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What Can Stimulate Hair Growth?

Katelyn Brenner FNP

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Nicholas Gibson

Published 07/08/2021

Updated 07/09/2021

Hair loss is something just about every guy will deal with at some point in life. In fact, data from the journal Dermatologic Surgery shows that more than half of all men develop hair loss by the end of their forties.

Most men’s hair loss is caused by male pattern baldness, although several other health issues may also cause you to shed hair. 

If you’re starting to develop a receding hairline, bald patch or other signs of hair loss, you may have looked into treatments to restore your hair and stimulate growth.

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all option for stimulating hair growth overnight, several things can help your hair grow thicker and fuller, including medications and hair care products. 

We’ve listed the best options for stimulating hair growth below, along with the latest study data behind each one.

Hair Loss Medications

If you’re losing hair due to male pattern baldness, the most effective way to stop it from getting worse and stimulate hair growth is by using hair loss medication.

Currently, the FDA has approved two medications for treating hair loss in men: minoxidil, which is available over the counter as a topical treatment, and the prescription medication finasteride.

It is believed that minoxidil promotes hair growth directly by encouraging your hair follicles to enter the anagen, or growth, phase of the hair growth cycle

It also boosts blood flow to your scalp and hair follicles.

Finasteride is a little different. Instead of promoting growth directly, it works by reducing levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the hormone that shrinks your hair follicles and causes male pattern baldness to develop.

You can think of minoxidil as a growth promoting agent and finasteride as a shield that prevents your hair follicles from being damaged. 

Research shows that, when used together, these medications are highly effective at treating hair loss and stimulating hair growth.

For example, a 2015 study found that 94.1 percent of men with hair loss who used minoxidil and finasteride together experienced improvements over the course of 12 months.

In comparison, just 59 percent of the men who used minoxidil on its own and 80.5 percent of the men who used finasteride saw improvements.

Hims offer both finasteride and minoxidil online, with finasteride available following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. 

Hair Growth Shampoo

If you’re looking for a non-prescription product that can improve your hair growth, you may want to add a growth-promoting shampoo to your hair care routine. 

As we’ve discussed in our guide to men’s hair loss shampoo guide, several popular active ingredients in men’s shampoos have been linked to hair growth in studies. 

These include saw palmetto, ketoconazole, pyrithione zinc, niacin, biotin, rosemary oil, salicylic acid and numerous others. 

Hims’ Thickening Shampoo, for example, uses saw palmetto to shield hair follicles from the effects of scalp buildup. 

It’s important to note that the scientific evidence for most hair growth shampoo ingredients isn’t as strong as it is for medications like finasteride and minoxidil

While these ingredients are promising, it’s best to think of them as playing a supporting role in your hair’s health, growth and maintenance. 

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Vitamins and Minerals

Numerous vitamins and minerals play key roles in the process of growing and maintaining your hair, including iron, zinc and vitamins A, B12, C, D, E and B7 or biotin. 

While these vitamins and minerals don’t prevent male pattern baldness, many contribute to your hair’s strength, thickness and ability to grow at a consistent rate.

You can maintain your intake of vitamins by following a healthy, balanced diet (something we’ve covered in more detail below). 

Another option is to take a vitamin supplement that’s formulated for optimal hair growth, such as hims’ Biotin Gummy Vitamins

Our guide to the most important vitamins for a healthy head of hair goes into more detail about how you can promote consistent hair growth using vitamins and minerals.  

Growth-Promoting Foods

When it comes to your hair and skin, to a certain extent, you really are what you eat. Your hair is made up of numerous different proteins, including keratin. 

Many of these proteins are produced in your body using the nutrients you consume from food. 

Although there’s no evidence that a certain diet can prevent or reverse male pattern baldness, it is important to eat a balanced diet that gives your body the nutrients it needs for healthy hair. 

Good foods for hair growth include eggs, avocados, spinach, beans and soybeans, lean cuts of beef and lamb, fatty types of fish such as salmon and mackerel, oysters, sweet potatoes, seeds, nuts and berries.

We’ve gone into more detail about why these foods are good for hair health in our guides to what you should eat for healthy hair and foods that block DHT and may help hair loss.

In general, try to stick to a balanced diet that’s built around healthy, nutrient-rich foods. Your hair — and your body — will appreciate it. 

Healthy Habits & Lifestyle Changes

Just like your skin and nails, your hair grows best when you follow a healthy lifestyle that’s made up of good habits.

Simple things, such as limiting stress, can help you to avoid non-hormonal forms of hair loss like telogen effluvium, or stress hair loss.

Since research shows a possible link between smoking and hair loss, quitting smoking (if you’re a smoker) may also help to strengthen your hair and improve its appearance.

Other habits, such as avoiding overly harsh shampoo ingredients, limiting your use of firm hold styling products and allowing your hair to dry on its own rather than using a towel or blow dryer may also help prevent damage and help your hair grow to its full potential.

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Scalp Massage

Scalp massage is a technique that involves massaging your scalp, either with your fingers or a device, to stimulate blood flow and hair growth. 

While scientific research is mixed on its true effectiveness, a few studies have found that it may offer benefits.

For example, an article published in the journal Dermatology and Therapy looked at data from a survey of men who practiced standardized scalp massage, and just over two thirds reported hair loss stabilization or even regrowth.

Scalp massage may also offer other benefits, such as controlling stress, reducing heart rate and controlling blood pressure.

Platelet-Rich-Plasma (PRP)

Platelet-rich plasma therapy, or PRP, is a form of treatment that involves drawing your blood and separating the platelet-rich plasma from the other blood components.

This plasma is then injected into your scalp to improve the supply of nutrients and stimulate hair growth.

Some research has found that PRP might help to treat male pattern baldness and promote hair growth. 

For example, a 2019 review concluded that current studies show “promising” results for platelet-rich plasma as a potential hair loss treatment.

With this said, it’s worth pointing out that research into the effects of PRP for hair growth is still in its early stages.

It’s also important to note that PRP treatments aren’t exactly affordable. Sessions can cost as much $1,000 each, as we’ve discussed in our more detailed guide to PRP treatments for hair loss

Hair Transplant Surgery

Medications like minoxidil and finasteride can produce big improvements in your hair, especially when they’re combined with a hair-friendly diet and lifestyle. 

However, if you already have moderate or severe hair loss, it’s unlikely that hair loss medication will be able to completely restore your hairline.

If you’re aiming for a big improvement in the appearance of your hair, you may want to consider undergoing hair transplant surgery.

This type of procedure involves surgically grafting DHT-resistant hairs from the back and sides of your scalp onto your crown, hairline and other areas with noticeable hair thinning. 

Although there’s no hair regrowth per se, hair transplant surgery can create the appearance of hair growth and a fuller head of hair by moving hairs from the less visible parts of your scalp to the ones that you and others will notice.

The results are often impressive, although this type of surgery usually comes with a price tag in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

If you’re starting to lose your hair and want to take action, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the seemingly endless range of treatment options that are available.

Right now, the most effective options for stopping hair loss and stimulating hair growth are the medications minoxidil and finasteride.

Other options include hair loss shampoo, vitamins, growth-promoting foods and healthy habits that promote optimal hair growth. 

Many of these, including medication, shampoo and vitamins, can be accessed via hims’ selection of hair loss treatments

12 Sources

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.

  1. Rhodes, T., et al. (1998, December). Prevalence of male pattern hair loss in 18-49 year old men. Dermatologic Surgery. 24 (12), 1330-2. Retrieved from
  2. Badri, T., Nessel, T.A. & Kumar, D.D. (2021, April 13). Minoxidil. StatPearls. Retrieved from
  3. Zito, P.M., Bistas, K.G. & Syed, K. (2021, March 27). Finasteride. StatPearls. Retrieved from
  4. Hu, R., et al. (2015, September/October). 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
  5. Yang, F.-C., Zhang, Y. & Rheinstädter. (2014). The structure of people’s hair. PeerJ. 2, e619. Retrieved from
  6. Trüeb, R.M. (2003). Association between smoking and hair loss: another opportunity for health education against smoking? Dermatology. 206 (3), 189-91. Retrieved from
  7. How to Stop Damaging Your Hair. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  8. English, R.S., Jr. & Bazaresh, J.M. (2019, March). Self-Assessments of Standardized Scalp Massages for Androgenic Alopecia: Survey Results. Dermatology and Therapy. 9 (1), 167-178. Retrieved from
  9. Kim, I.-H., Kim, T.-Y. & Ko, Y.-W. (2016, October). The effect of a scalp massage on stress hormone, blood pressure, and heart rate of healthy female. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 28 (10), 2703–2707. Retrieved from
  10. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  11. Stevens, J. & Khetarpal, S. (2019, February). Platelet-rich plasma for androgenetic alopecia: A review of the literature and proposed treatment protocol. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology. 5 (1), 46–51. Retrieved from
  12. Almohanna, H. M., Ahmed, A. A., Tsatalis, J. P., & Tosti, A. (2019). The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatology and therapy, 9(1), 51–70.
Editorial Standards

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.