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TikTok Hair Loss Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction

  • 22nd June 2023
  • 8 min read
Arran
Written by Arran Isherwood
Steve Stangoni
Medically reviewed by Dr. Steve Stangoni - GMC No. 7042486 on 22nd June 2023
Next review due on 22nd June 2024

TikTok is a breeding ground for video virality, with users from around the globe sharing their thoughts and opinions with the rest of the world at the touch of a button. 

Beauty ‘secrets’ are one of the most popular topics on TikTok, with users sharing simple methods that are not widely known as alternatives to typical beauty treatments. Hair care is one area in particular that has seen a lot of traction on the app, with anyone and everyone sharing the real secrets. But how much of it can you really trust?

“The hair loss industry is rife with misinformation,” said FUE Clinics Trichologist Arran Isherwood, “with new ‘miracle’ treatments popping up all the time”.

As TikTok is a catalyst for viral content, once a trend starts to spread, its popularity grows with more people believing what they watch as fact. 

“Hair loss can be deeply upsetting for people who suffer from it and can be a huge blow to their confidence. That’s why it’s important to know the truth about the hair loss myths out there to prevent wasting your hard-earned money on false hope”.

Taking a closer look at the latest TikTok trend data, the experts at FUE Clinics have analysed which hair loss trends are the most popular, as well as debunking popular myths that are circulating on the platform.

 

Rogaine/Minoxidil — 747.4 million views

Rogaine, or the non-branded Minoxidil, is a classic hair loss remedy that has been suggested to fight baldness for decades. From the staggering number of searches on TikTok, it appears that little has changed over the years. 

The medication is intended to expand blood vessels in the scalp to improve the flow of oxygen and nutrients to hair follicles, in turn, triggering and extending the growth cycle of hair follicles.

The verdict: Clinical studies have found that Minoxidil can lead to positive results when used to treat male pattern baldness. However, it will only work on a low percentage of users with varying degrees of effectiveness. It’s also worth noting that Minoxidil will not restore hair in other forms of hair loss, such as alopecia.

 

Rice water — 555.3 million views

The latest home remedy to take TikTok by storm; washing hair with rice water is a traditional beauty treatment that is still popular in many regions of Asia. Historical and anecdotal evidence claims that rice water will help improve the strength and texture of your hair, as well as promoting growth.

The verdict: Despite the treatment’s online popularity, most — if not all — scientific evidence to support the use of rice water has proved to be inconclusive. While not a dangerous home remedy to try, there’s simply no evidence to support the claims that it has any effect. 

 

Castor oil — 149 million views

Castor oil is derived from castor beans and is rich in protein, antioxidants, nutrients and fatty acids — all of which sound very beneficial when it comes to a home remedy. The idea is that the ricinoleic acid found in it can boost circulation in the scalp to promote healthier, stronger hair.

The verdict: While castor oil does contain antimicrobial properties that may be useful at fighting off bacterial or fungal growth on the scalp, there’s no evidence at all to suggest that it aids in hair regrowth.

 

Rosemary oil — 108.3 million views

Rosemary oil has a number of beneficial properties, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Promoting nerve growth
  • Improve circulation

The last point, in particular, is very useful when it comes to hair loss, as improved circulation can prevent hair follicles from being starved of a blood supply; which in turn leads to hair falling out. There are a limited number of studies to provide conclusive evidence of the benefits, although the results shown are promising.

A recent study, for example, found that rosemary oil can protect your scalp against hair loss when trialled on humans suffering from male/female pattern baldness.

The verdict: There is not enough data for conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of rosemary oil, however, when compared to minoxidil in clinical trials, it presents the same results while also benefiting from reduced scalp itchiness. 

 

Scalp Massages — 90.4 million views

Massage ranges from light strokes to deep pressure and provides a number of benefits all over the body; including stress release, lowering your heart rate and reducing muscle pain and soreness. 

When it comes to the scalp, however, massage helps to stimulate blood circulation and stretches the hair follicles to help promote growth. A small study (just nine people!) reported thicker hair after 24 weeks of daily scalp massages. A more recent study of 340 participants found that 69% of participants self-reported an improvement in their hair loss.

The verdict: While some small studies have shown some positive results, all evidence is circumstantial at best and far from conclusive.

 

Biotin/Nutrafol — 61.6 million views

Biotin, also known as vitamin B, is found naturally in some foods as well as in the form of supplements. While biotin has been praised on social media as a hair loss miracle cure, there is very little evidence to support any claims of improved hair growth or strength.

The Verdict: Research has concluded that Biotin does little to promote healthy hair and nails as claimed. Unless you’re suffering specifically from a Biotin deficiency, these supplements are a waste of money.

 

Black seed oil — 59.6 million views

Black seed oil is a herbal ingredient that is associated with various health benefits, including:

  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant

Many who advocate black seed oil claim that these properties are instrumental in maintaining a healthy scalp and helping to fight off dandruff. Unfortunately, clinical research has been unable to support such claims. 

The verdict: Currently there is insufficient evidence to support any benefit for hair loss.

 

Finasteride  18.7 million views

Finasteride oral tablets are available as the brand name drugs Proscar and Propecia. Additionally, you can find it available as a generic drug. It works by inhibiting testosterone from reacting with the 5-alpha reductase enzyme, which will decrease the amount of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your body.

Clinical studies have found that 48% of recipients found improved hair growth after one year of taking finasteride, increasing to 66% after 2 years. Furthermore, 83% of recipients cited no further hair loss after taking the medication.

The verdict: Finasteride is the most clinically researched FDS Approved medication for the treatment of male pattern baldness.

 

Clarifying shampoo — 11.8 million views

Clarifying shampoo is designed to help rejuvenate your scalp by gently cleansing the surface of bacteria and fungal growth, while also balancing your skin’s pH. It will also cleanse your hair and scalp of residual styling products that could lead to a detrimental build-up — helping to keep you hair from becoming brittle and fragile. 

The verdict: The use of clarifying shampoo may help to mitigate the loss of hair via snapping/breakages, however, it does not affect the primary cause of hair loss.

 

Learning from the data

Interestingly, the treatments that have clinical trials and are available as medication aren’t what is most searched for on TikTok. Instead, home remedies that have no real data to back them up are far more popular; showing how much stock is placed in the unproven claims of strangers.

“If there really was a secret cure for hair loss, it wouldn’t be a secret,” said Arran, “everyone would be using it!”.

“For those who are genuinely concerned about balding and hair loss, don’t put your hope in ‘miracle’ home remedies. Instead, trust the medical data we can see from clinical trials and listen to the experts”. 

If you suffer from hair loss and want to know want options are available to you, head to FUE Clinics to learn more.

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