The Internet Thinks It’s Found A Cure For Hair Loss. But Does It Actually Work?

What is minoxidil and why is the internet using it to grow their hair?

by Renee Washington |
Published on

A recentHarley Street Clinic study revealed that 88% of Gen Z worry about losing their hair. It turns out this is more valid than vain considering the NHS estimates that around 8 million women and 6.5 million men will experience some form of hair loss. Cue frantic googling for 'hair loss treatments'. Enter, Minoxidil. The name might conjure up images of clinical trials and lab coats, but this once-obscure medication is experiencing a surprising resurgence – thanks in large part to the power of social media, particularly TikTok.

Minoxidil was originally developed in the 1950s to treat high blood pressure and there was an unexpected side effect: hair growth! This discovery led to its approval in the1980s as a topical treatment for male pattern baldness under the brand name Rogaine.

It's no secret that TikTok has become a breeding ground for beauty hacks and the latest concern that it's promising to solve is hair loss. Hair loss influencers - and regular influencers have been using Minoxidil and feigning shock its supposed hair-thickening magic. Videos featuring before-and-after transformations as well as the best application routines have racked up millions of views, sparking a surge in interest, particularly among younger generations.

Minoxidil may have become a popular hair loss treatment, but there are questions about its effectiveness and how to use it properly. So, does minoxidil truly live up to the hype? We asked hair experts to share some insight.

What Is Minoxidil? Why Has Everyone Started Using It?

'Originally used to treat high blood pressure, it was later discovered to have hair growth properties, leading to its use for androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as male and female pattern baldness,' explains trichologist Rachael Sey from Cherub London. 'Studies show that minoxidil can help slow down hair loss and even stimulate new hair growth in some cases.'

Several factors have contributed to the surge in minoxidil’s popularity. 'It’s effective in promoting hair growth and preventing further loss. It’s also available over-the-counter, endorsed by dermatologists, and many users see positive results, which all contribute to its widespread use. Social media has also played a role, with TikTok users praising the product adding to the online buzz.'

When Can I See Hair Growth Results From Minoxidil?

According to Sey, 'you can typically expect to see results after about three to six months of consistent use.' She noted that initial shedding may occur in the first few weeks as weaker hairs are replaced by stronger ones. 'Continuous use is key to maintaining hair growth,' she added.

How to Use Minoxidil

Minoxidil comes in liquid or foam form. 'Before applying it, make sure your scalp is clean and dry,' recommends Sey. 'The product usually comes with a dropper (for liquid) or a spray applicator (for foam) to measure the recommended dose, which is typically around 1 ml for liquid or half a capful for foam.

Part your hair in the area that is thinning and apply the minoxidil directly to the scalp. 'Gently massage it in with your fingers,' said Sey. 'Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards and avoid contact with your eyes. Follow this routine consistently and you should start to see hair growth.'

Are Their Any Potential Side Effects With Minoxidil?

As with any medication there are risks associated. In the case of Minoxidil scalp irritation (itching, redness, dryness, or flaking) and initial hair shedding as the growth cycle restarts are the two most common side effects.

Here’s What You Need to Consider Before Joining the Minoxidil Movement on TikTok:

Talk to your doctor: Minoxidil can interact with other medications, so consulting a healthcare professional is crucial before starting use.

  • Beware of unrealistic expectations: Individual results can vary, and some may experience side effects like scalp irritation.

  • Do your research: Not all online advice is created equal. Look for credible sources from dermatologists or trichologists (hair loss specialists).

While Minoxidil offers a promising option for hair loss, remember, a healthy approach that combines a balanced diet, stress management, and a trusted doctor's advice is always the best route to healthy hair.

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Use only once a day, continuous use is necessary to see and improve results. Hair re-growth may become noticeable after 12 weeks.

Hair Loss FAQs

UKLASH Global Ambassador, Hannah Gaboardi, Trichologist, explains that hair thinning can result from various factors such as genetics, hormonal changes, medical conditions, stress, diet, and certain medications. She elaborates on common causes:

Genetics: Family history plays a significant role. If your relatives experienced thinning hair, you might be more prone to it.

Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations during pregnancy, menopause, or thyroid disorders can affect hair growth.

Medical Conditions: Conditions like alopecia areata, scalp infections, and autoimmune disorders can cause hair thinning.

Stress: High stress levels can disrupt the hair growth cycle, leading to excessive shedding.

Nutritional Deficiencies: Lack of essential nutrients like vitamins (especially B vitamins), minerals (such as iron and zinc), and protein can contribute to thinning.

Age: As we age, hair growth slows, and hair follicles may become finer.

Over-styling: Excessive use of heat styling tools, chemical treatments, and tight hairstyles can lead to breakage and thinning.

Medications: Some medications, such as those for cancer, high blood pressure, or depression, may have side effects including hair thinning.

Poor Scalp Health: Conditions like dandruff, psoriasis, or seborrheic dermatitis can affect scalp health and contribute to thinning.

Is It Normal to Lose Hair Every Day?

Gaboardi states, 'Yes, it's normal to lose some hair every day.' She explains that the average person sheds about 50 to 100 hairs daily as part of the natural hair growth cycle, which includes three main stages:

Anagen Phase: The active growth phase lasting two to seven years, during which hair follicles produce new cells.

Catagen Phase: A transitional phase lasting a few weeks, during which hair growth slows, and the follicle shrinks.

Telogen Phase: The resting phase lasting two to four months, during which the follicle is inactive, and hair is eventually shed.

She advises that noticing significantly more hair loss than usual or experiencing thinning or bald patches might indicate an underlying issue such as stress, hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, or medical conditions.

How Quickly Can My Hair Actually Grow?

According to Gaboardi, the rate of hair growth varies and is influenced by factors such as genetics, age, health, and hormonal fluctuations. On average, hair grows about half an inch (1.25 cm) per month, or approximately 6 inches (15 cm) per year. She mentions that:

Genetics: Plays a significant role in determining hair growth rate.

Age: Hair growth tends to slow with age.

Health: Overall health, including diet, hydration, exercise, and stress management, can influence hair growth.

Hormonal Fluctuations: Changes during pregnancy, menopause, or due to thyroid disorders can affect growth rates.

Hair Care Practices: Proper hair care, such as regular washing, conditioning, and avoiding excessive heat styling, supports optimal growth. She adds that using aHair Growth Serum can provide optimal conditions for hair growth.

Renee Washington, Grazia's Digital Fashion and Beauty Assistant, lives online. With a penchant for wispy lashes and streetwear, she writes about the worlds of fashion and beauty from the viewpoint of the modern fashion girlie.

Main image credit: @sigbug

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