Wouldn’t it be great if all we needed was a few over-the-counter products to restore a full head of healthy hair? Unfortunately it’s not that simple, although there is one non-prescription treatment approved by the FDA that gets results for some women over 50. That’s Rogaine — the brand name for the topical over-the-counter drug minoxidil, which is a vasal (blood vessel) dilator.
Minoxidil is proven to reverse hair loss by increasing the blood supply to the scalp and revitalizing shrunken follicles. It is available in 2 % strength for women and 5 % strength for men. Dr. Deborah S. Sarnoff, Director of Dermatologic Surgery at Cosmetique N. Y. C. and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at New York University Medical Center, says,”Rogaine is great for women who are just starting to experience thinning hair-especially at the crown of the head. I tell women patients to buy the 5 % Rogaine for men in the foam formula instead of the 2 % box for women. The higher concentration is more effective and the foam less messy — just be careful not to get it on your face since accidental smears can result in unwanted facial hair.”
Rogaine for Women ($30.33, click here to buy) and Rogaine for Men Foam ($28.18, click here to buy). There are several minoxidil products available without a prescription. One competitor to this brand is Provillus Hair Growth Treatment for Women ($109.99, click here to buy) which also contains 2 % minoxidil in the topical part of a 2-step program that also includes a dietary supplement capsule.
Most of the doctors and real women I interviewed (off the record) for this report preferred the easy availability of Rogaine (it’s in every drugstore, while Provillus is only available online). Rogaine is considerably cheaper and still the only over-the-counter brand of minoxidil approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for hair loss treatment.
Does minoxidil work for everyone? No, and you have to continue the drug to see continued results. However, Beverly Hills hair restoration surgeon Dr. Gary Perrault says, “Rogaine can be helpful in prolonging the growth cycle of the hair follicle. I encourage patients to use it once a day, before bed, so it doesn’t interfere with styling routines.”
Most over-the-counter products for thin hair don’t deliver on hair-growth claims
How about those shampoos that supposedly combine anti-DHT complexes, anti-inflammatories and biotin? The category of hair loss targeted shampoos and re-growth products available online is exploding but the overall reaction to these products by doctors appears to be skepticism about performance studies and testing. In other words: hair-growing scams.
Many shampoos and hair treatments claim to accelerate or re-grow your hair by nourishing the scalp and stimulating circulation. If you examine the ingredient list you’ll be surprised to find that aside from the packaging that most contain the usual water, surfactants, emollients, humectants, conditioners, film formers, proteins and botanicals.
I asked Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, to take a look at several of the most hyped shampoos that claim to accelerate or re-grow hair. His reaction: “I am skeptical about the claims these products make, if they really had drug activity they would be subject to regulation by the FDA and you would potentially need a prescription. Until there are real clinical trials evaluating their use I could not recommend them to my patients. Regular shampoos designed for fine hair thicken the hair shaft to provide more volume.”
The truth is, you can get short-term cosmetic volume, body and lift from some everyday shampoos and conditioners and you can prevent breakage in thinning hair that is damaged from so-called “regular” products. So, save the big bucks. Instead, get sound medical advice to diagnose and treat your hair loss problem — and invest in the affordable yet effective hair care and styling products below.
Hair care and styling products that won’t weigh your hair down
Shampoos and conditioners
These lightweight teams cleanse and nourish and won’t weigh your hair down or leave it greasy and flat. Try dry shampoos between washings to add volume and keep the scalp oil-free and fresh.
- John Frieda Root Awakening Health Infusing Shampoo ( $4.95, click here to buy) and John Frieda Root Awakening Health Infusing Conditioner ($6.45, click here to buy).
A new gentle light duo for healthier hair from the brand known for innovation.
- L’ Oréal EverStrong Bodify Shampoo for Flat, Limp Hair ($6.04, click here to buy) and L’ Oréal EverStrong Bodify Conditioner for Flat, Limp Hair ($6.04, click here to buy).
A duo that is 100 % vegan packed with botanicals and smells like rosemary and juniper
- Pantene Pro-V Fine Hair Solutions Shampoo ($5.55, click here to buy) and Pantene Pro-V Fine Hair Solutions Anti-Breakage Detangler ($3.99, click here to buy).
Try this combo. The shampoo gently removes excess oils that can weigh hair down and the lightweight conditioner minimizes pulling and tugging, especially if your hair is textured or color-treated.
- Oscar Blandi Pronto Invisible Volumizing Dry Shampoo Spray ($23.00, click here to buy).
Minimize stress on the hair by alternating this dry shampoo with a wet routine and blow-dry. Spritz your roots, allow to dry a second and brush through. The clear no-residue mist absorbs excess oil and product buildup, strengthens the hair shaft and adds body with vitamin E and wheat proteins.
- Rene Furterer Naturia Dry Shampoo ($19.50, click here to buy).
Another dry shampoo favored by shoot stylists that builds in volume as a styler while it also freshens hair without water by using absorbent powders.
Volumizing mousses and styling sprays
Stick to these lightweight styling products and avoid gels, pastes, creams, waxes, polishers, creams, shine boosting mists and silicone serums.
- Rene Furterer Volumea Volumizing Conditioning Spray ($26.00, click here to buy).
This very light no-rinse conditioner/styler is amazing for giving very fine dry hair a fuller, fluffier look.
- Sally Hershberger Shagg Spray for Layered Hair ($11.99, click here to buy).
Created by the woman who launched a million layered cuts with Meg Ryan’s shag, this mist on styler separates layers for a piece-y look without adding grease or weight.
- John Freida Luxurious Volume Bountiful Body Mousse ($4.98, click here to buy).
Turns fine hair lofty and lifted away from the scalp with a tousled blow-dry.
- Garnier Fructis Style XXL Volume Thickening Mousse ($3.49, click here to buy).
This bargain-priced foam makes a significant difference. Use sparingly.
Hair filler to sprinkle on and fill the gap
There are look-alikes but this one brand of product gets raves from celebrity stylist Jim Crawford who carries it to every shoot and N. Y. C. dermatologists Dr. Deborah S. Sarnoff and Dr. Catherine A. Orentreich who say women patients like the extra confidence boost.
- Toppik Hair Building Fibers ($21.48, click here to buy).
Tiny fibers made of “organic protein” that are charged with static electricity to stick to the scalp and fill in thin areas. It comes in 8 hair colors including gray, white, blond, 3 browns, black and auburn and is sweat and rain-proof too.
For more great information, purchase and download Great Hair after 50: Hip hairstyles, best products for healthy hair, coloring secrets, whether (and how) to go gray, managing fine or frizzy hair, and solutions for thinning hair and hair loss and you’ll be looking fabulous by tomorrow!