Do Hair Building Fibers Really Work?
Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Coming to terms with male pattern baldness isn’t always an easy process. In fact, it’s difficult for many of us to accept.
For many guys, the initial response to hair loss is frustration, sadness and denial. For others, it’s research on the different methods that are available to stop their hair from thinning and receding further.
One of the most challenging things about successfully dealing with male pattern baldness is the huge amount of inaccurate, incorrect information that’s out there.
While some treatments are tested, proven and even approved by the FDA, others aren’t backed up by much when it comes to scientific evidence. In fact, some widely promoted “treatments” for hair loss aren’t backed up by anything at all.
If you’ve searched for information about restoring your head of hair, you may have come across recommendations for hair building fibers -- colored proteins that you can apply to your hair for a thicker and fuller appearance.
The idea behind hair fibers is simple, but do they actually work? More importantly, do they have any place in a good routine for treating thinning hair?
Below, we’ve explained what hair fibers are, how they work and whether or not they’re effective as part of your hair growth and hair loss prevention routine.
We’ve also shared a few science-based options that you might want to consider if you’re losing hair and want to take action.
What Are Hair Building Fibers?
Hair fibers are small fibers that attach to your existing strands of hair, creating the appearance of extra density. They’re applied directly to your hair, usually with a spray applicator, and come in a variety of shades to match your natural hair type and hair color.
To understand how hair fibers work, we need to briefly cover the factors that cause hair loss in men.
However, the most common form of hair loss in men is androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness, which is caused by a combination of genetic factors and the effects of the androgen hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
DHT causes hair loss by binding to receptors throughout your scalp and miniaturizing your hair follicles. For most men, the process begins around the hairline and causes your hair to slowly (or, in some cases, rapidly) provide thinner coverage of your scalp.
Most treatments for hair loss work by either preventing the production of DHT or by stimulating blood flow to your scalp to improve hair growth.
For example, the medication finasteride inhibits the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, which lowers your DHT levels and treats hair loss. Minoxidil, a topical medication, moves your hair follicles into the anagen, or growth, phase of the hair growth cycle.
Fibers don’t block DHT and they don’t stimulate hair growth, meaning they won’t actually make your hair thicker or stop it from falling out. Instead, most hair fibers bond with your hair and give it the illusion of greater thickness.
Like other hair products, hair fibers are available at a variety of prices and quality levels. Higher quality hair fibers tend to be made of colored keratin protein, allowing them to match the natural texture and thickness of your hair.
These fibers attach to your hair via a static charge kind of like the one that builds up as you drag your feet across a wool carpet. This charge allows them to instantly bond with your hair and stay in place when you’re, say, on a date or at the office.
Are Hair Building Fibers Effective?
So, are hair fibers actually effective, or are they yet another gimmick product designed to “help” with hair loss without actually doing anything?
The answer to this question really depends on what you’re looking for, as well as how you plan to use hair fibers as part of your routine for dealing with hair loss.
If your goal is to actually stop your hair from falling out -- that is, fill in the thinning areas of your scalp and prevent your male pattern baldness from getting worse -- then no, hair building fibers aren’t going to be effective. After all, they don’t actually stop hair loss.
But if you’re looking for a quick and simple solution that can make thin parts of your hair look as if they’re thicker -- like how makeup can hide acne, lines and blemishes without actually treating them -- then using hair fibers as part of your routine could be a good idea.
Although research on the aesthetic effects of hair fibers is limited, one study found that artificial fibers and natural keratin hair fibers both produced good results for people with hair loss.
Since fibers bond to your real hair, they’re usually easy to apply to your hairline, crown or other areas affected by male pattern baldness. Some colored fibers may also be useful for hiding the gray roots that can develop over time if you dye your hair.
Disadvantages of Hair Building Fibers
One of the biggest disadvantages of hair fibers is that they work by binding to your natural hair, which means they aren’t effective in areas that already have significant balding.
If you have diffuse thinning -- for example, your hair is getting thinner but isn’t completely gone in a certain area of your scalp -- hair fibers can help to add density. However, their effects may be limited if you have a severe receding hairline or obvious baldness at your crown.
Another downside of hair fibers is their effectiveness -- that is to say, how much coverage they provide and how natural they look -- can vary hugely from one product to another.
While some hair fibers create a natural appearance, others don’t bind well to existing hair and tend to have a fake, scattered look. One scientific case report described certain brands of hair fibers as creating a “bizarre” pattern of short, scattered hairs.
In short, results are mixed. If you’re interested in using hair fibers, you may need to try several different brands in order to get a natural-looking hairline and scalp.
Although technically not a disadvantage, there’s no large-scale scientific research available on the side effects of using hair fibers. Most customers don’t seem to complain about popular hair fibers, although there are occasional reports of itching and irritation.
Science-Based Ways to Stop Hair Loss
Although hair fibers might help to provide the illusion of extra density when you style hair, they have no impact on hair growth and won’t help to stop male pattern baldness.
Luckily, there are science-based options that you can use to prevent hair loss and restore your hair if you’re starting to notice the signs of baldness.
Two of the most popular treatment options on the market -- finasteride and minoxidil -- are both medically tested and FDA approved, meaning their effectiveness at treating baldness has been backed up by real, large-scale testing and accepted by the medical community.
Finasteride is a prescription medication. It’s sold as a tablet and works by preventing your body from converting testosterone into DHT, the androgen hormone that harms your hair follicles and causes pattern hair loss.
Research shows finasteride works, and works well. In one study involving more than 1,550 men with male pattern baldness, researchers found that finasteride produced a significant increase in hair count. The men treated with finasteride reported slowed hair loss and increased growth.
We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Minoxidil is a topical medication. It’s available over the counter as a liquid or foam and works by shifting inactive hair follicles into the anagen, or growth, phase of the hair growth cycle. It also stimulates blood flow to the scalp, which may further increase hair growth.
Like finasteride, minoxidil is backed up by real research. In fact, it’s especially effective when it’s used at the same time as finasteride.
In one study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy, researchers found that 94.1 percent of men with male pattern baldness who used minoxidil and finasteride together showed signs of improvement compared to 80.5 percent with finasteride and 59 percent with minoxidil alone. We offer minoxidil solution and minoxidil foam online. You can also buy finasteride and minoxidil together with other growth-promoting products in our Hair Power Pack.
Hims has helped thousands of men regrow their hair
The Best Way to Use Hair Fibers
Using hair fibers as they’re typically promoted -- as an alternative to hair loss medications such as finasteride and minoxidil -- might help to temporarily provide the illusion of thicker hair.
However, since hair fibers don’t do anything to stop hair loss, all you’re really doing is delaying the inevitable. Not only will you not stop your hair loss from getting worse, but by making those thin spots harder to see, you might trick yourself into thinking it ain’t so bad.
The truth is that the majority of us don’t take action against hair loss until our hair is noticeably thin. The longer you wait, the harder it gets to achieve a good result.
Instead of using hair fibers as an alternative to hair loss medications, a better strategy is to use them together. Why not treat your hair loss properly with finasteride and minoxidil, all while you use hair fibers to temporarily create the appearance of extra thickness?
Think of it as faking it until you make it. While the hair fibers disguise your hair loss, medications like finasteride and minoxidil can get to work building the biological foundation for better-looking, thicker, real human hair.
After a few months of treatment, you might not even need the fibers anymore. Alternatively, you might want to keep them around to provide an extra boost for when you want a thick, full volume look.
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No matter the treatment plan, the best place to start is somewhere. Early action is the best hair loss prevention.
Learn More About Treating Hair Loss
As a man, hair loss can be the bane of your existence, but it doesn’t have to be. By acting early and actively treating male pattern baldness once it starts, you can maintain healthy hair growth and enjoy a dense, thick head of hair well into your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.
Interested in taking action? Our guide to the causes of male hair loss explains why your hair is starting to fall out, while our selection of science-based hair loss treatments for men allows you to take control over your hair loss and start actively regrowing your hair.