Which Hair Loss Treatment Is Most Effective For Me? (2023)
Read our experts’ in-depth comparisons of the various hair loss treatments available in the UK to determine which one is the best for you.
Updated: Wednesday 08 November 2023
Hair loss is a common condition that can affect both men and women at some stage - but did you know there is empirical evidence to suggest that it can be slowed down through clinically proven hair loss treatments?
Scientific advances in the field of hair loss research have led to the advent of numerous treatments that can help with reversing the effects of conditions such as male pattern baldness that have been shown to affect as much as half of all men by the time they reach 50 years of age.
To help with deciding which hair loss treatment could be most effective for you, our experts have put together this comprehensive guide comparing the various options available in detail to help with making a decision.
Clinically proven hair loss treatment options
Finasteride (Generic Propecia)
Finasteride is a hair loss treatment for men that works by targeting an enzyme in the body known as Type II 5-alpha-reductase. This enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, into another type of hormone that is associated with balding called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This mechanism is the reason why Finasteride is known as a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor.
According to studies, Finasteride is effective at reducing the overall production of DHT that circulates in the bloodstream (known as serum DHT) by 70%. Research also shows that when compared to a placebo, taking 1 mg of Finasteride per day can increase the average hair count of a male individual by 12.4 hairs per square centimetre of the scalp in 24 weeks and by 16.4 hairs per square centimetre of the scalp in 48 weeks.
It is important to note that the continued use of Finasteride is crucial to maximise the likelihood of hair regrowth as Finasteride is only effective whilst active in the body. Moreover, Finasteride must not be taken by women because this hair loss medication specifically affects the male hormone DHT.
Recommended reading: The role of testosterone in hair loss
Propecia is the branded version of Finasteride. It works in the same way as Finasteride but is generally priced higher as it is a branded hair loss treatment, while Finasteride is a generic hair loss treatment. The only significant difference between branded and generic treatments is the name and packaging - aside from this, branded and generic treatments such as Propecia and Finasteride are equally effective.
Minoxidil is a key active ingredient found in topical hair regrowth treatments made by the manufacturer Regaine. Studies suggest that Minoxidil works by widening blood vessels and opening potassium channels in the scalp to allow more oxygen, blood, and nutrients to reach the hair follicle. This mechanism can potentially increase hair growth and reverse hair follicle shrinkage to thicken existing hairs.
Unlike Finasteride, Minoxidil does not target the hormonal aspect of hair loss such as DHT and is therefore suitable for all genders. The exact scientific mechanism behind Minoxidil is still being researched, however, it is understood that Minoxidil can stimulate hair follicles so they enter the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle faster than usual.
Regaine Foam is a branded topical hair loss treatment that revitalises hair follicles and stimulates hair growth when applied directly to the scalp. The foam formulation is an alternative to the traditional liquid solution, offering a convenient and less messy application.
Regaine Foam is available in two variants - Regaine Foam for Men and Regaine Foam for Women. The men’s formulation has a 5% Minoxidil concentration and is recommended for use twice a day, while the women’s formulation has a 2% Minoxidil concentration and is recommended for use no more than once a day.
Regaine Solution is a branded topical hair loss treatment that works in the same way as Regaine Foam. However, it has a liquid formulation and contains propylene glycol and alcohol to help the minoxidil inside it penetrate the scalp more effectively than the foam variant.
Regaine Solution comes in two variants - Regaine Solution for Men and Regaine Solution for Women. The differences between the two variants are the same as for Regaine Foam; the men’s formulation has a 5% minoxidil concentration and is recommended for use twice a day, while the women’s formulation has a 2% minoxidil concentration and is recommended for use no more than once a day.
Regaine vs Rogaine
Regaine and Rogaine are alternate names for the same company. Regaine is sold under the brand name ‘Rogaine’ outside of the UK.
Alpecin is a brand that produces topical caffeine-based hair loss products. Some studies suggest that caffeine can potentially reduce the risk of male and female pattern baldness by counteracting the effects of the DHT hormone on hair follicles to prolong the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle.
Alpecin Shampoo is designed to cleanse the hair and scalp while delivering caffeine to the hair roots. Leaving Alpecin shampoo on the scalp for a short period after applying and before rinsing can help to ensure the caffeine penetrates the hair follicles. This can maximise the chances of counteracting the effects of the DHT hormone, prolonging the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle.
Alpecin Double Effect
Alpecin Double Effect is an anti-dandruff variant of Alpecin Shampoo. It works in the same way as Alpecin Shampoo and also helps to prevent the build-up of dandruff on the scalp.
Alpecin Liquid is a leave-in scalp tonic containing caffeine that is formulated to be applied directly to the scalp after washing the hair. Unlike Alpecin Shampoo, Alpecin Liquid does not need to be rinsed out of the hair after application. The purpose of this mechanism is to provide prolonged caffeine exposure to the scalp, which can potentially enhance the stimulation of the hair roots throughout the day.
Nizoral Shampoo contains the active ingredient Ketoconazole, which is used to treat dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis (red, flaky, and/or greasy patches on the scalp). Seborrheic dermatitis can lead to hair loss because it triggers an inflammatory response in the scalp that can weaken hair follicles. Moreover, seborrheic dermatitis causes itchiness, which can lead the affected individual to scratch their scalp frequently.
The combination of these effects (scratching a scalp that has weakened hair) can contribute to hair loss. Nizoral Shampoo can prevent this because the Ketoconazole inside it disrupts the cell membrane of fungi that causes seborrheic dermatitis.
Alternative hair loss treatments
Fish oil supplements
Fish oil supplements may prevent hair loss because they contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that can prevent hair follicle miniaturisation caused by scalp inflammation. It is recommended to take fish oil supplements in addition to clinically proven hair loss treatments such as Finasteride or Minoxidil for optimal results.
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT)
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is an alternative hair loss treatment which involves directing near-infrared non-thermal light to stimulate inactive hair follicles as a means of encouraging hair growth. Our experts do not recommend LLLT as a way to treat hair loss because the research surrounding its efficacy is extremely limited.
Rosemary oil is sometimes touted as an alternative to the hair loss treatments discussed above because it is thought to improve blood flow to the scalp. With that said, there are no definitive studies on the efficacy of rosemary oil as a hair loss treatment and it has not been tested through clinical trials. This is why our experts do not recommend using rosemary oil to prevent hair loss.
Hair loss treatment comparison
Finasteride vs Minoxidil
Finasteride works by inhibiting DHT, while Minoxidil works by promoting blood flow to the hair follicles. Moreover, Finasteride can only be used by men and requires a prescription, while Minoxidil can be used by both men and women and does not require a prescription.
Due to their differing mechanisms, it is recommended that men use both treatments as part of a collective hair regrowth kit after consulting a pharmacist or GP.
Finasteride vs Propecia
There is no difference in the effectiveness of Finasteride and Propecia because they both contain the same active ingredient. The main difference between them is pricing; Propecia is a branded treatment and therefore tends to be more expensive than the unbranded Finasteride.
Finasteride vs Alpecin
Finasteride treats hair loss by inhibiting DHT (the hormone that causes pattern baldness) and is an oral treatment as it comes in tablet form and must be ingested. In comparison, Alpecin is a caffeine-based topical treatment that aims to stimulate hair directly without altering hormones.
Finasteride vs Nizoral Shampoo
Finasteride is an oral treatment that addresses one of the root causes of pattern baldness, while Nizoral Shampoo is a topical antifungal treatment with anti-inflammatory properties that is recommended to improve general scalp health and potentially prevent seborrheic dermatitis.
Minoxidil vs Propecia
Propecia is a branded version of Finasteride. Therefore, the difference between Minoxidil and Propecia is identical to the difference between Minoxidil and Finasteride (see previous section).
Minoxidil vs Alpecin
Research on the effectiveness of Minoxidil in preventing hair loss is more extensive than that for Alpecin products. With that said, it is recommended to use both Minoxidil and Alpecin together to maximise the probability of optimal results.
Minoxidil vs Nizoral Shampoo
Research on the effectiveness of Minoxidil in treating hair loss is more extensive than for Nizoral Shampoo. However, both products have different purposes; Minoxidil is a dedicated hair loss medication, whereas Nizoral Shampoo is primarily used as an antifungal topical treatment to improve scalp health. It is recommended to use both Minoxidil and Nizoral Shampoo for optimal results.
Propecia vs Alpecin
Propecia (the branded version of Finasteride) is a prescription medication with robust clinical trials backing its efficacy in preventing hair loss among men. Alpecin, on the other hand, is a cosmetic product containing caffeine that can stimulate hair growth to an extent. It is recommended that men undergoing hair loss use both Propecia and Alpecin together to maximise the probability of optimal results.
Propecia vs Nizoral Shampoo
Propecia targets the hormonal cause of hair loss, whereas Nizoral Shampoo is a topical hair loss treatment with antifungal properties that can prevent hair loss by way of improving scalp health. It is recommended to use both Propecia and Nizoral Shampoo for optimal results.
Which treatment is best for hair growth?
There is no single best treatment for hair growth because treatment compatibility and efficacy depend on numerous factors, including the gender of the individual taking it and the extent of hair thinning/loss. Our experts recommend using a combination of treatments to maximise the chances of reducing hair loss.
For instance, men who take Finasteride tablets as directed by a pharmacist or GP in addition to using topical hair loss treatments such as Regaine Foam for Men, Regaine Solution for Men, Alpecin Shampoo, and Nizoral Shampoo may find that the combination yields optimal results.
Similarly, women who consult a pharmacist or GP before using Regaine Foam for Women or Regaine Solution for Women in addition to Alpecin Shampoo and Nizoral Shampoo may experience optimal results.
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- Suchonwanit et al. (2019). ‘Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review’. Drug Design, Development and Therapy, 13, pp. 2777-2786. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S214907.
- Bansal et al. (2012). ‘Role of caffeine in the management of Androgenetic Alopecia’. International Journal of Trichology, 4(3), pp.185-186. doi: 10.4103/0974-7753.100096.
- Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Seborrheic dermatitis. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seborrheic-dermatitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352710 [Accessed 8th November 2023].