If you’re unsure about how hair loss treatments work, or wondering how long your new hair loss treatment will take to get results, you’re not alone.
Minoxidil, Finasteride tablets and topical Finasteride are all proven and highly effective hair loss treatments, and if you’ve recently started using one of them to treat your hair loss, you’ve made a well-educated choice!
We’re all about transparency here at Freshman, and that’s why we want to make sure that guys using hair loss treatments know exactly what to expect on their hair loss journey.
Normal hair grows approximately 1.25 cm per month, so hair regrowth with our proven treatments also takes time. You may need to use the treatments 3-4 months before you see results, and the full results can usually be expected after 9-12 months.
Take a look at timelines for hair loss treatments below, and remember: you’re likely to get the best results by following the guidelines and directions of your treatment.
Minoxidil: how long does it take to see results?
Minoxidil solution is applied directly onto your dry scalp twice daily (once in the morning and once at night), using a dropper. It’s important to apply the Minoxidil solution directly onto the skin of the scalp, where it gets absorbed into the hair follicles, rather than onto the hair itself. For this reason topical solutions tend to work better than sprays or foams.
In order to see great results from Minoxidil, it’s important that you take the treatment as stated in the guidelines. Taking more than the guideline does of hair loss treatments will not help you see results any faster, and may increase the risk of side effects, such as skin irritation.
Minoxidil helps to reactivate and revitalise shrunken hair follicles and increases their size. It’s most effective in the early-to-mid stages of hair loss, when you still have hair in the affected areas, albeit thinning.
Minoxidil is understood to work by dilating the blood vessels around hair follicles, therefore increasing the nutrient supply to the follicles. With continued use, the hair follicles gain greater volume, which helps prevent further hair loss and promotes the re-growth of longer and thicker hairs.
Months 1 – 2
When first starting a treatment of Minoxidil, it’s very common to experience temporary hair ‘shedding’ during the first 1-2 months of your treatment. This is very much temporary and nothing to be concerned about.
Temporary hair shedding is actually a great sign that your Freshman treatment is starting to work. Each hair has its own life cycle, which consists of three distinct stages — Anagen, Catagen and Telogen. The first phase of the hair cycle is the ‘Anagen’ phase, or the ‘growing’ phase.
When you start your Freshman treatment, your natural hair growth cycle gets reset, and moves into the Anagen phase. In other words, your hair follicles are now working overtime, growing newer and stronger hairs. This can ‘push out’ some of the older hairs that are in the ‘Telogen’ or resting phase – hairs that were due to fall out soon anyway. When the old hairs in the resting phase are replaced by newer, stronger hairs, this results in hair shedding.
Please rest assured that this is temporary and usually stops after 1-2 months of treatment. We’ve prepared a helpful article about the differences between hair loss and hair shedding that you can read here.
Most men don’t see any significant results in their first month of using Minoxidil, but most should see some kind of improvement towards the end of the second month of taking the treatment. A 2004 study showed that 14 percent of men taking minoxidil reported noticeable improvements in the first month, whereas 66 percent did by the end of month 2.
Months 3 – 4
A lot of guys taking Minoxidil start to really see visible results at the 3 or 4-month mark, including a slowing down of hair loss and hair regrowth.
After three or four months men can expect to start seeing lots of small hairs appearing in the affected areas, similar to baby hairs. These hairs should get thicker and darker over time, and become like your other hairs. In one scientific study conducted by the FDA, 26 percent of men who took even a low-strength Minoxidil 2% solution reported moderate to dense hair regrowth after four months. Higher concentrations of Minoxidil of around 5% appear to be more effective than concentrations around 2%, but they are not twice as effective. There is diminishing effectiveness as the concentration increases.
If you don’t see any significant results after using Minoxidil for three or four months, don’t panic. Minoxidil can sometimes take up to six months to show any results at all, as one 2015 study points out.
It’s also worth pointing out that Minoxidil is most effective around the ‘crown’ and top of the head, and less effective around the front of the head and hairline. You should consider Minoxidil as a treatment with potential benefits for strengthening hair on your hairline, rather than as a guaranteed way to regrow your hairline. The most effective treatment for stopping hair loss and regrowing hair along the hairline is Finasteride – read on below to learn more.
Months 5 – 6 – onwards
By this point, most guys taking Minoxidil should start to see a significant improvement in their hair health, including less hair falling out, new hairs growing in the affected areas and overall improved thickness of the hair. In the FDA study mentioned above, Minoxidil was judged to be effective in encouraging hair regrowth in over 60% of all cases. The full results of the treatment can be expected around 9-12 months.
Oral Finasteride tablets and Topical Finasteride: how long does it take to see results?
Finasteride is considered to be the ‘gold standard’ in treating male pattern baldness, and for good reason: it is effective for up to 90% of men. Finasteride is usually taken as a 1mg tablet, once per day, or as a topical solution, applied to the scalp with a dropper once or twice per day depending on the concentration of the active ingredient Finasteride.
Some guys are concerned about the perceived risk of side effects of the oral Finasteride tablet, which affect approximately 2.8% of guys taking the oral tablet treatment. Topical Finasteride has many of the benefits of oral Finasteride tablets, but without the same risk of side effects. This has led to a surge in popularity of Topical Finasteride treatments in recent years. You can read the Freshman guide to Topical Finasteride here.
In order to see the right results from Finasteride, both oral and topical, it’s important to take the treatment as stated in the guidelines. Taking more than the guideline does of either form of the treatment will not bring faster results, and may increase the risk of unwanted side effects.
Finasteride is a category of medicine called a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. It works by stopping testosterone (a male sex hormone) turning into another hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is responsible for thinner, weaker hair follicles. With consistent use, Finasteride can help to reactivate and revitalise shrunken hair follicles, increasing their size, and helping you to grow thicker, stronger and overall healthier hair. It helps to stop your hair loss from progressing and is also very effective at regrowing hair.
Similarly to Minoxidil, Finasteride is most effective in the early-to-mid stages of hair loss. If you have large areas of full baldness, it is unlikely that Finasteride will help to regrow hair in these areas, as the hair follicles have most likely died here.
Months 1 – 2
When you first start to treat your hair loss with Finasteride, it is very common to experience increased hair shedding during the first two months of the treatment. Similarly to hair shedding with Minoxidil, this is perfectly normal, very much temporary and nothing to be concerned about. In fact, it is a great indication that your Finasteride treatment is starting to work.
When you first start your Finasteride treatment, hair follicles are stimulated to enter into the Anagen or ‘growing’ phase. This can lead to some old hairs falling out, hairs that were due to fall out soon anyway. When these old hairs in the resting phase fall out or ‘shed’, they are replaced by newer and stronger hairs. This is very much temporary, and usually stops in the second month of treatment.
You’re unlikely to see much visible regrowth during the first two months of treatment, but don’t be discouraged. The key to getting great results is consistency and continuation of your treatment cycle.
Months 3 – 4
Most guys using Finasteride tablets or topical Finasteride solution will start to see strong visible results after 3 – 4 months. They would notice fewer or no hairs falling out throughout the day, and finding fewer loose hairs in the shower and on the pillow in the morning.
Around this time guys are likely to start seeing signs of hair regrowth. In one 2018 study, 26% of men taking finasteride improved within 3 months. These are the early stages of hair regrowth with Finasteride, and you can expect to see small, thin hairs appearing at the top of the head, and also along the hairline. These hairs should get thicker and significantly darker over time, and eventually become like your other hairs after 9 – 12 months.
If you don’t see any significant results from Finasteride after 3 – 4 months, don’t give up yet. We’re all different and our bodies can react differently to the same treatment. Some guys will only start to see the regrowth of hair after around 6 months of oral Finasteride or topical Finasteride treatment. The key is to stay consistent and be patient. Since hair regrowth is a gradual process, we recommend taking regular photos of your hair every 1-2 months during the treatment. This is by far the best way to keep track of your progress and stay motivated. Remember, Finasteride has been shown to be effective for up to 9 out of 10 guys!
Unlike Minoxidil, which is most effective around the ‘crown’ and top of the head, Finasteride is effective all over the head including the hairline.
Months 5 – 6 – onwards
This is usually the period when most guys will start to see the full effects of their Finasteride treatment. They can expect to see little to no hair falling out and a significant improvement in new hair growth and overall thickness. This is because your hair follicles generally require at least this amount of time to produce new, healthy hairs. You can expect to see the full results of your Finasteride treatment after 12-15 months. In clinical trials conducted two years after taking finasteride, 83% of men in the trial showed no further hair loss.
Whether you are taking Minoxidil, Finasteride tablets, or topical Finasteride, it’s important to remember that even if you don’t see the results that you’re looking for with your hair treatment after a few months you shouldn’t stop taking your treatment, as it usually takes a while to see results.
What happens if I miss an application?
Nothing will happen if you miss a couple of days of treatment – although you should try and avoid this if possible. If you accidentally miss a couple of days at any point, just carry on as normal, and don’t take more to make up for missed days. Taking more will not speed up results, and may increase the risk of side effects. When it comes to using these hair loss treatments, consistency is key to seeing great results.
What happens if I don’t see any results?
Not everybody who uses hair loss treatments will see results. Minoxidil is effective for up to 70% of guys, and oral and topical Finasteride is effective for up to 90% of guys. If you do not see any improvements in your hair loss after 6 months, you should reach out to your Freshman clinical team to discuss whether you should stop the treatment.
If you have any questions at all about hair loss treatments, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Freshman.