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Helping the Hubby’s Hair Loss

By Amalah

Dear Amy,
This question is really on behalf of my husband, but I really want to help him figure this out and I feel confident that you can help me! My husband is only 28, but for the past few years he’s noticed his hair thinning significantly (mostly at the back/crown of his head) and while he’s generally a pretty secure guy, he’s really not ready to have a bald spot and is feeling a bit insecure about it. I mean, at some point I’m sure he’ll just accept it (he already rocks the buzz cut pretty well), but not yet, you know? I remembered you mentioning in one of your columns that your husband started using Rogaine years ago and was able to ward off further thinning of his hair, and I am *hoping* you can give me some further insight on your experiences with the Rogaine?
I did some “Google research” on the topic, and it seems Rogaine use is not without potential side effects. One Amazon review I ran across was especially alarming, with the reviewer stating that the Rogaine made him lose lots more hair, not just on the balding spot but in a greater radius around it, and that when the hair started growing back in, it was whispy/feathery/just-overall-different than his regular hair, and actually made the area look worse. Yikes! More minor, but also annoying, side effects seem to be greasiness after using the product, and staining of clothes and pillowcases that come into contact with treated hair. But then others report great results with minimal or no side effects, and really recommend it. What’s a guy to do? What has been your guy’s experience with it? What are really the potential risks versus benefits of using the stuff? And finally, how does one decide which kind to use (regular or extra strength, foam or liquid, generic or brand name)?
Thanks so much for your time Amy! I *love* your columns and the comments from your readers, and have learned so much from both … keep up the great work. 🙂

HA! Okay. This is what my husband did, when he first noticed thinning hair: Walked into a store. Picked up a box of Rogaine. Bought it. Used it. No research, no agonizing. I honestly wonder if he even read the instructions. Point is, this is a man who will spend eight months researching a battery charger but when faced with a slightly more visible scalp he was all, “I saw a commercial for Rogaine once. I’ll buy that.”
Now, this was back before there were multiple formulations and options. And if Rogaine hadn’t done the trick, I’m guessing he would have spent a little more time researching anything that required more effort than an OTC product. But it did do the trick, and without any side effects. He absolutely did not lose any more hair, and the hair that grew back looked exactly like…the rest of his hair, in color and texture. He has sensitive skin but the medication has never irritated him. This is, of course, just one person’s experience. It has absolutely no bearing on whether Rogaine will work for your husband or whether he’ll experience side effects or whether we’ll all find out in 10 years that Rogaine has secretly been turning its users into cancerous werewolves.
Jason uses the extra-strength original formulation — the medicinal-smelling one you apply with a dropper, and has never tried the newer foam version. The foam is supposedly easier to use and has a “pleasant scent,” but he prefers to stick with what he knows will work. (Though he will occasionally buy the Target brand version, first because our Target had trouble keeping Rogaine in stock, and then because this crap gets EXPENSIVE. If you stop using it, you will start losing your hair again. The generic version seems to work just as well.)
He uses it in the morning and has never had any problems with greasiness afterwards — though he does use it AFTER he puts his shirt on to prevent any staining. (I imagine if you use it at night you would have some pillowcase staining, similar to what a lot of Proactiv users complain about.)
One last important note: it is very important for women to 1) not use the men’s formulation and 2) not come into contact with the product AT ALL during pregnancy. If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, store the bottle away from any of your stuff, in a place where you don’t ever have to touch or move the bottle, just to be extra safe.


Published January 25, 2010. Last updated April 29, 2010.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Kate

    January 25, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    I have nothing to say about the Rogaine…but do all husbands spend 8 months researching things like battery chargers? It makes me nuts. We can never buy anything without checking consumer reviews, Amazon, etc. Maddening.

  • Melissa

    January 25, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    no info about hair loss…sorry
    but I can tell you that in my house I am the one who researches everything to death.
    it takes my husband about 5 mins to decide on anything. which is good…except when it’s my turn to make a choice.

  • Della

    January 26, 2010 at 2:50 am

    So, we’ve looked into this, but the hubs keeps saying he’s not ready to start paying for something he’ll have to use until death or suffer the consequences.
    Two additional questions:
    1) One of the potential side effects is weight gain. I think this is actually the REAL reason he hasn’t tried it yet. Anecdotal evidence is fine; I think he’s just got himself worked up to believe that it will definitely cause weight gain, and he’s trying to lose weight currently. So.
    I don’t have any, haven’t read the label, etc. It sounds like this is a daily use product.
    (2)[A] How long do you have to go before your hair starts disappearing again – days? weeks? – and [B] is it completely drastic when it does fall out due to missing/stopping the application? Also, [C] say you took the stuff for 5 years, then stopped. Would you lose hair to the point where you were at the beginning of treatment, or the point to which you would have naturally progressed had there been no treatment (ie, if you take it for a long time, then stop, will you be worse than you were when you started, or does it kind of freeze frame your hair loss at the point you start taking it)?
    Sounds like Amy might not know the answers here, so I’d be thrilled for any anecdotes from Viewers Like You.

  • Elizabeth

    January 26, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I’ve always read that the only reason women can’t use the men’s formulation is that the FDA didn’t specifically research the formula for use in women. In fact, I’ve read in like, real publications (probably Glamour or some such) that women should skip straight to the men’s full strength version and skip the weaker “women’s” branded product. So I’m curious why you say women should not use the men’s formulation? (Besides the obvs pregnancy reasons, that is)

  • Jaymee

    January 26, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    My husband has been using this stuff for years. He says that he started losing his hair in high school. He’s been using Rogaine ever since. I don’t know what he started with, but now he uses the foam kind. I had never noticed any staining on clothing or pillow cases until I bought some cheap blue ones for travel(our normal pillow cases are dark brown and expensive). It’s not terrible, just left a slightly darker spot on the pillow case. I’m asuming from the oils in the product. I’m not sure if it’s because the pillow cases are made of cheaper materials or if it’s becasue they aren’t a dark color like the normal ones. My husband has experienced no weight gain that I know of. In fact I’ve never even heard of that being a side effect. My husband does go to the gym every day though, and eats healthy. So even if it is a side effect it most likely wouldn’t do anything to him. The exact results vary depending on the person, use, and hair so the results of discontinuing will also vary. If you stop using the product your not going to wake up the next day and find half your hair in the bed. You will gradually over time loose your hair, some faster than others. Since you are no longer using the product you will loose your hair beyond the point of where you were when you started using the product. Your hair is not going to go back to the starting point and then just stop falling out. If you weren’t loosing any hair, there would be no reason to use Rogain. You have to keep in mind, just like any other product there are possible side effects. Results will vary, and if you dicontinue use you will go back to normal.

  • Heidi

    January 27, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I don’t know how helpful this will be–but my father was one of the original researchers on Rogaine, thirty-five or so years ago when it was the high blood pressure medication minoxidil that had caused unexpected hair growth in patients. He was unconcerned enough about side effects that, for years, he’d have odd little patches of hair all over his body from testing the stuff on different types of hair follicles. And he’s in his 70s, great health, so no long-term problems either. He’s coming to visit this weekend; I’ll run some of these questions past him and see if he has any answers.

  • Jasmine

    January 27, 2010 at 10:37 am

    More irrelevant commentary from the sidelines here from little old me — my father lost about all his hair in a couple of years before he turned 30. This is in the family and all the men — even sons of the daughters — suffer from this hair loss. If this is the case, I’m not sure if Rogaine may help (sorry argh I hate being the wet blanket).
    A suggestion would be to check the diet and find out more about his scalp condition — is it grease overload? Then it’s probably dihydrotestosterone (DHT) production that’s getting out of hand, killing the bulbs of the hair follicles. Hormones are metabolised by the liver, so it may be a Hormone or Liver problem that’s showing on the head. I don’t want to *problematise* things but you know, he’s 28 …
    So anyway. Um. Yeah. Good luck!

  • Chris

    January 28, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I think bald or buzz cut men are sexy. My husband starting losing his hair in high school…he is now 38 and still has some hair but he buzzes it. When I asked him if he wanted to do Rogaine, he said, “No, God gave me this body and I am not going to try to fake it out.” Wow, eh? Just remember that every body reacts differently to treatments like Rogaine, etc.

  • Elizabeth

    January 30, 2010 at 12:20 am

    I, a woman, have been using Rogaine for about 5 years (since my early 20s). It did not cause any weight gain (that sounds so weird). I have used both the liquid and the foam. I prefer the liquid. I didn’t enjoy the smell of the foam, particularly at night around my face in bed. Also, the foam starts to “melt” quickly in your hand, so I took to squirting a little all over my head and rubbing into the scalp. I imagine guys might like the foam better b/c they have short hair and can get to the scalp easier, but for longer hair, you kind of need to part the hair and the dropper works better for this.
    Both versions can cause some oily buildup, but I found, agian for long woman hair, that if I blew it dry with a hairdryer, it was mostly ok. Washed my hair every day or every other because you are creating a buildup at the scalp. Again, for a guy to wash his hair every day isn’t such a big deal.
    My dermatologist reccomended going with the men’s version instead of the womens b/c research found that for whatever reason, women’s receptors acted faster/better than men’s using a lower dose, but that a higher dose wouldn’t cause any damage. And at that time, the women’s version was more expensive and scented.
    The only side effect, and one that I was aware could happen, was transferance to the pillowcase (not that I noticed any staining), but it caused more peach fuzz on my face, particularly the side I slept primarily on. It wasn’t a big deal to take care of and tapered off with more use. But again…guys have a fuzzy face so what’s a little more.
    Eventually, after several years when my hair had gotten thicker, I could back off from using it twice a day to once a day (or even 5 times a week) and still maintain hair fullness.