When you consider hair envy, do you think of a specific color, a style your hairdresser can't replicate, or those curtain bangs you see on your favorite influencer? For me, hair envy is reserved for those with a thick mane that seemingly grows with ease and a hairline that doesn’t waver.
Like any woman, my relationship with my hair is complicated, and it has often been a source of insecurity. What was once thin and long became thinner and more sparse as my hairline started to show gaps in my twenties. I guess there is some relief in knowing that I’m not the only woman to experience this. The causes for hair loss and hair thinning vary, but approximately 40 percent of women in the United States experience some form of it. Even so, hair loss can be distressing.
I always knew that voluminous locks were not in the genetic cards for me, but what I didn’t know was that, by my mid-twenties, I would notice more of my scalp peeking through than I would’ve liked. Over the years, I’ve seemingly tried it all. Silk pillowcases and scalp massagers? Been there. Changing my shampoo and reducing tight hairstyles? Done that. Not coloring my hair in hopes that it would improve the health? Tried that, too. It was a years-long trial and error process that led me to consider a different approach. Ahead of my thirtieth birthday this year, I decided it was time to put aside the fill-in powder in favor of a more permanent solution.
Full disclosure: As a beauty editor, I have the privilege of regularly trying new beauty products, but few deliveries arrive at my doorstep that are as spot-on to my personal needs as a package I received from BosleyMD earlier this summer. When the bottle of Women’s Extra Strength Minoxidil 5% Topical Foam came in the mail, I was intrigued but skeptical. Despite knowing that certain types of hair thinning can be treated, I still had my own preconceived notions about using a product I previously considered a saving grace for men experiencing balding.
Putting those assumptions aside, the brand has a 45-year track record and is known for restoring hair, so who was I to not try it? Moreover, what did I have to lose?Embedded content: https://youtu.be/NO1KkTmoSMI
First, What Is Minoxidil?
“Minoxidil belongs to a class of drugs known as vasodilators and is used to help hair growth in the treatment of baldness,” explains Gretchen Friese, a BosleyMD certified trichologist, when I inquired about the science behind the brand. The star ingredient of the foaming topical product, minoxidil is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat hair loss in men and women. In 1988, the FDA approved 2 percent topical minoxidil as a treatment for androgenetic alopecia (read: male pattern baldness) in men. The solution was known by the brand name Rogaine. By 1992, the agency had approved the formula for the treatment of female pattern hair loss. And, since then, more potent renditions — in the form of a 5 percent solution and 5 percent foam — have come to market.
“The exact reason that minoxidil works is not fully understood, but, as a vasodilator, it widens the blood vessels which delivers more oxygen-rich blood to the hair follicles,” Friese shares. “It also helps increase the size of hair follicles, which promotes the growth of thicker, stronger hairs.” Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get started.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
I knew going in that the root cause of my hair thinning is largely genetic, as I’ve seen other women in my family with manes similar to mine. But I also realized that my lifestyle could be to blame. Stress, bad sleep hygiene, and, at times, poor dietary decisions likely played a role, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Friese agreed that these habits don’t help matters, but there was one more thing I wasn’t considering: my scalp. “A good hair care routine that focuses on creating a healthy scalp environment is the first place to start,” she shares.
Friese notes that women and men experience hair loss differently, which is why my hair concerns didn’t look like what I expected. “In men, hair loss starts in the front of the head and recedes to the back until they go bald,” she explains. “Women lose hair from all over their head that starts at the part line.” This so-called ‘diffuse hair loss’ is exactly what I was experiencing. “The hair at the temples may also recede in women,” she adds.
So, while women are less likely to go completely bald than men, they “may have a lot of thinning throughout the hair,” Friese says. As such, I was instructed to continue the use of my scalp massager and hair supplements.
My Minoxidil Experience & Results
Adding the minoxidil foam to my nightly routine was a simple process. It takes less than five minutes to apply, and the cleanup is as minimal as washing your hands. As per the instructions, I diligently filled my product cap with foam every evening and would use my fingertips to apply it in my areas of concern: the hairline, the crown of the head, and the temples.
Because the timeline for results depends on the individual (generally about two months to see some improvement), I wasn’t expecting to see any new hairs spring up for a while. It took about 45 days to notice a few new baby hairs sprout up and frame my face. Once I realized that the product was working, I spent more time analyzing each area, waiting for my hair to fill in and for my ponytail to become thicker. Although this product does not always enhance the thickness of the tresses, the idea of having more hair in general was enough to keep me motivated. Around the two-month mark, I noticed the area that I was most concerned with — my temples — having a darker hue as the spotty areas began to fill in on their own.
Minoxidil works for me, but I want to address that the experience isn’t without its cons. Although the foam goes on clear and has a very light consistency, I noticed my hair had a crispy and lackluster texture at the roots when I woke up in the morning. This wasn’t a big deterrent since the majority of my interactions were over Zoom. But, had I needed to leave home, I would have wanted to wash my hair to make it look clean.
My other concern was the routine. If I had stopped applying it or skipped a few days accidentally, would that mess up my progress? According to Friese, the product “will not cause permanent regrowth of scalp hair, so you must continue using it every day to keep the regrown hair.” Basically, if I wanted my hair to grow continuously, I had to maintain the routine. As my robust vanity implies, I love a good regimen, but, when initial results take a while to appear, it can be hard to trust the process and not give up.
Will I Keep Using Minoxidil?
Considering the visibility of the results after just two months of minoxidil use and the knowledge that my hair thinning concerns can be treated with a topical product, I am determined to continue using it to maintain my growth. I realize that it is both a time and financial commitment, but, while the product was gifted at first, I will gladly repurchase it and recommend it to others experiencing similar issues. Time will tell if my hair becomes thicker and my spots continue to fill in more. I am optimistic, and, long term, I know there are other non-surgical hair restoration treatments I can consider in my quest for my own kind of hair envy.
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