Androgenetic Alopecia, otherwise known as male pattern baldness, affects millions of people across the country. While most chalk their baldness up to genetics, they fail to recognize that the root cause of hair loss is dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. DHT is a chemical derivative of testosterone that is the main cause of hair loss in both men and women. DHT blockers can be used to help alleviate its effects.
Baldness in the United States
Odds are, you could name a few men that suffer from male pattern baldness off the top of your head. In fact, it should be pretty easy. Over 50 million men in the United States suffer from hair loss, 35 million of which suffer from male pattern baldness. Included in this figure are men 50 and over, over half of which suffer hair loss.
Although baldness is typically associated with older men, younger men can also be affected by male pattern baldness. In fact, 25% of men will begin suffering some sort of hair loss before the age of 21. That number drastically increases by the age of 35, where two-thirds of men will suffer some sort of hair loss.
Additionally, it’s not just men who are at risk. Although male pattern hair loss is the term commonly associated with baldness, hair loss can affect approximately half of women.
What is DHT?
Before understanding the various aspects of a DHT blocker, it’s important first to answer the question, “What is DHT?” Answering this question will help to explain why baldness occurs in the first place.
According to the Belgravia Centre, DHT is a chemical derivative of testosterone. The chemical is created when androgen interacts with the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme after it has metabolized. There are pros and cons to DHT. As children, DHT is a necessary component to help fuel growth and development. But in adult life, DHT carries many negative effects.
During pre-adult life, DHT is responsible for the developing male characteristics such as Adam’s apples and facial hair. But as men age, testosterone replaces DHT as the essential component for building protein and bones, metabolizing carbohydrates, and producing blood cells. Without anything to do, DHT then begins to have detrimental effects on the body, all of which become more common as men age.
Negative effects caused by DHT in later stages of life include acne, an enlarged prostate, and baldness. DHT causes baldness because it directly prohibits hair follicles from producing hair. DHT completely cuts off the vitamins, minerals, and proteins that are needed to stimulate hair growth in a follicle. This is similar to a plant without water. Eventually, the follicles shrink without the nutrients needed to survive.
As the follicle shrinks, hair production slows down. This causes thinning hair, which is often the first sign that someone is suffering from male pattern baldness. Eventually, the follicle will stop hair production completely, and no hairs will emerge at all.
The odds are that at this point, you’re wondering how this plays into the “genetics” aspect of baldness. Everyone has heard that baldness is hereditary, and certain men are predisposed to it while others are not.
Men that are predisposed to baldness have hair follicles that are more sensitive to DHT. As DHT becomes a bigger issue with age, there’s a greater chance that men will lose their hair. So, while genes don’t cause baldness directly, they do indicate who is at a greater risk of suffering from male pattern baldness.
What are DHT Blockers?
Hair loss and balding can be a big blow to someone’s self-esteem. In fact, of balding men, over 90% indicated that losing their hair was their primary concern. Six out of every ten balding males surveyed that they would rather have more hair than money or friendship. There has to be a solution, right?
The name “DHT Blocker” is fairly self-explanatory. These products come in a variety of forms, all of which aim to prevent DHT from entering the hair follicle. Depending on which product you purchase, a DHT blocker can
- Directly lower the amount of DHT produced in the body
- Directly lower the amount of 5-alpha-reductase produced in the body
- Block DHT from entering the hair follicles
- Reduce cholesterol
- Cleanse the scalp and remove unnecessary sebum
To date, there have only been two medicinal DHT blockers approved by the FDA, known as Rogaine and Propecia. Ironically, the main ingredient in Propecia, finasteride, was originally used as a treatment for enlarged prostates.
Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, Joshua Zeichner, said that finasteride could be an effective way to regenerate hair growth. Finasteride blocks DHT by targeting 5-alpha-reductase. In fact, just one milligram of finasteride has been shown to reduce DHT levels by up to 60%.
In addition, over 85% of the men taking the drug reported that their hair loss had stopped. Of those surveyed, 65% of men that took finasteride reported that they actually began re-growing their hair.
DHT Blocker Side Effects
DHT blocker side effects are not common, but they will affect individuals from time to time. Before beginning a DHT blocker regiment, you should consult with your doctor to discuss possible side effects. Your doctor will have a better understanding of your entire health history and how it reacts to a certain medication or product that you’re taking.
You’ll want to definitely consult your doctor if you are considering taking a drug that will stop the production of DHT. Although DHT doesn’t serve many purposes later in life, chemically altering your body could have an impact in other ways. Furthermore, you may not be able to obtain some of these drugs without a doctor’s prescription.
Rogaine can be purchased over the counter but Propecia cannot. Rogaine is safe for use in women. Propecia, on the other hand, should not be used by women, adolescents, or children.
DHT blockers may not interact well with other medications, which is why it is again important to consult your doctor before beginning a new medication. Those who will soon have a blood test for prostate-specific antigen should not take any medication meant to block DHT. Additionally, those with heart problems should consult their doctor before use.
Furthermore, if you are allergic to minoxidil, have high blood pressure, have psoriasis, or have any other scalp condition, you should not use over-the-counter Rogaine. This also goes for those who take blood pressure medication, something frequently used by older males. DHT blockers should not be used by those under the age of 18 or older than 65.
In addition to consulting your doctor, you should only use over-the-counter products that have been recommended and endorsed by healthcare professionals. Not only will this protect your health, but it will protect your wallet as well. There are many products that claim to fight balding and hair loss when in reality they don’t do much of anything at all.
Rogaine and Propecia have not been studied long-term, which is worth considering before beginning to use the product. Since scientists have yet to determine what happens to the body after years of using the product, you’ll be taking a risk at the expense of your hair.
Less than 1% of men who took Propecia reported side effects, including
- Reduced libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Inconsistent ejaculations
- An increase in hepatic enzymes
- Pain in the testicles
There are also side effects caused by Rogaine as well. Rogaine is a DHT blocker that is applied topically. Like Propecia, the number of patients who suffered side effects is very minimal. Those side effects included
- An increase in skin sensitivity and reactions, such as acne and dermatitis
- Itchy eyes
- Increased growth in facial hair
- Increased hair loss
Again, these drugs can be very serious, and you should consult your doctor before using them. Other products, such as natural alternatives or DHT blocking shampoos, may be milder and not cause as many side effects.
Best DHT Blockers
There are a number of DHT blockers available. Like anything, there are good products and bad products. A DHT blocker can help significantly slow down and reduce the effects of male pattern baldness. You may have to try numerous different products before you find a DHT blocker that is effective for you. To find the best DHT blocker, consider starting with the list below.
DHT Blocker Shampoo
The ability to purchase a DHT Blocker Shampoo over-the-counter has become increasingly popular over the last few years. The shampoos that are available for purchase will vary. Some shampoos contain chemicals that scientists claim to reduce the effects of DHT, while others contain natural oils and plant extracts that claim to stop hair loss.
While some of these shampoos are effective, it’s important that you be careful when selecting a shampoo. Many of these shampoos are gimmicks that will do nothing to block DHT. The main problem with DHT blocking shampoos is that many have not undergone significant medical testing. Even those that contain chemicals intended to block DHT have not been scientifically proven to do so.
While it’s possible that some scientific studies have indicated these ingredients could help block DHT or slow hair loss, the tests have not been proven to the standards of the Food and Drug Administration. When searching for a shampoo that will block DHT, keep an eye out for those that contain ketoconazole and biotin.
Ketoconazole has been shown to disrupt DHT in the scalp. Biotin, on the other hand, has been connected to hair growth. When the two are combined in shampoo, some users may see a slowing down or reversal of their hair loss. Many shampoos also often contain vitamins that are essential to hair health and growth.
If you’re looking for a shampoo that will work solely to block DHT, anything with ketoconazole would be your best bet. However, another option would be to use your shampoo more as a hair growth treatment that could be coupled with another medication or solution that would block DHT. And, if your shampoo ended up blocking a bit of DHT in the scalp, that would be an added benefit.
When searching for a DHT blocker shampoo, you’ll also likely see many with natural ingredients that have been scientifically studied and proven to help with male pattern baldness. For example, some shampoos contain pumpkin seed oil, which has been shown to increase hair growth by as much as 40% over a six-month period.
Other shampoos may contain saw palmetto, which could also help lower DHT levels. One study from over 15 years ago found that a saw palmetto herbal blend could reduce DHT levels by approximately 32%.
Because of these various components, it’s important that you do your research before selecting a shampoo. You should always read the label before you purchase a shampoo and know what ingredients are listed. Additionally, you should follow up on any shampoo’s marketing claims. Often times, if a claim sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is. Try to find a scientific study that backs up their claims.
Lastly, try to separate the price from the effectiveness. Not because “you can’t put a price tag on your hairline,” but because often the most expensive shampoos are not the most effective ones. If you’re in search of quality shampoo that blocks DHT, consider some of the ones listed below that have good DHT blocker reviews.
Lipogaine Big 3 Premium Hair Loss Prevention Shampoo for Men and Women
This shampoo contains saw palmetto and biotin, two of the key ingredients that can help block DHT and stimulate hair growth. It also contains vitamin B5, which has been shown to help protect hair from damage. This shampoo comes in an 8oz bottle and can be found online for approximately $25
Pura D’or Organic Argan Oil Anti Hair Loss Shampoo
This shampoo contains a natural blend of saw palmetto and pumpkin seed oil, in addition to nettle extract, pygeum extract, and green tea extract. It also contains biotin, rosemary oil, vitamin E, and a B-vitamin complex. This shampoo comes in a 16oz bottle and costs approximately $30.
HairGenesis Anti DHT Shampoo
Like other quality DHT blocker shampoos, this contains saw palmetto and biotin. There are increased levels of saw palmetto in this shampoo, prompting some users to specify how effective it was. However, it also contains sodium laureth sulfate. This is an additive in some shampoos and other cosmetics that cause the products to foam.
The ingredient is considered to be a “moderate hazard” by the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. This bottle of shampoo is a bit more expensive, costing $30 for a 7.5oz bottle.
DHT Blocker Pills
If you’re in search of proven DHT blocker pills, your options are more limited. Propecia is the only oral pill that is proven to be effective and approved by the FDA. However, there are a number of DHT blocker pills that use natural ingredients.
Much like DHT blocker shampoos, it’s important to read all of the ingredients so that you know what exactly you are putting into your body. The ingredients that are effective in shampoos, such as saw palmetto and pumpkin seed oil, are also effective in pill form.
The case could certainly be made that pills are even more of a gimmick than shampoos, which is why it’s so important to be diligent following up with your research. DHT blocker pills tend to be more expensive than shampoos. Make sure you know what your money is going toward. The number of scam DHT blocker pills available makes it easy to waste your money on a worthless herbal supplement.
With that being said, consider some of these DHT blocker pills.
Ultrax Labs Hair Rush
This product is strictly an herbal supplement and does not contain any drugs. Instead, it contains over 20 vitamins and minerals that are essential to hair health and growth, including valuable DHT blocker ingredients such as pumpkin seed powder, saw palmetto, and biotin.
These pills can be taken by both men and women. It’s recommended that the drug is taken for at least 90 days. 60 tablets are available on Amazon for $50. The product has a 4.5-star rating.
DrFormulas HairOmega DHT Blocker
This product is also an all-natural supplement that contains 41 herbs and vitamins believed to fight hair loss. In addition to saw palmetto, the pills contain 5000 mcg of biotin. Additionally, the pills contain ingredients such as vitamin C and red raspberry antioxidants that can help support a healthy immune system while fighting free radicals.
90 capsules, or a 45-day supply, are available on Amazon for approximately $25. The product has a four-star rating with 674 customer reviews.
DrFormulas HairOmega 3-in-1
This DrFormulas product is different from the one mentioned above because it is a specially-blended hair, skin and nails formula. These pills also contain 5000 mcg of biotin to help stimulate hair growth. The tablets are vegetarian and do not contain any artificial dyes. The pills are made in the United States in a facility that has been inspected by the Food and Drug Administration.
A bottle of these pills, which contains 120 tablets, is available on Amazon for approximately $25. The product has a four-star rating with nearly a thousand customer reviews.
DHT Blocker Foods
If you’re not partial to using chemicals to treat your hair loss, DHT blocker foods may be an option. These foods, which have been scientifically proven to help fight hair loss, could easily be incorporated into your diet. In addition to foods common in shampoos and pills, such as saw palmetto and pumpkin seed oil, powder, or extract, consider adding these foods to your diet.
- Pygeum – This blocks the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme and therefore helps block DHT
- Nettle Root – This food is also commonly found in shampoos and pills. It too blocks the 5-alpha enzyme.
- Foods with Lycopene – This includes tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, and mangoes, all of which help block the 5-alpha enzyme.
- Nuts, including Walnuts, Peanuts, Pecans, and Almonds – All of these are a great source of the natural DHT blocker L-lysine.
- Foods High in Zinc – Zinc is also a DHT inhibitor. Consider foods such as kale, spinach, wheat germ, and cashews
- Green Tea – Active ingredients in green tea can block DHT. Studies have proven green tea can reduce DHT blood levels. Green tea may also be found in many shampoos and pills.
Natural DHT Blocker
A natural DHT blocker could help fight the effects of hair loss without the side effects that Rogaine and Propecia offer. Natural DHT blockers take advantage of herbs, vitamins, and minerals that combine to create powerful formulas to help prevent hair loss and stimulate new growth.
Even though the ingredients are all natural, they can be very strong when combined. Your doctor can advise if any of the natural DHT blockers you’re considering will interact with any medications you’re taking. While your hair is important, it’s not worth a serious disease or sickness that could have long-lasting health implications.
You should be diligent about monitoring how you feel while taking any natural DHT blockers. If there are any changes in your mood or behavior, contact your doctor immediately.
Additionally, you should be on the lookout for products that contain many of the natural ingredients already mentioned, such as pumpkin seed oil. Be skeptical about ingredients such as beta-sitosterol. Although this ingredient has been found to improve the symptoms of male pattern baldness, there is no support that it is a natural DHT blocker.
In fact, other studies showed that beta-sitosterol had no impact on the prostate, which will typically shrink in size when DHT levels are reduced.
If you’re looking for a natural DHT blocker, consider HairXcel from Nutracraft. A bottle of 60 tablets is available on Amazon for $25. The product has been designed specifically to block DHT.