What is DHT and why is it important?
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a powerful androgenic hormone (much more powerful than testosterone) that is responsible for changes such as beard growth, body hair growth, bottom growth and more. A portion of your testosterone is converted to DHT. It can bind with androgen receptors, such as receptors in undeveloped or early facial hair follicles to create a thicker, visible beard hair. DHT is generally responsible for many of the more notable changes individuals may seek when starting testosterone hormone therapy. Testosterone just tends to be the little brother that gets all the credit, even when DHT did the heavy lifting!
Again, DHT is responsible for thicker, longer and deeper facial & body hair, among other changes. Testosterone can make these changes as well, but T rather than DHT leads to a thinner, smaller hair. This is why DHT is the preferred hormone when it comes to developing androgenic hair (beard & body hair.) Once DHT or T has caused a hair to terminalize (turn into an adult, thick, maxed out hair) the hair is permanent.
If theses are features you seek, then you may want to consider avoiding inhibiting/blocking DHT, at least for a period of time when these attributes are still developing. Many products on the market do contain DHT blockers, to varying degrees, (intentionally or unintentionally) even most beard products. Which of course, doesn't make sense from a scientific stand point for those still changing on testosterone and who seek to develop the thickest facial hair their genetics will allow. But most beard companies cater to cis men who have had T/DHT in their systems for at least a decade or two, so they already have lots of permanent facial hair going on already, and don't need to worry so much about DHT blockers anymore.
Rest assured, DR DHT beard products contain DHT safe ingredients and ratios, so it won't negatively impact facial hair progression for those who are looking to fill in their beard, or simply start from nothing, especially during this crucial time for many trans individuals still changing on testosterone.
How can I optimize my DHT levels for facial or body hair growth?
1. Make sure your T levels are consistently in range. You'll have to check with your doctor in order to find out your levels and what is healthy for you depending on any health conditions you may have. Always consult with your doctor. These are general guidelines for those without underlying condition. Generally 300-900ng/dL is considered within range. Also generally speaking, the higher the T, the higher the DHT levels. Being on the higher end of that range could help optimize your blood DHT level. Though too high can make some T convert to estrogen instead of DHT, so keep an eye on this. There is a direct correlation with higher end (but not too high) T levels and higher DHT levels.
2. Avoid regularly using products that contain DHT blockers (especially leave-on products that absorb into your skin.) Particularly on your face/beard region, or systemwide oral meds.
I have a list of common DHT blocking ingredients, you can check it out here.
Common DHT blockers include coconut oil, sodium lauryl sulfate, salicylic acid and finasteride (oral med.)
If used regularly, particularly daily, these can alter how your facial hair progresses overtime, and even slow or stop new development. Though, many of these ingredients may be great for head hair, it's quite the opposite when it comes to gaining new facial/body hair (androgenic hair) and facial & body hair are androgen driven and require T or DHT to develop.
3. This tip may not change the DHT level, however it helps circulate more nutrients & hormones through your face's subcutaneous layer for more chance of hormones binding with androgen receptors and creating an androgenic hair.
Regular blood flow stimulation! There are various way to do this.
First, my Beard Grower Oil naturally stimulates blood flow in your face's skin layer. This is needed because hairs require a good blood source in order to become independent and thick. It also innately circulates more androgenic hormones through the areas, again giving more potential of creating facial hairs. Apply this in a daily routine.
Secondly, using a derma roller (must be .5mm) this also doubles down on blood flow stimulation to help establish hairs, and can be used alongside the Beard Grower Oil, it helps the oil absorb even better too. Do this 2-3 times a week, apply the oil after, also apply the oil on days you don't roll.
Consistent blood flow stimulation is one of the best things a person can do (besides take/have T) to stimulate facial hair growth, this includes individuals not on T, or pre-T.
Pre-T individuals can also see progress while applying these ideas, but note that it tends to develop slower, this is due to the hairs nature and likely the user has low testosterone levels. Remember, this type of hair is androgen driven.
Consistency is key! It will take time. Be realistic.
Genetics always play a role. They decide how easy, or hard, it is for you to react to androgens in various cells and tissues. We can't change our genetics. But exposure to more androgens (not too much or it can convert to estrogen) can give someone a better shot of development. Whether that be having higher T levels regularly, and/or stimulating more blood flow in the area seeking more androgenic hair development, as it exposes the area to more hormones & nutrients over a given period of time, aiding in the development & advancement of facial and body hairs.
extremely important factors to consider
1. Genetic factors. Clearly my beard oil and derma rolling won't change your genetics, nothing will, BUT it may give you a better chance vs. leaving your body/genetics alone to do the work.
Examples of genetic factors:
Androgen receptor sensitivity. Some people don't have sensitive receptors, this is a genetic trait. And areas on the face or body can have varying sensitivity on the same person. It doesn't necessarily mean they'll never grow hair in the places where the receptors are insensitive. However it probably means it will take much longer and be harder to grow hair there. Still, the best thing you can do is to keep stimulating blood flow so you essentially are "rolling the dice" more often in hopes of DHT eventually binding with the receptors and creating notable hairs. T levels overtime also play a big role.
DHT conversion. How much of your T is converted into DHT. This can be genetically determined.
Note that meds like finasteride can effect this conversion, it lowers it, therefore, lowering the amount of DHT in your blood.
SHBG Levels (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin.) SHBG circulates and binds to free sex hormones that would normally be available for your body to use. Therefore, any androgens it binds to can't be used to create beard/body hair etc. If you have high SHBG levels then less of your free androgenic hormones are able to bind with receptors and make facial hair, or other changes. You can ask your doc to check these levels alongside your T levels.
Hair pattern/color. Also determined by genetics. Have hairs that go in a certain direction? What about a beard that's a different color than your head hair. That's all down to genetics. Though some medical conditions can change the color of hairs, or patches of hair.
DHT and head-hair loss
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a powerful androgenic hormone responsible for changes such as beard growth, body hair growth and bottom growth.
However, higher levels of DHT can, at the same time, trigger androgenic alopecia in some people, if their genetics say so. Look at the men on your mom's side & your dad's side. Do they bald? When did they start balding? Was it early on? 20's to 30's? Was it later? 40's, 50's, 60's? Then you have a chance of balding overtime as you are on testosterone.
A big difference to note in the case of trans individuals on T vs. their family balding, is how high your T levels are (consistently, over years.) Since we tend to have more control over our levels than someone who naturally makes T in their body, we could bald faster, or slower than our family members did!
For example, lets say your mom's brother and your brother started visibly balding in their mid 20's, pretty early on. They've had notable amounts of T & DHT in their system for about 13 years when they started seeing significant hair loss. Lets say their average T levels were 500-600ng/dl.
You're noticing that after only 5 years on T you have visible balding, just as they did in their mid 20's, but you've only had T for 5 years, not 13! But lets say your levels were 700-900ng/dl during those 5 years. Having higher T levels than the men in your family, therefore causing your body to express hair loss sooner than them. This is an added factor many trans people forget about.
The opposite could be true as well. You balding SLOWER than the men on both sides of your family due to you having notably lower T levels than them over said period of time, therefore expressing less hair loss in X amount of time on T vs. your family members having T for that same period of time with more hair loss.
What can i do to help slow down dht related hair loss?
1. Keep your T levels at a range that doesn't trigger, or triggers less hair loss for you. This will vary from person to person. You'll have to figure out with trial and error. Some people have very powerful hair loss genetics and even low levels could still trigger a notable amount of loss, keep this in mind.
2. Use products that block DHT on the scalp. This can include certain shampoos, topicals, or natural oils if you want to either go the natural route, or add an oil into the routine for that extra layer of protection. Not all products are created equally and know that they aren't the end-all be-all to hair loss, but instead, a tool to help slow it down over time. You can use multiple tools at once to help double down. Consistency, daily, is what's best. Since DHT is circulating DAILY, you'll constantly need to block some of it at the scalp to prevent it from having such a negative effect on your head hair over time. Unless you get off T, or drop your dose so low that you notice little to no hair loss. DHT is also secreted in your scalp's sebum, so washing regularly to remove that excess DHT can help.
3. Use oral DHT inhibiting meds. These are the most powerful at blocking DHT but there's a catch. They block DHT through your ENTIRE BODY. Therefore, much of that DHT you needed to get your beard to develop, is no longer there for use. It can lower your DHT levels by up to 70%. Therefore, if you start finasteride right when you start T, it will likely stunt or change your facial hair development over time. One option is to start finasteride after a couple years on T (if you aren't noticing significant hair loss earlier than 2 years) this will help some beard hairs start to develop (depending on your genetics) so you have some facial hair going on, before you start the med. The med will not reverse any terminal, adult beard hairs you grew prior to taking it.
4. Use topicals that stimulate blood flow to help with regrowth. Any hair regrowth product requires consistency, preferably daily. A strong blood source is what can keep a hair going, or reverse a hair from miniaturization; that's when a follicle shrinks & hair falls out.
Topicals that stimulate blood flow include minoxidil. Though, it does NOT block DHT (unless it has DHT blocking additives, some do but most standard minox doesn't, typically you'd know if it has these additives.) Talk to your doctor before using this. It is a vasodilator and used as a heart med, so it is not safe for everyone. It's also dangerous to use if you have cats, as it can be fatal to them. It is not safe for pets in general.
Many people respond to minoxidil, but understand any regrowth treatment will take time, and some may not work for you at all.
Natural products, such as the head hair regrowth and loss prevention oil I'm working on. These are a safer alternative tools to aid in hair regrowth. The one I'm working on will also include natural DHT blockers to help block DHT at the scalp, as you apply it daily. This would be great for someone who can't or won't use minoxidil or meds, or can be even used alongside minoxidil, or finasteride for that extra layer of protection.
This is something I plan to finalize in 2024. It also would help with regrowth by simulating blood flow, but also contain vitamins to help build stronger hairs, and additionally helps block DHT at the scalp to help slow down hair loss with regular use.
This article does not intend to give any medical advice. Always talk to your doctor when it comes to medications including but not limited to testosterone or finasteride.