Will there be a cure for male hair loss?
30 November 2023 / 8 minutes read /
Most men here in the UK have to deal with hair loss. Not just any hair loss, but Androgenetic Alopecia. Freely translated, this means alopecia (= hair loss) due to androgens (= male sex hormones).
An example of a male sex hormone is testosterone, but this is not the primary hormone that causes hair loss. The hormone that does is called dihydrotestosterone. It’s testosterone but with a “dihydro” in front of it. We’ll tell you more about this later in the article.
If you are a man suffering from hair loss, you want to treat it successfully. And by treating it we of course mean to stop it. When you go to a general drugstore, you quickly come across products claiming to prevent hair loss but in fact do absolutely nothing in reality. We're talking about products like caffeine shampoo, saw palmetto, and hair vitamins (biotin tablets).
Products that are, every single one of them, completely worthless against hair loss. Those that really want to stop hair loss, only have one option: Finasteride.
In this article we explain why men lose hair, the reasons why popular hair loss treatments don’t work and why finasteride does. We also dive into the efficacy of finasteride and answer one of the most commonly asked question: “Does finasteride remain effective or does it lose efficacy over time?”.
Male hair loss is caused by the male androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT). A hormone that comes into existence due to the conversion of testosterone into DHT by the enzyme 5-α-reductase.
Hair follicles that come into contact with DHT are damaged over time. As a result, the hair follicle produces thinner and shorter hair. Whether or not a hair follicle is sensitive to the harmful effects of DHT is genetically determined. Hair above the forehead is most sensitive to DHT, while the hair on the back of the head is “not”.
This becomes clear by looking at the pattern in which men lose hair. Hair loss starts at the forehead, and the hairline recedes over the years. Hair that remains are usually the hair on the back of the head and on the sides.
Finasteride, known by the brand name Propecia, is a pill used to treat hair loss in men. Finasteride does what products like a caffeine shampoo do not: it stops hair loss by fighting the cause of hair loss.
As we’ve told you earlier in the article, hair loss is caused by the hormone DHT. A hormone produced by the interaction of the enzyme 5-α-reductase with testosterone. The way finasteride works is by inhibiting the 5-α-reductase enzyme. This prevents testosterone from being converted to DHT. No DHT means no damage to the hair follicles and, therefore, no hair loss.
Finasteride stops hair loss by reducing the amount of DHT in the scalp. And Finasteride is pretty good at this. Taking 1 mg of Finasteride (one tablet) reduces the amount of DHT by up to 70%. Enough to completely stop hair loss in 70% to 99% of men.
And that is to be taken literally. It really stops hair loss altogether. Not just for a fortnight, but for as long as you take it. In three different studies over 5 and 10 years, Finasteride stopped hair loss in 70%, 84% and 99% of men. That means that Finasteride stopped hair loss in 79%, 84% and 88% of men over the entire 5 and 10 year study period.
Finasteride works immediately. One tablet (1 mg) of Finasteride reduces the amount of DHT by 70% within 24 hours. However, it takes a while for the effects of Finasteride become clearly visible: approximately 3 to 6 months.
Once you take Finasteride, the amount of DHT is reduced by about 70%. This means that the harmful effects of DHT are reduced, and hair loss is stopped. In addition, Finasteride also has a positive influence on the hair growth cycle. Finasteride extends the hair growth phase. This means that hair grows for a more extended period before it falls out and is replaced by new hair.
Yes, there are several studies that have established the long-term effectiveness of finasteride. There have been studies lasting 5 years, but also some lasting 10 years. In all of these studies, finasteride's effectiveness remained the same throughout the study period. For example, in the two 10-year studies, finasteride stopped hair loss in 86% and 99.1% of men over the entire study period.
Much is said about caffeine, but almost none of what is said is true. For example, it is claimed to stop hair loss, but it doesn't. Caffeine has no effect whatsoever on DHT and cannot stop hair loss.
Caffeine is also claimed to make hair grow better and faster. It supposedly does so by limiting the damaging effects of testosterone. According to Alpecin and their own conducted research, having a testosterone concentration of 50 ng/ml reduces the hair growth speed by 6,7%. And their study “proved” caffeine to “repair” this decrease.
The problem with this study however is that men do not have 50 ng/ml testosterone but "only" 9 ng/ml testosterone. The potential benefit of caffeine on your hair would therefore be irrelevant. Simply because there is no decrease in hair growth speed at 9 ng/ml testosterone. Secondly, another surprising fact to point out is that only 0.001% and 0.005% caffeine concentrations restored the hair growth speed while the concentrations 0.01%, 0.05% and 0.15% caused an even greater decrease.
Interestingly, Alpecin caffeine shampoo contains a caffeine concentration of 1%. Theoretically speaking, this would therefore translate to an even great decrease.
Finally, when it comes to the efficact of alpecin caffeine shampoo… we aren’t the only ones who believe it to be worthless. Here in the United kingdom, the makers of Alpecin are forbidden to claim or imply that it can stop hair loss since 2018.
Saw Palmetto is claimed to be able to lower DHT just like Finasteride by inhibiting the 5 alpha-reductase enzymes. It is hailed as the natural alternative to finasterideon the internet. A claim that’s completely false.
Saw Palmetto's inhibitory effect on 5-α-reductase is negligible. In the only human study conducted, 320 mg of Saw Palmetto had no effect at all on DHT, whereas 1 mg of Finasteride reduced serum DHT by 65% after only 12 hours.
Also, in a study done on rats, Saw Palmetto proved again useless. In the rat, a dose of 0.1 mg finasteride was sufficient to reduce DHT, but a dose of 1800 mg saw palmetto was not. A ratio of at least 1:18,000 in favour of Finasteride.
That means that if 1 mg of Finasteride is effective in humans, you would need at least 18,000 mg of saw palmetto. And note that we say at leastbecause it would be the bare minimum!
Finally, there is biotin, rebranded as a so called hair vitamin for obvious reasons. It might come as no surprise, that this product too, has no effect whatsoever on preventing hair loss.
Biotin is only effective in people with a biotinidase deficiency. A rare genetic disorder in which the body is unable to recycle biotin. This causes a chronic and severe biotin deficiency and causes symptoms such as hair loss, epilepsy, hallucinations and eye disorders. The disease occurs in 1 in 60,000 people and leads to death if left untreated.
The disease is diagnosed at birth. So if you're affected by this disease, you would know. A biotin supplement proved helpful in those who are affected by this disease. In all others, it isn't.
Male hair loss is caused by the male androgen dihydrotestosterone or DHT. A hormone that damages the hair follicles, causing them to stop producing hair over time and to develop bald patches.
To stop hair loss, you need a product that reduces the amount of DHT. Online, you find many useless products that are said to be effective but do absolutely nothing in reality (besides emptying your pocked and wasting your time). Products like caffeine shampoo, saw palmetto and biotion capsules proved to be useless.
Men who really want to stop their hair loss have only one option: Finasteride. It reduces DHT by 70% and stops hair loss in more then 80% of men. Don’t waste time