Do Laser Caps Work for Hair Growth?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 03/23/2021

Updated 04/29/2024

If you’ve ever searched for hair loss treatments, you may have stumbled across something called laser hair growth caps. Less invasive than a hair transplant and more futuristic than a topical cream, these devices use a technique called low-level light therapy (LLLT) to stimulate your hair follicles and promote hair growth. 

Laser treatment for hair regrowth is widely promoted as a treatment for male pattern baldness and as an alternative to medications like minoxidil and finasteride. While some science supports the benefits of laser hair growth caps, the research that’s available right now is far from comprehensive and doesn’t find much promise if you’re battling androgenic alopecia. 

Below, we’ve explained how laser hair growth caps work, as well as their potential benefits for treating hair loss and stimulating hair growth, and what you should know about the limitations.

Laser hair growth caps are head-worn devices that use laser diodes to stimulate your scalp and promote hair growth. They do this by encouraging better blood flow, stimulating follicles to enter the growth phase (also called the anagen phase) and, in some cases, promote wound healing that might have damaged the hair shaft or be affecting hair growth.

Although the specific design of these devices can vary, most look like a baseball cap with laser diodes on the inside. Many laser hair growth caps feature hundreds of laser diodes designed to target your scalp from every possible angle.

Other laser hair growth devices, such as combs, bands, helmets and beyond, are all designed to take advantage of the same theory.

Laser caps are sort of the opposite concept of laser hair removal, so don’t get them mixed up. Research suggests that exposure to low-level laser light stimulates cellular activity, from which hair grows. By exposing your hair follicles to concentrated laser light, a cap may be able to promote hair growth and improve your hair in areas with hair loss. 

According to an article published in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, exposure to low-level laser light stimulates cellular activity, which has been shown to help in the management of thinning hair and hair restoration.

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Although these products can and do stimulate hair growth, they have only limited abilities to fight specific types of hair loss like male pattern baldness.

Male pattern baldness, the most common cause of hair loss in men, develops as a result of genetic factors and the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). 

If you’re genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness, DHT can damage your hair follicles and, over time, stop them from producing new hairs. This process tends to begin at your crown or hairline and become more noticeable over time. You can learn more about the effects of DHT on your hair in our guide to DHT and male pattern baldness

Unfortunately, LLLT does not impact DHT levels and doesn't appear to stop long-term damage to your hair follicles. The most effective treatments for male pattern baldness work by reducing the amount of DHT in your bloodstream and preventing damage to your hair follicles.

Like many other hair growth devices, laser hair growth caps can vary in design, cost and quality. 

Simple devices that feature a few hundred laser diodes with a low to moderate output are often available for several hundred dollars, while high-end, high-powered devices with thousands of laser diodes can cost thousands. and It’s unlikely that this treatment will be covered by your insurance. 

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While there isn’t much research on low-level laser therapy and hair growth, several studies have found that the treatment may be effective. An evidence-based review published in 2016 looked at 21 studies of laser devices for hair growth and concluded that low-level laser therapy devices are safe and effective for both men and women with pattern hair loss.

A 2018 review of clinical trials published in the journal Lasers in Medical Science reached a similar conclusion, noting that laser therapy “appears to be a safe, alternative treatment” for pattern hair loss. 

As for research into the specific effects of laser hair growth caps, only a few small-scale studies are currently available.

According to an article studying women between 18 and 60 years of age with pattern hair loss treated with a device called the Handi-Dome Laser, the women treated with the laser cap achieved a 51 percent increase in hair count over the course of 17 weeks of treatment, compared to those treated with a non-therapeutic device.

A similar study published in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine  involving a laser hair growth helmet called iGrow® found that women who used the device experienced results comparable to those achieved using the hair loss medication, Minoxidil. 

We've talked more about these issues with research into laser hair growth devices in our guide to laser hair treatments

Do laser caps really work? It depends on a number of factors, and comes with an equally large number of caveats; don’t be surprised if you come across claims that these tools are just a “sham device,” which is a common, though unproven, accusation. 

While there are FDA-approved hair regrowth laser products on the market, most of them are not designed for or able to effectively manage androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss. Instead, they’re seen as effective hair restoration tools for encouraging the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle — not the management of DHT.

And then there’s the question of laser caps versus other LLLT devices like the lasercomb. While the above research is certainly promising, it’s important to note that several of the studies featured looked at laser hair growth devices as a whole, not hair growth caps specifically. And that’s just one limitation. 

Finally, there are the research conflicts. As a 2020 review published in the journal Skin Appendage Disorders noted, some studies in this field appear to be associated with the laser hair growth device industry — which is a conflict of interest. Two of the above were also associated with a hair growth device manufacturer who has a vested interest in the success of laser treatment. 

Some of the studies featured in this research also involved the use of laser hair growth devices in combination with other treatments, such as the hair loss medication minoxidil.

There’s little known about the potential side effects of laser treatment options, so while Rogaine, PRP, stem cells, supplements and hair transplant surgery lack the futuristic simplicity of sharing red light wavelengths on your scalp to encourage new hair growth, other options for hair growth treatment may make more sense. 

Hair loss treatments, delivered

If you’re losing your hair, it’s best to talk to a licensed healthcare provider to learn more about your options. 

  • Laser hair therapy and other laser hair devices rely on a technique called low-level laser therapy (LLLT) to stimulate your hair follicles and promote hair growth.

  • Laser hair growth caps can vary in price from a few hundred to thousands of dollars for high-end devices with powerful laser diodes, making them a substantial purchase for most. 

  • Although some studies have found that low-level laser therapy may promote hair growth, there is very little research on the effectiveness of laser hair growth caps and helmets as treatments for male pattern baldness. 

  • As such, it’s tough to recommend these products, especially when proven, inexpensive options for treating hair loss like minoxidil and finasteride are available. 

If you’re losing your hair and want to take action, it’s best to talk to a healthcare provider about your options. If appropriate, they can prescribe medication to help you stop hair loss and even potentially regrow hair in areas of your scalp with noticeable thinning. 

10 Sources

  1. Avci, P., Gupta, G.K., Clark, J., Wikonkal, N. & Hamblin, M.R. (2014, February). Low-Level Laser (Light) Therapy (LLLT) for Treatment of Hair Loss. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. 46 (2), 144–151. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3944668/
  2. Zarei, M., Wikramanayake, T.C., Falto-Aizpurua, L., Schachner, L.A. & Jimenez, J.J. (2016, February). Low level laser therapy and hair regrowth: an evidence-based review. Lasers in Medical Science. 31 (2), 363-71. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26690359/
  3. Darwin, E., Heyes, A., Hirt, P.A., Wikramanayake, T.C. & Jimenez, J.J. (2018, February). Low-level laser therapy for the treatment of androgenic alopecia: a review. Lasers in Medical Science. 33 (2), 425-434. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29270707/
  4. Egger, A., et al. (2020, September). Examining the Safety and Efficacy of Low-Level Laser Therapy for Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss: A Review of the Literature. Skin Appendage Disorders. 6 (5), 259-267. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33088809/
  5. Friedman, S. & Schnoor, P. (2017, June). Novel Approach to Treating Androgenetic Alopecia in Females With Photobiomodulation (Low-Level Laser Therapy). Dermatologic Surgery. 43 (6), 856-867. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28328705/
  6. Esmat, S.M., et al. (2017, November). Low level light-minoxidil 5% combination versus either therapeutic modality alone in management of female patterned hair loss: A randomized controlled study. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. 49 (9), 835-843. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28489273/
  7. Hu, R., et al. (2015, June 2). Combined treatment with oral finasteride and topical minoxidil in male androgenetic alopecia: a randomized and comparative study in Chinese patients. Dermatologic Therapy. 28 (5), 303-308. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/dth.12246
  8. Badri, T., Nessel, T.A. & Kumar, D.D. (2020, May 4). Minoxidil. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  9. Zito, P.M., Bistas, K.G. & Syed, K. (2020, October 27). Finasteride. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513329/
  10. Ho CH, Sood T, Zito PM. Androgenetic Alopecia. [Updated 2020 Sep 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/
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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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