The Best Way to Slow Early Signs of Baldness

Preserve your healthy head of hair

Man with thinning hair looking at bottles of medicine in medicine cabinet
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The average adult male’s hairline lies somewhere between Mr. Clean and a rock star’s swirling locks.   

For most men, recognizing male pattern baldness is gradual and happens in phases. It’s terrifying for a young man with no idea how much hair will fall out, how thin it will get, or how fast it will happen. Phase 1 is denial. Phase 2 is a frenzied disbelief. Phase 3 is either acceptance of the fact or a ruthless and aggressive attempt to put a Heisman style stiff arm to stop the process in its tracks.

Those serious about taking action, exhaust all options in an attempt to maintain follicular dominance. They encounter various products advertising dreams of hairlines dense as the Amazon forest, with manufacturers looking to take advantage of their insecurity and capitalize on it. As a result, they fall victim to deceptive snake oil salesmen. Others look into the biological causes and rational treatments.

There is no cure, but a lot can be done to slow or stop the rate of hair loss. Male pattern baldness is hereditary. Over time, a potent male sex hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) affects hair follicles. Men can inherit follicles genetically sensitive to DHT. While DHT increases facial and body hair growth, it decreases it on the head. Once DHT sensitive hair follicles have prolonged exposure to DHT, they shrink and eventually stop growing hair. Resulting hair loss follows a pattern, beginning with a receding hairline and thinning hair at the crown.

Hair progressively becomes finer, shorter, and thinner until most or all of it is gone. Typically, people shed 50 to 100 hairs on their head daily but never notice because new hairs grow simultaneously. DHT affected follicles create finer and thinner hairs in each consecutive growth/shed cycle until hair eventually stops growing.

To add insult to injury, male pattern baldness is usually permanent. The most effective way to keep all your hair is to pre-empt the effects of DHT while you still have hair. Research shows that follicles can keep making healthy hair if DHT is suppressed, so it’s possible to slow or stop hair loss with early intervention to block DHT.

Products designed to block DHT range from daily prescription medications to over-the-counter topicals and shampoos. The most effective option is Finasteride, a very potent DHT inhibitor. It’s available as a prescription pill, such as Propecia, and interferes with DHT production. It slows or stops the progression of hair loss in mostly all men. The second most effective option is Minoxydil, an over-the-counter serum, such as Rogaine. It’s applied directly to the scalp to reduce scalp DHT, promotes blood flow to the scalp, and promotes hair growth via increased nutrient delivery to follicles. The least effective option, natural shampoo, has the least scientific evidence behind it. Shampoos use Saw Palmetto as the key ingredient and work best when massaged into the scalp daily.

Some doctors recommend combining DHT blocking products. Regardless, hair loss continues if treatment is stopped.

As with most treatments, side effects exist. Even though male pattern baldness is the primary cause of hair loss in men, other underlying issues can cause hair loss, including thyroid issues, medication reactions, and nutritional deficiencies. If you’re experiencing hair loss, speak with your doctor to find the best solution for you. For those who haven’t yet experienced hair loss, consider yourselves warned. If you’re proactive about blocking DHT, you could keep your full head of hair for a very long time!


Genetics Home Reference. Dihydrotestosterone. U.S National Library of Medicine, 14 Dec 2015. 

Hair Scientists. Nutrition and Hair Health. The Trichological Society. 

Hairloss Help Center. DHT Blockers. Hairloss Help Center.   

McAndrews, Paul J. Causes of Hair LossAmerican Hair Loss Association.  

Vitamins Supplements Guide.  Dihydrotestosterone. Vitamins Supplements Guide. 

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