Thinning hair. I had a lifetime of...
20 Jan 2016
3 months post
Thinning hair. I had a lifetime of handfuls of hair loss, but it always grew in at about the same rate, so it didn't matter. At some point it was no longer growing back at the same rate. I realised how bad it was when I found myself trying to style my hair to cover thinning at the temples.
Minoxidil 5%: 1ml morning and 1ml at night, starting in Oct 2015. You use a measured dropper to apply it and it's a clear liquid, like water. I did that for about a month, but noticed hair growth elsewhere (see 'The side effects' below), so cut it down to just once a day in the morning. I concentrate on applying it at the temples and along the top at the hairline, then apply the rest back further.
The side effects:
Firstly, I didn't get some of the things I read about: no greasy hair, no smell, no dandruff.
Hair growth elsewhere is the biggest side effect: both new hair appearing plus existing hair growing longer/faster. Even though it's applied topically, obviously the chemical does get into your system. I don't have a lot of body or facial hair, so it's not really visible (it sounds as if it SHOULD be visible when you read the below, but it's really not). But if you were prone to, say, thick dark body or facial hair, I expect it might be unacceptable.
Types of hair growth:
* Peach fuzz on my face. Cheeks, chin, ears, neck, a little on my forehead. It isn't visible to others, but if it is, it's well within the normal range. Having said that, there WAS enough (and it WAS long enough) for me to take my epilator to it (ouch!). I included a photo showing how much I took off my face.
* More hair growing on my forearms and the back of my hands. They are very fine hairs and weirdly, they grow in all directions instead of neatly flat.
* The existing hair on my head grows REALLY fast (I know this because I dye it: I couldn't really go more than 5 weeks before it needed colouring. Normally I can go 8 weeks).
I assume that some of those facial/body hairs will get thicker and less peach-fuzzy over time, so I can see that becoming an issue if that's the case.
It's is genuinely hard to get quality before and after comparisons because of lighting/angles/hairstyles etc, but I'm pretty sure it's working for me.
I see new baby-soft hair at my temples (interestingly, the new hair there is dark, while my 'normal' hair growth is almost completely silver-grey now) and I no longer have to worry about hiding that thinness around the front of my hairline. My hair in general looks and feels thicker which I am optimistically assuming is due to more growth at the roots. And I do know it's definitely growing faster than it was, which I guess is a good thing also.
So yeah, definitely worth it after 3 months. I'd reconsider if the facial/body hair started getting thick and visible, but for now, it's no big deal. I'm planning to continue until the hair at my temples looks and feels like 'normal proper hair' vs 'soft baby hairs'.
4 months post
16 Feb 2016
4 months post
A quick update to say this:
While I saw marked improvements over the first 3 months (per the photos), I was still shedding like a walking hairball. That was pretty normal to me from a pretty young age: My hair would fall out around the house, when I ran my fingers through it, on my favourite spot on the couch, and always a handful in the drain when I washed it. The issue in the last few years is that it obviously wasn't growing BACK as fast.
So the improvement I saw in the first three months was new growth and it was DESPITE the fact that I was still losing as much as ever.
In the last 3-4 weeks, my hair loss has slowed to almost nothing. I'm not sure if this is just part of the normal hair growth cycle and the shedding will pick up again, but just pointing it out to say that if this is part of minoxidil doing its thing and my mad shedding is done for real, it's taken 3.5 to 4 months for the hair loss to slow.
So now I'm getting a double whammy of new hair growth PLUS no shedding. Looking forward to seeing what that actually looks like (though honestly, I'm really happy with where my hair is at now, so anything more is a bonus).
Pics are before starting vs now (wow!), and then last month vs now. I'm still seeing visible improvement around the hairline in the last month. In particular right at the top where my hair looks thicker and less 'peach-fuzzy'.
Hair growth elsewhere is okay: I imagine it's slowed, but I can't be sure (maybe I'm just getting used to it). None of it is noticeable to others, and I've not felt the need to deal with any extra hair on my face since last month, so it's obviously nothing I'm worrying about.
9 months of use
20 Jul 2016
9 months post
I was going to quit using Minoxidil (1 ml of 5% once a day in the morning) at about 6 months to see what happened, but after I stopped for a couple of weeks, I started shedding again and it scared me, so I started again.
In the last two months, I have started shedding again with a vengeance. I wonder if interrupting the use may have caused that. I've also been fiddling a little with biotin & zinc and thought that might have had an impact. I googled and found that other users have also reported periods of (re)shedding at 9-12 months on Minoxidil and it's normal, so I'm trying not to worry too much about it.
A new hairdresser yesterday complimented me on my 'great head of hair'. I was all 'what? me?' She said it was strong and there was a lot of it. No-one has EVER said that to me, so yay. Though after she washed it she ALSO asked if I usually shed a lot in a bit of a worried voice. So yeah, it's some pretty serious shedding for her to ask about it. Probably not as bad as my WORST, but still :(.
The 'side effect' hair growth has disappeared. That means no more lovely long lashes, but also no more noticeable peach fuzz on my face or other body parts. Not sure if that's a good sign, really. Maybe things are just 'settling'. Hoping I'm not going backwards.
As for how my hair LOOKS, I'd say that the hair at my temples (the primary areas I wanted to address) looks lighter than at 4 months, which is pretty disappointing. I do seem to have MORE hair overall (I put it up in a comb pretty frequently and there definitely seems to be more bulk).
Tempted to go back to applying it twice a day (stopped it because of excessive hair growth elsewhere), but will stick with this until 12 months and see what happens.
About 18 months on
It's been about 18-19 months now and I'm still using 5% minoxidil every day: 1ml every morning. I generally use half on each side around the temples where it's thinnest.
I said in my original review that I would stop after a certain point to see what would happen, but to be honest, I'm too scared to stop because I'm pretty sure I will go back to how it was before (I was hoping I might keep some results and wanted to test that, but nope: too scared to go backwards :)).
My hair loss is up and down but nothing like the scary handfuls before (I've been monitoring it, nothing scientific, but I know when it's more or less). I comb it into the sink morning and night and see how much is there, and there is that thing where you feel hairs falling out onto your arm or neck and if I comb through with my fingers, I go through periods where I get quite a lot coming out that way vs hardly any.
But whatever hair I'm losing, the growth or retention is making up for it so the overall amount and look of the hair isn't being impacted which is great.
Very pleased with the results.