is an exercise in being patient, but special products that target hair growth can make the process less frustrating (and potentially speed things up). Whether you're looking for a serum, supplement or other treatment, you'll find many products claiming to boost hair health or help target issues like hair loss or thinning, but I talked to dermatologists to find out what's actually worth trying, and what you can skip.
Sometimes issues like hair loss or thinning are related to underlying health issues, which is why you may want to consult a doctor first if you're experiencing problems with hair loss. According to San Francisco-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Caren Campbell there are many different types of hair loss, and identifying your type is the first step to getting proper treatment. "There are various forms of hair loss, some temporary, some slowly progressive and some permanent and scarring. If you know what type of hair loss you are experiencing you can best treat it," says Campbell.
What causes hair loss or thinning hair?
Hair loss and thinning hair are complex -- which is why you want to have a medical professional evaluate you to help figure out what the cause could be, or help you figure out appropriate treatment. According to Campbell, some forms of hair loss are related to autoimmune disease, which you want to rule out as well. Other potential culprits are medication-induced hair loss, anemia or thyroid problems. "Bottom line -- there is not one catch-all treatment for all forms of hair loss. You need to first know what form of hair loss you have, what the cause might be and then treat it with that information," says Campbell.
"Depending on the type of hair loss you're experiencing, [doctors] may be able to diagnose it by just your history and scalp/hair exam. However, they may recommend obtaining lab studies and/or a biopsy for additional information. Once you've obtained a diagnosis, you can narrow your treatment options to ingredients designed to specifically help your type of hair loss," says Dr. Elyse Love, a New York-based board-certified dermatologist.
If you're looking to get some extra help with growing out your hair, the products below are curated with expert input from dermatologists and based on research and reviews from online retailers like Sephora and Ulta. If you're experiencing hair loss or thinning, remember to check with your doctor first, and once you've determined that over-the-counter products could help, the below options may help. We update this list periodically.
Vegamour GRO Hair Serum is a vegan and plant-based option for a hair-growth support serum. The serum contains "vegan photo-active" ingredients such as mung bean, curcumin and red clover. According to the brand, you can potentially see results within three to four months of consistent use. Vegamour offers a full line of complementary products outside of the serum if you're interested in combining the serum with a supplement or other product.
This serum from Kerastase is a best seller on Sephora and recommended by Shelly Aguirre, a stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. If you want healthy hair, you also need a healthy scalp -- and this serum is a good start, according to Aguirre. "It gives the scalp a healthy place for hair to grow. Just like we use serums for our face, we need to use the same approach to our scalps," she told CNET.
Nutrafol supplements are popular supplements for hair growth that contain nutrients that help support metabolism, stress, hormones, inflammation and nutrition. All of these areas are important for hair health, according to the brand. Campbell recommends the supplements, but notes they won't help with all types of hair loss. Love also recommends the supplements, in addition to speaking with a doctor about what might be causing your hair loss to begin with.
Minoxidil is the main ingredient in Rogaine, which both Love and Campbell recommend for hair loss or thinning hair. "This can be helpful for male and female pattern hair loss and more chronic forms of stress-related hair loss called telogen effluvium," says Campbell. Keep in mind that this is a generalization, and again, Campbell encourages seeking treatment with a doctor first to help resolve any underlying health issues.
Another brand with the same active ingredient as Rogaine is Hims, which sells 5% Minoxidil Drops for $15.
Viviscal is another supplement formulated for hair growth that contains a blend of vitamins and minerals including zinc, vitamin C and other herbs. "Viviscal and Nutrafol are supplements that have been well studied for female and male pattern baldness, but won't help with all forms of hair loss," says Campbell.
Hum Hair Sweet Hair Growth Vegan gummies contain biotin, folic acid, vitamin B12, zinc and Fo-Ti, an herb traditionally used in Chinese Medicine for hair and scalp health, according to the brand. The gummies also contain para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) aka vitamin B10, which the brand says can help maintain hair color or prevent graying hair.
One of the best-selling and top-reviewed products in the hair growth category on Ulta, Bondi Boost Intensive Growth Spray has a solid 4.8 star rating out of nearly 3,000 views. Instead of a serum or oil, which can be trickier to apply, the product is a spray that you can use on wet or dry hair daily. You massage the product in with your fingers, and leave it on.
More beauty essentials
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.