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Strategies for Thinning Hair

Is a Solution for:
Thinning Hair & Shedding
June 23, 2009 Reviewed by Marta 36 Comments
June 2010: This post has been updated with more and better finds for thinning hair

I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again (I've a masochistic streak that provokes me to embarrass myself). Anyway, one day I noticed that the hair at each of my temples was receding. Although my husband insisted that it was invisible to all but me, I hot-tailed it to the dermo. Hypochondriac that I am, I wondered immediately if I had inadvertently come into contact with radiation causing my hair to fall out. The dermatologist looked at me, asked me my age and then patiently explained that hair thins as we get older. So, I was on the inevitable road to a blue rinse. Radiation poisoning was almost preferable. Since then, I have researched a host of products for promoting hair growth and hair health. I am pleased to say that I am winning and that I can pass on a clutch of tips for products that do work.

The outright hero has been Folligen. Made by Skin Biology, Folligen Hair & Scalp Nutrient Cream is an alarmingly turquoise lotion that is single-handedly responsible for my hair regrowth. And I don't mean some wispy peach fuzz. Skin Biology claims that it actually makes the hair follicle grow strong and thick and that has certainly been my experience (without any of the scalp irritation I've experienced with other products). Folligen uses copper peptides, which are widely used to heal wounds. On hair, they work by stimulating the cells of the hair follicles. This speeds up the growth cycle, cutting the growth time of new hair in half to just six weeks. They can prevent hair loss due to chemotherapy if used beforehand, as well as helping it grow back post treatment. At $17.99, it is one of the bargains of the decade - especially as it works for eyelash and eyebrow growth as well.

I have also had success with the much more expensive Revitalash Hair ($138). The active ingredient here is the same as used by Revitalash in its eyelash growth product: prostaglandin, which is a drug used to treat glycoma that also happens to make hair grow. Laboratory tests on animals corroborate my results - normal-looking hair regrowth - and research suggests it works by prolonging the anagen phase in the hair growth cycle.

With hair growing nicely, how to keep it thick, strong and healthy? A mask can really help, providing it is packed with the right ingredients. Look out for hexapeptide-11. Studies have shown that this can signal genes responsible for collagen production and it can upregulate the androgen receptor in the way that testosterone can, suggesting that it can help with hair regrowth. Pearl powder is another intriguing ingredient for hair care. The thing that makes pearls pearly is called conchilion. As documented in the Journal of Cell Biology in 2006, conchilion acts like the protein keratin (which is found in skin, bones and hair). Both of these are in Kronos Phyx Overnight Repair Mask, as well as a host of antioxidants. I use this weekly and I think it is a brilliant product that makes hair seem thicker without any of those cheap volumizing tricks. Much to my surprise, it is well worth the $105 price tag - and a little goes a long way (currently 30% off on Amazon).

A more eccentric, but definitely cheaper, option is emu oil. I'm not entirely sure whether it makes any difference, but I do use it once a week, leaving it on for 15 minutes before shampooing. Kate is giving a much thorough nightly, year-long trial. We shall have to see. Research on mice showed that emu oil does help hair to grow and for balding men, emu oil is said to inhibit 5 alpha reductase – a body chemical that is responsible for the conversion of testosterone into DHT. It is known that DHT is strongly implicated in the onset and progression of male-pattern baldness.

As far as shampoo and conditioners go, I am impressed by Nutra-Lift. The conditioner bottle says, “thicker, fuller, healthy, silky hair”. And it really delivers. There are some useful ingredients that are rarely seen in conditioners: moisturizing hyaluronic acid, antioxidant Co Q10 and liposomes. The shampoo has an aloe vera base, rather than water, and it has vitamin C and a host of plant extracts. These are hair products that I'd be willing to rub into my face.

PS: All of these products are fine with chemically colored hair.
  • June 7, 2011

    by shan

    hi you should try these: Hair Plus Combo, Sup' Hair and Verseo Detoxifying Hair Serum apparently there really effective

  • January 8, 2011

    by Marilyn

    I have read that coloring hair (I do) kills the hair follicles, due to all the toxins in the products

  • January 8, 2011

    by Marilyn

    The Copper site is http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/copper_toxicity_syndrome.htm

  • January 8, 2011

    by Marilyn

    I love this info - thanks!!!! Meanwhile, be wary as what you aply to skin - it is our largest gland. Here is a site for copper toxicity. Also envronmentalworkingroup.org had a fantasti cosmetic/hair product database as to toxins in this highly unregulated industry. Over 80000 chemicals are produced globally, ony a few hundred are tested.
    I m curious if anyone else has success with Emu Oil - seems to pose less risk.

  • October 11, 2010

    by marta

    Hello Natalie,
    First of all good luck with your treatment. My thoughts are with you and hopefully sending you positive vibes. As to your questions... Yes, Folligen should help your hair. You could also consider Osmotics <a href="http://truthinaging.com/hair/osmotics-fns-serum-for-hair-growth-reviewed-and-recommended" rel="nofollow">FNS Serum</a> (plus the shampoo & conditioner) as they were devised specifically for chemo patients. However, they are more expensive and Folligen works faster in my experience. Having said that, there are a few other things to consider, such as whether there is anything harmful - even, possibly carcinogenic - in the ingredients. Folligen does have two parabens. These have been associated with cancer, however, the research that came to this conclusion has been heavily criticized and it is by no means clear cut. Read our article on <a href="http://truthinaging.com/ingredient-spotlight/what-is-it-preservatives-and-parabens-and-are-they-safe" rel="nofollow">parabens</a> and you can draw your own conclusions. Similarly, <a href="http://truthinaging.com/ingredients/diazolidinyl-urea" rel="nofollow">diazolidinyl urea</a> One thing you can definitely add in is <a href="http://truthinaging.com/hair/emu-oil-for-aging-hair" rel="nofollow">emu oil</a>. You can use this with Folligen or FNS and it does seem to enhance their performance.

  • October 11, 2010

    by Natalie

    Hi Marta!
    Unfortunately i've stumbled upon this website after I started my first chemo session. Since my hair is already thinning out due to chemo I really want to try Folligen to restore and prevent further hair loss. Do you think it's safe or if it will even do anything at this time? I still have a few more sessions to go, but i really don't want to go completely hairless.

  • June 9, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Tammy, I think Folligen is definitely worth a try. But we have also <a href="http://truthinaging.com/hair/products-that-work-for-thinning-hair" rel="nofollow">updated this article with some new finds</a>: http://truthinaging.com/hair/products-that-work-for-thinning-hair

  • June 8, 2010

    by TAMMY

    HEY, DO YOU THINK THAT THE FOLLIGEN WILL HELP ME? I HAVE HASHIMOTO'S THYROIDITIS AND HAVE HAD A HYSTERECTOMY AND TAKE HORMONES. MY HAIR IS THINNING ALL OVER, MOSTLY ON TOP I HAVE NOTICED MY PART GETTING A LOT WIDER.

  • February 1, 2010

    by Felicia Davis

    Thank you Marta, I just ordered it I will keep you informed of the results.

  • January 31, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Felicia,
    I think Folligen is worth a try. There is some research that demonstrated it can reawaken dormant follicles that you can read here: http://www.truthinaging.com/hair/how-copper-peptides-help-wrinkles-and-hair-growth

  • January 31, 2010

    by Felicia Davis

    Hi Marta, I had breast cancer approx. 2 1/2 years ago, after hais loss from chemo my hair came back thin just like baby hair and it has been 2 years now, before chemo hair was thick along with eye brows, I have been trying different things but nothing seems to work, can see scalp, will this Folligen wake up the dead follicles to give me back the fullness that I once had or do you think this is the final result, I purchased Lattisse for eyebrows and lashes it does seem to work, please respond. God Bless.

  • January 18, 2010

    by Katie

    Hi Marta,
    you said that you had good results with Folligen for your eyelashes, but I just wanted to know the specifics (longer?, new growth?, healthier?, stronger?, softer?, darker?, curlier? ect.)
    thank you

  • December 1, 2009

    by marta

    MaryD, Folligen is only available online. You can buy it our store or at Skin Biology.

  • November 30, 2009

    by MaryD.

    Do you have to buy Folligen from the website or is it available in stores?

  • November 30, 2009

    by 2GM

    Marta,

    Saw your post regarding thinning hair and vitamins. You mentioned Elon Hair System, but any idea about Hair Essential Vitamins? Has anyone here tried them?

  • November 24, 2009

    by 2GM

    Thanks for your response Marta

  • November 16, 2009

    by marta

    I'm a bit skeptical as to whether supplements really work for hair regrowth. However, my neighbor (age 62) swears her hair has new growth thanks to flax seed and vitamin D supplements. I'll do some research on the issue and come back is I can find anything useful.

  • November 16, 2009

    by 2GM

    Marta, Have you heard about Hair Essential Vitamins from Natural Well being? They have good reviews - http://www.naturalwellbeing.com/hair-growth-p34.cfm#reviews

    Marta, Have you tried them? Any idea if they have work. Any feedback is appreciated.

  • November 1, 2009

    by aersim

    I've been using Folligen for a month or so, but haven't ever tried it on a wet or damp scalp. Are these instructions re application to wet scalp on the Skinbiology webstie? No detailed instructions came with my bottle I hought one was supposed to apply it at night, and then wash it out in the morning -- preferably with the emu oil on top (though I don't usually do that part).

  • October 25, 2009

    by marta

    Hi Mary,

    Its probably just the normal aging process - happening to all of us. Yes, these should definitely work psot-menapause. You have to experiment a bit to see what works for you. Also check out our explanation of <a href="http://www.truthinaging.com/eyes/what-is-it-how-hair-eyelash-and-eyebrow-growth-works/" rel="nofollow">how hair grows</a>. Folligen is available in our store (free shipping until Wednesday), and check out the FNS products too (discovered since we wrote this article).

  • October 25, 2009

    by Mary

    Marta,
    I am not sure whether my thinning is due to genetics or menapause. Do these products work for post menpausal women? I am in my sixties and my hair has thinned quite a lot on top and throughout.
    Thanks.

  • August 30, 2009

    by Adrienne

    Has anyone at TIA tried the tin-peptides version of Folligen yet? I have color-treated blond hair, with a small patch at the front needing real help; but also have overall thinning due to being 58. I also have baby fine hair...so I'm on a hunt for filling in the thin patch and overall re-growth.

  • August 19, 2009

    by marta

    Sandra, Rogaine is minoxidil. Skin Biology (makers of Folligen) sells minoxidil to be used along with Folligen, so you'll be fine to use them together.

  • August 19, 2009

    by Sandra

    My hair has been thinning for about 3 years now. I went to the dermo about a year ago and she suggested Rogaine which I have been using since then. I do see some regrowth but would like to try something else. Will I need to stop the Rogaine if I start the Folligen treatments?

  • August 5, 2009

    by admin

    Junko, I haven't experienced any change in hair color, but someone did write in to say she had used Folligen on eyebrows and noticed red/coppery hairs appearing. With continued - and continuous - use my temple hair is as thick as the rest.

  • August 5, 2009

    by Junko

    After 1 month Folligen has added new hair growth to my temples and hairline. I'm a bit surprised though, that the new growth is not the same color as the rest of my hair. The new growth is lighter and copper colored (no pun intended, thinning hair is a serious matter!). I actually like the color, as it adds highlights. I'd still like more hair in those areas that I'm treating. Marta, since you've been at this awhile, would you say that your thin temples are still thin compared to the rest of your head? Or do those area's now match the same thickness as the rest of your head? Wondering how much growth I might expect with continued use. Thanks again for all your replies.

  • July 26, 2009

    by admin

    Eleanor, I haven't used the spray. Folligen works by speeding up the hair growth cycle (<a href="http://www.truthinaging.com/eyes/what-is-it-how-hair-eyelash-and-eyebrow-growth-works/" rel="nofollow">see our article on how hair grows</a>), so if you stop using it your hair will eventually go back to its normal cycle. It is meant to be rubbed into the scalp not the hair. I rub it in when my scalp is damp from the shower. It doesn't stain and it won't make your hair greasy if you rub it into your scalp - not your hair.

  • July 26, 2009

    by Eleanor

    Do you have any experience with Folligen Spray? Do you have to use Folligen forever? I am concerned about this turquoise mess on my hair - does it disappear as it sinks in? I have baby-fine hair - will my hair look greasy if I leave it in and try and style it? A lot of people are saying they only use it at night and wash their hair out in the morning. Thanks.

  • July 24, 2009

    by marta

    Ellen, the cream is a bit thicker and I find it easier to use. As for emu oil, I'm not convinced by it. I only use it once a week though. I believe Kate is doing a more thorough test, so I hope she can weigh in. I think you'll get results just from Folligen and, yes, you can apply to your entire scalp. Take it slowly at first to make sure you don't get a reaction (eg twice a week, then every other hair wash, then every hair wash - it really needs to be applied to a damp scalp).

  • July 24, 2009

    by Ellen

    Marta -

    Which do I buy folligen lotion or cream ? do I also need to buy the emu oil ? or can I just buy the folligen and not the oil ? Will I get better result if I buy both ? I have thin hair , can I apply all over ?

  • July 18, 2009

    by Lianne

    Thanks for the clarification, Marta. I've ordered Folligen and look forward to embarking on my own research project. If this stuff works for me, I'll shout it from the rooftops.

  • July 15, 2009

    by marta

    Lianne, Folligen is bright blue (or turquoise). I use it in the morning after showering and it doesn't stain nor has it done anything to my blond, chemically highlighted hair - apart from help it to grow. On the other hand, I am only using at my temples. If I had overall thinning and had to use it all over my head, it might be a different story and where Folligen for blonds would probably be a better option. Hope that's clear.

  • July 15, 2009

    by Lianne

    Marta - Some of the reviews I've read say that this product is bright blue and can only be used at night. Also, there's a Folligen for Blonds, so it seems the "regular" Folligen discolors blond hair. You appear to have blond hair yet you don't mention using the product made specifically for blonds. You state that you use the product after you shampoo and that there's no color residue or discoloration of your blond hair. Please clear up the confusion. I have blond hair (chemically colored) and thinning at my temples. Nothing I have used to date is showing any promise, so I'm seriously considering this. Would just like to hear more from you before making this decision.

  • June 28, 2009

    by nancy

    Like you, I went to the dermatologist when my hair began to thin over a year ago. A friend had a case of alopecia areata where the dermatologist gave her a steroid shot and put her on Elon Thinning Hair System. Her results were excellent but it did take some time. The dermatologist recommended the same Elon product for me but I did not need the steroid shots as it was only thinnning hair. Like my friend, it took some time. The first thing I noticed was less hair loss in the shower when I washed my hair. This was a gradual thing and did not happen right away. About 6 months later, my hair dresser said she noticed that my scalp was not as thin as before. Now, over a year later, I am very happy with the results as I have found my hair to have stopped and the hair thicker and fuller. I am going to stay on it as I want all the hair to grow out the full length. I did a little research and found that most dermatologists recommend this product but it is not on store shelves. Have your readers used this and had similar results? Also, currently I buy it direct from the company but can you recommend a better way to purchase? Thanks for your help.

  • June 26, 2009

    by marta

    Flattery like that will get you everywhere.

    I use it on a wet scalp after having showered/washed hair in the morning. I wash my hair every other day. I rub it in and it disappears. Then I dry with a hairdryer. No blue stains, not sticky. BTW Skin Biology sells a Folligen and Minoxidil combo pack. I found the Minox was not necessary and I was allergic to it.

  • June 26, 2009

    by Junko

    Marta,
    How often were/are you using Folligen?
    Do you rub into scalp area at night and wash out in morning? Rub in during day and leave until next wash? Does it leave your hair greasy? I'm using the Folligen on my lower lash's every night whilst using it during the day on the top lash's. I'm currently using MD Lash Factor on top at night - good for lengthening only. The Folligen is what's making the hairs thicker.
    I have weak hair at my temples and widow peaks (both sides). Want to try the Folligen there and would like to know how and when you've been using it for your temple areas. Thanks so much for all you do (you are adored by many :)

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