- Best Results6-12 months
- Treatment RecoveryNA
- Procedure TimeNA
- Skin SpecialistYou
- Duration of ResultsBuys time
- Back to WorkNA
DIY Treatments For Hair Loss
DIY home treatments can be highly effective in slowing down hair loss. Minoxidil topically can be purchased as a lotion or foam from pharmacies. Natural supplementation with vitamins & botanical extracts can, in theory, reduce hormone mediated hair loss. Simple & safe DIY microneedling procedures are described below.
FactsFacts On DIY treatments for Hair Loss
- Identifying the cause of hair loss is the first step
- Hair fall after pregnancy, trauma, & stress is self limiting
- Hair loss due to hormones is progressive
- Simple treatments include the use of minoxidil lotion or foam
- Vitamins can help in some cases
- DIY microneedling with a roller or stamper can be effective
- Consult a dermatologist for persistent cases of hair loss
- Early management preserves hair follicles
How much hair shedding is considered normal?
Normal hair shedding is between 80 to 140 strands of hair a day. This is because hairs undergo a cycle of growth and resting phases. Accelerated shedding such as telogen effluvium can occur with stressful events such as pregnancy, surgery, & emotional stress. This usually occurs 2-4 months later & is self-liming (unlike male & female pattern hair loss which is progressive).
What are common causes of hair loss?
The two most common causes of hair loss are androgenic alopecia & telogen effluvium.
Androgenic alopecia also known as male or female pattern hair loss affects 80% & 30% of males & females respectively. The onset of hair loss is insidious, and varies with genetics.
Telogen effluvium is a self-limiting condition that can occur 2-4 months after a traumatic event, most commonly after pregnancy, trauma, stress, cancer treatments & surgery.
- Frontal fibrosing alopecia
- Lichen planopilaris
- Folliculitis De Calvans
- Lupus & autoimmune disorders
- Drug induced hair loss including chemotherapy
- Chronic telogen effluvium
What is the best DIY treatment or home treatment for hair loss?
This advice is based upon the presumption that your hair loss is due to androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as male/female pattern hair loss.
Topcials: Minoxidil 5% lotion, buy 3 to 6 months supply from any pharmacist. Use 1-2 times a day.
Shampoo: Nizoral 2% ketoconazole. In theory can reduce enzyme that accelerates hair loss, in clinical practice, little effects.
Supplements: Saw palmetto. In theory can reduce the conversion of testosterone to DHT, some studies are promising.
Microneedling every 10-21 days using sensible length needles. Read below for instructions.
Will DIY or home treatments work?
For cases of androgenetic alopecia, DIY treatments buys you time. Hair loss is progressive (much like life actually!).
The natural timeline of male & female pattern hair loss is a progressive reduction in hair follicles often starting in your 20s. Over time, the growth or anagen phase of hair follicles shorten, & hairs get thinner & smaller. This is referred to as miniaturisation of the follicular unit. The aim of any treatment (including those prescribed by dermatologists), is to prolong the anagen or growth phase of the hair & to decrease the number of follicles regressing towards miniaturization.
DIY treatments will show regression within 2-5 years, hence ideally you should see a dermatologist when you notice that your hair loss if progressive. Read below for how to monitor hair loss with photography.
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Do vitamins & supplements help?
In the vast majority of cases, hair loss is not associated with vitamin-supplement deficiencies. However, the following supplementation maybe beneficial-
- Saw Palmetto: is a powerful natural supplement that can reduce conversion of testosterone to dihydrotesterone. Hence this may be a useful adjunct for the management of androgenetic alopecia (male & female pattern hair loss).
- Iron: supplementation may improve telogen effluvium due to low ferritin levels. The most common cause/s include heavy menses & low intake of dietary iron.
- Multivitamins: may have a role for dietary supplementation in patients who have telogen effluvium due to caloric restriction. Look for a multivitamin formulation with biotin, iron & zinc. Isoflavones or flavonoids can theoretically improve some forms of hair loss. Clinically their efficacy is low.
Can microneedling help?
Microneedling is an effective way to treat some forms of hair loss, including androgenetic alopecia in men and women. Dermatology clinics like Cutis use high speed pens & lasers to achieve a similar treatment.
Microneedling works via two routes, firstly it enables topical medications like minoxidil to penetrate the scalp, allowing for better absorption. Secondly, microneedling gives controlled injury to the upper layers of skin. In turn this causes a cascade of events resulting in stimulation of stem cells in hair follicles.
How can I start microneedling at home?
This is what hair loss clinics don’t want to reveal. Home microneedling, done properly is just as effective as clinical needling at a fraction of the cost. The most important concept to understand is that you do not need to needle deep as stem cell stimulation of the hair follicles occurs with superficial treatments.
Here is how to do it-
- Buy several Dermarollers or Stamper from eBay or Amazon. Choose between 0.2 to 0.25 mm. They cost approximately 3-5 USD. For home use, I recommend a stamping system as they require less skill to use.
- Wash your hair with normal shampoo. Dry accordingly.
- Ideally have someone help you. This is much easier & you will get a more even treatment.
- Start in the middle hairline part, then stamp back towards your top (vertex). Firm pressure. With a 0.2 to 0.25 mm stamper, you may get some pinpoint bleeding, but this is not a reliable endpoint.
- Stamp (or roll) 3-5 passes before going to the sides. For male pattern hair loss you should concentrate on the front hairline & vertex or crown. Female pattern hair loss is more diffuse, hence you may require to stamp a greater area.
- You can apply topicals within 5 to 20 minutes after microneedling. Remember microneedling breaches the upper layer of the skin, resulting in better penetration of topicals. This includes OTC topicals such as minoxidil 2-5%, or compounded topicals such as finasteride 0.1 to 0.25 mg with minoxidil.
- Repeat this process every 10 – 21 days.
You may get transient stinging after topical application as most formulations contain alcohol. Additionally, the rate of irritant contact dermatitis (itch) is higher post microneedling. In rare cases an allergic reaction to propylene glycol may occur. If so, swap to a PG free formulation (foam minoxidil).
What are low level laser treatments / LED home kits?
Low level laser therapy (LLLT) is also known as Light Emitting Diode (LED) therapy. The majority of sources produce intense light in a wavelength of 600 to 1000nm, delivered over 8 to 30 minutes.
The premise behind LLLT is that light suppresses inflammation & stimulates the hair follicle. Do they work? Clinical studies using super powerful in clinic light sources (they typically cost between $15,000 to $35,000) show good efficacy, especially in combination with medical therapy. Dermatologists at Cutis prescribe LLLT using these devices.
Home kits typically range from $200 to $1600. They can be useful adjunctively, however they would not be my first choice for DIY treatments. Topicals such as minoxidil coupled with microneedling are far more effective & cost a fraction of the costs. My suggestion is that if you would like to consider LLLT, book in with a dermatologist to see if this treatment is effective.
What if my hair loss does not improve?
A good way to determine if things are working (or not) is to take baseline photographs. Take a series of photos from front on, side on & the top. Most hair treatments take 3-6 months before working, so be patient.
If hair loss is progressive, obtain a referral to a medical dermatologist. They can assist with a diagnosis & formulate a treatment plan. Dermatologists are experts in all forms of hair loss, from common male/female pattern alopecia to super rare conditions, including genetic hair disorders.
How much are DIY/home treatments?
DIY-home treatments are cost effective & work just as well, if not better than many ‘Hair Loss’ centers. The routine below is for androgenetic alopecia or male/female pattern hair loss. It is not designed for the treatment of other causes of hair fall.
- Minoxidil 5% 30mls $15: about 50 cents a day.
- Saw Palmetto; approximately 50 to 90 cents a day
- Ketoconazole/Nizoral shampoo. $12 for 1-2 months
- Microneedling Roller or Stamp (0.2 mm); $3-$5 dollars
Minoxidil is cost effective. In fact, the price of this topical is only one fifth of the original price two decades ago as Regaine had the patent. Generic lotions are available from most pharmacies. Purchase a 3 to 6 month supply as this is more cost effective.
How can a dermatologist help?
Dermatologists are experts in the management of all forms of hair loss- from simple male/female pattern baldness, to complex immune mediated hair loss. For cases of androgenetic alopecia, they prescribe-
- Minoxidil: Liquid or foam, compounded 3-7% concentration often with topical finasteride 0.1 to 0.25%. In some cases, we use 1-2 mg oral minoxidil.
- Finasteride or Dutasteride orally as indicated.
- PRP or platelet rich plasma. In this treatment, a patient’s blood is drawn and placed into a centrifuge to extract plasma that is injected into the scalp. Growth factors & chemokines found in platelets can stimulate hair growth. A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that PRP treatment increased the number of hairs and overall hair density (Gentile, 2017).
- Low-level laser light therapy (LLLT) in the 600 to 1000 nm wavelength is an effective method to treat hair loss. They emit a constant red LED light that is believed to reduce inflammation and increase blood flow to the hair follicles.
- Thulium laser is another effective non-pharmacological method to revive hair counts. The 1927 nm laser stimulates follicles. This is best used with topicals or medical therapy.
- Hair Transplant Surgery: In FUE or follicular unit extraction, donor hairs are removed from the sides and back of the scalp (areas which are more resistant to DHT) and implanted into areas of male pattern baldness.
Disclaimer: I am a procedural dermatologist, for diagnosis & medical management, book a consult with my colleagues at Clinic Cutis.
Davin’s Viewpoint on DIY Solutions for Hair Loss
Is hair loss a disease or part of natural evolution? The fact remains that the vast majority of the population will experience hair loss at some point in their lives. Females experience more transient causes of hair loss, males experience more persistent & progressive patterns of hair loss (androgenic alopecia or male pattern baldness).
In females, the most common cause of hair loss is transient telogen effluvium, usually 2-4 months after pregnancy. This type of hair loss is transient & self- limiting. DIY treatments are not indicated. In fact, microneedling & minoxidil in this group may potentially worsen hair loss during the phase of shedding. Minoxidil in theory can shift more telogen hairs from the scalp
In males the usual diagnosis is androgenetic alopecia or male pattern hair loss. Other rare causes include folliculitis de calvans, folliculitis, & keloidalis nuchae. Rare causes are treated by medical dermatologists.
For both male & female pattern hair loss, simple DIY treatments can markedly slow down the progressive miniaturization of the follicle. Simple DIY microneedling is both effective and cost effective. What mainstream hair loss clinics do not tell you is that you don’t need to microneedle deeply to achieve the desired effects. A simple stamper that costs the same price as a cup of coffee will do the trick.
Will DIY or home treatments halt or treat every case of alopecia? No, they will however slow down the vast majority of cases. For progressive or resistant cases, see a medical dermatologist for a diagnosis & management.
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