Receding hairline . . . can something be done?

I’m 24 and have noticed to be the very first signs of hair loss. My hair-line appears to be moving backwards. Needless to say, I’m not too enthralled with the notion of going bald. I’ve read and heard that Rogaine and Propecia both are proven to prevent further hair loss, so I’m intrigued. But rather than call the company to get their sales pitch, I thought I’d check with you first.

I’m assuming since this is a product that has significant R & D and marketing costs, the drugs must be insanely expensive, and I doubt I’ll be able to afford it.

So here are my questions: Are any of you taking these meds? Do they work? How much do they cost? Any way an insurance company would pick up the tab?

MrsB has spent time working at the company that developed Propecia. The stoppage of hair loss is actually a side effect of reducing testosterone-related hormone levels, and was primarily developed as a way of reducing the risk of Prostate Cancer. (I know I’m glossing over some details, but I don’t want to get too technical.)

It does work at stopping hair loss, however there have been no studies into the long-term effects of taking this drug (or at least there weren’t last time I checked, which was three years ago).

Cost-wise, it retails for maybe a buck a pill-- and you need to take the pill daily for the rest of your life.

Or you could do like me and shed some tears as you shed your hair-- then make sure your mate finds bald men sexy :slight_smile:

Insurance = no.
Rogaine (minoxidil) = works on crown of head, not on frontal hairline
propecia - seems most promising, but like Rogaine, it seems most effective at crown growth.

But, of course neither company talks about the issue of only being effective on the crown. Now, propecia might be better and might do something for the front hairline, but the bread and butter of their claims is about the back/crown of the head.

…Try to remember any pics in Rogaine or Propecia ads, and the focus is the crown of the head (the back top you need two mirrors to see). While the front hairline has the biggest impact on looks, and psychologically it’s where men want the result first, it’s the spot these drugs doesn’t really work on.
Rogaine came down to 40 bucks/month I think?
Propecia might be a touch more?
Vague on the costs.

I know those who used both, and Propcia ‘seemed to work’ but he and wife were trying to bear children, and his fertility doc said to get off the Propecia.

If you start using either one now, and keep using it for the rest of your life, you will probably keep most of the hair you currently have. If you use both, the chances of keeping more of your hair go up.

The long-term side-effects of topical rogaine are probably minimal. The long term side-effects of propecia may be less minimal, but we just don’t know yet.

Insurance won’t pay in 99+% of the cases.

So ask yourself how much you want to spend, and what risks are you willing to take to keep most of your current crop of hair.


Just start shaving the whole melon. It’s cheaper & easier. Besides, we probably have another 10 years before long hair is fashionable again.

All males in my family have suffered from hair loss at a relatively early age, so when I first saw signs of receding at age 21, I began taking rogaine. Then, when I was about 27, propecia became available, so I switched simply because it’s a lot more convenient to just take a pill once a day rather than apply rogaine to the scalp twice a day. I’m now 31 and still have a full, thick head of hair. I suppose that it is impossible to know if the drugs have worked since if I hadn’t taken them I may be sitting here with all my hair and about $6,000.00 extra dollars, but I’m the only one in my family with all of my hair, so draw your own conclusions…

Otherwise, the prior comments are pretty much accurate. One more thing – one disclosed side effect is that about 1% of propecia users are said to experience loss or decrease in sexual function, but I haven’t experienced that. (Btw, this side effect goes away once you stop taking the drug.)

Thank you all very much. You’ve been most informative!

Not so, old chum. The extent of restoration is indeed less in the frontal area, but far from impossible. (A second, as yet untreatable, enzyme appears to be the, um, root cause.)

By far the best website I’ve seen on the matter:

Don’t forget about the hair transplant option.

hol on!

That’s a hack site trying to sell some legit products and miracle cures.

I’ve been on Propecia for about 14 months. I started taking it at the first hint that my hair was thinning on my crown. And like Morrison, I’m quite unsure of whether or not it’s doing anything, but I still take it every day.

Ever since I started, I’ve been hyper-aware of the hair on my crown, constantly looking in the mirror for signs of thinning. I’m quite sure it is a little thinner now than it was 5 years ago, but I don’t think it’s gotten any worse in the last year. It hasn’t gotten any thicker either, that I can tell. I guess I should be happy that it appears to be in stasis.

The hairline on my forehead is a constant source of intrigue. It seems to be thinning just a tiny bit, but I wonder if it hasn’t always looked like that. I never paid any attention before. It just wasn’t an issue.

Anyway, if my level of hair loss were to be judged by 100 people, likely 98 of them wouldn’t say I was even remotely follicularly challenged.

As for price - it keeps going up. My prescription gives me refills on a three month interval and the last one was $165, up from about $140. I immediately got online to check the web pharmacies and suddenly felt mighty lucky. They all charge about 100% more than what I’m paying.

Remember that shaving one’s head is only cool IF you have hair. If you are going bald it is definitely seen as UNCOOL.

Can you substantiate your claims?

These are among the cited research papers. In themselves, these references papers do not prove efficacy, per se, but they would seem to suggest this isn’t a “hack site” as you suggest.


  1. Sasson Ms, Shupack JL, Stiller MJ. Status of medical treatment for androgenetic alopecia. 1994;32:701-706.

  2. Diani AR, Mulholland MJ, Shull KL, et al. Hair growth effects of oral administration of finasteride, a steroid 5a-reductase inhibitor, alone and in combination with topical minoxidil in the balding stumptail macaque. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1992;74:345-350.

  3. Rittmaster RS. Finasteride. N Engl J Med. 1994;330:120-125.

  4. Dallob AL, Sadick NS, Unger W, et al. The effect of finasteride, a 5a-reductase inhibitor, on scalp skin testosterone and dihydroxytestosterone concentrations in patients with male pattern baldness. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1994; 79:703-706

  5. Headington JT. Hair follicle biology and topical minoxidil: possible mechanism of action. Dermatologica. 1987; 175(suppl 2):19-22.

  6. Ferry JJ, Forbes KK, Vanderlugt JT, Szpujnar GJ. Influence of tretinoin on the percutaneous absorption of minoxidil from an aqeous topical solution. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1990;47:439-446.

  7. Van Scott EJ, Reinertson RP, Steinmuller R: The growing hair roots of the human scalp and morphologic changes therein following amethopterin therapy. J Invest Dermatol 29:197, 1957

  8. Flesch P: Hair growth. In Rothman S (ed): Physiology and Biochemistry of the Skin. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1954

  9. Schiff BC, Kern AB: Study of postpartum alopecia. Arch Dermatol 87:609, 1963

  10. Hamilton JB: Patterned loss of hair in man: Types and incidence. Ann NY Acad Sci 53:708, 1961

  11. Tudhope GR, Cohen H, Merkle RW: Alopecia following treatment with dextran sulfate and other anticoagulant drugs. Br Med J 1:1034, 1958

  12. Rook A: Some chemical influences on hair growth and pigmentation. Br. J Dermatol 77:115, 1965

  13. Lynfield YC: Effect of pregnancy on the human hair cycle. J Invest Dermatol 35:323, 1960

  14. Van Scott EJ: Evaluation of disturbed hair growth in alopecia areata and other alopecias. Ann NY Acad Sci 83:480, 1959

  15. Laymon CW, Murphy RJ: The cicatricial alopecias: An historical and clinical review and an histologic investigation. J Invest Dermatol 8:99, 1947

  16. Jaworsky C, Taylor JS, Evey P, Handel D: Allergic contact dermatitis to glutaraldehyde in a hair conditioner. Cleve Clin J Med 54:443, 1987

  17. Rook A, Dawber R: Diseases of the Hair and Scalp, pp 133-145. Oxford, Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1982

  18. Crounse RG, Van Scott EJ: Changes in scalp hair roots as a measure of toxicity from cancer chemotherapeutic drugs. J Invest Dermatol 35:83, 1960

  19. Van Scott EJ: Physical factors which invluence the growth of hair. In Montagna W, Ellis RA (ed). The Biology of Hair Growth. New York, Academic Press, 1958

  20. Orwin A: Hair loss following lithium therapy, Br J Dermatol 108:503, 1983

  21. Hubler WR: Hair loss as a symptom of chronic thallotoxicosis. South Med J 59:436, 1965

  22. Reis PJ: Variations in the sulfur content of wool. In Lyne AG, Short BF (eds): The Biology of Skin and Hair Growth. Sydney, Angus & Robertson, 1965

  23. Koyangi T, Takanohashi T: Cystine content in hair of children as influenced by vitamin A and animal protein in the diet. Nature 192:457, 1961

  24. Mitchell J, Rood A: Botanical Dermatology: Plants and Plant Products Injurious to the Skin. Vancouver. Greengross, 1979

  25. Kerdel Vegas F: Generalized hair loss due to ingestion of “coco de mono” (lycythis ollaria). J Invest Dermatol 42:91, 1964

  26. Weisberger AS, Suhrland LG: Studies on analogues of l-cystine. III. The effect of selenium cystine on leukemia. Blood 11::19, 1956

  27. Taylor JS. In Maibach HI: Occupational and Industrial Dermatology, 2nd ed, p 109. Chicago, Year Book Medical Publishers, 1987

  28. Heyl T: Tick bite alopecia. Clin Exp Dermatol 7:537, 1982

That’s a good list. As to whether it proves you can stop/reverse a receding hairline with Propecia or Rogaine isn’t quite clear from the list of people with their hands in the money pot.

Many of their claims - and don’t expect them to advertise this - are based on the crown of the head.

Really? Are you the judge and jury in that opinion? Been shaving my head for the last year and I have gotten quite a few comments about it- none of which were that it was uncool looking. For the most part, they don’t know I am balding unless they get up really close or I point it out to them.

wow! Check this out- see toward the end of tsunamisurfer’s biblio, number 19? I was intrigued what this “coco de mono” was and what the hell Monkey Cocoa has to do with balding.

Apparently, lycythis ollaria (aka lecythis ollaria) is a relative of the brazil nut, but because of it’s propensity to accumulate selenium, ingestion of too much causes hair loss and fingernail degradation.