Conventional active substances in hair growth products
The currently most widely used substance to promote hair growth is Minoxidil.
Minoxidil was originally developed to lower blood pressure and it is not exactly known how it helps against hair loss. It is approved as an externally applied hair growth product because it has shown to increase hair growth as a side effect in high blood pressure patients. Minoxidil can increase hair growth and does work in many cases. The results are best if only small areas of the scalp are affected and if the hair loss problem is relatively recent.
Known possible side effects of Minoxidil are, among others:
- Skin irritation
- Inflammation of the skin
- Hair growth in unintended places (hypertrichosis)
- Increased heart rate
Finasterid can only be used for men and has proven to be effective against hair loss. In Germany, Finasterid is a prescription-only drug, which blocks the enzyme 5-Alpha-Reductase and was initially used for prostate cancer. It is considered a synthetic steroid hormone. Finasterid prevents the metabolization of testosterone into Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which attacks the hair roots. It is only effective during active therapy – as soon it is discontinued the hair loss problem will return.
Known possible side effects of Finasterid in men are:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Breast growth
- The danger of developing reast cancer can’t be excluded according to the British “Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency” (MHRA).
Dutasterid works in a similar fashion as Finasterid.
Other active substances used in hair growth products:
Besides Minoxidil and Finasterid, several other substance are used in hair growth products. However, there is not enough scientific data available today to assess the long term effectiveness of these other substances:
- Ethinylestradiol and Cyproterone
- Estradiol / Alfatradiol / Alfatradiol
- Zinc Supplements
- Cystin, Thiamin, B-Vitamins, Biotin and Yeast