One day I noticed that the hair at my temples was receding. Although my husband insisted that it was invisible to all but me, I hot-tailed it to the dermatologist. (Hypochondriac that I am, I wondered immediately if I had inadvertently come into contact with radiation, causing my hair to fall out.) The dermatologist looked at me, asked me my age and then patiently explained that hair thins as we get older. So, I was on the inevitable road to a blue rinse. Radiation poisoning was almost preferable. Since then, via my website truthinaging.com, I have researched a host of products for promoting hair growth and hair health—I’m pleased to say that many of them work.
The outright hero has been Folligen Hair & Scalp Nutrient Cream ($22; folligen.com). Made by Skin Biology, this cream is an alarmingly turquoise lotion that is single-handedly responsible for my hair re-growth. And I don’t mean some wispy peach fuzz. Skin Biology claims that it actually makes the hair follicle grow strong and thick and that has certainly been my experience (without any of the scalp irritation I’ve experienced with other products). Folligen uses copper peptides, which are widely used to heal wounds. On hair, they work by stimulating the cells of the hair follicles. This speeds up the growth cycle, cutting the growth time of new hair in half to just six weeks. They can prevent hair loss due to chemotherapy if used beforehand, as well as helping it grow back post treatment. At under $25, it is one of the bargains of the decade—especially because it works well for eyelash and eyebrow growth as well.
I have also had success with the much more expensive Revitalash Hair ($180; revitalash.com). The active ingredient here is prostaglandin, the same used in Revitaliah’s eyelash growth product. Laboratory tests on animals corroborate my results, and research suggests it works by prolonging the anagen phase in the hair growth cycle.
One you’ve got your hair growing back, what are the best ways to keep it thick, strong and healthy? A mask can really help, providing it is packed with the right ingredients. An ingredient to look out for is hexapeptide-11. Studies have shown that it regulates the androgen receptor in the way that testosterone can, helping with hair re-growth. Pearl powder is another intriguing ingredient for hair care. The thing that makes pearls, well, pearly is called conchilion and it acts like the protein keratin (which is found in skin, bones and hair). Both of these are in Kronos Phyx Overnight Repair Mask ($105; dermstore.com). I use this weekly and I think it makes my hair seem thicker without any of those time-consuming volumizing tricks. Much to my surprise, it is well worth the hefty price tag —and a little goes a long way.
A more eccentric, but definitely cheaper, option is emu oil – yep, fat from a large, flightless bird. I use it once a week, leaving it on for 15 minutes before shampooing. Research on mice showed that emu oil does help hair to grow and for balding men, emu oil is said to inhibit 5 alpha reductase—a body chemical that’s responsible for the conversion of testosterone into DHT, which provokes male-pattern baldness.
As far as shampoo and conditioners go, I have been impressed by Nutra-Lift’s line ($20 and $10, respectively; nutralift.com). The conditioner bottle says, “thicker, fuller, healthy, silky hair.” And it really delivers. There are some useful ingredients that are rarely seen in conditioners: moisturizing hyaluronic acid, antioxidant Co Q10 and liposomes. The shampoo has an aloe vera base, rather than water, and it has vitamin C and a host of plant extracts. These two are hair care products that I’d be willing to rub into my face.