First, let’s set the facts straight. Hair loss actually has nothing to do with losing hair. “It’s a misnomer,” says Washington D.C.-based dermatologist Terrence Keaney, M.D. and the founder of W for Men (the world’s first clinical practice dedicated to male dermatology). “Male-patterned androgenetic alopecia is the progressive miniaturization of the hair follicles. Eventually, the hair follicles are so small that they do not provide coverage of the scalp skin, leading to a ‘bald’ scalp.” So rather than losing hair, or not growing new hair, you just grow progessively thinner, lighter-colored hair. It’s also important to note that the culprits vary, and can include “genetic predisposition, sensitivity to the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and shortened growth (anagen) phase of the hair follicle.”
Going forward, we’ll still use the term “hair loss”—hey, it’s way easier than saying male-patterned androgenetic alopecia—but now you know exactly what we mean. Here, we share four proven ways to combat and treat those fading follicles.
Check In Regularly
You’re reading this, so chances are fitness is a priority. And one way of keeping your progress in check is with regular weigh-ins. So why not give your hair the same care? Because the key to slowing hair loss is simple: early detection, followed by treatment. “By the time a man has noticed hair thinning, he has already lost approximately 50% of hair density,” says Dr. Keaney. Because men naturally shed 100-200 hairs daily, watching what goes down the drain or in your brush won’t help. If hair loss is a serious concern, guys should start seeing a derm regularly, at an early age. Hair loss doctors have a tools to document and measure the changes in the size of the hair follicle. For example: Dr. Keaney uses a digital hair imaging device (trichoscope) that captures 30x magnification pictures and videos of the hair. This device is used as both a diagnostic and treatment monitoring tool.
Mind Your Mouth
A balanced diet—which we hope is already a part of your lifestyle—is also effective in maintaining thick and healthy hair. Protein is especially critical, as the hair is mostly made up of protein. So look for protein-rich foods like eggs, poultry, and greek yogurt. Omega-3 Fatty Acids—which you can find in salmon, sardines, and walnuts—promotes healthy hair growth and hair elasticity (so it doesn’t break). Iron delivers much-needed oxygen to the scalp for hair growth, so don’t forget to dig into dark, leafy greens, red meat, and shellfish (like oysters and clams).
Deliver a One-two Punch
The great news is that for most guys, hair loss can be managed with medicine. Men’s ROGAINE® Foam contains 5% minoxidil—it’s the only FDA-approved topical ingredient to regrow hair—and couldn’t be any easier to use. Massage it into your scalp morning and night, and you’re good to go. In addition, Propecia—the key ingredient here is Finasteride—is prescription-only, taken orally, and has been clinically proven to block the actual formation of DHT, a male sex hormone that interferes with hair's natural growth and shedding cycle. While each product on its own can be effective, use them together for the best results. Note: you must have a chat with your doctor before using these medications.
Because Propecia can come with some unpleasant side effects (hello, compromised libido and sexual disfunction), it’s not for everyone. We get it. And that’s the story behind the co-founders of Nutrafol. Both guys were Propecia users but after getting frustrated with the side effects, they launched a product that was both natural and effective. Nutrafol is different from the other products on the market because it works from the inside out, and takes a natural approach to hair growth. It does not irritate the scalp, nor does it require a prescription (or have negative side effects) like Propecia. The vitamins and natural ingredients in the supplements restore scalp and follicles, priming them to regrow thicker, fuller, healthier hair. Though there are definitely a lot of products that claim to help with hair loss, Nutrafol uses only natural ingredients that have proven clinical results.
Come To The Light
Wait, your scalp (not just your head) can benefit from therapy? You bet it can. Illumiwave is a technology that stars low-level light therapy, and according to Dr. Keaney, “it improves hair loss through multiple mechanisms including increased local blood flow, growth factor promotion, and induction of prolonged hair growth phase.” Each treatment takes approximately 30 minutes, and is completely comfortable and painless. (You can even snooze away, if you please.) A treatment schedule requires two to three weekly visits for the first couple months, followed by weekly maintenance treatments. Cost per treatment: $100, and many practices offer package deals.