Do the hair loss treatments from Lemonaid and Hims really work, and which is a better option? Are they using FDA approved drugs, and how do you get prescriptions for their medicines? And – of course – how much do they cost? Let’s dig in and compare these two options for men who want to fight hair loss!
It’s normal to lose your hair
Most men end up having thinning hair – like 85% of men by the age of 50. And for many men, hair loss starts earlier (personal note: for me, it was in my late 20’s). The good news is that most of these men are entirely normal and healthy, and are just experiencing what is called “alopecia.” (That’s doctor talk for going bald.)
The better news is that men now have FDA approved treatments to fight thinning hair.
You’ve probably heard of some of the branded, more expensive treatment options like Rogaine and Propecia. But now, there are new, exciting startup companies using online doctor visits to diagnose and prescribe lower-cost, generic versions of the active ingredients in Rogaine and Propecia – including Lemonaid and Hims.
Lemonaid vs Hims: Similarities
Both Lemonaid (why couldn’t they just spell it Lemonade?) and Hims offer access to the prescription drug available in Propecia, Finasteride. Does it work? The FDA thinks so, having approved it to treat male pattern baldness in December of 1997. Clinical trials have shown that 83% of Finasteride recipients had no further hair loss after 2 years vs only 28% of placebo recipients. For a man losing their curly locks, an 83% effectiveness rate is pretty strong!
The trick that Hims and Lemonaid have figured out is that they have a very easy way for men to get a prescription for Finasteride – it’s not an over the counter medication, so you have to get a doctor to approve you for it and write you a prescription. These companies can get you a doctor’s appointment online (not every state allows consumers to have telemedicine appointments over the internet, so if you start the process on either site they will tell you if your state is eligible).
You simply fill out a health questionnaire, much as a doctor would ask you questions. Then you have to prove your identity with a photo of your ID, and snap a few shots of your balding scalp. In a few states you have to do a video chat, but in most that’s it! The doctor reviews your data and, in most cases, prescribes Finasteride for you. Then the companies ship it out. Easy.
Hims vs Lemonaid: What’s the Difference?
There is one major treatment difference between Hims and Lemonaid. With Hims, you can purchase more than just Finasteride to attack your alopecia. Hims offers more than one FDA approved treatment, plus several other supplements that may also help. And they sell these either one-off or in a bundle that saves you some money.
Most importantly, you can get Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, another FDA approved drug to treat hair loss. Minoxidil also has been shown to work in clinical studies – but more importantly for those of us with male pattern baldness, other studies show that using Finasteride and Minoxidil together produces better results. For those of you who like to read clinical studies, “At week 24, the combined solution of finasteride and minoxidil was significantly superior to minoxidil alone in improvements of hair density, hair diameter and global photographic assessment (all P < 0.05).” For most people, the two treatments were better. If you choose to go with Lemonaid, you can always purchase brand-name Rogaine in your local pharmacy, although you might pay too much. You can also get it on Amazon, which offers a good price – although not as cheap as the Him’s Minoxidil brand.
Hims also offers a DHT blocking shampoo, which they claim reduces DHT in your scalp. DHT is a hormone, also called dihydrotesterone – see the testosterone in there? The thought is that DHT shrinks the hair follicles, and Hims thinks that their shampoo’s ingredients might reduce the amount of DHT in your scalp, thus helping keep your hair. Hims also has another advantage over Lemonaid, biotin vitamins. Supposedly this supplement might help men keep their hair. I think it’s important to note that neither the DHT blocking shampoo nor the vitamins have been clinically shown to do anything, BUT, Hims does have an affordable bundle of Finasteride, Minoxidil, the shampoo and the vitamins – something that Lemonaid does not offer. And these two are not the only online providers; check out some of the other Hims competitors here.
Comparing Him vs Lemonaid for hair loss
This chart helps layout the key similarities, differences and prices for Hims and Lemonaid’s hair loss offerings.
Hims vs Lemonaid: Men’s Hair Loss Comparison
|Medications Offered||– Finasteride only||– Finasteride|
|Supplements Offered||None||– DHT Blocking Shampoo|
– Biotin Vitamins
|Online Doctor Consultation||$25||$0|
|Cost of Finasteride Pills 1mg (Generic Propecia ®)||$90 for 90 days||$28.50 / Month|
|Per Day Cost of Finasteride||$1||$0.94|
|Cost of 5% Minoxidil (Generic Rogaine ®)||Not Available||$15 / Month|
|Introductory Offer||$70 for the first 3 months, including the doctor visit|
First month free + 90 day money-back guarantee
Since Hims offers more potential solutions in an affordable bundle, I currently recommend most men start with them. They have a generous 90 day money back guarantee as well, which removes any risk from giving them a shot. You can start with a free virtual doctor’s visit to see if you’re eligible for Finasteride and get a professional opinion on treatments for thinning hair.
More details on the hair loss drugs offered by Lemonaid and Hims
As we already mentioned, both Lemonaid and Hims offer, and can help you get a prescription for, Finasteride. And Hims will sell you low cost Minoxidil as well. Finasteride is a small pill that is taken once per day. Minoxidil is a liquid that you apply directly to the part of your head that is balding, twice a day.
Individually these drugs have been shown to slow or slightly reverse male pattern baldness, and as we already referenced, studies have shown that when used together they are even more effective. Besides reducing or slightly reversing hair loss, these medicines do have some side effects that are worth mentioning.
What are some of the possible side effects?
Both Finasteride and Minoxidil are well tested, widely used and well understood medicines. The most important item to note that they are intended to be used by men, not women. Women who are or who might become pregnant should not take these medicines. And when my wife and I were going to have kids, I went so far as to keep Minoxidil off her skin, pillows, and whatnot. And some doctors advise women who might be pregnant to not even touch Finasteride pills, so be careful.
For men taking Finasteride, the most common (yet rare) side effects include: 1) decrease in sex drive 2) trouble getting or keeping an erection 3) a decrease in the amount of semen. There have also been indications that some men have experienced the following side effects: breast tenderness and enlargement; depression; decrease in sex drive that continued after stopping the medication; allergic reactions; testicular pain; male infertility and/or poor quality of semen. I’ve used these medicines for quite a while, and haven’t experienced any of these issues. But, if this is something that worries you, check out a newer, non-pill format of this drug: Topical Finasteride. Clinical studies show that it works, and should have lower instances of side effects. One two of the top providers of topical are both Hims and Happy Head (read our Happy Head review).
Minoxidil’s side effects seem to be more limited to the area where you are applying the medicine – the top of your head. The most likely side effect is minor skin irritation. Personal note: I’ve had this problem with Minoxidil, in particular in the winter when it’s dry. My solution was to use an anti-dandruff shampoo. Like pretty much every other drug out there, Minoxidil has a list of other potential side effects – acne, facial swelling / hair growth, dizziness, headache, etc. – but they are exceedingly rare. Minoxidil is considered one of the safest hair loss treatments on the market today.
Curious about what a shipment from one of these companies actually looks like?
We’ve got a little video here of a Hims hair loss unboxing – Lemonaid has a similar customer experience.
More about telemedicine startups Lemonaid and Hims
What is the deal with these new startups, Lemonaid and Hims? Well, they are both venture capital backed startups trying to “disrupt” the healthcare market. But Lemonaid and Hims have slightly different business models.
Lemonaid says “We’re an online doctor’s office and mail order pharmacy. We offer convenient care at an affordable price.” They have doctors who can diagnose and treat patients in many states, and then prescribe medicines like the hair loss drugs we discuss in this review of Lemonaid. Their business model is really to get consumers to stick around as “subscribers,” getting their monthly meds on a recurring basis. In addition to hair loss, they offer birth control (for women), acne, ED meds AND also have some lab tests that they can run such as STD testing or cholesterol testing.
Unlike Hims, Lemonaid allows you pickup your medications at a local pharmacy (in addition to mailing it to you, which is the only service that Hims offers). The company is a San Francisco based startup that has raised $20.7 million in venture capital from investors like Hikma Ventures and 415 Ventures, plus some industry players like Quest Diagnostics and Novartis Venture Fund.
Hims is also a San Francisco based startup, that offers prescription and non-prescription medications to men. The company currently offers hair loss medicine, ED meds, men’s skin care and more. You can read more in our Hims Review here, but their business model is to diagnose and prescribe medicines, which they then ship monthly to their patients/customers. The company has raised close to $200 million in venture funding from investors such as Thrive Capital, Redpoint and Maverick Ventures.
The Verdict: Which do we recommend, Hims or Lemonaid?
First of all, we strongly recommend Hims or Lemonaid, or other online telemedicine providers, over the traditional doctor’s visit + retail, walk-in pharmacy for otherwise healthy men. Why? Cost and convenience – chances are you’ll pay way more in co-pays if you use your insurance and go the traditional route, plus, you’ll waste your time driving to the doctor and pharmacy. Both Lemonaid and Hims will handle everything for you online (sometimes with a video call or phone call, depending on the regulations in the state you live in), so you don’t have to leave your couch to start saving your mane.
At the moment, we recommend Hims over Lemonaid because Hims is a better one-stop shop, offering a whole suite of FDA-approved medicines to treat hair loss in a single subscription. We also love their 90 day money back guarantee, which allows you to get a full refund if you don’t want to continue.
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- Telemedicine can prescribe Finastride to you over the internet
- Lower prices than you would likely get in your pharmacy
- Telemedicine can prescribe Finasteride to you over the internet
- affordable prices + 90 day money back guarantee
- More than just Finastride, you can choose bundles with Minoxidil and other supplements
- Generic hair loss drugs, not the brand names
- Only have Finastride as a hair loss treatment
- New startup, so not a lot of history on the company
- Price can be more than Hims, especially to start
- Generic hair loss drugs, not the brand names
- While the main drugs, Minoxidil and Finastride are FDA approved for hair loss treatment, the other supplements in the complete hair loss bundle don’t have the same level of scientific “proof” that they work, so may not be worth it
- New startup, so not a lot of history on the company
Whichever way you chose to go, it does make sense to act soon if you are losing your hair. There are no FDA approved treatments that we’ve heard of that can fully reverse a bald head, and the drugs that are known to work can only slow to modestly reverse the situation. So don’t wait if you want to keep your hair!