Fighting Hair Loss: Can Latisse Be Used on the Head?
Jager Weatherby on 29 Jul 2014 at 9:15am
With a RealSelf Worth It rating of 83%, Latisse has been proven to grow longer, thicker eyelashes in as little as four weeks. While the topical treatment needs to be applied consistently in order to maintain results, RealSelf users have certainly sung its praises. “I use Latisse every night and my lashes are incredible!” says annibella. “I get compliments on my ‘beautiful lashes’ constantly.”
The response to the treatment has been so positive, in fact, many consumers have wondered if Latisse would be effective on other parts of the body, as well. Questions about using Latisse to battle baldness have been coming in on RealSelf since 2009, less than six months after the product was approved by the FDA.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of noticeable hair loss by the age of 35. By the age of 50, approximately 85% of men will have significantly thinning hair. While it’s true that men are much more likely than women to see balding of the scalp, females are not immune to the problem, making up 40% of hair loss sufferers in America.
Given these statistics, it’s easy to see why finding a cure for baldness has worked its way to the forefront of aesthetic science (and become an increasingly popular topic on RealSelf). “According to the concept of survival of the fittest, having scalp hair [has always been] an evolutionary advantage," says Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Ahdout. "Instinctively or subconsciously, we believe that a man with hair carries good health, strength, and reproductive potential. A woman with a good head of hair carries the hormonal balance to be able to conceive a child. In addition, hair provided a thermal adaptation to combat extreme drops in temperature. I do believe that we are genetically wired to seek these qualities."
MORE: Latisse Proves Simple and Effective Eyelash Growth
While there are hair restoration treatments on the market, such a transplants and topical medications like Rogaine, many are expensive or leave something to be desired. Though Latisse has only been officially approved for eyelash growth, “physicians have been prescribing it off-label for hair regrowth on the eyebrows and the scalp” for years, says Dr. Ahdout. “Allergan, the company who brought Latisse to the market, started clinical trials back in 2011 to determine whether this product could [safely and effectively] be used as a treatment for men and women suffering hair loss.”
The not-so-good news is that the results of said trials have been inconclusive. “Preliminary findings suggest that this particular indication for hair loss on the scalp is not as promising as once hoped,” Dr. Ahdout adds.
That said, several RealSelf users have seen great success by applying Latisse directly to the head. “A prominent surgeon said that using Latisse on my scalp won’t do anything,” writes Joyeux Noel. “I beg to differ. The baby hairs around my temples have definitely grown longer, which makes my forehead seem not quite so high. I also feel that my hair is thicker. Whereas I used to notice a significant amount of hair falling out when I brushed or showered, I now notice very few hairs falling out.”
Should you feel the desire to experiment on your own dome, be aware that Latisse can only work if a hair follicle is present. Just like popular treatments Rogaine and Propecia, Latisse “only works on areas with hair growth. [It] does not create new hairs in bald areas,” explains New York oculoplastic surgeon Joseph Eviatar.
MORE: 6 Ways to Make Your Latisse Last Longer
Unlike Rogaine, however, which needs to be applied twice a day to the scalp, Latisse is only prescribed once daily to the eyelash area. It’s possible this could hold true if it’s approved for the scalp, but Dr. Ahdout warns of an increased difficulty of penetration due to the thickness of the skin.
There’s a chance Latisse could save you some application time, but it’s not looking like it could save you any money. While it may seem like a more cost-effective solution compared to a hair transplant (RealSelf average cost: $9,675), the price of Latisse will go up dramatically once you take into consideration the size of the area treated and the need for regular application. “A month’s supply costs up to $150 for use on the eyelashes,” says Dr. Ahdout. “Therefore extrapolating to the larger surface area of the scalp, one would assume that cost for this application may serve as a barrier to many looking for a remedy for hair loss.”
If money's no object, then Latisse has the potential to be a good solution, seeing as how the cost appears to be its biggest downside. Other than mild hyperpigmentation of the skin, an occasional side effect of using the product on the lashes, Latisse has no known complications. “This potential side effect is desired when Latisse is used to bring back pigment in patients with vitiligo (an autoimmune condition resulting in loss of pigmentation of the skin), however, it is undesired when used for the treatment of hair loss,” explains Dr. Ahdout. That said, “this risk is less so on the scalp compared to the eyelids [due to the thickness of the skin],” so this may not be a deterrent for patients looking to use to it on the head.
The moral of the story: Latisse has yet to become a solid solution for hair loss, but that doesn’t mean it won’t sometime in the near future. “Given the larger surface area of the scalp, studies will need to be conducted regarding the safety of use in this area,” Dr. Ahdout concludes.
Until then, might we suggest that you focus on growing those drool-worthy lashes? After all, the eyes (not the scalp) are the windows to the soul.
Photo credits: Some rights reserved by Fernando de Sousa; Courtesy of Latisse