My next door neighbor has been losing his hair, noticeably, for the last 2 ½ years. We’re rather good friends and he knows what I do for a living, but the subject was off limits for a while.
I figured he knew it was happening and might be in denial, but who knows? Finally, I decided to address the elephant in the room and ask if he wanted my help.
I will spare you the expletives in his answer, but essentially he said to me “You’re going to make me use herbs and stuff.
I don’t have time for herbs, I need something out of the bottle I can buy at the store.”
Hmmmmm. I bet he’s not the only one thinking that. I’ll admit it. We live crazy, busy lives.
While I FIRMLY stand by all of the herbal and homeopathic recipes in The Hair Loss Black Book and within this blog, even I have wished they could be found in some easy, pre-made product just to have a few extra minutes to spare each day.
I know these methods will give you better results than the easier/quicker products…
I know there may be times you just don’t care about better results you care about a quick, easy solution. So, I’ve decided to take off my “do what’s best” hat and put on my “do the best you can” hat for a minute.
If you are going to try some of the commercial and over-the-counter hair loss shampoos and products, I want to help you buy the best products you can.
About Commercial Hair Loss Systems
The most important fact I can tell you about commercial and prescription hair loss products is that they are come in “systems”.
There are shampoos, conditioners, scalp cleansers, scalp masques, tonics, and similar items. While they are all sold separately, they are all considered a part of one system.
As in most things, using just one part of a complete system will be useless. You wouldn’t use just the noodles in a lasagna recipe. You’d need the sauce, cheese, and a pan to create the meal. A hair loss system works the same way.
The shampoo in a hair loss system is typically not enough to deliver the promised results. Typically, there is a scalp masque or intensive cleanser which is meant to wash away dirt, oil, bacteria, yeast, and DHT.
It is used once a week or more, but not daily. The shampoo is meant to be used daily to keep the scalp clean and deliver a mild formula of anti-DHT medicine.
Because these chemically-potent systems dry out your hair, they typically include a conditioner which moisturizes and delivers another small dose of medicine. There is probably a root tonic to protect your scalp from sun, dirt, and DHT throughout the day.
Finally, there is a daily scalp therapy solution which is thick and often messy. It delivers the potent dose of anti-DHT medicine and is meant to stay on overnight. As you can see, using just the shampoo or just the masque will not get the job done.
No part of a system is autonomous; they each depend on the others to work. While it would be easy to blame this on commercialization and profiteering, I would remind you that The Hair Loss Black Book is a system with many parts.
My scalp treatment techniques alone include scalp massages, natural shampoos, masques, and tonics.
Another important fact about these systems is each relies on a completely different medicinal formula than the rect. Rogaine and Minoxil both work essentially the same, but have two very different formulas of the drug Minoxidil.
Using the two different formulas at once can cause an adverse, burning of the scalp. Furthermore, you never know which part of a system is meant to really “deliver” the drug.
In one system it may be the shampoo while in another it is the intensive treatment. You don’t want to mix products or you could be giving your scalp a fatal overdose. Additionally, many of these systems do not play well with others.
Nioxin is made from commercially derived botanicals and does not contain any drugs. This sounds harmless, but it comes with a LARGE warning that it should not be used in conjunction with Minoxidil products.
Propecia based systems also warn against using it with any other anti-DHT formula as the result could also overdose the androgen receptors in your scalp. Although they’re part of your problem, you need them to have a healthy head of thick hair.
Along those same lines, the same should be said about mixing commercial products with The Hair Loss Black Book remedies. My remedies are meant to work a certain way and to compliment one another.
They are not meant to compliment commercial products and I cannot guarantee you there will not be an adverse reaction if you combine the two.
Meanwhile, it should be clear you can’t just buy a shampoo and expect it to work. You can’t buy a shampoo of one brand and a root tonic of another. If you are choosing to use a commercial hair loss system, you need to commit fully to it.
Buy all of the parts and use them all as directed. Furthermore, you will need to give it the suggested evaluation time, which is often weeks or months, before you decide it is not working and to move on to another commercial system.
Hair Loss Evaluation Data
Hair loss systems are complicated. Fortunately, the actual data about commercial hair loss systems is a bit easier to understand.
There are a lot of different sources with a lot of data available on each type of therapy.
Some of these sources are a little less trustworthy, like independent laboratories which may or may not have been paid by the drug companies to perform positive evaluations of their products.
Others sources are not trustworthy at all as they are performed at each company’s internal laboratories by their own paid employees.
Naturally, I threw out that last data. However, National Institute of Health and Mayo Clinic laboratories are extremely detail oriented and products there are tested under conditions which would rarely occur in our average lives.
On the other hand, third party independent labs often find test subjects that most “ideally” meet their hair loss requirements-as in the subjects who would be most likely to respond to products and have few other underlying health issues.
Obviously, neither of those situations is ideal for determining how a product will work for you. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean I can’t give you answers.
So, I did the math with the numbers of patients who saw success using each product in each study. Giving equal credit to each study, I averaged all the numbers and came up with the percentage of patients who received benefits using each product.
The following chart is my compiled list of success percentile per product.
|PRESCRIPTION AND COMMERCIAL MEDICATED SYSTEMS|
|Rogaine Foam||14.8 %|
|Proscar or generic finasteride||4.3 %|
|Nizoral (Ketaconazole) Shampoo||6.1 %|
|Home Low level laser therapy||3.7 %|
|Other special shampoos||5.5 %|
|Head and Shoulders||2.7 %|
|Compounded minoxidil w/ additives||3.8 %|
|Clinical low level laser therapy||1.4 %|
|Nioxin Shampoo||1 %|
Please keep in mind, the actual parameters for the tests are unknown. We do not know how healthy the test subjects were. It could be they were not very hormonally imbalanced and had no underlying conditions. It could be their excess DHT was quickly overcome.
We also do not know how advanced each test subject’s hair loss was. Did they only recently notice hair loss or did they have substantial thinning?
Along the same note, was their hair loss actually from DHT or did they have one of the acute illnesses or conditions which cause temporarily, though sometimes prolonged, hair loss? If so, it could be the nurturing alone was enough to cure the disease.
Furthermore, we also do not know if dormant or dying hair follicles grew new hair or if already active hair follicles began to grow multiple hairs. (The later is a very common occurrence as medicines cannot normally revive very sick follicles but can make healthier follicles work overtime.)
One last note I would make about these statistics is regarding the long term results. Every study, and I am not exaggerating this, had the same notes about long term use. First, that the results were limited.
After a period of 8-12 months, no new hair growth appeared. This means the hair you have at the end of that period is all you are ever going to have while using this particular hair loss system.
Secondly, each study made it clear that the results were not permanent. The test subjects made no lifestyle, diet, or exercise changes during the course of the study.
Once the test subject discontinued using the system, the hair loss resumed. In the case of Rogaine and Propecia, it resumed as soon as 6 weeks later.
I know you are aware of my feelings about commercial products, especially those filled with artificial chemicals and drugs. In my opinion, these statistics back up my beliefs.
Commercial systems work on the very surface of the skin and have no way of correcting internal health. The Hair Loss Black Book is dedicated to fixing the fundamental problems increasing your DHT.
My system restores balance within your body and on your scalp, this is why it works and this is why it delivers long term results.
Thoughts About Generics And Knock Offs
If you’re looking for simple, you might also be looking for cheaper.
If that’s true, then you’ve no doubt started looking at the products sitting on the shelf next to the products I’ve just mentioned above.
You know which ones I’m talking about, the ones in a slightly different bottle with just a slightly different name.
There they are plainly promising to “compare” to the name brand product, but do they? Are they cheaper and just as potent or will they let you down? Is it worth spending the extra money or not?
There is no black and white answer here. As there is no black and white answer (and because I do not endorse the use of any commercial hair loss products), I want to share with you all I know about brand name versus generic products. I cannot make this decision for you. However, I can help you make a decision.
First, let me explain why there is no black and white with two non-hair loss examples. Have you ever had a really bad cold and were forced to use a generic instead of your go-to name brand drugs?
Many of us have and, unfortunately, found ourselves making a second trip to the drugstore because the generic brought us no relief. This is because the “secret” ingredient, the ingredient which helps deliver the drug to the bloodstream, is a cheaper-less effective-chemical.
On the other hand, have you ever bought the cheap olive oil instead of the expensive stuff? Did you take it home and were pleasantly surprised to find it cooks up an equally delicious spaghetti aioli or a Caesar salad sauce? They taste the same because squeezing and processing olives is pretty cut and dry.
The brand name company may have refined it slightly longer at a slightly lower temperature, but (unless you are buying really high-dollar, imported, organic olive oil) most of the brands and generics on the shelves taste alike.
Generic brand hair loss products are typically produced by a company which competes against the company that originally created the formula.
In many cases, the generic can only be produced once any patents or similar legal constraints are lifted. In other cases, there are no legal constraints as long as the original manufacturer maintains a “secret” ingredient to the formula.
Current legislation requires all products to have their ingredients listed. Active ingredients, those ingredients which are medicinal in nature, are listed first.
For safety reasons, manufacturers are required to list the exact formula and strength of active ingredients. As you may imagine, publication of the exact medicinal ingredients helps the competition produce a generic formula.
Since the active ingredient is public information, the “secret” ingredient is frequently listed within the inactive, or non-medicinal, ingredients.
There are many types of inactive ingredients including dyes, scents, and agents which help deliver or trigger the active ingredients. It’s that last category I want you to pay careful attention to because that’s where the “secret” ingredient can make a big difference.
I know what you’re thinking, “I’ve looked on the back of a label and they list all the ingredients, how can anything be secret?”
Well, that’s easy. Labels can be pretty shady these days listing vague items like “other natural extracts” and “contains 2% or less of (a very long list of ingredients)”.
Labels also list artificial ingredients with their Latin, chemical names-like petrolatum. There is no real way of knowing the potency, exact formulation, or what their role is within the product.
Are those ingredients being used to make your shampoo smell better or are they being used to make better suds-suds which can better remove DHT and dirt?
Do those ingredients give the scalp treatment it’s creamy, non-drip texture or do they help it more thoroughly saturate the hair follicles with medicine?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration often release statements regarding generics. These insist that “it has met rigorous standards established by the FDA with respect to identity, strength, quality, purity, and potency.”
When referring to strength, potency, etc… the FDA is talking about the active ingredient formula.
Here’s the catch. While those FDA statements are meant to ensure you that the active ingredients are the same, there is a different story about the inactive ingredients in the fine print.
“Generic drugs do not need to contain the same inactive ingredients as the brand name product… some variability can and does occur during manufacturing. When a drug is mass-produced, very small variations in purity, size, strength, and other parameters are permitted. FDA limits how much variability is acceptable.”
The devil is in the details. The inactive ingredients don’t have to be the same. Sure, the medicine is the same, but is the delivery.
Inactive ingredients FACILITATE active ingredients… the wrong inactive ingredients can render an active ingredient useless.
Here’s the thing, it really will be trial and error when determining which works best. In my opinion, you should always start with the name brand product.
Use it for several weeks to decide if it is giving you the results you need. If you like how it works, try switching to the generic.
Think of it as a lab experiment. The results you got with the name brand are your “control”.
Any generic results which do not equal the control should be considered inadequate. (However, you will have to do the budgetary math of how inadequate was the generic versus how much money you save.)
Of course, if the generic results are better than the control, you’ve got an easy answer.
Natural, Using Hair Loss Black Book Ingredients, Is Still Best
Up until now, I have been exclusively discussing prescription and commercial products which can be found in almost any store.
However, many stores also carry “natural” alternatives to those hair loss systems which might be more in line with your long term goals and with the Hair Loss Black Book. They may not be my first choice, but they may be a reasonable substitute.
I would like to make some quick comparisons so you can see the difference between using a “natural” bottled product and making a natural remedy at home.
When companies are manufacturing “natural” products they start with organic herbs and extracts. These ingredients are typically processed as quickly and easily as possible, to save money. This means they are frequently overheated and diluted.
Next, the ingredients must be converted into an easily packaged, highly marketable product. Issues like shelf life, consumer aesthetics, and ease of use complicate the recipe. Preservatives, dyes, “sudsing” and “anti-caking” agents, and other chemicals must be added to the mix.
When you make a home remedy, you start and end with 100% natural ingredients. They remain as potent as they were when you purchased them at the herbal store or market, especially if you buy them fresh.
There are no chemicals to dilute or hinder the effectiveness of the medicine. There are no dyes or preservatives to increase the acidity on your scalp.
If you want to use a “natural” alternative to a home remedy, please understand you will have to double up on your efforts else where. If you will not give your scalp the full nurturing it needs externally, you better make sure you are providing it with twice the nutrients internally.
Incorporating commercial “natural” products into your Hair Loss Black Book solution is possible, but you will have to be more rigid in your commitment to the rest of the system.
Now that you understand the difference between the two, let me tell you what to look for in a “natural” product.
First off, make sure all the ingredients are actually organic and not synthesized versions. For example, citric acid is not the same as lemon extract.
Secondly, these products rarely come in “systems”. Shampoos, conditioners, and scalp treatments are all sold independently of one another and often have duplicate ingredients.
You will have to buy the individual products, but brands can more easily be crossed without harmful side affects.
Shampoos which contain DHT blockers would be a good start. Shampoos with ingredients such as tribulus and spearmint would have benefits. Shampoos with nettle and bay may also deliver similar results.
Many shampoos contain saw palmetto, which some believe to be a DHT blocker and some believe it increases DHT with bad side affects.
I strongly recommend you read the section called Nutritional Supplementation within The Hair Loss Black Book where I more thoroughly discuss saw palmetto and then decide if those shampoos are right for you.
If you remember from the book, blocking DHT was only half of my scalp care plan. The other half was to ease the inflammation and infection within your scalp which causes swelling.
This swelling traps DHT and oil within your hair follicle and literally chokes out the growth potential.
If you are going to use a “natural” product instead of a homemade product, you will also want to look for healing, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Aloe and tea tree oil are your best bet in this department, but products with biotin, green tea, and rosemary are also beneficial. Any products with essential oils would also help soothe your wounded scalp.
Okay, I know you were hoping I would give my endorsement of some bottled, easily used hair loss product.
I wish I could, but I still firmly believe commercial, even “natural” products are not going to help you as much as Hair Loss Black Book.
I know it has lasting answers to your problem. However, now you know a lot more about the products available on the market.
You know what to expect if you use them. You know how to evaluate their ingredients and how those ingredients might help or hurt you.
You also know how to incorporate the better products into your total natural solution.
When it comes down to it, all I really want is for you to be happy with your hair. If my system is overwhelming you, alleviating the burden with a commercial product may help.
In the end, whatever helps you commit to the program-to total body wellness-will help you stop hair loss and regrow hair.