Dr. Day’s Top 6: Best Treatments Available for Hair Growth

Thick, lush, healthy, silky smooth and shiny hair – it’s every woman’s dream. For men, it’s simpler but the same idea- a thick full head of hair. Hair thinning and loss is one of the most emotionally difficult concerns patients present with and it’s anything but superficial. Hair is deeply tied to our self-esteem. I wrote an article on hair loss for LVBX Magazine that reviews the common causes and facts – this post is devoted to the best treatments available to grow hair.  There are many options from over-the-counter products to in-office treatments and home-use lasers:

1. Over the counter

These are options available at your drugstore or online. They often contain the FDA approved active minoxidil, alone or in combination with other ingredients. Your dermatologist may also custom-make a formulation adding in prescription-strength ingredients not otherwise available.

  • Minoxidil: at 5% is FDA approved to grow hair in both men and women and is available in various concentrations from lots of companies from your local drug store, online, department store or dermatologist. The ones dermatologists carry typically also include other supporting ingredients. I have one in my hair growth program that also contains niacinamide and caffeine to minimize irritation, improve absorption and also optimize the anti-aging effects to the skin and follicles.
  • Antioxidants: are helpful in creating healthier scalp skin and hair follicles, improved circulation and stronger hair. They work well with other components of a hair growth program to support and optimize results.
  • Julien Farel Magnifique serum: contains an excellent cocktail of antioxidants including resveratrol in a formulation that leaves the scalp rejuvenated. I’ve even seen it help with patients who have itching, scaling and redness of the scalp with or without hair loss. It works well alone and even better with Julien Farel Restore shampoo.
  • Esteem botanical hair loss solution: is one I created and has a mix of natural actives (biomimetic peptide combined with a red clover extract rich in Bochanin A) to help support hair growth as part of my hair growth kit consisting of a specially formulated shampoo and conditioner to complement the botanical solution.

2. Low Level Laser Therapy

This is an area where I’ve seen excellent advances in quality, efficacy and ease of use. There are over 2,000 investigations from over 80 countries on the effect of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) on humans and animals published in the medical literature.

The early hair combs are now also offered in versions that look like baseball hats that cover a broader surface area of the scalp, leaving your hands free and making treatments easier and more efficient. They also have better diodes, providing excellent energy while covering a broad area of the scalp at one time. It’s still not fully understood how they work but the idea is that they:

  • Influence hair growth in 3 stages
    1. Stops hair loss
    2. Current hair becomes thicker and fuller
    3. Regrowth of new hair (hair follicle grows terminal (thicker) hair in place of very thin “peach fuzz” (vellus) hair)
  • Almost 100% of patients using a Hair Growth Laser go through stages 1 and 2
  • 70% of patients using the Hair Growth Laser experience stage 3 (regrowth)

Low level laser therapy caps allow for flexibility within your schedule as it can be done in the comfort of your own home and can absolutely be used in conjunction with other hair growth procedures and prescriptions. Brands I’ve researched that stand out as superior include:


Laser Cap

3. Cortisone Injections

This is done by your dermatologist and, in my view, works well for all types of hair loss including the genetic male and female types. I do low concentration injections at monthly intervals for 5 months and then switch to treatment every 3 months. Using topical cortisone is not effective since the follicles are deep and the medication will be carried away by the bloodstream before reaching the follicle if applied topically. At the concentrations and volumes I use I have never seen any systemic side effects or atrophy (thinning of the skin of the scalp).

4. Supplements

There are two supplements I believe have the greatest amount of data for hair growth:

  • Viviscal Professional: this is a 100% drug-free way to nourish thinning hair and promote existing hair growth and has excellent clinical data. The formulation includes:  
    • 50% more of revolutionary AminoMar ingredient. Exclusive and Patented AminoMar Marine Complex provides the essential proteins needed to nourish thinning hair and encourage growth of existing hair
    • Horsetail Extract, an organic form of silica which increases the strength of the hair and revitalizes lifeless hair
    • Vitamin C derived from the Acerola Cherry (one of the richest sources of Vitamin C available)
    • Fish and shellfish, making it not appropriate for those allergic to these ingredients or for those with celiac disease
  • Nutrafol: This is a super-supplement that addresses the critical stages of hair health, helping to combat the effects of hair-damaging hormones, free radicals, inflammation, and stress – addressing the causes of unhealthy hair and empowering follicles to absorb nutrients and grow fuller, healthier hair. Key ingredients include:
    • Tocomax 20%™, a form of Vitamin E extracted from Tocomin® palm oil, that’s been shown in a clinical study to increase hair growth on average by 34%
    • Sensoril® Ashwagandha, clinically proven to decrease the levels of hair damaging stress hormone Cortisol by up to 30.5%, reduce inflammatory C-reactive protein (CRP) by 35.2% and improve resistance to stress
    • BCM-95® BioCurcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant clinically proven to lower inflammatory biomarkers, like CRP.  Extracted from turmeric, curcumin optimizes the immune system + fights many inflammatory molecules that slow hair growth
    • Cynantine® HNS, a solubilized, more bioavailable and bioactive keratin provides the building blocks of hair – amino acids like cysteine and proline; proven to improve hair strength and brightness
    • Hydrolyzed Marine Collagen & Hyaluronic Acid, rebuild the structural integrity of the hair follicle environment, improve moisture, and promote diffusion of nutrients. Hydrolyzed to a low molecular weight for better bioavailability
    • Bioperine®, a natural thermonutrient that synergistically increases the body’s absorption of other phytonutrients and key ingredients
    • It does not contain: Gluten, Wheat, Shellfish, Binders, Fillers

5. Prescription Medications

These include Propecia which is FDA approved for men and Avodart. I offer these to my male patients with male pattern hair loss alone or along with my hair growth program. If I use both medications, I have them take Propecia for 5 days and Avodart for 2 days of the week since Avodart stays in the blood longer and has more side effects (your dermatologist can review side effects and treatment options with you).  I recommend that patients alternate between the two medications, such as taking Avodart on tuesdays and fridays and Propecia the the remaining days.

Some doctors also prescribe these for women as well but it’s not something I’m comfortable with. For women with a hormonal pattern and who are not planning pregnancy, I sometimes offer Spironolactone, an off label use of Avodart, usually prescribed as a diuretic but also has effects of blocking androgen hormone receptors so it has some use in hair thinning. We need to use high doses and there can be side effects of irregular periods, dizziness, high blood potassium levels and breast swelling and tenderness. It can also take a full year or so before seeing results.

6. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections

I spent years researching and reviewing data and devices for PRP for the scalp before deciding to add it to my hair growth program. The hair promoting effects of PRP are supported by studies showing a faster transition to the growing (anagen) phase of hair cycling back from the resting and transitional phases, and also an increase in the number of newly formed follicles and earlier hair formation.

The process is an in-office treatment which starts with gentle tapping into a vein in the arm to extract a small amount of blood, the equivalent of about 1.5 tablespoons, which is drawn into a specialized test tube. The test tube is actually the key to the process and is what separates one system from another. It contains filters that when placed in a centrifuge and spun at rapid speeds, separates out and concentrates the platelet-rich plasma. There is no FDA approved process or protocol so each office determines their own program.

Who is a good candidate? This is something I recommend for my patients with male or female pattern hair loss or for rejuvenation of the scalp and follicles to recover from the changes of loss of volume and density that comes with age even for those without male or female pattern hair loss. I do not recommend it for those with the autoimmune form of hair loss such as alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, universalis, or for scarring forms of hair loss.

Based on the data, I created a schedule for treatment as follows:

Active Phase:

  • 4 treatment sessions at 1 month intervals
  • Hair Growth supplements
  • Esteem Hair Growth Kit
  • Hair Growth Laser
  • Esteem Active Drops

Year One Maintenance Phase:

  • One Treatment every 3 months
  • Hair Growth supplements
  • Esteem Hair Growth Kit
  • Hair Growth Laser
  • Esteem Daily Drops

Year Two Maintenance Phase:

  • One treatment every 4 months
  • Hair Growth supplements
  • Esteem Hair Growth Kit
  • Hair Growth Laser
  • Esteem Daily Drops

Follow up Maintenance:

  • One treatment every 6 months
  • Hair Growth supplements
  • Esteem Hair Growth Kit
  • Hair Growth Laser
  • Esteem Daily Drops


Bottom Line

Hair growth is complicated. We don’t understand all the mechanisms of loss so it’s difficult to come up with a precise single mode of treatment. For every patient I recommend managing stress and diet along with using one or a combination of hair growth treatments to help maintain and grow the healthiest most beautiful hair possible. Not all dermatologists are comfortable treating hair loss so it’s important to find one who can properly assess your condition and review the best treatments for you.

Beautiful Skin and the Traveler

“Doing nothing gets you nowhere” 

This picture was taken when I traveled to Dubai last month. Work truly is pleasure!


I’ve always loved to travel and if you follow any of my posts on instagram, twitter or facebook you’ll know I travel a lot for work to lecture and serve on advisory boards. My love of travel goes way back to my childhood when as a little girl, my parents would pack up the three kids and take us away on family trips for work or fun as often as my dad could manage around his busy doctor schedule. The airport itself was as exciting as any destination we reached and we dressed up for the plane as if we were going to a party. Travel by car or train was just as exciting and the idea of an adventure always got my heart racing with excitment – the feeling has never worn off. It may have something to do with the fact that I still live in the same city and even in the same building where I was born and raised so I have the comfort and security of knowing where home is and that makes a new place, hotel and scene intriguing. Or maybe it’s just me.

As I sit here now, on a plane on my way home from a great dermatology meeting in Dubai, I can still feel the excitement of going to the airport, the thrill of the plane making its way down the runway, the exhilaration of takeoff, the soothing hum and rhythm of the cabin as it cradles it’s precious passengers and carries us miles above the earth giving us heavenly views of clouds and the land and sea below, taking me to or from a place I’ve heard so much about and have been looking forward to exploring. I love the work when I get there, I always learn as much as I teach, and I always leave myself time to walk and explore, and of course post pictures on my social media so I can share the experience and look back on the memories later myself too.

Everyone needs their beauty rest!

Adjusting to Time Zones

The one thing about travel that can be the most challenging is dealing with the havoc it wreaks on the skin. Totally not acceptable. Sounds superficial, I know, I’m used to it and I know better. I know it’s more than just skin deep and when I see tired travel-worn skin I know there’s way more going on below the surface and adjustments that need to be made to stay healthy in mind, body and skin in order to make the entire trip more productive and fun.

When I travel to different time zones, I do my best to transition to that time zone during the flight by planning my nap and awake times and adjusting the light to help me acclimate even before I arrive. I try to pick flights that optimize the process. It takes a little planning but makes all the difference in minimizing jet lag and getting the most out of the trip. This way I hit the ground running and can be the most productive when I work.

Staying Hydrated

Hydration is key. This means more water, less salt and less alcohol. I said it was important, I didn’t say it was fun. I also said less, not none. The longer the trip the more important this is. I’ve seen people whose feet and ankles swell to 3 or more times their size, and that can take days to resolve. Wearing compression socks can help along with leg elevation when possible, walking during the flight or stopping to walk if you’re in a car, and also doing flex and point foot exercise when sitting. And of course, I repeat, more water, less alcohol, less salt.

Packing for Your Skin

Preparing your skin for travel starts even before you leave the house. If you’re a last minute packer, I recommend making a skin-travel kit that’s always ready to go. Most of us notice our skin gets dry when we travel and if you’re prone to eczema or psoriasis this can trigger a flare. It’s especially important to have a great moisturizer to keep your skin healthy and hydrated. Drinking water won’t make the outer layers less dry so you need to moisturize and hydrate the skin directly. If you have oily skin and break out, the stress of traveling can trigger a flare leaving you both oily and dehydrated at the same time. It’s not always easy to pack all your acne medications when you travel but it is important to maintain your routine to minimize any breakouts when you least want one.



The one thing you need to coordinate and organize ahead of time is a travel skin-care kit so you can avoid any skin catastrophes that might ruin your trip.

Carry-on (travel size):

  • Hand cream: can also be used on the body as needed
  • Pre-moistened cleansing cloths: test the brand ahead of time and look for one with cloths that are softer rather than abrasive on the skin
  • Sunscreen: a good tinted sunscreen can double as a foundation for travel purposes
  • Lip balm
  • Tissue
  • Nail file
  • Hair tie- scrunchy: they may be out of vogue for public use, but are perfect to keep your hair off your face on a long flight or car ride without pulling or stressing your hair
  • Antiperspirant
  • Airplane socks: a travel luxury, yet totally necessary. You can buy them at any drug store and enjoy warm, soft feet on the plane.
  • Eye cover and ear plugs: nothing says beautiful skin better than a good nights’ sleep, or a nap on the plane in this case (the baby screaming behind me was barely audible once my earplugs were in). Tip: noise cancelling headphones are good but may not be as comfortable for sleeping.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Avene water spray


It’s very helpful to have an emergency travel kit. This should include:

  • Cortisone cream: this will save you in a pinch if you get a pimple, bug bite or any irritation of the skin that leaves it red and itchy. When you travel, you come into contact with so many different materials your skin isn’t used to and this can be an issue for those with sensitive skin.
  • Zeasorb powder- this is great for shoes and the body for those who sweat when they travel. It is absorbent and will keep you dry and comfortable and will help prevent your feet and shoes from getting stinky, which will make you much more popular with your fellow travelers.
  • Benadryl: great to help you sleep and also good if you tend to have eczema or allergies that flare when you travel. Be careful not to take if you’re the driver. In other words, don’t “operate heavy machinery” after taking.
  • Ibuprofen or Aspirin: depending on what your stomach tolerates.
  • Cleanser, moisturizer, serum, prescriptions products from your dermatologist: it’s important to maintain your regular routine as much as possible.


Never count on the hotel soap or moisturizer to keep your skin healthy when away from home. Depending on the length of your trip you can pack a separate set of products for your trip or use the travel size from your carry on. I’m a master of packing so I take carry-on for almost every trip. When I do check in a bag, I go all out even adding my absolute favorite products and perfume – it almost makes it worth checking a bag. Almost.

Sign Off

We are almost into descent and time for me to sign off.  I had a great trip, so happy I planned ahead and made the most of the time. A little, simple planning made all the difference. I’m ready to get back to the office and see my patients, which is my greatest joy and passion.

Update on Injectables: What To Consider

No one really wants to look old. We talk about aging gracefully and accepting the process, which is great on paper, but looking old doesn’t mean you’re aging gracefully, and having a few lines and wrinkles doesn’t mean you look old. Since the first Hyaluronic Acid (HA) soft tissue filler was FDA approved in the US in 2004 we have had 10 new products approved in the US and literally hundreds available around the world to help you look soft, smooth and contoured. It’s been a game changer for those who want to enter the rejuvenation market without undergoing surgery, but there’s a lot to know before you get started.

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Considering a little dermal filler to make those laugh lines or crow’s feet disappear, but not sure which injectables are which? We hear ya!

Thankfully, Dr. Doris Day, renowned dermatologist is here to clear it all up for us:

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