Either via ads or through a friend — have you heard of Happy Head yet? They are a popular men’s hair loss treatment provider that’s innovated beyond traditional Finasteride pills. The company was one of the very first in the US to offer a custom compounded topical solution that combines several prescription-strength active ingredients to offer you the chance to get your hair back without the potentially devastating side effects associated with oral Finasteride.
In this article, we’ll cover review Happy Head to see how its topical finasteride works, how effective it is on average, how it compares to other topical finasteride brands, and ultimately help you decide if it’s right for you. For what it’s worth, I’ll also share my own personal experience using the product with the obvious warning not to draw too many conclusions from it since everyone’s scalp is different and we all have different reactions to medications.
In case you’re short on time, here’s a quick summary of what our medical advisory team liked most about Happy Head’s topical finasteride:
Happy Head Topical Solution
Pros and Cons
Effective: Happy Head not only combines the highest concentrations of both finasteride (.25%) and minoxidil (8%) on the market, they also include .01% Retinoic Acid to help promote skin health for optimal follicle growth. In other words, you’re tackling the underlying potential causes from multiple all angles.
Custom Compounded: Happy Head custom compounds their topical formulation for each patient, ensuring that the dosage is tailored for your head individually. That’s a lot more personalized than alternatives like Hims, Keeps, or Roman.
Lower Risk: Happy Head’s solution contains powerful active ingredients that pose a much smaller risk of adverse side effects when applied topically to the scalp, rather than ingested orally and circulated through the blood stream. It all equates to higher potency overall with lower risk.
Pricey: For $79 per month, Happy Head isn’t the least expensive topical finasteride on the market. Luckily with code FIN45, you can bring down the cost in line with Hims and Keeps (~ $50) for your first month.
Tricky Application: Happy Head only offers their topical treatment as a liquid solution that’s recommended applied twice daily via a dropper bottle. This application method is slightly messier and less convenient, in our opinion, than a gel or cream applied once daily.
What's inside Happy Head's Topical Solution?
After a brief online consultation with a licensed doctor, Happy Head will determine if you’re a fit for prescription hair loss meds and recommend a personal hair loss treatment plan. Generally, for most men, this includes a custom compounded topical solution to be applied twice daily to the scalp via a dropper bottle. Happy Head’s topical formulation contains the following active ingredients:
- Finasteride – Up to .25% concentration
- Minoxidil – Up to 8% concentration
- Retinoic Acid – Up to .01% concentration
- Hydrocortisone – Up to 1% concentration
We’ll explain in-depth how each of these three common treatments works to improve follicle health enough to keep hair on your head, but before we get too deep into the science, here’s a quick comparison of how Happy Head stacks up to other leading topical finasteride alternatives on the market.
Happy Head Alternatives: How does it compare?
Happy Head vs Hims and Alternative Topical Finasterides
|Monthly Price||$79||$45 - 50|
(billed $150 quarterly or $270 bi-annually)
(billed $297 quarterly)
|$40 - $60|
(billed $120 quarterly for first 3 months, then $180)
|Free Online Doctor's Visit?||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Active Ingredients||.25% Finasteride|
0.1% Retinoic Acid
|.25% Finasteride||.25% Finasteride|
|Slow release of Finasteride on Scalp?||❌||❌||✅ SiloxysSystem™ helps deliver finasteride to scalp throughout the day, rather than all at once, maximizing its overall absorbtion and efficacy.||❌|
|Recommended Use||Twice Daily||Twice Daily||Once Daily||Once Daily|
|Where is it Available||All 50 US States||All 50 US States + UK||All 50 US States + Canda (minus Quebec)||All 50 US States|
|Other Hair Loss Meds Offered||Hair Loss Supplement|
(Biotin, collagen, keratin, saw palmetto, + more)
|Minoxidil Foam & Solution|
Shampoo & Conditioners
|❌||Minoxidil Foam & Solution|
2% Ketoconazole Shampoo
Thickening Shampoo & Conditioner
Thickening Keeps Pomade
The major differences between Happy Head and alternatives like Hims or Keeps come down to price. As you can see, Happy Head offers a more premium topical treatment, and for those who can afford it, the higher price (+$30 per month) is worth it, in our opinion, due to higher concentrations of more active ingredients.
For those looking for a cheaper option: try Hims or Keeps’ more generic (not custom compounded) topical finasteride, OR consider oral finasteride, which is MUCH less expensive. Note that Happy Head doesn’t offer oral finasteride, however — only topical — so depending on your budget, that may be a deal breaker. Why is topical fin so much more expensive (but ultimately better) than oral? Read on to find out. If you’re curious how finasteride works to prevent hair loss, and how effective clinical trials have proven it to be for most men, jump down to our FAQs.
Topical vs Oral – Which Finasteride is Best?
Topical Finasteride has only recently emerged as one of the most effective, lowest-risk remedies for alopecia. Many dermatologists consider it superior option in many ways compared to oral Finasteride, mostly due to lower potential for side effects.
Topical Finasteride Pros and Cons
Lower Risk: Topical Finasteride may have a lower instance of side effects vs the oral version
More Expensive: Compared to oral finasteride, topical finasteride is generally 2-3x pricier.
Oral Finasteride in pill form has been available for a long time under the brand name Propecia. The drug gets metabolized in the liver and stops global (in the whole body) conversion of testosterone to DHT, an action that potentially causes adverse side effects.
Since DHT is also responsible for libido, male characteristics such as the growth of body hair, development of the prostate gland, lack of adequate DHT can (unfortunately) have unwanted sexual and physical side effects.
Dr. Steve Kim (who medically reviewed this article) would like to note:
“For the vast majority of medications (and Finasteride is no exception), the topical form, if available, will have much fewer side effects (and particularly fewer serious side effects) than its pill form, so as long as efficacy is equivalent, then TOPICAL is the better way to go.”
Why is topical finasteride less risky than oral?
Most dermatologists still prescribe oral Finasteride unless you specifically request topical, even though it poses a higher risk of serious side effects. Topical Finasteride — which Happy Head specializes in — is generally safer than oral for the following reasons:
- Lower Dose: Topical finasteride appears in much lower dosages (~0.25%) compared to the oral tablets (5mg), meaning that even less reaches the bloodstream after application, minimizing the effects on hormonal balance even further.
- Local Application: Recall that topical Finasteride is only applied to the affected area, so the drug only works in a more localized area without triggering any undue effects on the rest of the body. For anyone scared about scary sexual side effects from finasteride such as loss of lebido or erectile dysfunction, topical Finasteride is thus a much safer alternative.
That said, topical Finasteride is a more recent formulation of the drug that is yet to be approved by the FDA. Until now, it’s only been prescribed by compounding pharmacies under the careful guidance of dermatologists. Companies like Happy Head, Keeps, XYON, and Hims are changing the game by making it easier to access online.
My personal experience using Happy Head Finoxidil.
As someone who’se experienced alopecia from an early age, I was really curious to try Finoxidil. I had taken Minoxidil (topically) and Finasteride (orally), both individuall yand concurrently, so when Happy Head launched a 2-in-1 topical finasteride + minoxidil single solution, I purchased it right away to see what it was like myself.
My first impression was “wow, this looks like a real medicine.” Not as much slick branding that you get from Rogaine or Hims or any other online minoxidil vendors. The actual medicine is pretty similar in looks and feel to standard Minoxidil; it’s probably slightly more yellow in color.
More importantly, it was easy to apply and dried quickly. The directions said to use 0.5ml two times – so fill the dropper to half a milliliter, put it on, then repeat the process. The glass dropper was surprisingly higher quality than the plastic droppers I’m used to. Very important to me, it dried quickly and didn’t smell weird.
At the time of publication, I’ve used the product successfully for over 6 months and had no adverse effects. Even better, I’ve kept all the hair on my head (no additional thinning) and have noticed that my baldest spots (crown and front hair line) have thickened ever so slightly.
Ultimately, I’m super pleased with Happy Head’s topical finasteride so far, both in terms of how much more convenient it is compared to my old routine and the results since switching. The lower side effect risk has also made me worry less. While Happy Head’s topical finasteride isn’t the cheapest, it offers a highly effective solution that’s less risky and ultimately worth a few extra dollars for me.
Happy Head Reviews: What are other customers saying?
When scanning sites like reddit for Happy Head reviews, the general feedback from customers seemed, on the whole, just as positive as my own experience. It gives them peace of mind to know they are treating their thinning scalp with a lower risk of side effects, and overall many have seen strong results.
A few customers noted (as have we) that Happy Head’s finasteride is a bit more expensive than companies like Hims, Roman, or Keeps — but if you consider that you’re getting a personalized formulation of finasteride, minoxidil, and retinoic acid all-in-one with lower risk of side effects, the higher price is justified. For guys who want to spend less time testing products, Happy Head is worth an additional $20-$30 per month.
The Verdict: Is Happy Head Legit?
All in all, Happy Head offers one of the most legitimate topical hair loss treatments for men on the market today. Their custom formulation combines FDA-approved meds — finasteride and minoxidil, which have been clinically proven to be most effective when used together — into a single solution that’s easy to apply.
While topical finasteride + minoxidil (i.e. finoxidil) have been clinically proven to stop hair loss for most men, Happy Head’s formulation is even more effective because it contains higher doses than alternative brands, plus a few extra helpful ingredients, like retinoic acid and hydrocortisone, that boost overall scalp health to maximize your chance of regrowth.
Happy Head is ideal for guys who want to…
… minimize risk of side effects.
Happy Head is ideal for guys who dislike swallowing pills or are afraid of oral finasteride’s potentially devastating side effects, rare as they may be. Clinical studies show much lower instances of adverse outcomes with topical finasteride than oral, which is ultimately why I switched to Happy Head after many years of both minoxidil and oral finasteride daily. I’ve personally seen strong results from Happy Head, and other customers largely claim similar hair regrowth when you take a look at reddit and other online review sites.
… maximize regrowth results.
Happy Head’s topical Finasteride solution will usually have 6%-8% Minoxidil. Not that this is slightly higher than other brands (like Hims) because they found that adding more Minoxidil and retinoic acid means faster and better results with no significant increase in side effects. In addition, Happy Head’s aloe carrier helps to soothe the scalp and prevent irritation and burning after application. That’s important because the only side effect that topical finasteride sometimes causes that oral pills generally don’t is skin irritation.
… personalized their treatment.
I love that Happy Head’s formulations are custom compounded, meaning that exact dosage and concentrations of the active ingredients are personalized to your needs, just like traditional dermatologists offer. The only difference is that it’s less expensive (no co-pays or wasted time in a waiting room), and much more convenient, than going in-person to see a local hair and skin specialist. Ultimately prescription meds work differently for each patient, which is why we really appreciate Happy Head’s individualized approach, which includes access to ongoing support should you ever want to adjust your treatment.
The only way to know for sure if Happy Head will work for you is to try it out and measure its impact over 3-6 months. Although it’s slightly more expensive than topical finasteride options from Hims or Keeps, it’s more customized to your needs, offers lower risk despite higher-than-average concentrations of active ingredients, and thus in my opinion, justifies the higher cost.
Custom topical formulations are more expensive than oral finasteride, so if you’re looking for the cheapest finasteride on the market, Happy Head definitely isn’t for you. That said, you can save save 45% with code Fin45, which brings the initial cost down more on par with lower cost alternatives.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Male pattern hair loss, aka androgenic alopecia or androgenetic alopecia, is a genetic condition signified by excessive loss of hair from the hairline and scalp. For men, thinning typically occurs at the top and front of the head, unlike female alopecia which affects the whole scalp, and generally starts later in life than for males.
In other words, male alopecia is premature balding. It usually occurs in middle-aged men, even though younger adults are reporting increased cases of hair loss at ages as young as 25 and below. (Personal anecdote time: My dad lost all his hair by age 30, which he’ll be the first to tell you, was not fun.)
This kind of hair loss is closely linked with the male hormone (androgen) testosterone. A derivative of testosterone that is called dihydrotestosterone binds itself to hair follicles in the scalp, causing them to weaken and disrupt the hair cycle. The hair eventually falls out while the follicle becomes dormant, leading to baldness.
An enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase is involved in the conversion of free testosterone found in blood serum to DHT. Having high levels of DHT will cause faster thinning and eventual baldness.
Some men are more sensitive to DHT, meaning that they could experience faster hair loss despite having relatively normal levels. This sensitivity is dictated by genes inherited from your parents, which is why male pattern baldness tends to run in families, while other family’s maintain thick locks forever.
In addition to genetics, male pattern blindness also has to do with factors such as stress and hormonal changes. The degree and speed of progression of male pattern baldness differ from man to man, but it eventually affects more than 50% of Caucasian men over 50 years of age.
Finasteride is a pharmaceutical drug that inhibits the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme and stops it from producing DHT. Finasteride is so effective that it can reduce DHT production by about 70%, which significantly slows down hair loss.
Whether it is used alone or combined with other treatments for hair loss (like minoxidil aka Rogaine), Finasteride offers hair in the scalp a chance to grow back during the normal hair growth cycle, which can generally take several months.
For decades, Finasteride (and its close cousin Dutasteride) have been widely used and studied to determine their effectiveness in treating male pattern balding. Data from clinical trials suggest that Finasteride gives you a better than 80% chance of slowing down hair loss within 2 years, and slightly less than 70% after 5 years.
It’s helped millions of men over the last few decades, and thus, it’s sage to conclude that finasteride is very effective for most men. That said, some men experience side effects, so it’s important to check with a doctor and research alternatives before usage.
Compare the cost of finasteride and l
Finasteride has few side effects, but many of them are systemic and highly undesirable. This is one reason why many men are concerned with the potential effects of taking oral Finasteride on a long-term basis. Potential adverse reactions include:
- Sexual dysfunction due to low DHT levels in blood serum
- Erectile dysfunction and problems with ejaculation
- Swelling and tenderness in the breasts
- Swelling of the hands or feet
These side effects manifest in less than 5% of men taking oral Finasteride, and then only in mild forms in the first few weeks of taking the drug until the body gets used to it. However, the sensitive nature of these adverse effects is enough for many men to consider safer alternatives to reduce Finasteride’s risks — no matter how unlikely.
In 2018, a comprehensive study on topical Finasteride was published which summarized findings from seven earlier studies and concluded that “preliminary results on the use of topical FNS (Finasteride) are limited but safe.”
The seven studies reviewed all show that topical Finasteride is at least as effective as oral Finasteride in combating male pattern hair loss. Cutting to the chase: the results of several clinical studies showed decreased hair loss, increased hair counts at the end of the longest study (2 years), and improved hair growth.
Clinical measurements showed that the amount of DHT in the scalp and plasma decreased, but it did not cause any changes in the levels of testosterone. Thus we can safely conclude that use of topical Finasteride is an effective and safe way to treat alopecia for men, but studies are still ongoing to determine things like ideal frequency, safe dosage limits, and more.
If you’re wondering whether you should ask your dermatologist about switching to topical Finasteride, the answer is yes and no. Yes, because although the drug has been tested and proven to work just as well as oral Finasteride in most cases, you should always speak with a physician before trying any new medications. And no, because there are easier, more convenient ways to get Rx hair loss meds than asking your physician or dermatologist to create a custom compound for your scalp.
Instead, we recommend Happy Head who makes it much easier to acquire consistently effective formulations, specifically designed for your condition, 100% online.
So while we don’t recommend you get topical finasteride from your primary care physician, we do recommend it as a treatment in general (so long as you can afford the higher price tag than oral Finasteride!) Happy Head is a much, much simpler way to experiment with topical fin and ensure the correct dosage is shipped out to you every month. Much less hassle than a traditional visit to your dermatologist!
Until the FDA approves topical Finasteride, it will remain under the discretion of your dermatologist. Most are happy to prescribe it if you ask, even without a history of side effects with oral Finasteride, but the trouble lies in getting high-quality and reproducible compounded topical Finasteride formulations from pharmacists.
At Happy Head, you can get a free consultation with certified dermatologists to talk about whether topical Finasteride might be the best solution for you. They will also review your history, listen to your problems with other hair loss medication, and create a custom prescription to suit your needs. The process starts with a quick, virtual consultation with one of their doctors.
The actual online visit is fast an easy – you give them your gender, date of birth and email. Next you answer some questions about your hair loss, let them know if you’ve ever used minoxidil or finasteride before, tell them what medications you are already taking, etc. Super easy questions that you’ll already know the answers to. Then you’ll provide your mailing address, your billing information and finally you’ll have to upload a photo of your drivers license and a couple pictures of your thinning hair. It was super painless to do and took less than five minutes from start to finish.
From there you’ll get prescribed a course of treatment that makes the most sense for your symptoms for free. Your custom topical finasteride solution will come in the mail, in discreet packaging, every month on a regular schedule so you don’t run out. Every year you may have to “renew” your prescription virtually, but generally this takes just a couple minutes online. Happy Head makes getting topical fin as simple as that!
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