Do Finasteride and Minoxidil really work? How long does it take to see results? When patients call and ask about topical hair loss solutions, these are the first questions they usually ask. After all, nobody wants to waste their time or money on products that aren’t effective. However, wouldn’t it be nice if you had a crystal ball and knew ahead of time what your hair was going to look like after treatment? Unfortunately, we can’t predict the future, but we can give you a realistic idea of what to expect.
How Do Finasteride, Minoxidil, and Other Topical Hair Loss Treatments Make Your Hair Grow?
Topical hair loss treatments work best on men and women with androgenic alopecia, also known as male and female pattern hair loss. The ingredients in Finasteride, Minoxidil, Retin A, and other topical treatments differ and contribute to your hair’s growth in different ways. Here’s a simple primer to help you understand what each of the medications does and how they work:
Finasteride (Propecia) (01)
Testosterone converts to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and attacks your hair follicles when you have androgenic alopecia. As a result, the hair follicles shrink, hair falls out, and hair stops growing. Finasteride, one of the active ingredients in Happy Head, is an enzyme blocker that increases testosterone levels and prevents the testosterone from converting to DHT.
You may be familiar with Minoxidil which is sold over-the-counter at retail locations under the brand name Rogaine. Whereas Rogaine is only available in two or five percent formulas, the Minoxidil in Happy Head has a higher six or eight percent concentration.
Minoxidil has a different purpose than Finasteride. When a person has androgenic alopecia, the hair follicles begin to shrink, which is called miniaturization. Because the follicle size is reduced or even closed off, hair cannot push through, resulting in hair loss. Minoxidil enlarges the follicles so hair can emerge. The medication also decreases the length of the resting phase when your hair doesn’t grow while elongating your hair’s active growth phase.
Retinoic Acid, also known as Tretinoin or Retin A, is a derivative of Vitamin A. Retin A boosts cell turnover and collagen production when used on your skin. It works similarly on your hair to support growth. The medication is also known for improving the absorption of Minoxidil and other active ingredients.
What Does Combining Hair Loss Medications Do?
Research has consistently demonstrated that combining multiple hair loss medications is more effective than monotherapy. For example, clinical studies indicate that Minodxidil’s efficacy increases with Retinoic Acid. (02) Likewise, Minoxidil fortified with Finasteride is significantly stronger and more effective than over-the-counter Rogaine used by itself. (03)
Using Multiple Products Isn’t Convenient. Is There Another Option?
When you’re using multiple hair loss products, remembering what medications to take and when to take them can be a pain. Compounded Happy Head topical hair regrowth formula combines multiple proven medications into one easy-to-use formula. The main active ingredients are Finasteride, Minoxidil, and Retinoic Acid. Aloe, an inactive ingredient, is used as the base to prevent irritation. Since Happy Head’s ingredients are only available by prescription, you’ll have a free consultation with a board-certified dermatologist and hair specialist before your prescription is filled. Your doctor will help you customize the formula based on your specific needs.
How Long Does it Take to Get Results?
Now that you know what topical medications are available to treat your hair loss, you probably want to know how long they take to work. Waiting for your hair to grow back is hard, especially if you have a bald spot that you’re trying to cover. Immediate results would be nice, but you’re going to have to be patient. Hair goes through a life cycle, which lasts several months. Here are the phases of the life cycle:
1. Anagen (Growth Phase) – Your hair actively grows during the anagen phase. During this time, your hair grows approximately half an inch per month. Topical hair loss treatments are designed to prolong this phase.
2. Telogen (Resting Phase) – Think of the telogen phase as a transitional phase when pigment production and cell division stop. This phase lasts two to three weeks.
3. Catagen (Shedding Phase) – Each hair falls out of its follicle during the catagen phase. This shedding phase typically lasts three to four months. Topical hair loss treatments are designed to shorten this phase.
After a hair sheds, the anagen stage begins in the follicle, and new hair begins to grow. This process is different for people undergoing treatment for androgenic alopecia. Before hair can grow, DHT production has to slow down, and the follicles need to open up.
Dr. Ben Behnam, board-certified dermatologist, hair specialist, and founder of Happy Head hair loss solutions recommends that patients consistently use products for at least six months to get the best results. “The DHT blocker needs time to work and to prevent miniaturization,” says Behnam. “That doesn’t happen overnight.”
Monthly Photos Help You Track Progress
Meanwhile, the best way to see progress over time is by taking monthly photos. People using topical Finasteride and Minoxidil often don’t realize that their hair grows because they see themselves every day. Monthly photos will help. The following photos were taken by Sean, a Happy Head customer, over six months. You can see how his hair is gradually filling in over time.
How Often Do You Have to Use Finasteride and Minoxidil to Get Results?
Your dermatologist will recommend how often to use your topical prescriptions. We typically recommend that patients apply Happy Head twice a day, in the morning and at night. You don’t have to apply the formula precisely 12 hours apart. The key is to be consistent with applying twice a day at the same time each day. Regardless of which medication you are using, the more consistently you apply the product, the better the results.
If your hair feels greasy or limp after using topical hair loss solutions, consider washing your hair two to three hours after applying the product. Your scalp will still benefit, and you can go to a meeting or a luncheon with freshly washed hair.
Does Topical Hair Loss Medication Work as Well as Oral?
Topical medications have been proven to be equally as effective in treating male and female pattern hair loss as oral medications. In a recent study conducted in February of 2022, topical spray-on Finasteride was compared to oral Finasteride. The study found that the effects of the topical formula were similar to that of the oral pill with “significantly lower systemic exposure.” (04) The topical Finasteride worked just as well with a lower likelihood of side effects.
Can I Stop Using Topical Hair Loss Treatments at Any Time?
As long as you use the treatment, you will maintain your new hair. If you stop using the treatment for a week or so, you should be fine. However, a three-month to six-month hiatus is a different story. When you stop blocking DHT and allow the hair follicles to miniaturize, you’ll lose the growth you gained.
Will Happy Head Work for You?
With so many different hair growth products on the market, it can be challenging to sift through all of the options. There are shampoos, vitamins, supplements, treatments, the list goes on. Trying so many different products gets expensive and frustrating. So how do you know which medication is right for you? The best way to know for sure is to contact us for a complimentary consultation. During your consultation, a board-certified dermatologist will review your history, determine whether you are a good candidate for topical hair loss medication and customize a formula if necessary. The consultation is a no-risk way to get the information you need to make an educated decision about the best way to treat your hair loss. Want more information? Start a free consultation now.
(01) Finasteride is not recommended for women of childbearing age. Always check with a physician before beginning any hair loss treatment.