The best hair growth products for women, according to experts

Young woman with hair loss problem indoors, closeup

Hair loss is often considered a men’s issue. But if you’re a woman who’s dealing with patchy spots on your scalp or alarming clumps of hair coming out in your brush, you’re not alone. Women also experience hair loss, and though it might not be discussed as much, it does happen.

Fortunately, there are hair growth products for women that can help. Two of them are clinically tested, FDA-approved medications.

The first is minoxidil, which you may know under the brand name Rogaine. It’s used in both men and women to relax the walls of blood vessels, which allows more blood flow. Since blood carries important nutrients as well as oxygen, this promotes hair growth.

The second is finasteride, sold under the brand name Propecia. It’s an anti-androgen, which means that it reduces the amount of dihydrotestosterone, or DHT,  a hormone that causes hair loss. Basically, DHT is a derivative of the male hormone testosterone.

Though women have a tiny fraction of the amount of testosterone that men have, even a small amount can convert to DHT and cause you to start losing hair. An anti-androgen like Procapil can help to solve this problem.

Beyond those two treatments, many natural ingredients have been shown to be effective in stimulating hair growth. No matter which treatment you choose, you may have to try more than one, though.

“The effectiveness of these products can vary from person to person, and not all products may work for everyone,” says Dr. Alan J. Bauman, the medical director of Bauman Medical Hair Transplant and Hair Loss Treatment Center.

Hair growth products recommended by dermatologists and trichologists

Hers Hair Blends Solution

Hers Hair Blends Solution

$39 at Hers

This prescription-strength solution, which you apply daily to your follicles with a dropper, claims to help regrow hair within three to six months. It features 7% minoxidil, which is even higher than the amount in Rogaine (which has a 5% minoxidil solution).

“Minoxidil is clinically proven to help with male and female pattern hair loss,” says Dr. David Li,  a dermatologist at the Boston Dermatology and Laser Center. “Off label, I also use it for various types of hair loss disorders where the hair can benefit from having a thicker volume.”

Doctors believe that minoxidil works in several different ways, although they aren’t exactly sure about the mechanisms it uses. Research shows that it lengthens the anagen interval, or the natural growing phase, of hair. It also widens the blood vessels and increases the size of potassium channels, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach hair follicles and help them grow.

You do need an online consultation with a healthcare provider before you can purchase the Hers Hair Blends Solution, but you can get that right at their website.

MORE: Do lash growth serums actually work?

Hairtamin Scalp Serum

Hairtamin Scalp Serum

$46 at Ulta

Hairtamin Scalp Serum is a natural, over-the-counter treatment that is designed to reduce hair loss and boost hair thickness. You simply apply two to three drops to the affected scalp area twice a day, morning and evening, and then massage it in.

Haritamin contains 3% Procapil, an ingredient (patented by Sederma) that’s been getting a lot of attention among hair growth experts because it works as a natural anti-androgen, blocking DHT. It’s traditionally used by men, but some doctors prescribe it off-label for women.

The Hairtamin serum also contains aloe vera, niacinamide, saw palmetto, vitamins E and B5, turmeric, caffeine and several natural oils (lavender, peppermint, rosemary and tea tree).

“These components are carefully selected to stimulate hair growth and promote a healthy scalp,” says Dr. Michael May, a trichologist, hair transplant surgeon and medical director at Wimpoleclinic.

Patience is key with a serum like this one because noticeable changes may take some time. That said, its various components have a proven track record.

“Rosemary oil nourishes the scalp and is especially notable for its positive effects on hair growth,” May says. “Caffeine stimulates hair follicles. Tea tree and peppermint oil contribute to a healthy scalp environment, and saw palmetto and Procapil support overall hair health.”

Necessaire The Scalp Serum

Necessaire The Scalp Serum

$58 at Sephora

Nécessaire’s scalp serum is another serum that you apply to problem areas on your scalp — in this case, once a day, massaging it in with your fingertips. Its star ingredient is a 5% biomimetic peptide blend with red clover extract trademarked as Capixyl.

“This one is a great option for those wanting to strengthen hairs and prevent further breakage,” says Dr. Christina Han, the director of dermatology at False Creek Dermatology. “It’s full of peptides and vitamin B, which are both important components in hair.”

It also contains 1% hyaluronic acid, which hydrates the scalp, and niacinamide, which reduces inflammation and strengthens the scalp’s protective barrier. Han suggests using this serum as additional support for a prescription-based treatment.

“It’s readily available at places like Sephora, which makes it an easy addition to the hair game,” she says.

Musely The Hair Topical Solution

Musely The Hair Topical Solution

$90 at Musely

Musely’s Hair Solution is a prescription-strength powerhouse that you apply once a day to dry hair and massage into your scalp. The brand claims using it regularly can lead to a noticeable decrease in hair loss within three to six months, and patients might see their hair begin to grow again within six to twelve months.

“I like this one because it is formulated with active ingredients that are largely evidence-based, meaning they have a good basis for use in patterned hair loss,” says Han.

The active ingredients are a combination of minoxidil, dutasteride and spironolactone. Those last two are anti-androgens like finasteride, which reduce the amount of the hair loss-provoking hormone, DHT. Dutasteride is generally used to treat men with enlarged prostates, but has lately been more popular off-label for hair loss reduction. Spironolactone, also an off-label solution, has been shown effective for women suffering from hair loss.

Other ingredients in this formula include tretinoin, which is included to boost the rate of cell turnover in the scalp, and hydrocortisone, which reduces inflammation.

Xyon Topical Finasteride and Minoxidil

Xyon Topical Finasteride and Minoxidil

$119 at Xyon

This hair growth product also requires a prescription because it’s a potent combination of minoxidil and finasteride. Massage it into the problem areas of your scalp for 20 to 30 seconds, though how often you do this is a decision you should make with your doctor.

“Xyon is similar to Musely, but it has a formula that has special technology to slowly release medication into the hair follicles to maximize benefit,” says Han.

She also likes the fact that Xyon’s online platform offers direct access to specialist physicians, who can prescribe to patients.

“This makes this easy in our busy lives,” she says.

Vegamour Gro+ Advanced Hair Serum

Vegamour Gro+ Advanced Hair Serum

$74 at Vegamour

If you’re looking for an all-natural, vegan hair loss treatment, Vegamour’s Gro+ Hair Serum is a good option. It relies on broad-spectrum hemp CBD, caffeine, turmeric and red clover to nourish hair follicles and reduce thinning.

“It stands out for its use of natural ingredients,” says May. “Caffeine is known for promoting hair growth by stimulating hair follicles when applied topically. Rosemary oil has been proven to be one of the best oils for hair growth, nourishing the scalp and encouraging hair follicles to thrive.”

Apply a dropper-full daily and massage into your scalp with your fingertips. May notes that to see results, you should “use the serum continuously,” so you might want to subscribe to monthly deliveries and get a discount.

Seen Fragrance-Free Shampoo

Seen Fragrance-Free Shampoo

$29 at Ulta

If you’d prefer to treat your hair loss with a shampoo and conditioner, Seen is a promising product. Its key ingredient is hemisqualane, a plant sugar-derived oil that coats hair follicles, sealing in moisture and preventing breakage. Seen also contains bisabolol, an active ingredient in chamomile, with anti-inflammatory properties designed to soothe the scalp.

The company’s clinical studies show that using this shampoo (and conditioner) reduces shedding by 44%.

“This product is interesting because [the company] has actually done clinical trials to validate that it helps with hair loss in women,” says Li. “That is really powerful and speaks more volumes.”

Vichy’s Dercos Fortifying Shampoo

Vichy's Dercos Fortifying Shampoo

$45.99 at Walmart

This Vichy shampoo is fortified with several nourishing minerals, including iron — a lack of which can cause hair loss in some women. (By the way, having a doctor check your iron levels would be a good step as you plan strategies to combat thinning or breakage. They might even suggest supplements.)

And iron is just the first of several nutrients included. Han notes that it contains niacinamide and vitamin E, which strengthen the hair shaft.

“It also has a probiotic which can help re-balance the scalp microbiome and promote a healthy foundation for those hair follicles,” she says.

Hair FAQs

What Causes Hair Loss?

There are lots of reasons you might lose hair, and the most common one is genetics. Other typical causes are hormonal changes from pregnancy, childbirth or menopause, or hormonal imbalances caused by conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome.

Beyond these factors, your doctor will consider whether you have certain medical conditions like alopecia areata, thyroid disorders, and autoimmune diseases or are taking some medications that cause hair loss — most notably, chemotherapy drugs. Lifestyle factors like stress and nutritional deficiencies can also play a part.

Ultimately, you’ll want to consult with your doctor to determine the cause of your hair loss.


Hair Loss vs. Hair Shedding: What’s the Difference?

Everyone sheds hair daily. Not only that, excessive hair shedding can happen when your body experiences fever, weight loss, recovery from an illness, or stress.

“I tell patients that you can really shed up to 100-150 hairs a day,” says Li. “This is part of the natural hair growth cycle and doesn’t cause noticeable thinning of scalp hair.”

Hair loss happens when the hair you lose is not replaced by new hair growth.

“Unlike normal shedding, hair loss is noticeable and can be concentrated in specific areas or spread across the scalp,” he says, adding that when that happens, there’s an underlying reason.

MORE: 6 Tips for Getting Longer, Thicker Hair

Are Hair Growth Products Safe?

Hair loss is often a progressive condition. This means you need to use these treatments consistently on a long-term basis to see benefits. So you definitely want to make sure that whatever you’re using is safe. Generally speaking, hair growth products that are available over the counter aren’t harmful.

“The most common adverse effect is usually irritation to the scalp which can present with dryness, flaking, redness and itching,” says Han.

Li points out that there are products on the market that tout their safety, but they might also be ineffective. So you’ll have to do your research and determine what your personal needs dictate.

“It comes down to safety vs efficacy,” he says. “A product might be safe but it won’t work, so would it be worth buying?”

The best rule of thumb is to use products where ingredients have been tested in independent clinical trials. If you have questions or are experiencing side effects, always get advice from your doctor.

About the Author
Jennifer Graham Kizer

Jennifer has written features and essays for over a dozen magazines, including American Baby, Cosmo, Cosmo Girl, Fit Pregnancy, Good Housekeeping, Health, Marie Claire, Parents, Parenting, Redbook, Self, Teen People, TV Guide, and YM. More.