Hims’ pills and potions claim to help regrow your hair—and to prevent additional hair fall. We put them to the test to see if they actually work. Read our full hims review below.
A year ago, I finally accepted the fact that I was losing my hair and it wasn’t going to improve on its own. The recession itself wasn’t going to recede, and my crown was about one half or one third the density it used to be. And although I had noticed these gradual changes by staring at my reflection every day, or looking at photos from a few years prior, it never sunk in that I was going to lose most, if not all of it.
But it finally did sink in, probably after a haircut revealed the sparseness up top, or after seeing an unflattering photo that accentuated my carved-out hairline. So I went all-in on hair loss remedies: I did the plasma injections (PRP) which use your own blood’s platelets to juice up your follicles and stimulate hair growth. At the same time, I started trying the various hair loss subscription services, like Hims, Keeps, and Roman.
I mention all three brands because they each sell finasteride pills (to combat hormonal byproducts that cause hair fall) and minoxidil drops (to boost blood flow and nutrient delivery to the follicles). These are the two key remedies that guys are prescribed for hair loss. If that’s all you’re after, then the brands are fairly interchangeable. You sign up, speak with a dermatologist who assesses your hair loss, and decides if you are a candidate for regrowth. (If it’s been gone for a couple years, it probably isn’t going to grow back. Those follicles are dead and gone, and you might need to consider a transplant instead.) The dermatologist will also run over the risks of taking these drugs, most notably those of finasteride. Some men experience sexual side effects (like erectile dysfunction of loss of sex drive), which can occasionally be irreversible, if you don’t stop taking the pills immediately. These cases are out there, but it’s still worth trying the medication and carefully monitoring these things each day—what a fun assignment!—and speaking with that doctor at any sign of change. As for me, I’ve been totally fine.
Hims also offers a DHT-fighting shampoo (DHT is that hormone byproduct that suffocates and shrinks the hair follicle), as well as very cute biotin-based sugary gummy bears (to speed up and fortify hair growth). Here is my general review of the products, keeping in mind that I also used finasteride from both Keeps and Roman.
Finasteride and Minoxidil: I’m grouping these two together since I enrolled in both simultaneously, and since I can only measure their collective success. Again, I also have tested finasteride from all three companies, though I have thus far only used minoxidil from Hims.
The hair up top my head is visibly thicker—I’d posit roughly 50%—from a year ago, when I first started treatment. As outlined by my doctor, it took about 3-4 months to notice any changes, since I had to “wake up” and strengthen the follicles that had stopped producing hairs. Any follicles that were dried up and dead—of which there were many—will never come back again. But that being said, I run my hands through my hair now and can feel it much fuller and denser than a year ago, back when my alarm finally went off. And other people notice, too, saying things like “Something’s different. You look younger?” I love that!
I only use minoxidil once daily, though you can apply it twice—morning and night. I like the drops as opposed to the foam that some brands sell, because the drops don’t compromise your clean hair or styling product. You drop them on with an eye-dropper, and massage them in quickly. They don’t burn or anything, and the standard bottle should last you a month or more.
The finasteride is a daily morning pill, which I take before applying minoxidil. (Just out of habit—it’s not like you have to do them together.) Again, I personally have had no sexual side effects from finasteride, but that’s not going to be the case for everyone. So, monitor your finasteride use closely.
And, perhaps most importantly, I have noticed far less hair fall and shedding this year. I’m 33, and to be able to say that I lose less hair now than I did at 28, 29, 30… I am pleased with the results.
One place you won’t regrow hair, however, is the hair line. Once it’s recessed, it’s pretty much gone for good. You can fight the recession, but you can’t restore what’s been lost. Instead, these remedies are restoring hair on the crown, because many of those dormant follicles are likely to produce hair, assuming it hasn’t been more than 1-3 years since they started napping.
The Shampoo: It’s no secret that I don’t love shampoo. I don’t use it a lot. It dries out the hair, by stripping away the healthy oils that keep it nourished. Yes, you want to rinse away excess grease as well as pollutants and grime, but you can do that with a conditioner, and a thorough rinse.
I have a friend whose plan for fighting hair loss was just to use Hims’ DHT-blocking shampoo. Let me tell you here and now, that that isn’t going to do anything for you. Nada. It’s not strong enough nor is it attacking the problem from the inside; it’s merely rinsing away grime at the surface, which most shampoos will do effectively. Yes, DHT can gather at the base of our hair shafts, but you need to fight it with finasteride in order to make a change, or strengthen the hair with minoxidil in the first place to fortify it against future thinning. Shampoo isn’t your hair loss strategy. It’s a nice bonus pack, if anything.
I do keep this shampoo in my shower for the few occasions when I do wash my hair, which is a couple times per month. If I have the option, yeah, I’ll pick a DHT-fighting shampoo. And I’m weirdly amused by this one’s alien-blue color. But again, it plays no role in my big-picture strategy, nor should it yours.
Hims also carries a DHT-blocking conditioner, which I would certainly recommend in place of the shampoo. Use it daily, enjoy its moisturizing, softening benefits, which only improve your hair’s quality in addition to proactively fighting DHT, even if it’s in trace amounts.
One other non-Hims product I would recommend, however, is Foligain’s trioxidil conditioner for thinning hair. It has all the nourishing powers of conditioner, won’t parch your hair, and pumps in a little trioxidil (a fancy hair-strengthening formula that includes jojoba oil and biotin to strengthen hair follicles)” dropping out the minoxidil mention?. Use it daily, and you’ll take a more proactive charge against hair loss than the DHT-blocking shampoos can give you.
The Biotin Gummies: Well, I certainly enjoyed eating one of these each morning. It’s a funny thing to look forward to, along with the morning cup of coffee. However, I think biotin supplements are only necessary if you’re trying to expedite length, and not improve overall hair strength and quality. So, perhaps in the first few months of your treatment, you want to accelerate the baby hairs that are newly regrowing. Otherwise, these delicious gummies, like any other biotin supplement, are a bit frivolous. Instead, take a daily multivitamin that adds all kinds of nourishment back into the bloodstream, not just one that’s going to make your hair grow slightly faster.
I’ll never not endorse Nutrafol’s daily supplement for this, which takes a multifaceted and holistic approach to thickening and strengthening hair. It uses ingredients like marine collagen, ashwagandha, curcumin, saw palmetto, and—there it is—biotin to accomplish the task.
The verdict: Hims’ offering works. But the stuff that works most effectively—the pills and the potion—are available generically from lots of places, like Keeps and Roman as well. You need to give them 3-4 months before you notice the regrowth, but this will only occur for follicles that haven’t fully dried up. (In other words, you won’t grow back everything, but your doctor can assess the likelihood of what will regrow, should you enroll.)
You can skip the shampoo and biotin supplement add ons, but consider using the DHT-blocking conditioner in principle, since you should be using conditioner daily to begin with.
If you want to try Hims for yourself, then sign up and speak online with one of their dermatologists to address your specific situation.
Originally Appeared on GQ