Disclaimer before you start reading: This post is not intended to be prescriptive in nature. This is simply a way of sharing my experiences with those of you who may be experiencing similar situations. Please consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns about products that you may be interested in using, or supplements/drugs that you may be considering taking for your own hair loss. 🙂
My mum likes to tell me that I was born with three strands of hair, but by the time I was about five, I had a very thick head of long dark hair. Over the last several years, though, she has been quick to point out that I now shed like a Labrador, leaving a hair-trail of destruction around the house whenever I visit – and that my bedroom floor post-blow dry is a minor disaster.
You may think the stock photo is funny, but there are days that my hairbrush actually looks a little like that, and those days are disheartening. My mum is right about it all. I do have a hair fall problem, and it has been a source of frustration for a long time.
As to the myriad sources of this frustrating problem – how can we possibly determine proportionate causality or association for each of them? Diet, stress, fatigue, genetic predisposition, the list could go on ad infinitum, but all this mulling wouldn’t resolve the fact that my hair was falling out.
So, two months ago, I decided it was high time to do something about it beyond just using anti-hair fall shampoos, conditioners, and serums. Time to break out the big(ger) guns. And so, I turned to a combination of biotin and minoxidil. Please be warned that this post is going to be a touch wordy and sound a trifle geeky in bits, so bear with me!
I was first introduced to biotin by a blog post of yore written by Kahani of So Loverly. I was really glad to have stumbled upon that post, because it triggered a thought: was part of the reason I was losing hair because I was micronutrient deficient? (Silly me, being in health, I should have asked this question of myself sooner.)
Biotin, also known as Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H, is a water soluble B-vitamin that is necessary for cell growth, the production of fatty acids, and the metabolism of fats and amino acids. Many multivitamins sold on the market contain some measure of biotin, but normally nothing above 60% of the recommended daily allowance.
A quick literature search showed that there is only limited scientific evidence to show that biotin strengthens hair and nails, with most studies based on small samples or case reports. However, biotin has still been used to combat hair loss in both children and adults.
Minoxidil is a used for the treatment of hair loss. Although originally used to treat hypertension, it was discovered to have effects on hair growth, which led to its now widespread use for the treatment of androgenic alopecia, or pattern baldness which can occur in both men and women. Efficacy of topical minoxidil application has been shown in a number of double-blinded studies (my source is Nature and not Cosmo, so it’s legit).
I am using a generic form of minoxidil that comes with propylene glycol, which is the most common variant available on the market. The brand that I use is Growell, which is a Singaporean manufacturer. They are significantly more affordable than their more famous American counterpart, Rogaine.
One of the side effects of minoxidil is apparently increased hair loss in the first couple of months of use, before a gradual slowing and ultimately reduction of the shedding. You also have to be very consistent with use.
Minoxidil solution comes in varying strengths: 2%, 3% and 5%. In Singapore, you can get minoxidil at a pharmacy over the counter without a doctor’s prescription.
For the past month or so, I have been taking two biotin tablets a day (I take GNC’s Biotin 600) and been using minoxidil 3% on my scalp twice a day, once in the morning and once before bedtime. Minoxidil solution is sprayed directly onto the scalp and massaged in until absorbed. You can do this on either a dry or wet scalp – from what I’ve read, absorption is heightened if your scalp is wet, but this does not necessarily mean high absorption is better for you. I’d suggest doing more research before deciding if application on a dry or wet scalp is better for your individual case!
Over these last couple of weeks, I’ve observed that my hair loss problem has not exactly ceased; I still shed like a Labrador. However, there appears to be significant hair regrowth on my scalp. My hair is also becoming thicker, to my surprise.
Some of my friends have noticed too, commenting that my hair looks to be in better shape, less oily, thicker and more shiny. These are incidentally friends who do not know that I’ve taken to adding more vitamins to my regimen and rubbing stuff into my scalp twice a day while muttering “I hope this works”. Anecdotal, but it makes me optimistic that this combination of biotin and minoxidil may actually be doing something good for me!
To be fair, it is still early days. I will blog again in a couple of months once progress is (hopefully) more visible in both the reduction of hair loss as well as increase in hair regrowth departments!