Am I losing my hair or losing my mind?

Today’s blog post comes to you courtesy of The Guardian – Female hair loss: Causes and Treatment. It’s yet another piece of confessional journalism but again I hope it serves a purpose, beyond drawing everyone’s inquiring gaze to my hair line whenever I meet them, that is.

While The Guardian didn’t go for my ‘losing my hair or losing my mind’ title, I think the point comes across. I literally thought I was going loopy. I was convinced my hair was thinning and went everywhere and read everything to try and find the answer. I can’t remember the number of times I’ve sat in tears in a doctor’s surgery trying to convince a GP that it wasn’t all in my head.

I also saw homeopaths, naturopaths, kiniesiologists, dermatologists and endocrinologists and read everything I could find about natural supplements for women and hair. No doubt everyone and everything helped me along a little – I’m a great believer in holistic medicine – but noone or nothing managed to rid me of the sense that, one day, I might end up having to sport a comb over.

With that prospect in mind, sometimes I cringed when my dear friends called me ‘Baldy’ (from my surname Baldwin) – I was convinced, sooner or later, I’d live up to my nickname. But on days when I was managing to take myself less seriously, I found it quite amusing. I’m chuckling now.

Female hair loss, however, is an incredibly complex subject and I couldn’t cover it all in 800 words in that Guardian piece. There’s so much I didn’t say. So here’s a few more tips, with the disclaimer that I’m not a doctor or a trichologist – I’m just someone who’s quite persistent in her pursuit of information!

For example – in case there are any women who are still looking for answers – if you’re getting your iron levels checked out at the GP, you need to test your iron stores, called ferritin, and not just the iron in the blood. And if they tell you you’re in the ‘normal range’, ask for the exact measure. The range is massive, it goes from something like 20 to 150. I’m at 25 and was the same in 2007 the last time I had it tested. The GP said that was normal but trichologists say our iron levels need to be 80 to 100 to support good hair growth. So that’s a simple solution to some of my worries right there – for the last 5 years my ferritin levels have been on the floor. I’m now taking iron supplements (Ferrograd C) and will get tested again in six months.

But, as I hoped I made clear, iron deficiency can cause shedding and poor hair growth but topping up on iron won’t resolve the hereditary condition, which is linked to male hormones. It’s not that we’ve got too many male hormones in our body – although they can be there for other reasons – it’s that our follicles are overly sensitive to normal levels of male hormones.

The whole picture is complicated, however, by the fact we may actually have elevated male hormone levels anyway – often because of polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. I was diagnosed as borderline PCOS years ago and had acne at the same time, which is also linked to too much male hormone. That’s why some experts prescribe the pill for hair thinning (only certain types with anti-androgens though) as it increases oestrogen. I’m not going down that route, though, and I never have. And the kiniesiologist helped clear up the acne with a massive dose of Omega 3.

Genetic hair loss also gets worse in menopause, because women’s oestrogen levels drop and the male hormones have less competition. They roam around our body, head for our hair follicles and – if and only if we have the gene – they’ll damage the follicles, hair will thin and eventually stop growing.

Stress worsens the condition since we have male hormones in our adrenal or stress glands. So the more stress, the more male hormones in our body and the more follicles get killed off. I guess the biggest irony is that in writing the hair thinning piece (as I do with pretty much all the stories I write) I put myself under so much stress – to get it right, perfect, accurate etc – that I probably lost a fair few follicles in the process.

One thing I didn’t have too much space to write about is the myriad of treatments – chemical and natural – on offer. There are 300,000 pills and potions on sale in the northern hemisphere, according to the Institute of Trichologists. I went to the Philip Kingsley clinic in desperation five years ago and was diagnosed with hereditary hair loss then. I bought the clinic’s 3M drops (£47 for a supply that lasts one- to three-months) and tried them for a bit but decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life putting drugs on my scalp. I thought there had to be a better, more natural way.

I mentioned the scalp drug minoxidil in the story too – you can buy it over the counter, often under the name Regaine. It seems many women have had success with Regaine and the Philip Kingsley clinic puts some minoxidil in their drops along with the anti-male hormone solution but the clinic says anti-androgens are more effective. I have a bottle of Regaine in my bathroom cupboard from years ago too – I read the instructions but decided against it.

This time around, though, I’m going to take the iron consistently and try the Philip Kingsley drops and see where I am in six months – I’ll let you know. I’d still like to think there was a natural way but the trichologists say No. Others might disagree.

There are all manner of natural things that people have tried and that have helped – I’ve been told about kelp and biotin. Apparently, keeping our bodies clear of toxins and ridding our homes of chemicals like parabens can help keep the male hormone levels down. I’ve been trying that for years, albeit a little half-heartedly. My shampoos and soaps are all natural (and not cheap!). Maybe I’ll try some kelp too and I think I’ll start eating more red meat and protein.

Ultimately, though, I’ve discovered there’s no actual ‘cure’, which has been the best thing about researching this story. I always thought I was going crazy and I was convinced there was something I’d done wrong – the bad teenage perm, the eating disorder etc. Knowing it’s a hereditary condition is a real weight off my mind.  I was born with the gene so I’m not going to get back the hair I had when I was 10 or 20 years old. But it’s much better to know that for sure than to spend time and money trying to.

My hair - at least some of it is still there

Of course, I’m not denying that my perfectionist streak and slightly obsessive nature doesn’t play a part in my hair anxiety. I know other women who are much more able to just let it go – genetic hair loss isn’t a life threatening condition after all. And as hard as it is to sit in front of a GP and feel they’re not believing you, I would rather the NHS put their focus on spotting breast cancer or other potentially fatal diseases. The resources aren’t there to send women off to endocrinologists and trichologists because of hair thinning. That’s not to deny the psychological impact of thinning hair on women. I’ve felt it myself and cried down the phone in my interview with the trichologist the other day. And I can barely bring myself to utter the phrase ‘female pattern baldness’ without wanting to hide under the duvet – it’s not overly attractive!). But somehow, I’ve found some peace around it, now I know it’s all down to genes.

There’s one other thing that has made me chuckle, though. I love writing these ‘confessional’ stories about binge eating or hair thinning because I really see a purpose in them – perhaps someone will find some relief. But I’m not sure I’m building a particularly attractive picture of myself. I was thinking, if I ever signed up to online dating again, my profile could read something like: ‘Slightly balding, recovering binge eater who suffers with perfectionism, stress and insomnia seeks extremely tolerant and open-minded partner’.

Of course, I’m poking fun at myself here and I know it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And this blog, since it’s inception in spring last year, has been about self-acceptance. Now I know what my hair problem is, it’s so much easier to accept it.

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42 Responses to Am I losing my hair or losing my mind?

  1. Emma says:

    I really feel for you, and applaud your courage in writing the article. For more years than I care to remember, I was obsessed about losing my hair. I used to have a ‘stress-relieving’ routine in my late teens/early twenties that involved combing and combing my hair aggressively with a thick comb until my scalp was itching and red and full of dandruff (not pleasant but all part of my OCD). Then after a few years I noticed my fringe had reduced by about 30% and my hair was coming out more when I washed it. I started to become OBSESSED and was always checking my hair in mirrors, standing directly under the bedroom light and observing my scalp between the hairs, and on and on. This was 20 odd years ago and I am now 45 and my hair is still there and actually quite thick. I guess that at some point along the way I just made the conscious decision to stop obsessing and eventually actually forgot about my obsession. Now I don’t think twice about my hair (I’m careful not to) and it has remained in place! I guess the key is to get out of your own way and think about other things which are more important. I wish you luck and the more you can relax about it and actually forget about it, the more it will just find it’s own way back. I’m sure of it.

    I think it started in my twenties when I noticed that

    • Hi Emma,
      Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing your story, and for your encouragement. I agree that the more we stress about things, the worse they seem and sometimes the worse they can get – particularly if hair thinning is exacerbated by stress!
      I love that phrase ‘get out of your own way’ – it’s something I’ve been trying to do in various areas of my life, with varying degrees of success. Well done on relaxing about your hair and forgetting about it – seems like a very good plan. I’m not quite there yet but I hope it will come!
      Thanks again and best wishes,
      Katherine

  2. Jo says:

    I tried Philip Kingsley 3M drops for around 2 years and have to say I noticed a real improvement in my hair. However I like you wasn’t keen on using drugs on my head so thought I’d stop and try and find something else. Short story is I haven’t found anything that does the job as well. Also gradually my hair has gone back to it’s original state as you have to use the drops continually to maintain the improvement. I will be going back to Philip Kingsley and starting the drops, the only thing stopping me at the moment is the cost. Nearly £600 per year for the drops, plus blood test cost, plus £100 to see a trichologist is a lot when you have just lost your job! And then you have to be aware that this is a treatment you have to do for life. I would be very interested to know how you get on with the drops, good luck!

    Jo

  3. Hi Jo,
    Thanks for reading and getting in touch. I’m trying the 3M drops right now and have been since I wrote that post. I’ll report back in a few months! I see a few problems, however. One is that I’m also taking iron tablets and trying to eat more iron-rich foods, which should stimulate my hair growth anyway as my ferritin was very low. The second is, as you mention, the thought of carrying on with these drops, with the accompanying hassle and expense, for the rest of my life! I tried them out a few years back and lost interest after my first batch of drops ran out. I’d started taking Omega 3 tablets and they seemed to help my hair too (I was taking them for PCOS that seemed to be triggering acne and hair thinning). I’d love to find a natural solution as I like to stay as chemical free as possible but I’m just not sure there is one. Anyway, I’ll see how I go with the drops and return to the topic in a while.
    Best wishes, Katherine

  4. sarah says:

    Hi

    I too have suffered hair loss on and off for most of my adult life, starting 12 years ago when i was 17. I have tried every treatment under the sun and currently think that high-dose iron works the best for me. It is very depressing at 17 to be told you have generic hair loss/female pattern baldness,and i never really accepted this diagnosis. Interestingly after training to become a Haematology nurse i have found that ferritin levels being incredibly low can trigger an androgen-pattern hair loss off with similar miniaturisation of hairs and poor regrowth if any, which many physicians then wrongly diagnose as female pattern baldness and treat with minoxidil, the pill or other synthetic chemicals. This will not help the underlying cause and so hair loss will continue. I was diagnosed with female hair loss with a ferritin of 9 and only on getting it up to the highest its ever been (63) am i experiencing some let up in my hair loss, Hair wont actively enter the growth cycle until ferritin is in the range 60-80 and i can really vouch for that. Please dont just accept the ‘Genetic hair loss/ One diagnosis fits all’ and request to have your iron levels checked. and monitored. Also be prepared those with hypothyroidism and PCOS (like me) take longer and have more difficulty absorbing and incrementing iron, so its a long path but well worth it 🙂 Hope that helps
    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for your comment. That’s really helpful and encouraging. It was very frustrating to be told by the GP that my ferritin was “normal” and to be told that there was nothing wrong with me or my here. It was the trichologist who told me that a ferritin level of 23 isn’t enough for good hair growth – that it needs to be around 80, as you say. I’ve been taking Ferrograd C for a good while now and will get retested soon. I’m also PCOS or borderline at least and I think I have difficulty absorbing iron. It seems there are so many potential things that could go wrong/impact hair growth, PCOS, hypothyroidism etc. I’ve been applying these Philip Kingsley 3M drops but not sure there’s been any difference. Although a good hair cut has made me feel much more positive – at least in the short term.
      Thanks again for your input. I hope things continue to improve for you.
      Best wishes,
      Katherine

  5. Mary Murray says:

    You look as if you are suffering from FFA – frontal fibrocising alopecia. This is becoming quite common (it has only been around since 1994-ish), but lots of GPs haven’t heard of it. If you go to the Alopecia world website and look for a group called frontal fibrocising alopecia you will meet a whole lot of us who have this horrible disease. Many different treatments are being tried but no one knows if any of them work.

  6. Zoey says:

    Hi there, I have read your article with great interest over the last few months and keep coming back on to see if you have updated it after continuing with the Philip Kingsley 3M drops! I have been taking the drops now since March. My hair has been thinning for quite a few years, especially at the front. I had my ferritin level tested 3 years ago and it was 2.1! My GP told me that was okay! However, after doing extensive research over the internet I knew it wasn’t. I found a female GP, who showed some concern in my hair, she said she had a low ferritin level but wasn’t aware of the impact that it was having on her hair, although it was quite thin. I started taking Florisene, but this made very little difference to my ferritin level at all, in two years, it only rose to 12. I have now been taking Ferrograd C for the last six months and go back for a ferritin check next week. I went to see a trichologist at Philip Kingsley’s Green Street offices who was very helpful and supportive. I was prescribed 3M drops and have been using them every day since then. I (fingers crossed) have noticed some very fine little hairs creeping in around my temple area which I am over the moon about as they have been receeded for as long as I can remember. The overall thickness of my hair seems to be a bit better, although I am not sure whether that is down to my ferritin levels rising or the drops, which I only apply at the front anyway. Like you, I am concerned that I will have to use them for the rest of my life, but I’m wondering if I get my hair to thicken somewhat overall and continue with iron tablets, whether I can reduce the drops over a period of time and ultimately stop without losing my hair. Who knows? Anyway, I am wondering how you are doing on the drops, I hope you are seeing some success and I will check back in a few weeks to see if you have posted again. Good luck and thank you for addressing a very delicate subject.

    • Hi Zoey,
      Thanks for writing and sharing your story and apologies for the delay in responding to you or updating my post on hair loss. My hair seemed to drop to the bottom of my list of priorities for a while but I wanted to get back to you and I will do a separate post on this at some stage soon also.
      So I have been using the Kingsley 3M drops since I wrote the post but I confess that I’ve been using them rather sporadically. I haven’t been very consistent at all. For example, I was just on holiday for a week and I didn’t apply them at all. I do use the other treatments at times – the zinc or elasticizer – but again rather infrequently, although my hair looks great afterwards for a day or two! I had also been taking Ferrograd C but ran out a month or two ago so need to buy some more. I am not the best patient.
      However, my ferritin levels have improved, going up from 23 to around 60 now, and I intend to carry on with Ferrograd C.
      In terms of my hair, what can I say? The straight answer is I don’t really know if it’s improved at all but I’m not so worried about it so maybe that means it has. I recently went back to the Kingsley clinic for an appointment and the trichologist said he could see improvement. I couldn’t really seee this myself but he was quite happy with how things were progressing. I don’t have to go back for a check-up for a year now which is great because I can’t afford to! It’s very expensive. I plan to continue with the drops but no doubt I will continue to do that sporadically, particularly because of the cost. It probably doesn’t make much sense – ie it should probably be all or nothing – but I don’t seem to be too worried right now.
      I would still love to find a natural alternative. I will continue to explore diet and exercise and try to reduce my stress levels as I think they have an impact. And of course I will continue to try and get my ferritin levels up to 80-100 which is where they need to be to stimulate good hair growth apparently. But then it’s going to be difficult to know whether it’s the iron or the drops that’s helping.
      I’d love to hear how you’re getting on also so do stay in touch.
      Thanks for reading and sharing.
      Best wishes, Katherine

  7. Daniel says:

    I also went to see Philip Kingsley and I can’t stress the importance of keeping up with his products . I’m male and was devastated at my hair loss . I use his m Drops and my hair has grown back ! Use his scalp masks you will get even better results his new scalp stimulating mask is incredible . Also your diet has to be good and there are lots of things that help . If you want any tips I will tell you lots . X be well x

    • Hi Daniel,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. As you’ll see in my reply to Zoey above, I have been rather sporadic with my application of the drops, which isn’t ideal. But feel free to share any tips you have on diet or alternative treatments that are perhaps less expensive.
      Best wishes, Katherine

    • Ash says:

      Hi Daniel would like to know abit more as I considering visiting the Philip Kingsley clinic and starting the 3M drops. I didn’t know how vain I was until I started noticing a bald patch at the front of my head and my barber telling me my hair line is receding. This is one of the worst feelings I have felt, theirs nothing like having a bad day waking up feeling rough the looking in the mirror and feeling worse. Then you start to notice all the bald people and start imaging how you will look with a a bald head. I have a big head looool. look forward to hearing from you.

  8. Raoul says:

    Hi Daniel,

    Many thanks for your post. Just like Ash I am also experiencing hairline recession which has been the case for the last 5 years or so and atm I am considering visiting Philip Kingley. I would also like to know more about your experience to date. How long have you been applying their solutions and have you seen any new growth and/or restoration of your hairline to how it looked before recession?

    Any help or advice would be very welcomed – do you have any before and after shots?

    Many thanks,

    Raoul

    • Daniel says:

      Hello all 🙂
      I hope this message finds you all well . Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to all your messages . I’ve been quite poorly and had quite a lot of surgery but here we go 🙂 please forgive me as this may be a long message .
      Ok 🙂
      I have been using Philip Kingsleys M Drops for years and years now . I would never be without them as they do work ! Nothing else does !! No herbs can work here like the M drops as they contain heavy hitting Anti Androgenic medicines . Including very potent androgens that are taken orally by male to femail transsexuals to block testosterone ! So it’s potent ! It’s amaxing . I have regular blood tests and it does in no way ever reach my blood and effect my hormone levels as a male i was very concerned about this . But I’ve had no problems when you visit the clinic and get prescribed them you have to have a blood test to check your levels so they are very careful indeed . The clinic is exciting as you know that many famous people have been there ! Philip kingsley is retired now I think but he has many brilliant trichologists that work there and do his work . They discuss all your history and discuss diet and nutrition and health and take a very good look at your scalp to diagnose any problems that may be occurring .
      They then prescribe the treatments you need to correct the problems . Shampoo ,conditioner , scalp toner / stimulant and scalp drops . Also scalp masks ! They are axing you can buy in the clinic large tubs of a scalp stimulating scalp mask I use it twice a week as it deep cleans my scalp and exfoliates it 🙂 no point applying a potent mixture to your scalp if you have lots of build up blocking its pathway to the root of your hair . I also love to buy the two scalp masks you can buy online and in shops the scalp stimulating and exfoliating mask . Both of them really do work to keep your scalp build up free and stimulated to grow nice hair . I do use one every week and do leave it on for longer .
      We exfoliate our skin so our faces absorb our skin care properly . The same has to be done to the scalp ! I always give myself time to treat my scalp each week as its the foundation for my hair growth .

      My secret 🙂 you can buy philip kingsley protein capsules . Don’t bother 🙂 now I’m telling you my amazing secret 🙂 as soon as I wake up I pour a satchet of gelatine powder into a cup add a tsp of MSM look it up online it’s amazing for strong skin hair and nails I add some water and just drink it down 🙂 have you heard of all these expensive collagen supplements ! It’s just gelatine !! It’s full of amino acids the building blocks of the body . My hair grows so strong and thick and my skin plumped up and my nails are strong too . I use beef gelatine satchets , the best would be fish gelatine powder but I can’t find any . Twice per day and every day ! It’s amazing . Those amino acids are perfect we all need protein to build our hair 🙂 the MSM is a miracle product too .

      If your a lady have regular iron checks low iron and hair is yukky or falling out ! A really good multi vitamin with loads of B vitamins and Biotin ! Hair loves it ! Solar vm2000 and also solar hair skin and nails are really great !!! Also have protein with each meal the body uses it to make hair ! Also you need essential fats I have pumpkin seeds as they have good fats as well as the zinc which keeps my hair shiny and my skin supple . Also I drink lots of green tea and water important to keep the blood nice and liquid to feed those follicles .
      Another thing I use is a body massager . It vibrates quite strongly and I found a scalp attatchment . I use it on my scalp as often as I can ! They used one in the kingsley clinic when I went to stimulate my scalp and increase blood flow . I just plug it in and it’s powerful look online you will see them .
      Next thing is at the clinic if you have a treatment they don’t blow dry your hair ! You would walk out with damp hair after one of their treatments . They give you a drier so you do it yourself . !! The scalp toners are a must !! Never skip them every day use it even if you didn’t wash your hair ! Keeps the scalp in perfect condition ! I If they prescribe scalp drops they will prescribe a stimulating toner containing methyl nicotinate which makes your scalp go red as it gets engorged with blood . It’s brilliant !
      I have hair now my hair line is really great and to be honest I don’t think I’d have much hair left if it were not for the M drops and the products and my diet . The benefit of the diet and the gelatine is that you end up looking younger too !!! I had severe scarring after a bad accident I made my own plan of action to clear my scarring and to look younger . My scalp foods have definately helped . That story is another one maybe if anyone wants to know abt that I cqn write up my story and how I reconstructed my own skin from a scarred mess to something I’m proud of .

      Anyway I could write for ages . If anyone wants to know any more or to ask questions just ask away . I’m here for you all !!
      Be well xxx
      Danny

  9. Maz says:

    Hi all
    I have recently been told, by PK, that I have density changes on the top of my scalp. I assume that this is female genetic hair loss but I am still in some form of denial about this. Since then I have been so low and depressed, picturing myself with a see through hair and a visible scalp getting worse and worse!! I managed to get my iron up to 96 (from 40) and am using a PK shampoo, zinc scrub and stimulating scalp tonic (no. 3) and taking Gelatin capsules. I refused the drops because of the minoxidil. I am frightened of an initial shed that I have read about on the internet and also having to rely on something for the rest of my life to keep my hair. I am confused as to how this hair loss progresses as in the time frame of thinning. I am peri-menopausal (46 years old) so I imagine it may get worse although I haven’t been shedding that much. On my second visit to PK I had ‘considerable’ regrowth from the above routine and was advised to come back on 6 months. I think I am just putting off the inevitable and have sent an email to my consultant asking her this question. Since then I have come obsessed with hair loss (I have been on and off for years anyway). To be honest MOST women seem to have hair loss from what I can see! Anyway not sure what I am trying to say but it seems to me that most have had success with the PK 3m drops. Did you experience shedding?
    Thanks for reading.
    Take care
    Maz x

    • Daniel says:

      Dear MAZ ,
      Now don’t you worry ok 🙂 I will help you . First please read my last post it’s quite informative and tells you that I take gelatine powder morning and night and you get far more amino acids this way to rebuild your new hair .
      Secondly having hair shedding is inevitable when you start a good hair loss medication ! But it’s not a bad thing . Here is why 🙂
      Your hair strands on your head are all different ages at different cycles of growth . Some are baby hairs , some are growing and some are mature hairs . With hair growth problrms your cycle is all messed up due to hormone problems , deficiencies of nutrients and poly cystic ovaries etc .
      Some of those hairs have just stopped growing or are stagnant they have not been able to mature due to the problems !
      You start a hair loss treatment like PK drops and you know what it does 🙂 it stops the bad hormones stopping the hairs maturing and re sets the clock ! So those old affected hairs may shed and under Neath are the brand new hairs growing ! These hairs are not troubled by the problems and start growing and with the topical application of the drops they grow and grow . But to make room for growth the old dead problem hairs have to shed! This is the shedding you get at first but the shedding is good as it means new hair is on the way 🙂 it’s a good thing 🙂
      Now this does not mean all the hair will stop out ! 🙂 the hairs are at different stages so you may thin slightly as the damaged follicles are shed and the new ones grow . These new ones will be strong and will grow to full
      Maturity due to the drops and proper nutritional care . After a while all the follicles will catch up and will all end up in this new growing phase 🙂 you continue to use the drops and all your hair follicles will work in sync and catch up the pattern of growth of the rest of your scalp and hair !!

      Minoxidil is good ! And the rest of the ingredients of the drops are amazing ! I’ve used herbs and such and they don’t work ! PK knows his stuff !!! My hair line was so thin and my temple area ! It’s grown back ! For a male that’s amazing ! Don’t be scared ! 😉 I will advise you when ever you need . Due to his clinic I have great hair now 🙂 so can you xxx
      Be well x
      Danny

  10. Angie says:

    Hi all
    II have been using 3 m drops for getting on for three years with great success but since February I have been unable to obtain them due to licensing problems and this could take a while to sort out. Has anyone been able to solve this?
    The drops I have been offered, with a different formulation, do not appear to be working and I feel that the improvement made over the last few years will be lost. My rising stress level isn’t helping!
    Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks
    Angie

    • Hi there Angie and everyone else,

      Firstly, Angie, I hadn’t heard of licensing problems in connection with the drops – are these the Philip Kingsley drops you are having trouble getting hold of?

      Secondly, apologies to all who have commented here and thank you for doing so. I’ve done a very poor job at responding or keeping you updated with my own experience. I guess I just find something else to worry about! I’m not so concerned about my hair right now but that doesn’t mean anything has particularly changed. Unfortunately, my experience to date with the Philip Kingsley 3M drops isn’t going to be very helpful because I’ve used them very sporadically and I haven’t used any of the other treatments more than twice this year (the zinc etc). I’m a bit lazy, forgetful and also not that stressed out about it. I don’t think things have got any worse, but I wouldn’t say they’ve got any better. I guess I’m also reluctant because I’ve never been a big fan of chemical solutions to any health problems and also because it’s so expensive to follow the course of treatment and to keep doing it for years – for the rest of one’s life. So I can’t add much right now to the debate other than to say I’m pleased my blog post has offered a space for people to discuss this and perhaps we can help each other out.

      If anyone finds a cheap, natural method of dealing with this I’d be very happy to hear it!

      Best wishes,

      Katherine

      • Felicity says:

        Personally I think Danny should run this site! Great attitude. So positive. Really helpful. If you want thicker hair you have to make an effort I guess – and don’t give up. And I agree, Minoxodil is great stuff. Works for me. 56 year old menopausal woman who cares about her hair!

  11. Felicity says:

    I also meant to say that I think Katherine’s photo is gorgeous and she shouldn’t worry so much about her hair.

    Another thing, people are concerned about using hair drops/tonic etc ‘for life’. Look at it this way – if I said you have to buy toothpaste for life you wouldn’t worry too much and you have to ‘apply it twice a day’ you’d laugh. Yes PK’s hair drops cost more than toothpaste but you can buy Minoxodil on line and it’s a good deal cheaper than the stuff in the chemist. Only buy the 5 pc.

    Hair issues are a big pain but there are a lot of us worrying about it and trying to do something about it, which is great.

    Good luck everyone!

  12. Jo says:

    Hi everyone thought I may be able to clarify the situation on the licensing issues with the Philip Kingsley 3m drops.

    Recently dispensing laws changed on one of the ingredients they use in the drops and this now means in order to obtain them you have to get a private doctors prescription (at a cost of £25) and the drops can only be sent by post. You have to fill in a form from the Philip Kingsley clinic to arrange this. Alternatively you can buy the “in house” drops (which do not contain the restricted ingredient) at the clinic as long as you are a patient. When you have your consultation with a trichologist there they will advise which formula they recommend for you.

    I have been using the drops for over a year now and I have to say given daily usage they really help. The only down side is the cost which just seems to be rising as they are now £58 a bottle!

    I have a follow up appointment at the clinic in a couple of weeks, so I will post again if I have any further information.

    Hope this helps.

  13. Chris says:

    I have found all the above extremely helpful and interesting and pleased to hear such success stories. I have just approached the PK clinic for an appointment due to my receeding hair line and loss of hair at front of my head since I went through the menopause. Can someone clarify, after the initial consultation cost which I have been advised of by the PK clinic, how much extra will it cost me on the day for all the products and/or follow treatments. I can just about manage the fee and know I will have to buy products, but will there will further costly follow up appointments or just buying the products required each month? Thanks.

    • Hi Chris,
      In my experience, there’ll be an iron/ferritin test which you can do with your GP or pay for privately, and potentially some other tests you might or might not have to do.
      And then a follow-up consultation, and consultations after that perhaps every six months or so. Although I haven’t been back there for ages and I’m not using their products right now so I may not be the best person to inform you. I think I spent about £300 the first time I went there – on the consultation and products etc. That was enough to make me question whether this was feasible for me in the long-term. But actually, if it’s just buying product every few months and a consultation every 6 months-12 months, then perhaps it’s manageable.
      Good luck and best wishes,
      Katherine

  14. Maz says:

    Hi all
    I finally gave in and got some 3m drops today and used them for the first time tonight. I really hope they work! I will now be paying out for the drops, shampoo, gelatine and scalp tonic!!!! However I can’t continue with the constant worrying and questioning over my hair I am so tired of it all – is it thinner? Do my friends notice? Does my boyfriend hate my hair? Counting the hairs that come out when I wash it, scrutinising other womens hair ……blah blah blah. So, I am looking forward to not to worrying about my for once and will just swallow the cost I guess. Anymore positive reports on 3m drops are very welcome:)
    Maz x

  15. Maz says:

    Also, can anybody confirm what happens if you stop taking them? Thanks Maz x

    • Jo says:

      Hi Maz,
      I used the PK drops for almost 2 years with great results but stopped using them due to the cost and the mistaken belief that I was now “cured”. With hindsight this was the wrong decision. My hair gradually got worse over the next six months until I decided to start the PK drops again. So in short my advice is only start the drops if you are prepared to carry on using them basically forever!

      My trichologist Carol explained to me that when you stop using them, your hair doesn’t just revert back to the state it was in BEFORE you started using the drops, it reverts to the state it would have been in that two years if you had NEVER used the drops at all.

      In my opinion the drops are very good, and at the moment the cost is something I’m prepared to accept as they work well for me. I too got fed up with the constant worrying and decided to take this course of action. Please try to stop thinking so much about your hair, I know how hard this is but your general well being will have a big effect.

      I hope everything works out for you, if I can help with any other questions just let me know.

      Jo

      • Maz says:

        Hi Jo, Thanks very much for your feedback. How scary that your hair still progresses like that whilst using the drops. I thought it would just revert back to just before you took them. I have been so emotional during my visits to Jane that I felt she was getting a little impatient and I couldn’t listen properly. Been using the drops for a week now but still not 100% sure. Although my hair is thinning it isn’t majorly noticeable but I guess in the years to come it will be and it doesn’t look great ‘down’. I guess my doubt is still my non acceptance that I have androgenetic alopecia and that maybe my hair won’t get any worse! Jane my trichologist said that I think too much – this is true! I am already worrying about stopping the drops and I’ve barely started them lol! Did you get a shed when you started? Has your hair got drastically worse?
        Thanks for your time!
        Marie

      • Chris says:

        I have just found your post above really helpful and encouraging. Can you tell me roughly how much the Drops cost so I can be prepared for this when I make my appointment next month.Thank you so much.

  16. Sarah says:

    Hi All, i would really like to hear from anyone who has been on the PK drops and has successfully weaned off them. I have been using the 3M drops for 9 years and have maintained a reasonable head of hair, However in april i emigrated to Canada where I can obviously no longer get the drops, for the last 3 months i have used the drops i brought with me far less frequently and am now at the end of my last bottle, I have had some daily ongoing hair loss but im not sure if its linked to discontinuing the drops or other things such as the fact that i have had a recent outbreak of psoriasis on my scalp which has made it really inflamed, have ongoing PCOS &Hypothyroidism and also the stress of emigrating. and having a lot to sort out financially. I would welcome anyones thoughts on whether you can wean off the drops as i think a major trigger for my own personal hair loss was low ferritin which i have now corrected. Although I know with hair loss any changes you make can take 3-4 months before you see the consequences so perhaps I will find out more as time goes on……

    • Maz says:

      Hi Sarah
      I am by far no expert at all but it seems, as per the info Jo’s trichologist gave her, if you come off of the drops you go to where you would have been if you hadn’t taken the drops at all i.e in your case 9 years down the line. Are you still in touch with PK? Have you asked them? I would be interested in knowing any feedback you get and how you get on. I have just started taking them and am a week in. I am waiting for some blood test results and when I email them to PK I am also going to ask them this question (although I do have to wait quite a while for a reply).

      Maz x

  17. Jo says:

    Hi Maz/Chris,
    In answer to your questions, no I didn’t have any noticeable shedding when I started the drops. It took me a good six months of using them before I noticed an improvement though. The cost of the drops is £58, and once a year follow up appointments are £130, with private blood tests around £45 (but this depends on what tests your trichologist advises you need).

    I have always had very fine hair and was diagnosed with androgenetic alopecia, and although the drops have definitely helped I don’t suddenly have a thick head of hair! However I now feel more in control of the situation and that is a huge help. I totally understand when you say you get emotional talking about it. Once you adjust to using the drops and start to see an improvement, you will stop worrying so much and gain a more balanced point of view. Hang on in there!

    Jo

  18. Julie says:

    Hi everyone – this has been a very insightful read and I am hoping that even though this discussion took place a while ago, that some of you get this post… basically, I’m wondering a couple of things… firstly, do the 3M drops make your hair greasy? I read somewhere that they did and that using them was therefore restricting. Also, does Minoxidal make you age? Some people on sites like ‘real self’ state that it has ruined their lives because they ‘look’ 30 years older in the ‘3 months’ they’ve used them. Finally, are the hairs that the 3M drops help produce strong and thick hairs? I read that they were just like ‘peach fuzz’ and never grew long…which could be a strange look. If anyone sees this it would be great to know how you’re now doing and if you have any insight into the above.

    Thanks so much,

    Julie

    • Maz says:

      Hi Julie
      I’ve been using 3m drops for approx 3 months. I use them at night and they make my hair feel a but dry but not greasy. I tend to wash my hair every morning so it’s not a problem however on days when I don’t wash my hair once it’s brushed it makes no difference. As for making me look older, I have not noticed this and can’t see how that would happen? I have lots of new regrowth which will start showing in a few months, I am relieved and looking forward to it! I hope this helps.
      Maz

  19. Jeannie says:

    My hair has been shedding by the hand ful for years and I’ve tried everything with no success, until lately. I started taking Great Lakes gelatin everyday with my vitamins mixed in juice and with in a few days of this my hair stopped shedding completely. It’s been a miracle to say the least. Hope this may help someone out there as it has me.. Best of luck to all..

  20. Lb says:

    Hi

    After more than one year of your post, I would like to know if the drops was helpful ?

    Thank you

    • Hi there.
      Thanks for getting in touch. As I mentioned in some of my earlier comments, I’m afraid I can’t be much help in terms of the Philip Kingsley drops. I decided I couldn’t really afford to carry on the treatment so I stopped when my drops ran out. I had also stopped worrying about my hair so much so it didn’t seem to important to carry on. I think others have had experience of the drops so maybe they can share their thoughts. I may try them again but they are expensive and it requires a lot of time and effort to maintain the treatment.
      Best wishes, Katherine

  21. Mich says:

    This has been so helpful for me. Thank you so much Katherine for starting this blog. I too would liek to find something naturally. Has anyone found something naturally that has worked? Katherine -do you htink the shedding has minimized and that is why you have stopped worrying? Or is there somethign else you are doing?
    Thanks!
    Mich

    • Sarah says:

      Hi there

      I too am keen to hear of any success stories of those who are trying natural remedies rather than minoxidil or the Pk drops….I was using the pill (dianette) for 10 years & Phillip kingsleys 3M drops for the same amount of time for androgenic alopecia but due to developing a suspected Dvt I had to stop them both. Had massive hair shedding for many months after which finally settled down after about 6 months but hair is still thin & remains shedding(although it still shed whilst on the treatments). I am constantly trying different supplements & vitamins and currently take a natural thyroid replacement, iron, zinc, calcium & a multi vitamin. I also use a spray called Hair Assist which is a homeopathic/herbal product containing some natural anti androgens such as zinc &saw palmetto. Only been using that about a month but think it might be helping. Have also started using grape seed oil as had heard promising things about it but too soon to tell any results as yet

      Would love to hear from anyone who has successfully stopped using minoxidil or hormone products and conquered or improved hair loss with other methods

  22. Annamoo says:

    Please everyone concerned with excess hair falling, hair texture change, slow regrowth, hair developing a reddish hue…go to your doctor and ask for a blood test for ferritin. It will show the status of your iron stores. This is different to a haemaglobin test. Ferritin is needed for proper hair growth & hair cycling. Ask for your ferritin level number. This is important as the current normal range is ridiculous. I was told that my level of 15 was normal. I was shedding lots of hair along with some other nasty symptoms ( tiredness/ anxiety/ tinnitus/ extreme pallour) I went to a top dermatologist in Harley street and he corrected the problem with ferragrad c iron tablets. I order them from my chemis ( uk) He explained that ferritin needs to be above 70, ideally 80- 100 for good strong normal hair growth. My hair stopped shedding when I reached a ferritin level of 40, my temples grew back some lost hair when I reached a level of 60. I took my iron tablets ( x2 tabs on empty stomach with orange juice, sometimes with a 500 mg Lysine tablet to aid absorption) iron overload is dangerous so seek advice from your doctor. Genetic thinning is also part of my makeup as well but correcting my ferritin was key to strengthening my hair. My temples are still on thin side ( inherited from my family) but are improving with the recent help of a Chinese doctor as chinese medicine is very helpful for genetic hair thinning. No chemicals, just herbs to assist the body in strengthening weak areas of hair on the scalp… In my case my hairline and temples.
    My hair is so much better now – mostly I believe from correcting my ferritin level. I lose only 50 ish hairs a day instead of hundreds. My ferritin level is currently 70. It drops occasionally due to heavy periods so I get a blood test every 6 months to keep an eye on it. I take medical advice as to when to stop the iron tabs and when to take them again. My aim is a level of 100.
    I hope this post helps someone. Hair loss is heart thumpingly horrible but it can be stopped. Don’t be told that your ferritin level is ‘ normal’ when anything under 40 can be the cause of weak shedding hair. Ask for the number. You will be so glad you did!

  23. Lara Dutta says:

    Please don’t think that hair cannot regrow. It can! It’s happening for me.

    First change your diet. Go the healthy diet paradise website to see how you can do that.

    Secondly get your ferritin level to 80 as suggested by someone here.

    Thirdly check your thyroid and testosterone.

    Once all these levels are ok, use diatomaceous earth and gelatin and a good probiotic to restore gut health. This is most important since you will not absorb nutrients effectively if you have inflammation, parasites etc. Without nutrients, the first thing you will lose is hair.

    My hair is growing back after 25 long years and I’m post forty now! If it can grow back for me, it will grow back for you too.

  24. Rumana says:

    Katharine, Thank you for starting a great blog. I am a PK patient, but like you I have been sporadic in following their treatment. However after reading this blog and everyone’s contribution, I shall definitely try my best to increase my ferritin level (currently at 30) and try this gelatin powder too. Also I shall be more dilligent in applying the drops every night.

  25. kit hale says:

    you are a pretty girl. I am 60 and have lost hair due to head and neck cancer treatment. I am praying it will grow back but I have to remind myself that I am still on the planet though I have no clue how long for. Please stop worrying and enjoy your life.

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