“How do I stop hair loss?” is a pretty common question for guys to ask when they notice their thinning hair or a newly receding hairline. The problem is that depending on who you ask (or what you google), the answer can be different.

Well, you’re in luck today, my friend. Because everything you read on Keeps is expert-backed by leading hair loss experts (want to meet them? Here’s a little more info on Dr. Jerry Shapiro and Dr. Antonella Tosti).

Unfortunately, the answer to “How do I stop hair loss?” isn’t an easy yes or no. We know—we also wish our bodies weren’t so complex.

What causes hair loss

The fact is that hair loss happens. And it has nothing to do with wearing hats, or masturbating too much, or not using the right shampoo.

It has to do with your genetics. Male pattern baldness occurs when your hair follicles have a genetic sensitivity to a male hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This sensitivity affects your hair’s growth cycle. Or, to put it more simply, it’s why your hair falls and doesn’t get replaced by healthy hair.

Before you curse your genes, know that hair loss happens to most of us—two out of three guys will start to lose their hair by the age of 35, and 85% of American men have significantly thinning hair by the time they’re 50.

What treats hair loss

However, all hope isn’t lost when it comes to your hair! There are two safe and effective formulas that are FDA-approved for preventing further hair loss.

While you may read about other treatments or home remedies that promise immediate hair growth, these are the only two options that are clinically proven to work:

1. Minoxidil

The first one is called minoxidil (generic Rogaine®). It’s a topical treatment that you apply twice a day. It is most effective for regrowth along the top of your head and the crown. For minoxidil to work, you must be diligent about using it; it may take three to four months of regular use before you notice any improvement, and if you stop using it, any regrown hair will usually fall out within three months.

2. Finasteride

And the second one’s called finasteride (generic Propecia®). It’s a prescription pill that you take once a day. It’s mainly used for stopping further loss across the entirety of your head, including receding hairlines.

If you’ve already started with finasteride and are stressing out because you’re not seeing results right away, be patient. It may take at least three months of daily use of finasteride before you notice an improvement in your hair loss (more on that here). Also, it’s good to note that you must continue to take this medicine to maintain results; if you stop taking it, its effect will be reversed within 12 months.

To recap: Hair loss is a chronic condition that requires treatment if you want to stop the balding process in its tracks. While there’s no cure for hair loss, there are ways to effectively treat the symptoms and keep the hair you have. Regular use of minoxidil or finasteride (or a combination of the two) can mitigate the effects of male pattern baldness and stop hair loss.

If you think either of these medicines might be for you, it’s time to get started with Keeps.

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Finasteride is an oral medication used to treat male pattern baldness in men only. It is not for use by women. When used by men, finasteride is generally safe but it can also cause serious side effects, including but not limited to allergic reactions, sexual dysfunction, and high-grade prostate cancer. Most patients find that problems with sexual function resolve when they stop taking the medicine. For full prescribing information, view the drug label information. For full prescribing information, view the drug label information.

Image credit: Robbie Tripp