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Choosing the right hair growth product

Is a Solution for:
Thinning Hair & Shedding
April 25, 2010 Reviewed by Marta 32 Comments

There are numerous products for thinning and balding hair. They tend to work in different ways on the hair follicle (actually, this makes sense when you understand a bit more about how hair grows so check out our hair growth 101). Here at Truth In Aging, we have tried most of key hair growth actives and, happily, have found that several of them work. However, some will work better in different circumstances. So in the battle against hair loss, prepare to choose your weapon.

Amino Acids

There are 18 amino acids in hair. Many hair care products (such as Nisim or Davines), have a handful of them. But serious hair growth products have all 18. And it may be true that the sum is greater than the parts. At least, there isn’t much research on individual amino acids and hair. Let’s take a look at cystine. Because its structure and function resembles that of hair, it’s classified as a Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF). As an NMF, it helps keep the intercellular structure of the hair intact, protects it from breakage and binds moisture to the shaft. Another is the similarly named cysteine, an amino acid that makes up 5% of the composition of hair. I have read that it can make the hair shaft bigger, but I can’t find any scientific evidence of that. There are some tests to vouch for the role of methionine. This is a sulfur-containing amino acid that has been shown in animal tests to strengthen hair cells.

Who should use it: Amino acids seem to help hair grow faster and are commended for women with pregnancy related hair loss, or chemo recoverers. Will not restore bald pates to their former hirsute glory.

Found in: Osmotics FNS Serum ($69)

Copper peptides

Copper is something that exists naturally in our tissues. Depletion of it has for a long time been correlated with many degenerative diseases (is that why my grandmother wore a copper bracelet to fend of rheumatic pain?). One of the main roles of copper is anti-inflammatory – it works by suppressing inflammatory cytokines – and there is a growing school of thought that increased inflammation brings about aging. According to Dr P, the processes that cause chronic inflammation as we age could be the same as those in wounds. There is a 60% drop in our bodies’ own GHK between the ages of 20 and 60.

Not all copper-based formulations are equal because the molecules need to be really small to bind to receptors effectively, where they work like intercellular pack mules, transporting copper into and from cells.

Copper’s ability to assist in hair growth was discovered when it was noticed that the hair follicles around treated wounds were exceptionally large. It seems to work on the follicle in two ways: increasing follicle cell proliferation increased follicle size; and copper also decreases programmed follicle cell death, which results in smaller follicles.

Who should use it: Men or women with thinning hair and receding hair lines

Found in: Folligen ($22), Hair Signals ($27)

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) inhibitors

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a natural metabolite in the human body, is responsible for shrinking the hair follicle (think wispy). This is referred to as miniaturization and the hair ultimately breaks and falls off.

Ingredients that are thought to inhibit DHT include tea extracts, saw palmetto oil, pygeum africanum, and lavender oil – although only saw palmetto has a strong research pedigree when it comes to hair growth.

Who should use it: Men or women who lose hair are those who are genetically pre-disposed in producing more DHT than others.

Found in: Hair Signals Therapy Cream and Therapy Solution ($38)

Finasteride (Propecia)

Finasteride is a pill that is marketed as Proscar (amongst other names) and its ostensible purpose is to help men with prostate issues urinate. It prevents hair loss by inhibiting dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Clinical trials have demonstrated that it is more effective for hair at the crown rather than the hairline and it is less successful for women and it seems better at stopping further hair loss than growing hair back.

Who should use it: Balding men. I can certainly testify to that it stopped my husband’s balding in its tracks. I don’t believe that he has grown back hair at his hairline, but where he has hair, I’d say it has become thicker. All with the caveat that it must be admitted that he is far from diligent about popping his pills every day (more like a couple of times a week).

Found in: Prescription-only drug

Minoxidil

This was first used exclusively as an oral drug (trade name Loniten) to treat high blood pressure. Topical minoxidil in either 2% or 5% solution is most effective in persons with recent onset of hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia and relatively small areas of hair loss. Minoxidil is less effective when hair loss is long-standing or large in area. Thus, early use of minoxidil is indicated to prevent progression of small areas of male or female pattern hair loss.

Who should use it: Men with recent hair loss. Not recommended for those with sensitive skin. When I tried it, I acquired a red, itchy scalp and a few pathetic wisps of hair.

Found in: For hair growth, it is marketed as Rogaine and comes in a 5% concentration for men and 2% concentration for women. Unfortunately the 2% version doesn’t work and the 5% formula can cause facial hairness in women (even if only used on the head).

  • September 1, 2010

    by Junko

    So happy that your continuing to post your progress! I've stopped using the FNS too and cut back to using Folligen w/Emu twice a week on my hair mask nights. I'll keep updating with you!

  • September 1, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Junko - I didn't mean to ignore your last question! I often lose track of my comments, so please forgive my non-reply back in July.

  • September 1, 2010

    by Jaysie

    This is an update: I've continued to use FNS with emu and added my eyebrows to the routine. I have some new peach fuzz at my temples, but the eyebrow story is kind of weird. Several of my existing eyebrow hairs have grown longer and darker, almost black. New eyebrow hairs have sprouted but some of them are not laying down gracefully, almost as if they are angry I woke up the follicles. And they are different lengths and different colors - some brown, some really dark, and two grays. Just so funny that I stimulated the growth of these gray hairs only to pluck them!

    I used the FNS/emu combo once a day, but lately I've been using the emu only just to see if it affects the "quality" of the new hair and to see if those grays come back. So, as the test continues, it also continues to amuse me.

  • July 8, 2010

    by Junko

    Jaysie, when & how often are you using the FNS and how often and when are you using the Emu oil? Are you using Folligen too?

  • July 4, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Just thought I'd chime in here to report that I've been using the FNS serum for well over a month and it is not greasy at all, even with putting emu oil on top of it. I'm using it only at my thinning temples and have not yet seen any results with new hair growth. I figure I should give it at least 3 months before issuing a verdict.

  • June 30, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Bebe, Osmotics FNS was formulated with cancer doctors to help hair grow faster after chemo therapies so you could a look at that http://truthinaging.com/hair/fns-revitalizing-shampoo-and-conditioner-for-thicker-hair-tested-and-recommended. And a combination of <a href="http://truthinaging.com/hair/uniquely-emu-oil-for-hair-growth" rel="nofollow">emu oi</a>l and <a href="http://truthinaging.com/product-brands/folligen-101" rel="nofollow">Folligen</a> or <a href="truthinaging.com/hair/hair-signals-from-the-makers-of-folligen" rel="nofollow">Hair Signals,</a> based on<a href="http://truthinaging.com/hair/how-copper-peptides-help-wrinkles-and-hair-growth" rel="nofollow"> copper peptides</a>, works very well for me.

  • June 30, 2010

    by Bebe

    What can use for thinning hair due to stopping HRT ? I quit the HRT cold turkey when I had a scalp tumor. I didn't want any drugs in my system. But now 3 mos later, my hair is falling out in clumps. Any ideas? I'm desperate for something to halt the thinning.

  • May 22, 2010

    by Pat

    Osmotics sounds interesting however won't grow hair in already bald patches? I do believe DHT has to be stopped, and copper for inflammation and I do believe we have to keep inflammation down. I am wondering about the products that grow brows and eyelashes--maybe it could work for on top of the head? Anybody heard of Dr. Lewenberg online? Seems he has a product with both minoxidil and tretinoin and the combo is supposed to be effective.How about Calosol website and products?

  • May 21, 2010

    by marta

    Tamme, we recommend this products for stronger hair: http://truthinaging.theopenskyproject.com/thicker-stronger-hair-collection.html

  • May 20, 2010

    by TAMME

    WHAT ABOUT BREAKAGE/SHEDDING? ANY SUGGESTIONS??

  • April 30, 2010

    by Julie Kay

    I had my hair done today (all-over colored and trimmed) and we noticed, in a BIG way, the effect the little Folligen I used had. I have an entire new fringe underlaying my bangs from ear to ear. It’s about 2 inches long in places and has zero grey! I haven’t used the Folligen in over a month. And only used it maybe five times when I did use it. I quit because of (yes yes this is nitpicky) the smell. That coppery smell got in my system, and the smell of pennies chased me until a week ago! But, then, I’m super sensitive about odors. But Folligen (mixed with emu oil) WORKS!

    I am now on to amino acids or the best I could find in a quick study and “walk about.” I bought Alterna’s Life Solutions: Shampoo, Conditioner, and Volume Restore Scalp & Folicicle Treatment (a leave-in serum that’s non-greasy). I’ll be testing it for fadeout between hair appointments, as well, as it boasts Color Hold on the bottle.

    This product contains no sulfates, no DEA, no PABA, no a lot of things. The ingredient list challenges me with a magnifying glass under strong light. But I saw the word “amino” a couple times.

    Wish my hair (and me) luck… ~jk

  • April 29, 2010

    by Marybeth

    Hi Jk, I hope that the information is helpful. :)
    Good luck

  • April 28, 2010

    by Junko

    Been using FNS 7 weeks & I really like it. Best on wash day, use modestly, wipe off excess. Builds up when used daily between wash’s but I still don’t find it to be greasy

  • April 28, 2010

    by JD

    Unless they’ve drastically changed the formula(I don’t think they have) I don’t think one has to worry about FNS making things greasy. I would say it does just the opposite- helps control sebum/greasiness. But of course everyone is different.

  • April 28, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Hi Julie – Yes, I read the FNS article and have been about an inch away from ordering the serum. Am only reluctant because glycerine is so high on the ingredient list, plus it has rosemary essential oil. I could probably get away with using this when I’m in a desert climate, but think I may get greasy at those times when I’m in a Chicago suburb where it’s humid/damp a lot. But, like you, I’d like to try a full-tilt amino acid formula. I’m going to look into the products JD posted, too. My thinning hair at the temples is most surely hereditary so I don’t know if that can be overcome.

  • April 27, 2010

    by Julie Kay

    Wow, MaryBeth, you’ve given me a timeline! I started losing a ton of hair, as well as noticing less growth at my face hairline this past year while dealing with my vertigo issues. The stress in conjunction w this has been enormous, but I never connected it to my hair issues. We humans can be so fragile. Thank you for sharing. ~jk

  • April 27, 2010

    by Marybeth

    I love this whole line, I have issues with stress hair loss and have used the products (shampoo and conditioner) in the past. Super gentle and I did see an improvement. My hair did not fall out again until major stress issues came into play. I started using the treatment this time with the Emu oil and I am happy with both results. If you do not want to wash daily I think the entire FNS line is pretty awesome by itself .

  • April 27, 2010

    by marta

    Yes that’s right you can use the serum (sparingly and close to the scalp) and not get greasy hair.

  • April 27, 2010

    by Julie Kay

    Jaysie- Did you see the article TIA posted today on Osmotics FNS products? I’m particularly interested in and, think you might be as well, the serum. It’s all about amino acids. Marta reviewed it here: http://truthinaging.com/hair/osmotics-fns-serum-for-hair-growth-reviewed-and-recommended/ At $60 I have to save up, but Amino Acids is my next choice in combating thinning hair.

    Marta- is the Osmotic FNS serum one you can apply after (and between) a shampoo and not feel greasy?

    ~jk

  • April 27, 2010

    by marta

    Hi – you can post links, but if you try to do more than one the system asks us to manually choose to publish your comment (in case it is spam).

  • April 27, 2010

    by JD

    From a site on it- “A number of males have suffered erectile dysfunction, impotence, low libido and gynecomestica after using Propecia.”

    http://www.propeciasideeffects.com/

    Another site dealing with this issue(I don’t know if I’m allowed to post links..so I understand if they get deleted):

    http://www.propeciahelp.com/

  • April 27, 2010

    by marta

    Thanks JD, I am not aware of Fin side effects, what are they? You are right about Minoxidil’s side effects and I mentioned the ones that happened to me.

  • April 27, 2010

    by JD

    I’m surprised to see Fin and Minox in this list, since this place tends to lean to more natural solutions. Many side effects with both products as well.

    There are also many newer products out there. While the two topicals mentioned here are good(I’ve had luck with FNS), they’ve been around for some time.

    Dermatopoietin Hair Protection System, Pristeen Nanolipo-hGH, Dermaheal and Stem C’rum, Peter Lamas Chinese Herbs Regenerating Scalp Serum, Bioclin Phydrium Advance..are some of those newer ones. I’m using a combination of some of them at the moment..along with a vibrating dermaroller(with the Stem C’rum). Doing quite well, so far.

    I’ve never touched Fin or Minox…

  • April 26, 2010

    by Julie Kay

    I’m on it, Jaysie. Might take some time, but I won’t give up till I’ve found a routine that satisfies me- without having to shampoo daily (and no greasies). ~jk

  • April 26, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Julie – I shampoo every 3rd day because I have fine, dry, dyed hair and it does better this way. However, I have thinning at the temples so I’ve been trying to find a treatment that won’t make my roots greasy. I’ve been using emu oil and, on its own, it has been okay, but I’d like something stronger to use with it. If you discover a regimen that doesn’t require a daily shampoo, please post. Thanks!

  • April 26, 2010

    by JulieK

    I started using Folligen and emu oil at my forehead. I maybe treated my hairline five times, but it takes discipline AND a hairwash the next day. (To think, until I colored my hair at 55, I was a daily shampoo’ist!) I think amino acids might be my route. I would simply like something that helps keep what hair I have now in place and not flowing down the drain in large clumps when I wash my hair. I have to research this and find a shampoo… ~jk

  • April 26, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Valerie,
    There’s no sulfur in Osmotics. This is the ingredients list:
    Purified Water, SDA-40 Alcohol, Nylon-12, Glycerine, Lactic Acid, Glucose, Ascorbic Acid, D-Biotin (Vitamin H), Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate, Folic Acid, Myo-Inositol, Nicotinic Acid (Niacinamide), Paba, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine, Riboflavin, Thiamine, Alpha-Tocopherol Phosphate, Vitamin B12, L-Alanine, L-Arginine, L-Aspartic Acid, L-Cysteine, L-Glutamine, Glycine, L-Histidine, L-Isoleucine, L-Leucine, L-Lysine, L-Methionine, L-Phenylalanine, L-Proline, L-Serine, L-Threonine, L-Tryptophan, L-Tyrosine, L-Valine, Inorganic Salts, Tetrahydrocurcumin, Carbomer, Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract (Cinnulin PF®), Oleth-10, Sodium Bicarbonate, Bergamia Essential Oil, Polyquaternium-10, Oleth-10, Nisaplin, Sodium EDTA, Tromethamine.

  • April 26, 2010

    by marta

    Valerie, I don’t think you’ll suffer hair loss if you stop using Osmotics serum. It was designed to help hair grow a bit faster, that’s all. When you stop using it, your hair will just go back to its normal growth cycle.

  • April 26, 2010

    by Olga

    what about scalp massage? Its an easy, effective way to increase blood flow to the scalp which is the underlying mechanism that makes all the other treatments work. No chemicals required, no need to make multiple purchases. http://www.mag-gro.com

  • April 26, 2010

    by Valerie

    Hi,

    I have a question about Flowers of Sulfur. I have been using a hair serum containing flowers of sulfur (Ingredients: Organic Coconut oil, organic extra virgin olive oil, sulfur powder, essential oils, herbs & fragrance); I did experience hair growth using it.

    I would like to know if it’s the same kind sulfur in Osmosis serum?

    In your opinion,Could I use both at the same time?

    Can I use osmosis serum on my hair if I don’t have any big hair growth problem(my temples are a bit thin)?

    Thank you

  • April 25, 2010

    by Valerie

    Hi,

    If you stop using the Osmotics FNS Serum will all the hair you grew while using it fall, like minoxidil?

    Thank you
    Valerie

  • April 25, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Marta – I noticed that you didn’t mention any B-vitamins or peptides in this summary. Is that because there is no evidence these contribute to hair growth?

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