Dutasteride vs. Finasteride for Hair Loss: How Do They Compare?


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Hair today, gone tomorrow can make any man rush to their healthcare provider for a solution to regain their once-full head of hair. But with so many treatment options out there, how’s a guy supposed to know which ones grow hair the fastest and which ones are too good to be true?

While hair loss treatments can be a bit of trial-and-error, there are well-studied, effective treatments — two of which are the medications finasteride and dutasteride. But is dutasteride better than finasteride? Or should you be using finasteride and dutasteride together? 

While finasteride and dutasteride work the same way to promote hair regrowth, there are some medical and legal differences you should know about finasteride vs dutasteride before you consider using either medication.

Dutasteride vs Finasteride: How They Work

Before we get into whether you should use finasteride or dutasteride, let’s cover some basic information about these medications — namely, how they slow down male pattern baldness.

Finasteride and dutasteride belong to a class of medications called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, or 5-ARIs. They prevent the conversion of testosterone into a different type of androgen hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT — a process that’s driven by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.

DHT is strongly linked to hair loss, with research showing that it’s the main hormone responsible for androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness.

If you drew the genetic short stick and are predisposed to male pattern baldness, DHT can bind to androgen receptors in your scalp and cause your hair follicles to gradually stop producing new hairs. Over time, this can result in a receding hairline, thinning of your hair around the crown (the area at the top of your head) and near-total hair loss.

This is where finasteride and dutasteride come in — 5-alpha reductase inhibitors work by blocking the effects of the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT.

Although they’re usually not a cure for baldness, these medications can slow down, stop or even reverse the negative effects that DHT can have on your hair growth cycle by blocking 5 alpha-reductase and reducing DHT levels throughout your body. 

Comparing Finasteride vs Dutasteride

Although finasteride and dutasteride work similarly, there are a few differences between the two medications regarding effectiveness, adverse effects and legal availability.

We’ve listed these below, along with more information on how each medication works and what you can expect from each hair loss treatment, such as potential side effects.

Finasteride Was Developed First

Finasteride was initially approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is an enlarged prostate gland. By lowering DHT levels, finasteride helps to reduce prostate enlargement.

The oral tablet version of finasteride was developed in the 1970s, patented in the 1980s and FDA-approved in 1992 for BPH under the brand name Proscar. The drug then approved male pattern hair loss under the brand name Propecia in 1997.

When used for hair loss, finasteride is prescribed at a lower daily dosage (1mg per day) than the stronger 5mg version used to treat BPH.

Dutasteride, on the other hand, received its FDA approval as a treatment for BPH in 2001, under the brand name Avodart.

Only Finasteride is FDA-Approved to Treat Hair Loss

Although research shows that dutasteride is effective at treating hair loss, it hasn’t yet received approval from the FDA as a hair loss treatment.

Dutasteride is approved by the FDA, but only as a treatment for BPH. This means that it’s gone through the FDA’s rigorous testing and research process, but solely as a drug marketed with the intended purpose of prostate volume reduction.

But if only finasteride is approved to treat hair loss, why are we even talking about dutasteride for hair loss?

Dutasteride may not be approved by the FDA for this type of use, but it’s still effective at preventing male pattern baldness (we’ll talk about this effectiveness in more detail soon).

However, since the FDA has yet to approve it for this specific purpose, it can only be prescribed as an “off-label” treatment for hair loss in the United States.

(RelatedCan Finasteride Regrow a Receding Hairline?)

Finasteride and Dutasteride Are Both Proven to Treat Hair Loss

While only finasteride is approved by the FDA as a treatment for hair loss, studies have largely shown that both finasteride and dutasteride are effective at cutting DHT production and treating male pattern hair loss.

One study from 2006 compared the effects of finasteride and dutasteride on 416 men between 21 to 45 years old who received either dutasteride, finasteride or a placebo treatment.

They noted that both finasteride and dutasteride were successful at increasing scalp hair growth over a 24-week period, and that side effects were similar among both groups.

It’s worth noting that although finasteride and dutasteride were both effective at treating hair loss and promoting hair growth, the researchers found that the men who took dutasteride had thicker hair — and a higher average hair count — after 24 weeks than the men who used finasteride. The finasteride dosage was also five times the FDA-approved amount for hair loss.

In other words, the efficacy of dutasteride for pattern hair loss may be higher than that of finasteride, at least based on this study.

A review published in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging, which featured data from three studies comparing dutasteride and finasteride as treatments for male pattern baldness, came to a similar conclusion.

The researchers concluded that although both medications are effective at treating hair loss in men, dutasteride “seems to provide a better efficacy compared with finasteride,” with a broadly similar rate of potential side effects.

In short, while both medications work for the treatment of hair loss, there’s some evidence that dutasteride may be slightly more effective.

(RelatedHow to Get Finasteride: Is It Over the Counter?)

Dutasteride Blocks More DHT Than Finasteride

One reason that dutasteride may be a slightly more effective treatment than finasteride is that it appears to prevent more testosterone from being converted into DHT.

A 2004 review comparing dutasteride and finasteride found that while finasteride was more selective in the types of 5-alpha reductase enzyme it blocked, dutasteride reduced DHT significantly more.

Why does dutasteride seemingly have more of an effect on DHT than finasteride? One theory is that dutasteride has a longer half-life, meaning it stays in the body longer than finasteride after it’s taken. 

Dutasteride’s half-life is approximately five weeks, meaning one dose of dutasteride can remain in the body for more than a month.

Finasteride, on the other hand, has a half-life of approximately five to six hours. This means that each dose of finasteride lasts for a significantly shorter period of time in your body than a typical dose of dutasteride.

Of course, this doesn’t mean finasteride isn’t effective at stopping hair loss in men. Several studies have found that finasteride reduces hair loss and, for many men, leads to serious improvements in hair growth.

A 2003 review of studies on men with mild to moderate hair loss who used finasteride found that many saw hair regrowth and experienced no adverse effects from the medication.

Another study carried out in Japan, which looked at the effects of finasteride over a 10-year period, also found that it was effective at treating male pattern baldness.

In this study, 99.1 percent of balding men who used finasteride over a 10-year period reported that their hair loss stopped during treatment, while 91.5 percent of the men experienced improvements in hair growth.

In general, most men with hair loss who use finasteride report that their hair loss either slows down, stops or reverses with long-term treatment.

While there is study data that suggests dutasteride may increase hair growth in men more than finasteride, this doesn’t mean that dutasteride is necessarily better to use as a hair loss treatment.

Dutasteride vs Finasteride Side Effects

So, finasteride and dutasteride both work by inhibiting the 5-alpha reductase enzyme and reducing the amount of DHT in your body. Does this mean they have similar side effects?

The most common side effects of finasteride are:

  • Inability to get or maintain a hard on (ED)

  • Gynecomastia (male breast tissue growth)

  • Reduced desire

  • Testicular pain or discomfort

Finasteride may also cause or contribute to psychological effects, including an increased risk of depression.

The most common side effects of dutasteride are very similar:

  • ED 

  • Decrease in drive

  • Problems coming

  • Gynecomastia

In clinical trials of Avodart, a common version of dutasteride used to treat BPH, a slightly higher percentage of men reported side effects, such as ED, during the first six months of treatment vs. those using the placebo.

Although uncommon, 5-alpha reductase inhibitors such as finasteride and dutasteride may also cause more serious side effects. These include:

  • Swelling of the breasts and nipples

  • Lumps, pain and discomfort of the breasts

  • Discharge from the nipples

  • Difficulty breathing and/or swallowing

  • Rash, itching, hives and swelling of the face and lips

  • Peeling skin

These reactions are rare, but may be signs of a serious problem. It’s important to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible for medical advice if you experience any of these side effects after taking either finasteride or dutasteride. 

Although finasteride may lower overall prostate cancer risk for men, some research suggests that it may be associated with an increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer in older men.

Overall, studies show that for the majority of men, finasteride is a safe medication and side effects are rare, reversible and generally not permanent. 

Likewise, research suggests that dutasteride has good long-term efficacy and long-term safety, even at the higher doses used for prostate gland volume reduction in men with BPH.

Side effects and adverse events from dutasteride are rare, often transient in nature and usually go away after you stop treatment.

Dutasteride vs Finasteride: Final Thoughts

Hair loss can leave many men feeling dejected, and the wide world of hair loss treatments can be overwhelming. You might be left wondering which treatment you should choose — finasteride or dutasteride?

  • Finasteride and dutasteride are both 5-alpha reductase inhibitor medications that stop your body from converting testosterone into DHT, a hormone that causes male pattern hair loss.

  • While both medications work similarly, only finasteride is approved by the FDA to treat hair loss, while dutasteride is only approved to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. Healthcare providers may prescribe dutasteride off-label for hair loss.

  • Both are effective at reducing hair loss, although some studies suggest dutasteride is more effective at blocking DHT and encouraging thicker hair growth.

  • Like many medications, side effects are possible with either finasteride or dutasteride. Both cause similar side effects, such as ED, reduced libido and decreased drive.

Since it’s the only FDA-approved option to treat hair loss out of the two, finasteride is the obvious choice if you’re looking for an effective and readily available medication to prevent your hair loss from worsening.

But finasteride isn’t your only FDA-approved hair loss treatment option. Minoxidil is a topical solution that is thought to stimulate hair growth. This medication is applied to the scalp as either a minoxidil foam or a liquid minoxidil solution.

This article originally appeared on Hims.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org

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Discover the Most Popular Hairstyles the Decade You Were Born

Discover the Most Popular Hairstyles the Decade You Were Born

There are so many things that define each decade, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. But none of the things we’ve looked back on were quite as polarizing as the hairstyles. From piled-high funky styles to buzzed dos, here are the most popular hairstyles from the decade you were born, spanning from the 40s to the 2000s. 

Wikipedia / Mediafeed

Inspired by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood women at the time, the victory roll hairstyle featured tight curls pinned toward the face to frame it. Victory rolls were customizable, so you could opt for a single roll or different symmetrical or asymmetrical versions of dual rolls. 

Other popular hairstyles of the decade for women included tight curls, waves, and the pageboy. Women were also big on hair accessories, particularly the snood, which was essentially a crocheted bag used to cradle the hair and keep it in place. Both men and women sported the infamous pompadour during the ’40s. Men were also partial to quiffed hair or short curls and were also prone to just slicking their hair back.

Wikipedia / U.S. Army – Yank, the Army Weekly

Everyone knows the beehive hairstyle, whether you associate it with the ’50s or Amy Winehouse. All you had to do to be cool in the 1950s was pile your hair on top of your head in a conical shape to resemble a beehive. Lots of hairspray was needed for this one.

If your hair wasn’t long enough for the beehive, you might have sported other bouffant hairstyles, a poodle cut, an Italian cut, victory rolls, or even a pixie cut. Men were still into the slicked-back look along with side parts, the pompadour, or — if they were influenced by Elvis later in the decade — a Rockabilly do.

Wikipedia / Warner Bros.

Bouffant (derived from the French verb “bouffer,” which means to puff or fluff up) hair became popular during the 1950s, but dominated in the 1960s thanks to the iconic Jackie Kennedy sporting the style. The puffy, rounded hairdo was especially popular among housewives during the ’60s. 

Women also gravitated toward shorter hairstyles (influenced by Twiggy), including pixie cuts and flipped bobs and, for long hair, bangs. Men styled their hair with everything from the bowl cut and the ducktail cut to shag cuts and styles copying The Beatles.

Public Domain / Wikipedia

During the 1970s, the afro became a symbol of cultural and political expression, particularly within the African American community. The style pushed back against Eurocentric beauty standards and celebrated natural Black hair. Influenced by icons like Angela Davis and the Jackson 5, the afro surged in popularity, crossing racial and cultural boundaries to become a mainstream fashion statement. Its voluminous shape was achieved through techniques like picking, and its prominence spread among both men and women.

Separately, and inspired predominantly by Farrah Fawcett, long, feathered hair was also sought after during the ’70s. 

Wikipedia / GeorgeLouis at English Wikipedia

Whether it was crimped, curled, teased, spiked into a giant mohawk, or cut into a towering flattop, the most iconic ’80s dos could all be tied to one main group: big hair. During this decade, freedom of expression was fully embraced and displayed through hair. Styles like Jheri curls were popular thanks to Michael Jackson, and Billy Ray Cyrus spearheaded the popularity of the business in the front, party in the back mullet. The ’80s were eclectic times that reeked of Aqua Net and perms. 

Wikipedia / Allan Light

You didn’t even need to be a fan or viewer of “Friends” to ask your hairdresser to give you “The Rachel” in the ’90s. Everyone knew exactly which version of Jennifer Anniston’s hair you wanted. Layered, framed around the face, and shoulder-length was the style that ruled the decade. Chunky highlights, side bangs, and hair flipped out at the bottom were also wildly popular during the decade. And who could forget chopsticks carefully stuck into buns? All the rage. 

If you were a cool dude during the ’90s, you might have had frosted tips, spiky hair, or cornrows.


All you needed was a few bobby pins and some hairspray to make a pulled-back pouf happen, and every girl in the 2000s was on board. High ponytails and pigtails, choppy layers, and money-piece braids were a go-to as well. 

Skater boy hair/emo boy haircuts that swooped halfway across a guy’s face were also iconic during the 2000s. Who else remembers watching guys shake their heads in slow motion to get the hair out of their eyes like they were playing a role in the “Baywatch” intro? We shudder at the memory. On the opposite end of the spectrum, buzz cuts were prominent, along with faux hawks. 



Featured Image Credit: macniak/istockphoto.