The male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the primary contributor to hair loss in men. All men produce DHT (as do women in smaller amounts); but some are more sensitive to its effects on our scalps. As such, controlling DHT levels can help reduce hair loss. That technique has created a burgeoning market for DHT-blocking shampoos. Yet with any product targeted to reduce or eliminate male hair loss, there are some that have proven to be effective, while others produce little or no benefit. Keep reading so you can choose an effective product the first time around.
Do DHT blockers work, and how?
That’s a common question among men who have become understandably wary of hair loss prevention products. The short answer is yes, a high-quality DHT-blocking shampoo can mitigate the problem. As the name implies, DHT-blocking shampoos inhibit the production of DHT in the scalp. Since an excessive level of DHT is a proven contributor to hair loss, lowering DHT levels can significantly impact the overall health and retention of hair.
Are all DHT-blocking shampoos equally effective?
The MPB (male pattern baldness) prevention industry is full of promising products that are not always substantiated by actual results. When it comes to the market for DHT-blocking shampoos, it’s no different. Several products have proven effective at helping men retain their hair. There are many others that have no proven efficacy.
Those ineffective shampoos often contain exotic ingredients that appeal to consumers that tend to be enticed by exotic-sounding products. These may adequately clean your hair but have no impact on DHT production.
What active ingredients to look for in DHT-blocking shampoos
It all boils down to the active ingredients. Some of these active ingredients actually fight DHT production. Others do nothing against DHT, but they help stimulate hair growth, repair the follicle, or heal damage to the scalp. Put simply, they prime your scalp. A few simply contain nutrients that thicken your hair or improve the texture. These can be important assists to the DHT-fighting properties, so we’re listing them as ‘active ingredients’ here.
Probably the linchpin ingredient of any good DHT shampoo, Ketoconazole has been identified as an effective DHT blocker. Some studies have also shown that ketoconazole can help repair hair follicles previously damaged by the existence of DHT.
While it’s not a DHT blocker, biotin is a proven hair-growth stimulant. Shampoos that contain combinations of biotin and ketoconazole provide a one-two punch to block DHT and stimulate hair growth.
An extract from the berries from a type of palm tree, saw palmetto has been shown to have a mild effect on slowing DHT production.
Pumpkin Seed Oil
Studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil can help inhibit the enzymes (5-alpha reductase) that turn testosterone into DHT, increasing hair growth by an average of 40% after 24 weeks.
Long recognized as a stimulant to the growth of healthy hair, Vitamin A prevents scalp dryness and fuels your follicles. Just don’t overuse it, because a little goes a long way with this fat-soluble vitamin.
The most effective DHT-blocking shampoos will contain a combination of one or more of these active and inactive ingredients. Ketoconazole should be listed as one of the key active ingredients for best results. If the shampoo you’ve chosen doesn’t contain some of the natural nutrients in this list, there are lots of great supplements for hair growth.
Consider before you buy
Hair restoration takes time. The little-known key to fighting hair loss might just be avoiding frustration so that you can continue to fight on a long term basis. Here are a few things to think about before you rush in.
Have patience and set realistic expectations
Even the most effective DHT-blocking shampoos take time to produce results. You will not be able to find a product that will produce overnight results. Many make the mistake of buying a product, using it for a week or two, and then giving up due to a lack of visible results. Some give up entirely while others begin the search for another product. This can lead to a long-lasting cycle of hope followed by frustration. DHT inhibition does not happen after just a few hair washings. Studies show that it takes between three and four months of dedicated use to achieve visible results. Get into the right mindset before you start so you don’t end up disappointed.
Beware unrealistic claims
Don’t buy any DHT shampoo that claims instant results. Unrealistic claims are usually paired with a lack of scientific studies or objective testimonials.
Avoid equating price with effectiveness
Don’t assume that the best DHT shampoos are also the most expensive. There are good DHT blocking shampoos on the market that are reasonably priced. Conversely, there are some higher-priced products that are not effective. Evaluate products based on an objective review of their ingredients, actual user reviews, and third-party studies.
Try it—but try other things at the same time
Using a proven DHT-blocking shampoo can be an effective tool within your hair-retention toolbox. Think of it as one of many components that you can employ. Retaining your hair should be a multi-pronged approach. Look into holistic methods, including supplements and lifestyle changes that can hasten results.