HAIR ∙ 4 minutes read

No, hair loss treatments don’t work for everyone. Here’s why.

By Kirsty Mason | Medically reviewed by Dr Luke Pratsides

Hair loss treatment sceptics are among us. You can find them sharing pictures of their mate Brian’s disastrous results. Bald before. Bald after.

So, here’s the truth.

Hair loss treatments don’t work for everyone. But that doesn’t mean they won’t work for you. Sceptical? Let us explain.

Ineffective hair loss treatments give the industry a bad rep

First off, hair loss treatments have a bad rep that isn’t entirely unfounded. Hair oils, caffeine shampoo, and alternative medicines are all laced with ingredients that promise miracle hair regrowth but have absolutely no scientific founding. At Numan, we only sell products that are clinically proven. That means peer-reviewed scientific studies have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the type of hair treatment that we sell.

If you don’t believe us, a large 2021 study of finasteride for hair treatment found a significant increase in total hair count compared to the placebo group. Similarly, a study on minoxidil for hair growth highlighted the effectiveness of the treatment, with few adverse side effects reported following application.

To put it simply, both finasteride and minoxidil are clinically approved forms of treatment for hair loss, with the scientific backing to support the efficacy of the treatments.

We’re regulated by the Care Quality Commission, which is the independent regulator of health and social care services in England. This means that we can’t suggest rubbing onions on your head until it’s proven to be an effective treatment. As it currently stands, rubbing onions on your head makes you look like a fool and smell like a lasagne.

There are all sorts of hair treatments that get a lot of hype despite the sparse scientific evidence for their effectiveness. In 2018, the UK Advertising Standards Authority ruled that Alpecin could no longer claim that caffeine shampoo can “help to reduce hair loss”. This is because, despite a small amount of evidence to back the claim, there are yet to be enough wide-scale studies to truly prove the effectiveness of caffeine for hair growth.

So, although there’s a wealth of evidence for the effectiveness of finasteride and minoxidil for the treatment of hair loss, ineffective treatments with less scientific backing tarnish the reputation of hair loss treatments in general.

Hair loss treatments don’t work for everyone

The sad truth is that hair treatments don’t work for every hairless scalp. There are multiple reasons why this might be.

Firstly, if the treatment is targeting an area that isn’t the cause of the hair loss, you won’t see any results. Finasteride is designed to treat androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness. This is the most common form of hair loss and affects around 50% of men above the age of 50. A derivative of testosterone (DHT) is largely responsible for this type of hair loss and finasteride blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT, making it a highly effective treatment for male pattern baldness. If your hair loss is caused by stress, an autoimmune disorder, or tight hairstyles, then you won’t see the same results. 

Another common reason why hair treatment doesn’t work is because it’s simply too late. This is why it’s so important to start treatment as soon as you notice the hair is thinning and shedding at a higher rate than normal. Finasteride is largely a preventative treatment, meaning it inhibits further hair loss. It can also encourage the hair follicles to grow in diameter, leading to a thicker, fuller head of hair. If the hair follicles are dead and there’s complete baldness, then there’s no way of encouraging regrowth through finasteride or minoxidil.

That said, some men who aren’t seeing results using Regaine, which contains 2% or 5% minoxidil, may benefit from using our Topical Spray as it contains 6% minoxidil.

At Numan, men who are worried about hair loss will complete a consultation that’s reviewed by a clinician. If we think there’s no chance that your hair loss can be improved with the treatments that we sell, then your request won’t be approved. 

The same can’t be said for other hair loss companies - hence Brian’s disastrous before and after photos.

Side effects make people wary

Both finasteride and minoxidil have side effects. It’s very common for a medication to have side effects and the likelihood and severity will vary from person to person.

Here’s everything you need to know about the side effects of hair loss treatment:

Minoxidil

Minoxidil was originally prescribed to treat blood pressure but unexpected hair growth was observed in patients. The treatment widens blood vessels, providing the hair follicles with oxygen and nutrient-rich blood. Minoxidil is now approved for use as hair loss treatment but the mechanism of action and topical application of the medication helps to explain why you may encounter some of the following side effects:

  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Pain in chest
  • Dizziness
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Swelling of hands or feet
  • Persistent irritation of the scalp

You should cease treatment and speak to your clinician immediately if you experience any of the above symptoms.

More commonly, patients experience irritation of the skin, including itchiness, flakiness, redness or dryness. This is usually temporary and you should give your skin time to adjust to the product. If irritation persists, cease treatment and speak to your clinician.

Finasteride

If you’ve done some serious digging on the side effects of finasteride, you’ve probably found some worrying results. Finasteride is a drug that was originally prescribed to shrink benign enlarged prostates. It blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT which is responsible for male pattern hair loss. Although rare, some men encounter worrying side effects as a result of taking finasteride.

You should cease treatment immediately and speak to your clinician if any of the following occurs after taking the medication:

  • An allergic reaction: swelling of the lips, throat and eyelids, difficulty breathing, wheezing, dizziness, collapsing, hives.
  • Depression: feelings of severe hopelessness and unworthiness.
  • Changes in breast tissue: lumps, pain, or nipple discharge should be immediately reported to your doctor.

Occurring in up to 1 in 100 men, uncommon side effects of finasteride include:

These side effects don’t affect everyone and symptoms should cease after stopping the medication. Although incredibly rare, there are reports of post-finasteride syndrome, where symptoms persist after ceasing medication. There’s still work to be done to truly understand the link between finasteride and the syndrome so it’s important to weigh up your options and consider the risk before taking the medication.

Still not convinced?

We know that it’s difficult to trust the hair loss treatment industry when before and after photographs display a very evident touch of Photoshop. That’s why we ask our customers to track their progress and share their incredible results. Men such as James, Brandon, and Thomas are real Numan customers who’ve been willing to talk about their incredible hair journey with us.

And if that still doesn’t convince you, it’s time to see for yourself.

The bottom line

The hair loss industry has a bad reputation as there are all sorts of ineffective treatments on the market. There are, however, treatments that are backed with scientific research. Finasteride and minoxidil are clinically proven hair loss medications and although they don’t work for everyone, many men see transformative results.

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