Had Chris Rock known about female alopecia before making a joke about Jada Pinkett’s hair, or lack thereof, he might’ve avoided a slap in the face. The joke was quite mild, and most people wouldn’t have been hurt by it. It’s just that noticeable hair loss in women can be quite distressing. The good news is there are medical treatments that can help. Rogaine for women, for instance.
It’s little known that about a third of women experience hair loss at some point in their lives. In fact, about two-thirds of postmenopausal women experience hair thinning and bald spots. As you can imagine, hair loss has a greater impact on women than on men as it isn’t as common. Alopecia severely affects a woman’s emotional well-being and quality of life.
Minoxidil for Hair Loss
Minoxidil, the generic version of Rogaine is the most common treatment for hair loss in women. This drug was initially a treatment for high blood pressure but many people who took it noticed their hair was growing back in certain places. Research confirmed that minoxidil can stimulate hair growth when applied directly to the scalp. This is why the FDA approved over-the-counter 2% minoxidil to treat hair loss in women back then. However, there’s now a 5% solution for those women who need a stronger solution.
Minoxidil isn’t a miracle drug, of course. It can lead to new growth of fine hair in some women but can’t restore the full density of your lost hair. Furthermore, it isn’t a quick fix so you won’t see results for two months of continued use, at least. The result will be more evident around the fourth month but could take longer. Thus, plan to see results in a period of 6-12 months. If minoxidil works for you, you’ll need to keep using it to maintain those results. If you stop, you’ll start to lose hair again.
Be sure your hair and scalp are dry before you apply Minoxidil. Apply the solution twice a day with the dropper or spray pump provided and be sure to cover every area where you’re losing hair. Gently massage it with your fingers so it penetrates the scalp and reaches the hair follicles. Air-dry your hair and wash your hands afterward along with any solution that might’ve dripped onto your forehead. Keep it on and don’t wash your hair for four hours, at least.
The minoxidil solution is uncomfortable as it leaves behind a deposit that dries and irritates their scalp. This kind of contact dermatitis isn’t due to the active ingredient but to the alcohol in the formulation, it facilitates drying.
Minoxidil is safe for the most part although it can have unpleasant side effects. In addition to the alcohol-related skin irritation, the new hair growth may be different in color and texture from the original. Hypertrichosis, a form of excessive hair growth in the wrong places, is another undesirable side effect. It’s more common in those who use the stronger 5% solution though.
Androgens, that is testosterone and other “male” hormones can accelerate hair loss in women so those who don’t benefit from minoxidil often benefit from the anti-androgen drug spironolactone for the treatment of androgenic alopecia. Especially women with polycystic ovary syndrome and this is because they make excess androgens.
A doctor will first prescribe spironolactone along with an oral contraceptive for those women of reproductive age as these drugs can cause genital abnormalities in a male fetus. The possible side effects are loss of libido, weight gain, fatigue, and even depression.
One of the most common reasons for hair loss in women is iron deficiency so have your doctor test your blood iron level, especially if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. Also if you have a history of anemia and/or heavy menstrual bleeding. A supplement will supply the iron you need and your hair might grow back; however, it’ll lead to upset stomach and constipation if you’re levels are normal.
Now that you know what Minoxidil is and how it works, let’s review the two most common products for hair regrowth in women that contain this substance.
Rogaine for Women Review: Does It Work?
Women’s Rogaine Hair Regrowth Treatment Foam, 4-Month Supply
The top reviewers on Amazon seem to love this product. The first one indicates she’s post-menopausal and in her 60s and laments because she had plenty of hair even though it was always thin. Thus, she was very self-conscious after the hormonal changes that come with age noticeably thin areas on her crown.
She adds that she was very self-conscious and hated to go out on windy days because it made her lack of hair more apparent. She’s now thrilled because she’s been using Women’s Rogaine Foam for almost 6 months and it’s made a huge difference in the regrowth of her hair. She goes on to say that even her hairdresser noticed the change.
The second reviewer confirms that new hair did grow and that she’s been using the product since 2015. Her balding problem was hereditary but now you cannot see her scalp. Thus, she’s quite pleased with the results and advises to use it every day. She adds that the product will go a long way as long as you use the specified amount.
The third reviewer indicates that she’s been using Rogaine foam and that her bald spot at the back of her head is gone since she started using it. It’s also filled some areas in the front of her scalp. She adds that her dermatologist declared her hair is firm when she pulls it. In addition, she likes the fact that the product is easy to use, and it only takes a small daily amount. Finally, she indicates she’s willing to pay the small price of having to use it forever in order to maintain her new growth and not go bald.
Women’s Rogaine 5% Minoxidil Foam for Hair Thinning and Loss, 2-Month Supply
This 2-month supply of Women’s Rogaine 5% Minoxidil Foam is specially formulated for women. It’s clinically proven to regrow hair and boosts hair follicle activity and hair protein production. It also contains botanical extracts and emollients to help maintain a healthy, conditioned scalp, plus alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) to promote natural skin exfoliation to help keep hair follicles open.
The first top reviewer on Amazon says that this stuff is amazing and worked for her after her hair was thinning at the age of 24. She encourages every woman with this problem to try it as it’ll make them feel much better. She saw results in only four months.
The second reviewer tells us that the majority of the females in her family suffer from hereditary hair loss and that she thought it quite funny when her mother started using Rogaine. Only until she noticed balding patches of her own a few months later. Realizing it was working for her mother, she decided to try it and began to notice a difference just a few weeks later. In short, she’s extremely impressed with this product and would definitely recommend it to any female that also suffers from hereditary hair loss.
The third reviewer, who has Polycystic Ovary Disorder and the hair loss and thinning side effects that come with it is short and concise in her review: she’s seen a huge difference after only 3 months of using Rogaine and intends to use it for many years to come given that there’s no cure for her condition.
As you can see, the product seems to do wonders for the women who use it and most recommend it highly. Ok, but what exactly is Rogaine? Continue reading to find out more about it.
What Exactly is Rogaine?
Rogaine was the first topical brand to be approved by the FDA for the purpose of promoting hair regrowth in both men and women.
We mentioned Minoxidil above and how its power to regrow hair came about by chance when scientists discovered it seemed to promote hair growth. As you can imagine, this finding was important for the millions of people experiencing hereditary hair loss.
As you can imagine, these scientists began studying the use of topical minoxidil solution on the scalp. They soon got results that revealed that topical minoxidil could indeed regenerate lost hair. It started the many product innovations to provide hair regrowth benefits for both men and women. Minoxidil is still the only topical ingredient the FDA has approved to regrow hair.
The Mechanism of Action of Rogaine
This product is specially formulated with Tricho-Prime Technology, a formula that begins to work on contact and primes your scalp for optimal hair regrowth. We already mentioned that Minoxidil regenerates and increases the size of hair follicles. Thus, it extends the natural growth cycle of your hair so it comes back thicker and fuller.
In addition, the botanical extracts and emollients in it help maintain a healthy scalp and therefore, the optimal environment to regenerate your hair. Finally, the alpha-hydroxy acid it contains promotes natural skin exfoliation and helps keep your hair follicles open and ready for treatment.
Why Are the Rogaine Formulations Different for Men and Women?
Most people think that hair loss in women is the same as it is in men but it isn’t. Androgenetic alopecia, either known as female or male pattern hair loss respectively, usually begins above the temples in men. It forms the receding hairline that eventually forms the characteristic “M” shape. Furthermore, the; hair at the top of the head thins and progresses to baldness in most cases.
In turn, androgenetic alopecia in women begins with gradual thinning at the part line and then increasingly thin hair radiating from the top of the head. Women never become bald and their hairlines seldom recede.
Causes of Hair Loss in Women
The many potential causes include physical or emotional stress, medications, and medical conditions. It’s important to consult your doctor or dermatologist if you notice unusual hair loss. They can help you determine the cause and most appropriate treatment for you. You can also get a referral to a therapist or support group and address your emotions. Hair loss in women has always been frustrating but there are more resources for coping with it these days.
The most common clinical classification to describe female pattern hair loss is the Ludwig. Type I refers to the minimal thinning you can camouflage with hairstyling techniques. Type II means there’s decreased volume and noticeable widening of the mid-line part. Type III means there’s diffuse thinning and a see-through appearance on the top of the head.
Female pattern hair loss is due to genetic predisposition and the mode of inheritance is polygenic. What this means is there are many genes you could’ve inherited, from one of your parents or both, that contribute to it. There’s a DNA test that can assess your risk of balding but it’s quite unreliable and not recommended.
Scientists aren’t clear on whether androgens play a role in female hair loss but they do in male pattern baldness. In fact, most women with this condition have normal levels of androgens in their bloodstream and this is why the term “female pattern hair loss” is preferred over “female androgenetic alopecia.”
Furthermore, the role of estrogen is uncertain but hair thinning is more common after menopause, a fact that suggests this hormone may be part of it. The confusing part is some laboratory experiments also suggested that estrogens can suppress hair growth.
The Normal Hair Growth Cycle
You’re born with a fixed number of hair follicles on your scalp and these produce hairs throughout your life. Your hair grows from the base of every follicle at a rate of about half an inch every month for about three years, this is known as the anagen growth phase. The hair dies after this phase and no longer grows. It sits dormant in the follicle for the three-month phase known as telogen. Then, the hair follicle undergoes another anagen phase to produce the new hair that grows out of the same follicle and dislodges the old one. This cycle goes on throughout your life.
How Long Does It Take for Female Pattern Hair Loss To Progress?
This condition can affect women in any age group but usually occurs after menopause. It isn’t a constant process so there are accelerated phases of hair loss for periods of 3 to 6 months and then periods of stability that can last 6 to 18 months. It tends to progress in severity over the next few decades of life without drug treatment.
The Effects of Female Pattern Hair Loss
Hair loss isn’t a simple cosmetic issue as it causes severe psychological distress. The women affected by it have a negative body image and it’s harder for them to cope with daily functioning. Thus, it often leads to feelings of unattractiveness, low self-esteem, and depression, among others. It’s particularly hard to deal with this condition in a society that places great value on being youthful and attractive.
There are many treatments available for female pattern hair loss but no cure in sight. This is why it’s important to manage your expectations and keep in mind that your goal is to either slow or stop the progression of hair loss, not to promote regrowth. Many women do experience hair regrowth with treatment but the results vary so it’s hard to predict who’ll benefit from such treatments.
A review published in 2012 found that the minoxidil solution is effective for this condition and, as we explained above, this substance is available as 2% and 5% solutions. Remember, the stronger preparation is more likely to irritate you and might lead to undesirable hair growth in areas where you don’t want it.
There are also oral hormonal treatments that block the effects of androgens like flutamide, spironolactone, cyproterone, and finasteride. Similarly, a daily low dose of oral minoxidil combined with a low dose of spironolactone not only significantly improves hair growth, but also reduces shedding and improves hair density.
You need to continue treatment for at least six months once you start before assessing your benefits so don’t get discouraged and continue taking it. Remember, you need to sustain it for a long period before you notice a difference.
An easier solution might be a cosmetic camouflage, it’s a colored hair spray that covers thinning areas on your scalp. There are also hair bulking fiber powders and wigs. Nobody wants them to fall so, of course, hair transplantation is becoming popular. Keep in mind that it’s not for everyone though.
Another treatment consists of low-level laser therapy but the results aren’t proven even though the FDA did approve one device. Furthermore, platelet-rich plasma injections are currently under investigation but require further studies to determine the magnitude of the benefit.
Baldness is normal to a certain degree and trying to hide is too much work and often not the best solution because it’s quite apparent that you’re trying to hide it. Embrace it and remember, the problem is all in your head!