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Hair Serums | Do they work?

Hair serums are an underrecognized source to address hair challenges our patients face.  Most hair products focus on the hair itself and have limitations.  Our scalp is like a farm, the scalp is the soil, and the hair is its crop.  If the scalp isn’t healthy, it will not grow a good crop- the hair.  Read more...
 

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How do hair serums work? 


Hair serums are an underrecognized source to address hair challenges our patients face.  Most hair products focus on the hair itself and have limitations.  Our scalp is like a farm, the scalp is the soil, and the hair is its crop.  If the scalp isn’t healthy, it will not grow a good crop- the hair.  Focusing on the hair would be similar to focusing on trying to make your grass look greener by just focusing on the grass that has already grown and not addressing the soil to provide a better environment for the grass to grow.  Hair serums are like fertilizer providing important nutrients and hydration to the hair papilla from which the hair follicle grows.



Can hair serums really work? 


Hair serums have the potential to work based on the ingredients used.  



Are there certain ingredients that you should look for in a hair serum?



There are several ingredients with noted benefits in the medical literature.

Rosemary oil, grape seed extract, Hibiscus, sage, and nettles increase blood flow and potentially decrease hair loss.  Ginkgo, emu oil, and green tea have the potential to inhibit 5 alpha-reductase and reduce the production of DHEA, a hormone known to trigger male pattern baldness.  Beta glucogallin, selenopeptide, and coconut water are thought to protect the hair papilla. Pink and blue ginger, palmetto, pumpkin, red clover, and Chinese red ginseng are also known to support hair growth. And, of course, minoxidil is a well-documented topical known to promote hair growth.



Curcuma aeruginosa (pink and blue ginger), Serenoa repens (palmetto), Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin), Trifolium pratense (red clover), and Panax ginseng (Chinese red ginseng)



Are there any ingredients that are potentially harmful or common irritants in hair serums? 



The challenge with any topical product is the potential for irritant and/or allergic contact dermatitis.  I will always strongly recommend working closely with your Dermatologist to determine the true source for any rashes from product use given the wide range of potential triggers ranging from scalp products to hair dyes, to shampoos/conditioners, and other Dermatologic conditions such as seborrhea and psoriasis.



How does Vegamour compare to other common hair growth products like Rogaine and Nutrafol? 


Rogaine works with its key ingredient minoxidil. 


Nutrafol is an oral supplement with various vitamins and nutrients.  If there is a deficiency it may help but for most of my patients, the price tag is high. Note the biotin content in some versions may require caution. Also, note that I have never mentioned biotin supplementation as a source for hair growth. There is no data to support the use of biotin for hair growth in the absence of a biotin deficiency.  I find that some patients like to take a supplement to feel as though they are taking a proactive role in addressing hair growth however I tend to prefer that my patients focus on addressing specific underlying deficiencies and dietary interventions to support health and avoid taking supplements without guidance.  In recent years I have seen blood work demonstrating hypervitaminoses from supplements that have their consequences. 


Reviewing the ingredients for Vegamour hair serum GRO, the key ingredients they note are turmeric, caffeine, mung bean and clover blend, and biotin.  Biotin topically does not appear to have data to support its benefits for hair in the medical literature.  Caffeine is thought to trigger vasodilation locally which may offer some benefits to blood flow.  The anti-inflammatory effect and potential antimicrobial effects of other topicals have the potential to help support scalp health. Still, as with all ingredients, it is difficult to state with certainty the benefits without knowing the concentrations of these ingredients.



Is there anyone that should NOT use a hair growth serum? 


In general, it is a good idea to support the scalp early, even before evidence of hair loss occurs.  From my perspective, it is much easier to maintain growth than it is to restore it.  So the measures my patients can take early on to reduce the tendency towards hair loss is better. This is partly why I tend to recommend consideration towards hair serums before supplements as they tend to be milder, run less risk of side effects, and can provide hydration and anti-inflammatory effects that can benefit hair growth overall. 



Who would benefit most from the use of a hair serum?


I would say that a basic hydration scalp serum is likely a good supplement to any hair routine that includes shampoo and conditioner to have a leave-on product that continues to hydrate the scalp and promote hair growth. In terms of a hair growth serum, I would recommend discussing it with your dermatologist first to determine the true cause of hair loss.  The range of possibilities from hormonal, to stress, to autoimmune, to infectious, to physical, and neurologic require different interventions.  Accurately diagnosing hair loss is the first step in successful targeted therapeutics.




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