What’s the difference between Propecia and Hims (forhims.com) for treating male pattern baldness? Does either treatment offer superior hair growth, and what are the differences in cost?
If you’ve heard of both of these hair loss treatments, then you are probably trying to figure out how to keep from losing all of your hair. Me too! I know the feeling as do a whole lot of Americans. In fact, researchers say that 42% of men in the US currently experience thinning hair. Naturally the percentage grows with age, with 53% of men aged 40-49 going bald.
Here's where they're different.
Other than price, the biggest difference between Hims and Propecia is really just branding. You can expect the same results because both offer the same underlying medicine: a 1mg, daily dose of the prescription drug, Finasteride, that’s taken orally (that means a pill you swallow a pill everyday.)
There are several key nuances worth noting, however. The biggest is that finasteride from Hims costs less than half of Propecia from your local pharmacy. Here’s a handy chart with a full comparison that spells out all the major differences between the two hair loss products:
Hair Loss Treatment Comparison: Hims vs Propecia
|How to purchase||Forhims.com||In Pharmacy|
|Active Ingredient||1mg Finasteride daily||1mg Finasteride daily|
|Monthly Price||$28.50||$70 to $75|
|Hair Loss Bundle with Multiple Drugs||Yes||No|
|Bundle Includes||Finasteride (Propecia®)
|Effectiveness (see clinical study)||94.1%
When used with Hims Minoxidil bundle
|Get Started||Call your Doctor|
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There’s a few more big differences between Hims and Propecia to call out, including how you get a prescription and what treatments are available:
- Remember that Propecia is just the brand name for Finasteride for hair loss — it is a single treatment option, and does not come “bundled” with any other medications that might improve hair growth.
- How you get a doctor’s prescription is different between Propecia and Hims. Fin is a prescription medicine, and to get Propecia you need to go to your doctor to get a prescription written for you. This could be pretty expensive, depending on your health plan. Hims offers low cost, online doctor’s visits. Him’s doctors can diagnose and prescribe Fin online in most states – for $5. That’s pretty cheap!
- How you get the drug is different. If you get Propecia prescribed by your doctor, you’ll have to go to the local pharmacy, wait in line and get the drug. Hims will ship the medicine directly to your house, and they offer low cost subscription plans that will keep you in stock.
- The cost is likely quite different, as Propecia can cost $70 to $75 per month in a retail pharmacy. Turns out typical male pattern baldness is NOT covered by most insurance companies. Hims sells its own brand of Fin for much less – $28.50 per month. That’s a pretty huge savings. You can see how much you’d pay on Hims here.
- Hims also offers more than just Fin, which turns out to be a pretty big deal. There is another FDA approved drug to treat hair loss called Minoxidil. It’s a liquid that you apply to your scalp twice a day, and studies have shown that using Fin and Minoxidil together can increase a healthy man’s chances of keeping their head full!! For example, a study published in the medical journal Dermatologic Therapy showed that combining Minoxidil and Fin showed the best efficacy in helping men keep their hair.
Do Propecia and finasteride from Hims actually work?
Amazingly, yes. According to the FDA and medical researchers, Propecia and several of the medicines offered by Hims DO help prevent hair loss for most men. Unlike our granddads, who had to wear hats and just deal with going bald, we have actual medicines that will work for the majority of healthy men.
Both Hims and Propecia have/are a drug called Finasteride (also called “Fin”). Propecia is just the brand of finasteride that was popularized by the pharmaceutical company Merck. Ever since Merck’s patent on fin expired, Hims has capitalized by offering generic Finasteride as one of several lower-cost hair loss medicines.
According to the NCBI (The National Center for Biotechnology) Finasteride was originally developed to treat a prostate condition in men, but just so happened to have the nice side effect of helping keeping men from going bald. In 1998, the FDA approved it to treat male pattern hair loss (at a lower dose than what is used to treat the prostate condition).
A number of studies have shown that this drug works. For example, a 5-year study published in the European Journal of Dermatology showed “improvements in scalp hair growth, and slowed the further progression of hair loss that occurred without treatment.” (It also showed a low instance of side effects, which we’ll get into later in this article.)
How exactly do these drugs prevent hair loss?
It sounds a bit like snake oil – I’m willing to bet con artists have been selling “don’t go bald” tonics for hundreds of years. But scientists have started to figure out what make a healthy man lose his hair, and the active ingredient in Propecia and the medicines offered by Hims have been shown to work.
Male pattern baldness is at least partly caused by a “sex” hormone found in men, DHT. According to Healthline, “Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an androgen. An androgen is a sex hormone that contributes to the development of what are thought of as “male” sex characteristics, such as body hair. But it can also make you lose your hair faster and earlier.” Scientists think that DHT makes the hair follicles shrivel up and eventually die. Fin, the active ingredient in Propecia and in Him’s generic Finasteride, reduces the amount of DHT in your bloodstream, slowing or even slightly reversing DHT’s effect on your hairline.
Minoxidil, which you can get from Hims, works differently. It’s not a pill, it’s a liquid that you drip and rub onto your scalp. Minoxidil is what is called a “vasodilator,” which means it makes your blood vessels dilate (get a bit wider) in the area where you apply them. This improves blood flow and the flow of nutrients to your hair follicles, so your hair stays healthier and is less likely to die and fall out.
Both medicines have some side effects, but the good news is that both are widely used, well understood. And that means the side effects are therefore well understood, and thankfully pretty minor/uncommon. Neither of Fin nor Minoxidil should be used by pregnant women or women who intend to become pregnant – that’s pretty important. You probably don’t even want a woman touching these medicines, which also means that if you are putting Minoxidil on your head, you may want to have your own pillow to keep your partner away from it.
For Finasteride, the most talked about side effect is sexual difficulties. According to an article in The Indian Dermatol Online, a long term study showed that drug-related sexual side effects such as decreased libido, ED, and ejaculatory disorders occurred in <2% of men. So it can happen, but thankfully it’s pretty unlikely, even if you take the drug for a long time. Other side effects, that again are known to be rare, include dizziness, weakness, and swelling in hands, feet or breasts.
Minoxidil’s side effects are pretty minor; the most common one is minor skin irritation on your scalp. Others include: acne, facial swelling, dizziness, headache, etc., but these are rare.
Personal side note: I’ve been using both of these medicines for a while, and the main side effect that I’ve noticed is dry scalp from the Minoxidil. In the winter when it’s really dry, my scalp can get itchy. So I started using an anti-dandruff shampoo when it’s really dry outside, and that has cleared up the issue. For me, not that big of a price to pay to keep my hair!
Why is Hims less expensive than Propecia?
So, the medicines offered by Hims are clearly less expensive than Propecia – $28.50 for a month of Fin, or $44 a month for the Complete Hair Loss kit that has both Fin and Minoxidil and more — vs Propecia’s cost of around $70 to $75 per month. And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that a doctor’s visit on Hims is only $5 compared to whatever copay is required to get a chit chat with your primary care physician.
- Propecia cost: All in, Propecia typically costs $70 per month on average.
- Hims Finasteride cost: $28.50 per month, or $44 if bundled with Minoxidil and other supplements.
What gives, how is Hims so much less expensive than Propecia? Well, as we analyze in our study on the price of Finasteride, the cost of Fin has been coming down in recent years, as generic equivalents to Propecia emerged onto the market. Hims is one of the first direct-to-consumer healthcare companies to offer an online doctor’s visit and the generic prescription medicines all in one place, and are a low cost leader. Propecia is more of a typical, old-school (read: overpriced) drug that’s seldom covered by insurance. The good news is that Hims has the same active ingredient as Propecia, and since it’s all regulated by the FDA we can assume it’s a high quality drug.
Which do we recommend, Hims or Propecia?
As you can probably guess, we recommend you go with a subscription to Hims over getting Propecia prescribed by your doctor. It costs less, is delivered right to your door – and if you really are serious about keeping your hair, a combined Hims subscription is probably your best bet.
If you are losing your hair, you really want to start doing something about it now. Neither Hims nor Propecia are wonder drugs that can make a totally bald head suddenly full of hair. These medicines save what you’ve got, and if you are lucky, bring back some of the hair follicles that are near-death. It’s really likely that you can keep the hair you have and get slightly thicker hair – so start now!
Plus, Hims has a promotion running now that you should take advantage of. You can get Him’s Complete Hair Kit for $5 – that includes the price of the doctor’s visit and shipping. You get Fin, Minoxidil, DHT blocking shampoo and biotin vitamins.
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There are a few other noteworthy competitors to Hims that also sell finasteride online. Roman is worth checking out since they offer a free month of treatment, as is Keeps. Click below to take advantage of their free trials and see which one you like best. You can also read our comparison of all three — Hims vs Roman vs Keeps here.