Tackling Hair Fall from the Root

It had been thought that most hair found in the sink or shower, on the brush etc. was broken hair due to damage and weathering. Studies have now shown this not to be the case. In fact at least 80% of hair loss is from the root, not breakage. Up to 20% of hair loss is due to breakage and will contain no visible root or hair bulb.


There are only two approved drugs on the marketplace with evidence to support their efficacy. These are an OTC (Over the Counter) drug called minoxidil and a prescription-only drug, finasteride.Minoxidil is sold as a scalp leave-on lotion or mousse formulation in the most popular variants. The active ingredient is present at 2% or 5% and is suitable for both men and women. The instructions for use indicate twice daily application. For many people using this product the frequency of use and sensory properties are unacceptable and the end benefit is often not seen to be worth the effort they have to go through. Finasteride is a prescription-only drug that inhibits an enzyme (5-alpha-reductase) that is responsible for modification of testosterone. Due to its impact on steroid hormone metabolism this drug is usually not prescribed to women of child-bearing age. It is usually prescribed as a tablet form.

There are many cosmetic formulations in the market place globally. The ingredients range from natural herbal extracts (saw palmetto, rosemary, ginseng, traditional Chinese medicine), cellular metabolism and blood flow promoters (carnitine, caffeine, arginine) to ingredients demonstrated to influence hair growth in vitro (procyanidin, taurine). In nearly all of these product forms there is no real in vivo clinical evidence. Data, if any are presented, are generated using in vitro systems and the product forms utilised can, at best, only make ingredient claims, i.e. product x contains y which has been shown to promote hair fibre growth in vitro. Furthermore, if these products did actually carry out the claims being made for them it is likely that they would be classified as drugs as they would be modifying a physiological function.

Globally there are many shampoos and conditioners present which call themselves hair fall variants. Shampoos and conditioners are termed “rinse off” products. That is, they are applied, lathered (in the case of shampoo) and then rinsed off. In all cases these products are advertised with a marketing qualifier. The reduced hair fall is achieved by reducing the amount of breakage of fibres. These products succeed in this technical claim area by delivering higher wet and dry lubrication to the fibres by depositing silicones and other lubricating materials to the fibre during the washing process. This reduces the force required to detangle fibres during combing and brushing and consequently reduces the amount of breakage.