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
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.