strong smelling and whether it subsides after application. Some products add a scent to their formulation in an attempt to make it smell better because its natural scent is very strong smelling. I laugh about that because if the product’s natural scent is strong smelling, how well it is going to be to try and cover the smell with flowers or vanilla. With the exception of Revivogen, all of the other topical products that I carry don’t really have a scent.
Lastly, when dealing with inactive ingredients and base solutions another very important consideration is whether or not it dissolves all the active ingredients and have them stay dissolved. I mention stay dissolved because during our trial of different inactive ingredient combinations some combinations worked at first, but then the active ingredients wouldn’t stay suspended or dissolved in the solution. That is fine when you can simply shake the bottle, but some of the active ingredients in the failed base solutions would clump together so shaking the solution to put the actives back into suspension would not work.
The only product on my website that requires shaking before use is Revivogen. The active ingredients in the three topical prescription products all stay suspended in the gel. The same is true for More Hair Naturally 9.
In conclusion, when researching a hair loss product make sure to ask the right questions about the user experience (consistency) of the product. I make sure to include these important points on my website so there are no surprises when you start using one of the hair loss products I carry on this website.
6. How does your hair loss product work to stop hair loss and get regrowth?
Over the years, I have learned that there are two main ways to fight hair loss, stimulate growth and block the production of DHT. For a number of years, I was able to stop my hair loss by just blocking DHT by using Finasteride pills. But in later years my hair started to thin and recede again and Finasteride pills alone was longer as effective, so I had to add a topical product that stimulates the hair follicle to produce hair also.
There are other ways to fight hair loss in addition to stimulating growth and blocking DHT. You can use a shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated to clean the scalp of residues like DHT. You can also a product that helps thicken the hair shaft and opens the pores; you can use Tretinoin which does this. However, without blocking DHT in the hair follicle, or stimulating the hair follicle to produce hair, it’s only a short-term fix.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you select a product that stimulates the hair follicle and blocks DHT. All of the topical hair loss treatments on this website, both prescription and over-the-counter, does both. Regarding the topical prescription products, the combination of Azelaic Acid, Zinc Sulfate, and Vitamin B6 has been shown to block DHT by 90% and using Finasteride topically inhibits the product of DHT by 67%, nothing inhibits DHT better. Minoxidil and Latanoprost are two of the most powerful hair growth stimulators on the market. All of these prescription ingredients are well studied, you can find all kinds of info doing a Google search.
I encourage you to be thorough and also use a shampoo and conditioner that is specifically formulated for hair loss. I have been doing so for years. I recommend one that removes DHT from the scalp and one that also nourishes, thickens and stimulates the hair. My favorite is Nutri-Ox, which I carry on this website, but Revita and Nioxin are good products as well. However, the main point I am trying to make here is, to effectively stop your hair loss and help regrow hair, the blocking of DHT and stimulating the hair follicle must come first.
7. Does your hair loss product tell you what to expect when using the product?
This is the hardest question to answer and most hair loss products avoid the question. The reason is it varies by person. In my experience, I have come to realize you need to give any product 3 months to start seeing results. You can get results quicker, and some people do, but I always tell people you didn’t lose your hair overnight and it is not going to come back overnight, it is a gradual process. I don’t sell individual bottles of any hair loss treatment, I sell in 90-day supplies and I do that because if you are only going to give a product 1 month, 1 bottle, to see results, you are wasting your time and money. If you are going to try any hair loss treatment then give it a 3 month trial. If you haven’t noticed any results in 3 months, then it is time to try another product. But never give up, one thing I have learned over the years is no product works for everyone. I have used numerous treatments that didn’t work for me but have worked for other people.
I have tried so many products over the years and I have some conclusions that I have come to realize about what to expect when using a hair loss treatment, that I will share with you now. Please note: This is my experience with topical hair loss products that I see in myself and other people that I have helped, your experience may be different.
When losing your hair, you can see the difference in hair that is receding vs not receding. When hair recedes, it is the follicle shrinking and slowly dying. While normal hair grows, the opposite happens with receding hair. The hair is slowly getting shorter, thinner and colorless. A common phrase is “limp hair”. It’s the hair that will not do what you want it to do. I can tell when a hair loss product is having a positive effect on me within three months. What I notice is the receding hair starts looking lively again. The receding has stopped and the hair is gaining strength, size, and color. It also combs the same way as the rest of my hair and it quits looking weak and limp. It’s not overnight, it’s gradual.
Your hair goes through phases or cycles. Everyone loves the growth phase of course. But with hair loss, the shedding and resting phases get longer and the growth phase shortens. When using a hair loss product that blocks DHT and stimulates growth it takes time to change the cycle. Over time the growth phase will become longer and the shedding and resting phase will shorten. That is another reason why the results are gradual and you need to give any hair loss product 3 months to start seeing results.
When a product is working for me I always see existing hair gaining strength and the reversal of receding hair first. However, as time elapses the hair on the vertex of my scalp starts to look denser. Hair on the vertex or, “the classic bald spot”, tends to grow quicker than the hairline. It is that way for most people. For me, denser means thickening of existing hair and the start of regrowth.
Re-growing the hairline is harder to accomplish, the success rate is lower and it takes longer than that of the vertex. For me, I have been able to slow the receding hairline to almost a stop, but have always gotten more regrowth on the vertex. However, I am constantly changing the product to test new products and many of them haven’t helped to stop the receding on the hairline. I will use a product for 3 months and if it doesn’t work I will switch back to a product that has helped and get some regrowth but not all of the hairline will come back. That is why I always tell people if you find a product that works keep using it until it doesn’t work anymore.
At some point, the forward progress will stop and your results will plateau. This stage is called “it is as good as it gets”. For me, it has always been around a year or so. The product is still working because I am not losing hair anymore and I got regrowth. But if you look at my hair closely, I have a slightly receded hairline and a thin patch of hair on the vertex. It has been that way for years now. But I keep using the hair loss products to keep the results I have gotten and that is key to keep getting the benefit you have to keep using the product you are using.
In my over 25 years of fighting hair loss, there are two other points I want to mention. For some people, over time, your miracle hair loss product will become less effective and you may start losing your hair again. When I started my hair loss journey for a number of years I was on Finasteride pills and Minoxidil. However, over time it wasn’t enough. I had to switch treatments to keep the results. Back then I added the violet ray which helped for years. But then my hair started to recede again so now I use topical treatments like the ones on this website that block DHT in the hair follicle and stimulate growth.
This process of a treatment becoming less effective doesn’t happen to everyone but it does make sense. Doctors are always adjusting patients’ medicines or switching medicines to get better results. It’s the same thing with hair loss. For some, your body will get used to the treatment and it will become less effective, so at some point, you find another treatment that helps and you will stop using your current treatment.
The other point I want to make is side effects of your hair loss treatment. No matter what the treatment is sometimes there will be side effects. The nice thing about topical hair loss treatments, like the ones I carry on this website, the main side effect is scalp irritation and it is a low percentage. I have had numerous customers that have stopped using Finasteride pills because of unwanted side effects. My two main competitors market Finasteride pills to men 35 and under, and that is not by chance. Doctors don’t like to put men over 40 on Finasteride pills because the side effects increase in men over 40. If your scalp becomes irritated, or any other side effects, on any product, you should stop using the product and consult with your doctor.
8. Is your topical hair loss product being effectively absorbed into the scalp?
This is a very important question when using any topical hair loss product. You can have the best ingredients in the world and have it combined to make one of the strongest hair loss remedies in the world and it doesn’t work because the active ingredients are not being absorbed into the scalp and hair follicle. The same goes for taking Finasteride pills, how effective will the pills be if the body can’t breakdown the pill and absorb the active ingredient into the blood stream.
One of my favorite topical products that I mentioned before, Revivogen, which I carry on this website, has 3 or more oil-like ingredients in the formula. When using the product, it leaves your hair and scalp greasy. The consistency of the product is thicker than water and I just wonder how effective it is in reaching the hair follicle. The product definitely works but I wonder if it would work even better if it had a water-like consistency. Water flows down and it fills in cracks and holes. This consistency is much more effective in reaching the hair follicle.
I test all of the hair loss products I carry on this website to make sure they are effectively absorbed in the scalp and hair follicle or in the body if taken orally. More Hair Naturally 9 is water based so it absorbs well and all three of the prescription topical products are a liquid based gel so they glide on the scalp well and absorb well; they are water like so they flow and fill. In addition, with the three prescription topical products, if you want to go above and beyond, you can have Tretinoin added as an ingredient, which opens the pores and softens the skin to allow more of the product to be absorbed into the scalp and hair follicle.
9. How is your topical hair loss product applied onto the scalp?
Hair loss products that are applied topically are typically done in one of 4 ways: palm and figure tip, spray, foam, or by a medicine dropper.
Applying a hair loss product by spray or foam is less effective and creates more waste than by applying using a medicine dropper or with your palm and figure tip. The problem with foam and sprays is that more product reaches the hair than the scalp itself. In addition, it is harder to distribute a foam or spray over the scalp than it is using a medicine dropper or your palm and figure tip. That creates more waste because you are using more pumps to cover the entire scalp.
Revivogen is applied via medicine dropper and the three prescription products are applied by palm and figure tip. Using a medicine dropper is nice because more of the product reaches the scalp and you use less product to cover the entire treatment area. For the gel I pump some into the palm of one hand and use a figure tip on my other hand to apply it to the scalp. I always recommend and prefer using a product that is applied with a medicine dropper or by palm and figure tip. However, there are products, like More Hair Naturally 9, that require a spray or foam because some of the ingredients require an airtight seal until application on the scalp. For those products, you don’t have a choice.
10. Is your current hair loss protocol working?
Whenever someone wants to treat their hair loss I always make sure to know whether or not they are currently using a hair loss product(s). One of my top rules is if you are currently using a hair loss product and you like the results then keep using that product and don’t switch. However, if you are not getting the results you desire or there is something about your current product that you don’t like (ie. the scent or unwanted side effects) then it is time to try something else.
Most hair loss products don’t ask this question because they want you using their product. Over the years, I have come to realize that if I am getting good results from a product, and I like it, then I don’t switch to another product. My reason for this is I have come to realize that the effectiveness of hair loss products will decrease over time, and at some point, you will want to make a change out of necessity. I have had to make protocol changes multiple times over the last 25 plus years because of this. Therefore, only change your hair loss product because you need to and not just because you want to.