Over-the-Counter Hair Loss Treatments: Help or Hype?

J Drugs Dermatol. 2018 Dec 1;17(12):1317-1321.


Introduction: A limited number of treatments have been approved for androgenetic alopecia, however, myriad over-the-counter products for hair loss are available and readily purchased by consumers. This study aims to provide an overview of popular over-the-counter hair loss products and to review the available evidence regarding their use. Methods: Top-selling hair loss products were identified using sales data from the online retailer Amazon.com. The active ingredients, consumer ratings, quantity, and price were collected for each product. A search of the literature was conducted for ingredients that frequently appeared on the top-seller list. Results: Forty-two of the top 50 products met inclusion criteria, including orals (21.4%), topicals (35.7%), or shampoos/conditioners (42.9%). Common active ingredients included minoxidil, nutrients (ie, vitamins, minerals, proteins), and plant-based botanicals. 23.8% of products were FDA-approved treatments for androgenetic alopecia. Evidence for non-approved treatments is limited to small studies without generalizability. Discussion: While some over-the-counter treatments may be efficacious, more rigorous study is required. Dermatologists should be equipped to discuss the efficacy of these therapies as well as the risks and benefits associated with their use with patients. J Drugs Dermatol. 2018;17(12):1317-1321.

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / drug therapy*
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Minoxidil / administration & dosage
  • Minoxidil / therapeutic use
  • Nonprescription Drugs / administration & dosage
  • Nonprescription Drugs / therapeutic use
  • Phytotherapy
  • United States
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Vitamins
  • Minoxidil