That’s one of the most common questions guys ask when they start to explore hair loss treatments. Unsurprisingly, they want to know how long it will take before they start to see some results, and how long before they’ll see the best result.
Why are guys so anxious? Because even though we struggle to admit it out loud, hair loss is a big deal. It makes us feel insecure and ugly.
“How long will it take?” is a common questions guys ask when they start to explore hair loss treatments.
Unfortunately, we can’t give a precise answer to this question. There are a lot of variables to consider. The timeline varies substantially from one man to another, and between treatments.
Genetics plays a critical role. Some men are exceptionally responsive to treatments. For whatever reason, their bodies respond quickly and the treatments create a dramatic effect.
A small minority of men don’t respond to treatments at all. This is quite rare, but it happens to some men, especially those with early hair loss or hair loss that happens quickly (from full head to bald in two or three years, for instance).
And of course, there’s a whole spectrum of guys in between. The only way to know what type of role your genetics will play in your treatment’s speed or effectiveness is to start treatments and find out.
Another important variable is whether you stick to the routine. Treating your hair loss is a daily regimen. A missed day here or there won’t have much impact, but if you fail to apply your treatments for weeks or months at a time, you’ll only set yourself back.
Some men find sticking to their routine difficult. Unlike women, most of us guys don’t have much a daily routine outside of showering, shaving (some days), and brushing our teeth. We’re just not used to spending a lot of time in the bathroom preparing for the day. So it’s easy to let a couple days go by without applying your hair loss treatment.
Furthermore, the state of your follicles when you start your treatment is another significant factor. If you begin treating your hair loss the moment you notice the slightest thinning, there’s a good chance that you’ll stop the loss and start regrowth.
But if you wait until your head is nearly bald, many of those follicles are long past the point of being able to grow a hair. Even the little vellus hairs will have a hard time turning healthy again.
The 4 Hair Phases
Before we jump into the typical hair loss treatment timeline, it’s important to talk about hair growth phases. This will help you understand why treatments take as long as they do.
Each hair on your body goes through three distinct phases:
- Anagen – This is when your hair grows. It lasts two to seven years.
- Catagen – This is a regression phase where the hair follicle shrinks. It lasts about ten days.
- Telogen – This is a resting phase where a hair sits around doing nothing. It lasts about three months before the follicle releases and sheds the hair. 10-15% of your hairs are in this phase at any time.
These phases tell us that hair loss treatments are linked closely to the way hair grows. If a hair is in the telogen phase, you may have to wait until it enters the anagen phase to start growing, even if you started treatment months earlier.
A General Timeline
All of those variables aside, we can give you a general idea of how long treatments take to work and what you’ll see along the way.
Your hair loss treatments technically start working right away, especially if your regimen includes finasteride. Finasteride takes effect as soon as you metabolize the first dose, which means your DHT levels lower by about 70% immediately. However, DHT has a short half-life, which means your body flushes it out quickly. This is why you have to take it every day.
Months 0 to 3
You shouldn’t expect to see much during the first few months. This is when we counsel our customers to try not to think about results. Instead, focus on turning your regimen into a habit that you manage quickly every day.
There’s a good chance you’ll see some shedding during this period. Shedding is when old hairs break away and fall out. You may feel like your treatments are ruining your hair, but that’s not the case.
Hair loss treatments can force follicles into the beginning of a new anagen stage, even if the follicle is already in an anagen phase. It’s like a fresh restart to grow under the new conditions.
So it’s quite possible to see healthy hairs fall out of your head, but it doesn’t mean that follicle has stopped producing a hair forever. It just means the phases are being adjusted. Shedding is generally seen as a positive sign that your treatment will work.
Make sure to take some pictures when you start your treatment to compare later. Try to snap a couple photos every month.
Months 3 to 6
During this period, you should start seeing some results. The shedding should stop and your existing hairs should appear thicker. (That is, each hair shaft should appear healthier. You won’t have more hair at this point.)
You may start to see small white or transparent hairs in balding areas of your scalp. These are vellus hairs.
Vellus hairs could be older hairs that are miniaturizing as the DHT chokes their follicle, or they could be brand new hairs sprouting due to your treatments. This is why having photos from before your your treatment will help you determine if the treatments are working.
Months 6 to 12
By the ninth month, you should know for sure if your hair loss treatment works. This gives all your hairs time to complete their telogen phase, start an anagen phase, and poke through your scalp.
You’ll see the final results of your hair loss treatment around the end of the year. Some guys take a little longer, but a year is about average.
Of course, if you failed to apply your treatment for more than a few days throughout the year, your results may take longer. If you stopped using your treatments for more than a month, you may have to start from the beginning again.
Keep in mind, however, that not every guy can regrow hair. Sometimes stopping hair loss is the best result you’ll get it. If you don’t see new hairs, that doesn’t mean your treatments don’t work. They could be keeping your hair loss at bay.
Compare what you see in the mirror to your early photos. If you look about the same, your treatment works. If your stop using your treatment, your DHT levels will rise and your follicles will starve of the growth factors, which will trigger more hair loss.
You’ll also continue to go through phases of significant shedding. Shedding is normal, but hair loss treatments tend to align the hair phases, so they might shed all at the same time. Again, this is normal.
Consistency and Patience are Key
We wish there was a magic pill you could take to regrow your lost hair overnight, but that isn’t the case. Advances in hair loss science happen every year, but we aren’t there yet.
The key to getting the most value out of your hair loss treatment is to start early and apply it consistently every day. Try not to stress yourself out by thinking about it too often. Focus on other ways to cope with your hair loss, change your lifestyle to help your hair, and find ways to enjoy your life.
The sooner you start your hair loss treatment, the sooner you’ll stop your hair loss and start regrowing. Every day you wait makes it harder to get the cosmetic results you crave. Start your treatment right away.