top of page
  • Writer's picturePenn Smith

Reverse Hair Loss with Hair Serums that WORK!

I started as a hairstylist 20 years ago and I did that partially because I wanted to learn how to manage my own not-so-great hair. What a wonderful career it was- I loved working behind the chair and I did indeed learn A LOT. When I became an esthetician 12 years ago I did not leave my passion for hair behind...In fact, I have been reminded many times of the incredible common ground our hair and skin share.

Over the more recent years I have experienced hair loss, hair breakage and a general slow-down in the growth rate of my hair leading me to search for topicals that might work to bring my peri-menopausal hair back to life. I tried Minoxidil last year and it was not for me (I couldn't do the sticky residue) so I continued my search. I have found some hair serums that work NOT ONLY because I like their texture or their marketing is really good but because they have ingredients that are proven to work. Below I will share the serums I have tried (I left off calecim and minoxidil from last year, I will add them here soon). I am sharing what I loved and didn't love, key ingredients, some info from the various companies etc. I hope that this information helps you in some way. So many hair serums are really just scalp conditioners, they are not going to actually effect the hair. It is important to differentiate!

In a quick nutshell: the ingredient I am looking for in an over-the-counter formulation to TRULY help my hair grow

✅ faster

✅ thicker

✅ healthier is:


Prostaglandins are the things in eyelash and eye brow serums that cause them to remain in the growth phase longer. On our scalp prostaglandins can do that as well as help miniaturized hairs return to terminal hair (so those little peach fuzz hairs get to joing their thicker, longer friends and fill in the scalp).

When we look at prescription ingredients we have more options:

1️⃣ Minoxidil

2️⃣ Finasteride

3️⃣ Dutasteride

4️⃣ Retinoic Acid

5️⃣ Prostaglandins

6️⃣ Mild steroids (in tiny percentages, truly to offset the irritation that may come with the retinoic acid....Just like on our face!)

I had never seen a combo of ALL the things until I found Happy Head (listed down below). I truly think this one could be a wonderful option especially for men. I currently have an email in to see if I can get a formula without the Finasteride and the Minoxidil....I will report back. Until then I am sticking with my OTC prostaglandin based options. Read on for more info and here's to all of us growing more healthy hair!

Check out my corresponding video on Youtube ⬇️

Hair Serums that actually work: what to look for to see thicker, longer hair. Women and MEN!

Grande Hair Enhancing Serum

Cost: $79/1.35oz

Key Ingredients: Isopropyl Cloprostenate (a prostaglandin analogue), Procapil™, Ginkgo Biloba, Flower Extracts, Vitamin B5, Amino Acids & Biotinoyl Tripeptide-1.

Clinical Studies: 97% saw improved thickness and less thinning in a 16 weeks study.

What I love about this product: This hair serum contains a prostaglandin (think Latisse (prescription lash serum) only for the hair on your head! Prostaglandins work on the scalp just as they work on the lashes. They help the hair stay in the growth phase longer and they increase the diameter of the hair. This serum is lightweight and not sticky. Note: do not use before blow drying (best to use at night)...

Prostaglandins need time to work but once they do work the hair grows like CRAZY! Use nightly for 12 weeks (you will start to see your hair grow faster and there will be less hair fall) then you can go to every other night. This is the first OTC prostaglandin based hair serum I have found at less than $100.

What I don't love about this product: I cannot use this more than 2 nights in a row before I feel like I need to wash my hair. I alternate with the Revitalash foam to stretch the time between washing.

Cost: varies by subscription

Key Ingredients: based on your custom prescription a combo of any of the following:

1️⃣ Minoxidil

2️⃣ Finasteride

3️⃣ Dutasteride

4️⃣ Retinoic Acid

5️⃣ Prostaglandins

6️⃣ Mild steroids

Clinical Studies: visit "The Science" section of their website for more info.

What I love about this product: The SCIENCE is THERE. This company has taken the ingredients that WORK and put them in various custom cocktails that WILL help regrow hair! Note that the Minoxidil is a whopping 8% (OTC is 2 and 5%) and some versions contain prostaglandin, retinoic acid, finasteride, dutasteride and a steroid (to help with irritation). A really potent cocktail requiring an easy virtual consult with one of their doctors. I also love that the bottles are 2oz!

What I don't love about this product: This is still relatively expensive, although considering the bottle is twice that of many other products I'd say for what you get (a script and a custom cocktail) it's a great deal!

Since making my video I have reached out and become an affiliate with Happy Head. I am really excited about this line-I will be doing more content on them in the near future. I am working on getting a discount code for us! Right now they have an intro offer of 60% off (I linked right to that page HERE and above).

Check out these Before and Afters from the Happy Head website:

Act + Acre Cold Pressed Stem Cell Scalp Serum

Cost: $86/2.2oz 15% off available on their website!

Key Ingredients: H2-Grow Complex™ Apple Stem Cells that protect the hair follicle against damage, Bamboo and Pea Sprout Blend (2%) & Hyaluronic Acid (0.10%).

Clinical Studies: 91% agree scalp feels nourished, 89% agree scalp looks healthier & 89% agree serum improves hair health.

What I love about this product: This is lightweight and nourishing. This is a serum that I feel helped me with hair SHEDDING. I also noticed that my hair was shiny and seemed healthier in the area where I applied this serum. My scalp felt really great and overall I find this to be a very nice scalp treatment. What I don't love about this product: There is really nothing that I didn't like-BUT I need more than a good scalp treatment and shiny hair. I prefer a serum that will encourage growth. I can see where many people would love this serum, especially because it definitely seemed to slow shedding.

Act + Acre 3% Stem Cell Peptide Scalp Treatment (currently sold out 😢)

Cost: $120/3oz 15% off available on their website!

Key Ingredients: H3-Grow+ Complex™ blend with clinically vetted Grape Stem Cells, Growth Peptide & Caffeine.  

Clinical Studies: In an independent consumer trial conducted by Act+Acre with 20 participants over 12 weeks, women + men ages 22-68 years old with Postpartum, PCOS, Perimenopausal, Hereditary, and Stress induced hair loss- 86% agree Stem Cell System improved hair growth, 94% agree treatment stimulated scalp, 82% agree treatment improved hair growth, 81% agree treatment made hair look & feel healthier.

What I love about this product: This product does seem to help the hair grow a little faster. I did not notice any additional thickening in the area I applied this. It also helped reduce hair shed. The application method is really nice, very easy and hassle free. This is 3 oz for $120. While the $120 is a spend, 3 ounces is a really generous amount (comparatively speaking). This is lightweight and doesn't gum up the hair.

What I don't love about this product: No complaints!

Plated Hair Serum code Penn20 for a discount!

Cost: $379/1oz

Key Ingredients: Glycerin, Human Platelet Extract

Clinical Studies: ?

What I love about this product: I love the promise of this brand. The science and tech behind all of the Plated products is really intriguing!

This is a lightweight watery-serum that does not leave the hair feeling gummy. I could use this multiple nights in a row without feeling gross.

What I don't Love about this product: It is very hard to overlook the price of this one. $380 is simply ridiculous. I found that the pipette sort of "shoots" the serum out so if you're not careful you waste this precious serum. This was sent to me to try, and for that I am grateful. There is no way I would re-buy this myself...For almost $400 i would need to see some results after one bottle and I did not. I finished an entire bottle and really can see no difference in the area. I actually have a second bottle that I am going to use up in that same area just to see. For reference it took me about 2.5 months to go through the bottle and I was not using it on my entire head (not even close). If I start to see changes as I use that second bottle I will update here!

Revitalash Hair Enhancing Foam

code PENNSMITH for a discount!

Cost: $152/1.9oz

Key Ingredients: Dechloro Dihydroxy Difluoro Ethylcloprostenate (prosteglandin analogue), BioPeptin Complex®, Ginseng, Swertia Japonica, Saw Palmetto, Amino Acids and B Vitamins.

Clinical Studies: 94% experienced healthier, fuller-looking hair (survey results from an 8-week consumer study of 35 participants).

What I love about this product: This is my favorite of all of the OTC hair serums. If it wasn't so expensive I would share this one daily! This is a prostaglandin based hair "foam" that literally disappears in to the scalp. I put it on at night and while my roots look wet when I finish they look clean and fine in the morning. This is a HUGE plus. I have used this before and I KNOW it works. Just in the time that I have been using this and the Grande Hair I have noticed a marked improvement in my shine, growth and density. I am very hopeful that by summer my hair will be growing like a weed. At that point I'll also be on "maintenance" and can skip nights. Can't wait 💜

What I don't love about this product: Well, it's expensive and I go through it pretty fast. Other than that there is no downside. I am working on my application technique to make it last as long as possible because it does take months of use to yield results. That means several bottles. That gets expensive. I always look for it on sale-and when I find it on sale I buy a couple bottles. I wish it wasn't so expensive!!

Better Not Younger Superpower Hair & Scalp Serum

Cost: $49/2oz

Key Ingredients: Superpower™ Blend: A proprietary blend of hair-loving vitamins like, Biotin, Niacinamide, and Procapil™, Centella Asiatica Extract & Ginger Extract.

Clinical Studies: 90% of women saw a visible improvement in their hair in 8 weeks.

What I love about this product: This is a nice serum that seems to help with hair shed and also the condition of the hair. I did not notice faster growth or any new growth/added thickness.

What I don't love about this product: I find this to be slightly greasy or oily. It is slight but I can tell it's in my hair.

Better Not Younger Superpower Thickening Hair Patches

Cost: $79/1 month supply

Key Ingredients: Capixyl™ patented combination of acetyl tetrapeptide, dextran, and red clover flower extract, Centella Asiatica & Red Ginseng.

Clinical Studies: 61% of women saw more baby hairs on the applied area after 12 weeks.

What I love about this product: These are FUN and innovative. They stay "wet" for a little while and are like a tiny hair sheet mask.

What I don't love about this product: They are expensive for only treating one small area. It is also hard to tell if they really get to the scalp in all areas because the hair inhibits contact. For some reason I REALLY looked forward to using these daily. I had high hopes- but I really saw no change at all after one full box.

Links to Studies:

*I am going to share some of my actual notes (some of it is verbatim from Pub Med or an article, and I am including a link to each. I thought this might help with context :)

Minoxidil is a potassium channel opener, causing hyperpolarization of cell membranes and it is also a vasodilator, it is speculated that, by widening blood vessels and opening potassium channels, it allows more oxygen, blood and nutrients to the follicle.

Minoxidil seems to act by stimulating hair follicles, particularly those dormant, prolonging the anagen phase,5 whereas latanoprost seems to act by stimulating the anagen phase, increasing the conversion of vellus hair into terminal hair.

Does blood flow make hair thicker?

Catch-22 of ageing: reduced scalp blood flow

This is where the follicle decreases in size and thus – requires less blood supply. But, the less blood supply there is, the less nutrients it brings to the follicle, which further slows down the rate of hair growth and hair thickness.May 23, 2022

Is latanoprost better than minoxidil for hair growth?

One study showed that latanoprost significantly increased hair density after only 24 weeks. While latanoprost has shown slightly inferior results to minoxidil in the peer-reviewed literature, much lower concentrations (0.005 percent) were needed than minoxidil (5 percent).May 5, 2023 › compoun...

Which vitamin deficiency causes hair loss?

Only riboflavin, biotin, folate, and vitamin B12 deficiencies have been associated with hair loss. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is a component of two important coenzymes: flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) [22].Dec 13, 2018

Does tretinoin regrow hair?

Tretinoin was shown to stimulate some hair regrowth in approximately 58% of the subjects studied. One female subject with pronounced alopecia for more than 20 years had regrowth of hair using only tretinoin for a period of 18 months. › fulltext


Efficacy and safety of topical finasteride spray solution for male androgenetic alopecia: a phase III, randomized, controlled clinical trial

B M Piraccini et al. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2022 Feb.

  • Corrigendum. [No authors listed] J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2023. PMID: 36453829 Free PMC article. No abstract available. 


Background: Oral finasteride is a well-established treatment for men with androgenetic alopecia (AGA), but long-term therapy is not always acceptable to patients. A topical finasteride formulation has been developed to minimize systemic exposure by acting specifically on hair follicles.

Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of topical finasteride compared with placebo, and to analyse systemic exposure and overall benefit compared with oral finasteride.

Methods: This randomized, double-blind, double dummy, parallel-group, 24-week study was conducted in adult male outpatients with AGA at 45 sites in Europe. Efficacy and safety were evaluated. Finasteride, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) concentrations were measured.

Results: Of 458 randomized patients, 323 completed the study and 446 were evaluated for safety. Change from baseline in target area hair count (TAHC) at week 24 (primary efficacy endpoint) was significantly greater with topical finasteride than placebo (adjusted mean change 20.2 vs. 6.7 hairs; P < 0.001), and numerically similar between topical and oral finasteride. Statistically significant differences favouring topical finasteride over placebo were observed for change from baseline in TAHC at week 12 and investigator-assessed change from baseline in patient hair growth/loss at week 24. Incidence and type of adverse events, and cause of discontinuation, did not differ meaningfully between topical finasteride and placebo. No serious adverse events were treatment related. As maximum plasma finasteride concentrations were >100 times lower, and reduction from baseline in mean serum DHT concentration was lower (34.5 vs. 55.6%), with topical vs. oral finasteride, there is less likelihood of systemic adverse reactions of a sexual nature related to a decrease in DHT with topical finasteride.

Conclusion: Topical finasteride significantly improves hair count compared to placebo and is well tolerated. Its effect is similar to that of oral finasteride, but with markedly lower systemic exposure and less impact on serum DHT concentrations.

Find more of my favorite skincare, haircare, make-up and other fun finds on my Amazon Storefront ⬇️

Penn Smith Skincare participates in the Amazon Associates Program.  This is an affiliate program and all Amazon links are affiliate.  If you choose to use them I will receive a commission.

FTC: Links in this post are affiliate ~ Please take note that all links on this page are affiliate and if you choose to shop from them I earn a commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support!!!

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or skin related diagnosis or treatment options. Information on this website should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare/skin professional. The statements made about specific products throughout this website are not to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. It is important that you check labels to determine if a product is right for you. Before starting any treatment at home consult a health care or skin care professional to determine if it’s right for you.

2,888 views2 comments


Sara Gordon
Sara Gordon
Mar 24



Mar 23

I lost a lot of hair after surgical menopause. I oil with Mielle Rosemary and Mint Serum twice a week, and use the serum very sparingly on my scalp and ends on the other days.

This study states that rosemary oil has the same effect as Minoxidil for androgenetic alopecia after 6 weeks of use.

After about 3 months, I saw a significant amount of “baby hair” regrowth!

bottom of page