“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 know—we also wish our bodies weren’t so complex.

So, before we tell you how to stop hair loss, we’re going to walk through some commonly asked questions to help you better under why it’s not so simple.

What is hair loss?

The fact is that everyone loses hair. In fact, it’s normal to lose up to 50-100 hairs a day. But losing hair is different than hair loss. When you’re just losing hair, you’re unlikely to notice (besides seeing a few strands here and there) because new hairs are constantly growing.

However, when the hairs you’re losing are not being replaced, you do start to notice signs of hair loss.

This type of hair loss is called male pattern baldness.

What causes hair loss?

Contrary to what you may hear, male pattern baldness nothing to do with wearing hats, or masturbating too much, or not using the right type of shampoo.

It has to do with your genetics. Male pattern baldness is a chronic condition that 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 out and doesn’t get replaced by healthy hair.

This is a chronic condition that doesn’t currently have a cure (though researchers are working on it).

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.

Yes! In fact, it’s the exact same condition. Androgenic alopecia is just the more scientific name for male pattern baldness (you might also see it referred to as androgenetic hair loss).

It’s important to note though, that while Keeps is all about helping men with their hair loss, androgenic alopecia is not just a condition that affects men. Women can also suffer from androgenic alopecia, and in that case it’s unsurprisingly called female pattern hair loss. Harvard has a great article on the topic that dives more deeply into it.

So, how do you stop hair loss?

Ah yes, the original answer you were looking — how to stop hair loss. As we mentioned above, there isn’t a cure for male pattern baldness.

But, not all hope is lost! 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 four to six months (or more) 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 four 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.

OK, but what about natural treatments, like vitamins or cod liver oil?

Sorry, but vitamins (including multivitamins and vitamin D) aren’t proven to stop hair loss. Our advisors share a little bit more on what that is here. Cod liver oil falls in the same camp. However, that doesn’t mean these are bad for your hair. In fact, certain vitamins and oils can make your hair look healthier, even though they’re not preventing future hair loss.

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.

If you would like to learn more about finasteride, please see the full prescription information here. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit MedWatch: https://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/default.htm   or call 1-800-FDA-1088

Image credit: Robbie Tripp