Hair loss is one of the most unpleasant experiences known to man. Yes, global war, famine and pestilence are probably worse. But hair is often so central to self-esteem, it can feel like the world is ending. Which can lead us to solutions to grow hair back that defy reason. As well as people that peddle nothing more than hope.
Below are the five hair loss ‘commandments’ you should follow to grow hair back. Whilst there is still no cure for hair loss, almost anyone can now stop their hair falling out and regrow lost hair.
1. Do have the cause of your hair loss professionally diagnosed
Visit your doctor. There are numerous types of hair loss, with varying treatments. These include: Androgenetic Alopecia, Telogen Effluvium, Alopecia Areata, and Traction Alopecia (see here for further detail). You can’t treat what you don’t understand. Make sure you correctly diagnose before you select a treatment protocol.
2. Do spend time on targeted research (use reputable websites and forums)
When it comes to your hair falling out, most doctors remain more adept at diagnosing cause than recommending appropriate treatment. I spent two thousand hours researching treatments to grow hair back. Most of which didn’t work, and eventually ending back where I’d started: trusted hair loss websites and forums.
The following are a good place to start: www.hairlosstalk.com, www.baldtruthtalk.com and www.regrowth.com. If you’re willing to spend a little time browsing, you’ll quickly get a feel for the types of treatments most likely to work.
Once you understand the treatments, use hair loss forums to determine which will best suit you. You can read my article on the best hair loss forums here. You’ll naturally hone in on contributors whose experience and solutions resonate. You’ll also get a feel for which treatments are likely to fit your lifestyle. Understanding morning and evening routines, as well as the day to day practicalities and inconveniences of use are important. If you find a treatment plan difficult to stick to, chances are you won’t give it enough time to grow hair back. Which brings us to commandment three.
3. Do keep it simple
There is often a strong urge ‘cover all your bases’ in an attempt to speed up hair regrowth (see point five below). This is based on an assumption that more products equals faster results. While you may strike it lucky, if you aren’t able to combine treatments intelligently it can be counterproductive. Remember, there are treatments available that are scientifically proven to work on their own (e.g. Rogaine and Propecia).
Moreover, combining multiple treatments can make it difficult to isolate what actually worked for you. At best, you can waste a lot of money with this approach. At worst you can counteract a potentially effective treatment. You’ll see in the various articles on this site that I ended up taking a minimalistic approach (see what worked for me). I suggest you do too.
This is not to say you should use only one treatment at any one time. If you do use more than one, however, 1. be measured, 2. understand the interactions and 3. understand the mode of treatment.
- Be measured: Depending on application type – topical, oral, physical, etc. – I would use no more than four treatments at any one time (as a rough guide).
- Understand interactions: If you’re using more than one topical, for example, be clear on the recommended order of application, required waiting time between applications as well as any contra-indications.
- Treatment mode: How does the product or treatment work? There are several potential modes of action, e.g. anti-inflammatories (e.g. Regenepure DR), growth stimulants (e.g. Minoxidil and Hair Max Laser Comb) and anti-androgens (e.g. Finasteride). There are also a variety of physical treatments (e.g. Inversion Therapy and Scalp Exercises). If you’re looking to combine these, consider selecting one from each of the above (not necessarily the examples provided).
In short, if you’re going to use more than one treatment at a time, take the required steps to ensure that the ones you do use a) do not interfere with eachother and b) are synergistic.
4. Do track progress
As Peter Drucker, the man who invented modern business management, says: ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it’. Who would have thought that the approach to grow hair back is a lot like successfully running a multi-million dollar corporation!
The only way to know if a particular treatment is working is to measure progress and adjust accordingly until you get the results you want.
When it comes to measuring hair regrowth, the best way to is to photograph. Photographs should be taken at regular intervals, using the same camera, with the same settings, under the same light and from the same angle each time. You want to compare apples with apples (and prevent your mind playing tricks on you). Control conditions as much as possible.
5. Do give the treatment time to work
Any treatment that claims to be able to stop hair falling out, and regrow a full head of hair in as little as 1 – 2 months, should be avoided. The very nature of the hair growth cycle – Anagen, Catagen, and Telogen – doesn’t allow for miracles. Give a treatment at least 3 months to assess efficacy. This is a rough rule of thumb only. Manufacturers will provide specific recommendations for their products. In general, reputable products will often indicate a period greater than 3 months.
A notable exception applies to some of the physical treatments discussed on this site. Proponents often indicate that time frames can be significantly longer e.g. 6 – 12 months.
Grow Hair Back!
There you have it. The five hair loss commandments to follow to grow hair back. In summary: diagnose first, do your research, target your treatments, measure and adjust … and don’t expect miracles in a month!
Oh, and regrow your hair.