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Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Up until a couple of decades ago, hair loss was something that guys just had to accept and take in stride.
As a daily-use medication, finasteride offers men experiencing hair loss the option of slowing down, stopping or even, in some cases, reversing baldness.
If you’re starting to lose your hair, you may have looked into using finasteride, either by itself or in combination with other treatments, to shield yourself from further hair loss.
Below, we’ve explained:
What you can expect in terms of finasteride results
From how long it takes to produce improvements
The general success rate you can expect from finasteride
We’ve also shared a few practical, science-based tips and techniques to help you get the best possible results from finasteride.
When it comes to taking any kind of medication, your first question is probably "does this stuff work?" Actually, it might also be “does this stuff taste bad?” but we digress.
Men have a reason to feel this way. Male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) is a common issue that the majority of men — 53 percent of men in their 40s according to some studies — will have to deal with at some point in life.
Not only do we know finasteride works, we also know how it works and when you can start expecting results after you start using it.
Finasteride is one of two 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, along with dutasteride. 5-alpha reductase is an enzyme that your body eventually converts into a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
This hormone is associated with hair loss (specifically androgenic alopecia or male pattern hair loss), as well as an enlarged prostate, which can lead to benign prostatic hyperplasia.
The amount of DHT your body can produce is, for many people, tied to the amount of 5-alpha reductase you have.
So, when the active ingredient finasteride goes to work, it effectively prevents some of your DHT from ever having a chance to mess with your body — specifically stopping it from messing with your scalp and hair.
Research shows that the overwhelming majority of men who use finasteride experience no additional hair loss during treatment.
In a review published in the journal, Drugs, researchers found that 83 percent of men with male pattern baldness experienced no change in their hair count after using finasteride over a period of two years.
In comparison, only 28 percent of men who used a non-therapeutic placebo did not experience any change in hair count.
A different study published by the Tokyo Medical Clinic of finasteride carried out in Japan found that more than 99 percent of men with male pattern baldness experienced no worsening of their hair loss during treatment.
You can think of finasteride as something like a pause button for your hair loss. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll grow back the hair you’ve lost, the overwhelming majority of men who use finasteride find that their hair loss doesn’t become more severe during treatment.
If your hair loss isn’t severe, your daily dose of finasteride may also help you to regrow hair in areas of your scalp or receding hairline that only have mild thinning.
In a large-scale clinical trial published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers found that men who used finasteride to treat male pattern baldness experienced a clinically significant increase in their average hair count over a period of two years.
At the beginning of the study, the men had an average hair count of 876 hairs per square inch of balding vertex scalp.
After two years of treatment with finasteride, this increased to an average of 1,014 hairs per square inch, or approximately 16 percent more hair per inch of skin.
The men that took part in the study reported that finasteride increased new hair growth and improved the general appearance of their hair.
That Tokyo Medical Clinic study we mentioned above also found that 91.5 percent of the men in the study experienced improvements in their hair growth while using finasteride.
In short, while not everyone who takes finasteride regrows hair, many men experience a modest but noticeable increase in hair growth.
A finasteride results timeline: After about three to four months of taking oral finasteride, you should begin to notice an improvement in your hair loss. After one year, your results should appear to be significantly visible. Here’s a breakdown:
0-3 months: The medicine starts working immediately, but you likely won't see results. In fact, you may notice MORE hair falling out within the first few weeks of use. Don't worry — this is normal and won’t last long.
3-4 months: Once you hit the 3-4 month mark you’ll start to notice that your hair loss has slowed, or even stopped. You might also see a little bit of hair regrowth.
4+ months: From here on out you start to really ramp up. Around the one-year mark you should start to notice some pretty significant results of treatment.
For more on how long finasteride takes to start working, check out our article on this topic
“I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.”
“Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger!”
“When I show my barber my progress, he is always in disbelief. I have to recommend Hims to any guy who’s experiencing thinning.”
“Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.”
“I noticed a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.”
“Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!”
“I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!”
“In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.”
“4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.”
“I’m a 34-year-old father of two and have been using Hims for over a year now. My hair is back to what it was in my mid-twenties.”
Finasteride is an easy medication to use. It comes in topical and tablet form and only needs to be taken one time per day, either with or without food.
However, taking a few extra steps, such as using finasteride with other hair loss treatments, can increase your success rate with finasteride and speed up your results.
We’ve listed several of these techniques below.
We know finasteride works well on its own, but research shows you can expect even better results if you double up and use it with topical minoxidil, another FDA-approved medication for treating hair loss and stimulating hair growth.
Minoxidil and finasteride work completely differently and target different hair loss problems, which is why they work so well together. Double the fun.
Rather than blocking DHT, minoxidil functions locally and encourages your hair to enter into the anagen, or growth, phase of the hair growth cycle. It also stimulates blood flow to your scalp, which may help to supply your hair follicles with extra nutrients and improve growth.
In one study published in Dermatologic Therapy, researchers found that 94.1 percent of men with male pattern baldness who used finasteride and minoxidil at the same time saw improvements to their hair volume.
In comparison, the rate of improvement was 80.5 percent for men who used finasteride and just 59 percent for men who only used minoxidil.
You may have heard of topical minoxidil under the brand name Rogaine®. It’s available as a foam and as a liquid and is designed to be applied directly to your scalp.
Unlike finasteride, minoxidil doesn’t require a prescription. We offer both topical and oral minoxidil 5% online, either on its own or with finasteride in our Hair Power Pack. We also offer our topical finasteride & minoxidil spray.
While using minoxidil at the same time will give the biggest boost to the effects of finasteride, it’s also possible to improve your hair growth with other products. These include:
Hair loss prevention shampoo. Shampoos made with ingredients like ketoconazole or saw palmetto, such as our hair thickening shampoo, may also help to stimulate hair growth and protect your follicles from the effects of DHT.
Biotin supplements. Biotin, an important B-vitamin, doesn’t appear to stop male pattern baldness. However, it plays an important role in the growth process of your hair and may be a good addition to your hair care routine.
Conditioner. A quality conditioner plays a supporting role in the hair growth process by keeping your hair strong, hydrated and healthy. Our Thick Fix Conditioner is formulated with niacinamide to bolster and stimulate your hair for a thicker, fuller look.
Our guide to hair growth products goes into more detail about non-pharmaceutical products that you can use to keep your hair in optimal condition.
You probably think that the notion of scalp massages being able to improve finasteride’s results is about as far-fetched as they come, but there’s actually science to back it up. Plus, who doesn’t love a good massage?
Now, it’s important to point out that this study was small, featuring a total of just nine fellas. However, other research into the effects of scalp massage on hair growth has produced similar findings.
In a larger study of 327 men published in Dermatology and Therapy, researchers concluded that a standardized scalp massage or SSM, appears to stabilize hair loss in healthy men with male pattern baldness.
How and why scalp massages are able to stimulate hair growth remains a mystery, but experts speculate that it may have something to do with softening the skin and increasing blood flow.
Male pattern baldness is primarily genetic and hormonal, but this doesn’t mean that your habits and lifestyle don’t play a role in healthy hair.
Lifestyle-focused steps that you can take to prevent and reduce hair loss include:
Quitting smoking. If you smoke, make an effort to quit. Although smoking doesn’t appear to increase DHT levels, the toxins found in cigarette smoke may damage your hair follicles at the DNA level.
Eating a balanced diet. Healthy hair growth requires a steady supply of vital nutrients, including zinc, iron and protein. Try to eat a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein.
Avoiding harsh hair products. Many hair care products, including certain shampoos and styling products, contain harsh ingredients that can irritate your scalp and prevent healthy hair growth. Try to avoid shampoos that contain ingredients such as sulfates, and instead opt for a shampoo that’s designed to promote growth and prevent hair loss.
Limiting exposure to stress. Although stress doesn’t cause male pattern hair loss, it can contribute to a form of temporary hair shedding called telogen effluvium. Try to minimize your exposure to stress. This could mean making changes to your work habits, making use of therapeutic resources to improve your mental health or practicing meditation to gain more control over your feelings of stress and anxiety.
Both finasteride tablets and topical solution are effective, but they aren’t magic baldness-erasing pills. To continue blocking DHT and protect your hair, you’ll need to use finasteride every day to fully benefit from its effects.
The same is true of other hair loss treatments like minoxidil. To maintain your results, you’ll need to continue using these medications over the long term.
Generic for Rogaine®, this FDA-approved over-the-counter version of topical minoxidil is used for regrowth on the crown of the head.
This is the FDA-approved dynamic duo. When used together, men saw better results in clinical trials compared to using either alone.
If you’re looking for something effective but don’t want too many steps in your routine, this once-a-day pill could be right for you.
Clinically proven to regrow hair in 3-6 months, no pills required.
Finasteride works for most people — that’s hardly in debate. But for those who think it’ll be a miracle for their dormant or dead hair follicles, we’ve got a reality check to share with you.
YES finasteride is an effective treatment that can slow down, prevent and even reverse the effects of male pattern baldness.
BUT it does have limitations — it can’t bring hair back from the dead.
SO you shouldn’t expect to wake up one day only to find your hair grew twice as thick overnight.
BECAUSE finasteride and other hair loss medications, like minoxidil, work gradually and require long-term commitment for optimal results.
PLEASE be sure to seek medical advice from your healthcare provider before using finasteride.
To get the best results from finasteride, make sure to combine it with minoxidil, a balanced diet, a healthy lifestyle and good hair care habits.
And if you have further questions, talk to a healthcare professional. Finasteride can help you, as long as you’re helping yourself.