A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Is better hair in a bottle too good to be true?

Tray full of shampoo, conditioner and other hair products - Myths about hair products

Hair products that claim to make your hair grow or reduce gray aren’t created equal.

Maybe you’re trying to grow your hair after a bad haircut or you’re annoyed that gray hairs keep popping up each time you pull them out.

Whatever the trouble with your tresses, there are hair products on the market that claim they can make your hair grow longer and thicker or reduce the appearance of gray hair.

Dr. Lawrence Scherrer, a Marshfield Clinic dermatologist, weighed in on whether better hair really can come from a bottle.

Skip vitamins that promise longer hair

Slow hair growth may be a side effect of a chronic illness, thyroid condition or nutrient deficiency. Physical stress like childbirth or emotional stress can temporarily put a large portion of your hair follicles into a non-growth phase. You may notice that your hair isn’t growing or that you’re shedding more hair than usual. Hair growth rate also slows with age.

Unfortunately, vitamins that encourage hair and nail growth likely won’t make your hair grow faster.

“I don’t encourage buying them,” Scherrer said. “Unless you have a vitamin deficiency, you’re spending a lot of money on a product that’s probably doing nothing.”

Rogaine is best for thinning hair

The same health problems responsible for slow hair growth can cause thinning hair. Some thinning is temporary, including the kind that occurs after childbirth or a major illness. Your hair starts to regrow normally shortly after the stressful period ends. However, a change in routine won’t fix hereditary hair loss or the natural process of individual strands growing in thinner as you age.

Minoxidil (brand name Rogaine) is an effective over-the-counter remedy for thinning hair. Scherrer recommends using Rogaine foam with 5 percent minoxidil for best results.

Rogaine stimulates follicles so individual strands come back thicker and grow for a longer period of time,” Scherrer said.

Natural hair regrowth alternatives likely won’t harm your scalp or cause health problems, but they’re not proven to work as well as Rogaine.

Gray-reducing shampoos are good for temporary results

“Graying early in life probably is an inherited trait,” Scherrer said. “It isn’t a sign of any medical issue.”

Some people start seeing gray hair in their teens, but that doesn’t always mean they have a full head of gray hair early in life.

If you don’t like your gray hair, you may be curious about gray-reducing shampoos to restore your natural color. These hair products work by gradually dying your hair to create a subtle, blended appearance. Your hair color fades if you don’t keep using the shampoo, and it won’t prevent gray in new hair growth. You have to keep using it to maintain your results.

Medication to prevent gray hair is a long way off, but scientists may be getting closer.

“Some people treated with cancer medications that stimulate their immune systems have noticed their gray hair turning dark again,” Scherrer said. “It’s not practical to treat people with these medications just to change their hair color, but it provides scientists another point to research. Eventually there may be a medication that can return hair to its original color.”

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  1. Mar 12, 2018
    • Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor Mar 13, 2018

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