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Alopecia update – my experience with treatments including Revivogen, Surface Awaken and Minoxidil (Rogaine Generic)

This is my hair alopecia story.

This is my hair back in January the top.
1january

[for an update of how I style my recovering but fine thin hair, check out my extensions]

I hated hated hated my hair. The last time I loved my hair was when I was 15. I remember an older girl playing with it and saying, “Your hair is SOOO thick.”

It was. You could put your hands around the hair at the base of my neck and it would pretty much fill out the circle your hands made.

There are some reasons it started falling out that I won’t share here. Some of them had to do with hair treatment, and the way I pulled my hair up. A lot of my hair fell out when I was 16.

When I was 20, I went through a lot of stress. I won’t mention the causes here. It lasted about 5 years and all the rest of my hair fell out. I had huge bald spots. I don’t have pictures from this time. The pictures above look a lot better than that time. I got away from the source of the stress and I started taking natural hair supplements. Biotin, horsetail, SAW PALMETTO (if you’re taking something natural for your hair it NEEDS to include saw palmetto or you’re wasting your time), a good healthy vitamin like Alive! which includes digestive enzymes and probiotics just to help you digest your nutrients.

It got better, but never great.

I tried Revivogen. This was the most frustrating thing I’ve ever tried, and the most expensive. I used it for a year. It was 2 steps forward and 2 steps back. Revivogen synchronizes your shedding cycle. I could never find out why, not even from customer service. That means you’ll grow and grow hair like wild, and then it will all fall out every six weeks. Including tiny little 1 inch baby hairs. Who would do this?

Then I tried Surface Awaken topically, and Hair Omega internally. This was the best combination up to this point. My hair slowly, over the course of two years, got better.

Then last December I got sick. I was sick for about a month and couldn’t take the 3 Hair Omega horse pills. Also because I wasn’t eating well, my hair fell out rapidly – I felt like I was shedding. I slid backwards in time 2 years and felt devastated.

I gave up. I was SO tired of my hair. I researched natural looking wigs and found an intriguing website and company run by a sweet lady in California. She sold the same wigs I saw on other websites, but she thins them to make them look more natural, customizes a natural looking hairline, and sews them in to fit your head shape and size.

My experience with Patti’s Wigs was amazing. I was so happy with my hair. I couldn’t stop smiling. My confidence grew. I went to more client meetings and networked more. I started vlogging as well as blogging and was pleased with the results.

Here are some of my pictures:

custom jon renau julia by wigs by pattis pearls

custom jon renau julia by wigs by pattis pearls

custom jon renau zara by wigs by pattis pearls

I started with the Zara in January and switched to the shorter wavier Julia in March.

I was in love with my hair for the first time in more than a decade. Most of the time people could not tell they were wigs, and I’m not sure that people could tell at all. I would wake up in the morning, put on my wig and feel so confident. You can totally see my scalp at the part and I even look at them now and think wow, they look like my real hair – they look like me! My hair color, my wavy hair type, me a long time ago before stress-triggered alopecia. I chose synthetic wigs because of the way they hold their style day after day. But synthetic wigs wear out quickly. For me. I’ve heard they should last longer, but for me I’ve pretty much decided if I continue to wear them I need to buy a new one every 2 months, or get them refurbished, which is much less expensive. You can steam them silky again, which I’ve learned how to do, but then you’ve lost the style.

Wearing wigs for 5 months was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, because it gave me a new lease on life. I made videos and blog posts and lots of people who found these were excited to try the same product, and that made me feel good, too.

I started using Minoxidil (the generic of Rogaine) at the same time but didn’t have to worry about whether it worked or not. I could just hide my crazy hair with my new hair and not worry about it. Generic Rogaine is also much cheaper than any of the natural solutions I tried, and I could not stomach one more horse pill, so I stopped taking the Hair Omega. I just used the Rogaine Generic, and sometimes also used the Surface Awaken since I still had it and it was topical.

You have to use Rogaine for 5 months before you begin to see results. I was always afraid to try it because of some crazy things I read (that one of the side effects was hair loss – how stupid could a product be, right?). But I read a much more realistic view of it in Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter without Me (begin to see why I love this book?), and since Paula Begoun at age 60 has a luxurious healthy head of hair that she says she would not have without Rogaine, I was at last persuaded to leave the natural route and try Minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine).

For 2 months I took 2%. Then frustrated with the results I switched to 5%. 5% is typically used only for men. After 1 month, I decided the 5% was making me depressed, like panicky depressed, causing rapid weight gain (I gained 5-7 pounds the first week I was on it), and causing course facial hair growth (yuck!).

For a month, scared to death of the stuff, I didn’t do anything. Then at month 5 I went back to 2% because I couldn’t stand slowly seeing my hair fall out again. I do not experience any of the negative side effects with 2% as I did with 5%. I look better and more toned than I have for 6 years, I feel very happy, and the course facial hair growth reversed itself and went away. That’s the way Rogaine works, if you experience side effects from taking it, they will go away when you stop the medicine, but so will the regrowth in your hair.

But the results of Minoxidil/Rogaine are far faster and better than any natural remedy I’ve tried. Here’s why:

[Originally: If you have alopecia, no natural supplement in the world is going to reverse it.  It’s a medical condition. It’s not caused by a lack of B vitamins so B vitamins are not going to solve it. It’s not caused by a lack of nutrition so better nutrition is not going to solve it. It’s not even caused by stress.] Edited: True and not true. It is triggered by all of the above and treatment, ranging from natural to drug, has varying effects with varying people and types of alopecia. Also, the drug minoxidil is no miracle worker. I have less exciting results after 6 months than when I wrote this originally. I truly have no answers. It’s triggered by stress, and there’s a huge difference. Once it’s triggered by stress, eliminating the stress is not necessarily going to solve it. If your hair loss is caused by stress, then eliminating the stress will relieve the hair loss. But if your hair loss is caused by alopecia triggered by stress, then eliminating the stress migjht not help. Girls as young as 5 or 6 have suffered from terrible alopecia triggered by trauma, while other girls experience stress in different ways. Minoxidil/Rogaine is different than all the natural remedies because it is a growth hormone.

Here are the results.

January:

my hair before rogaine minoxidil

March, when I was taking 5%:

my hair after 6 weeks of rogaine minoxidil

And yesterday, after taking Rogaine for more than 4 out of 5 months, 2% and 5%:

my hair after 5 of rogaine minoxidil

One of the coolest thing about these pictures is that the first one was taken after trying every trick I had learned to get volume out of my hair (volumizers do wonders) and the last picture is taken with not a bit of product or styling. Just clean air-dryed hair.

I NEVER walked around with clean air-dryed hair before, because it hung in 2 skinny strands at the side of my head. I had to style it. All the styling and heat further complicated the problem.

Since the 5 month mark is when you are supposed to begin seeing results, I am eager to see what is next. If the results reverse themselves or stop, I have options. I can wear extensions, or I can wear wigs.

I cut my own hair because it was so hard to put under a wig, and I was sick of hair trouble. I wanted it to be easy. I didn’t want to think about my hair anymore. So this is what I look like now without my Julia. 🙂 My hair feels healthy, lively, wavy and is many different lengths – partially from the textured cut and partially from the new growth – always way more in front than in back. It’s also very dark as I cut off all dyed hair. UPDATE: Now that I’m getting positive feedback on this haircut I’ll let you in on a secret – Nate cut it. 🙂  I directed him, or the top would have been way too short.

my hair after 4 and a half months of rogaine minoxidil

One huge difference between the natural remedies and the Rogaine/minoxidil, is that with the natural ones, I would see some new pieces of growth, especially where my hair was already thick. I would see individual strands – maybe 10 thick, sort of growing everywhere and sticking straight out like sun’s rays. But the spots that had always been thin (alopecia targets two spots at the side of your head, not the front or lower back), stayed thin, and I would use the hair around it to cover it up.

Now the worst areas of my head are covered with a fine soft growth, like little fuzzy hair. Weekly I see a difference as the fuzzy hair gets thicker, and the parts and bare spots get smaller and more filled in.

I don’t really think any of the natural remedies caused inactive hair follicles to produce new hair. All hair follicles can produce between 1-4 hairs. A person with very thick hair can have 4 hairs growing from each follicles, also the hair strand itself is actually thicker. Surface Awaken can really cause the hair strand to plump up (not artificially, but actually), and maybe even cause active hair follicles to grow extra hair. But my experience is that the “dead areas” just stayed dead.

I feel with Rogaine, I can see the “dead areas” coming to life. In other words, follicles that have not produced a hair in years are now growing hair. You can see the difference this would make.

Yesterday I went to a salon to talk about extensions, because I wondered if I was ready to “graduate” from wigs to extensions. I cannot tell you how good it felt to sit in a salon chair after 8 months and have someone touch and talk about my real hair. My hair usually grows fast but in the mean time I can use extensions to help it along, and probably always will use extensions for added growth and volume. I’m not terrified of someone seeing me without my wig anymore, even though my hair is a short style I wouldn’t choose!  I’ll let you know how it goes and also if the Rogaine/Minoxidil thing keeps working as it seems to be. I’ve been disappointed a dozen times before so I’m bracing myself for that – but now I know I have a backup plan. I’m still in between loving my wigs and loving my real hair and couldn’t possibly make any decisions today but hope things become more clear soon. I have two big events coming up including a friend’s wedding and really hope to figure out what to do with my hair by then!

For more pics of my pixie hair now, check out this!

For videos of me with the Zara for the first time, check out this.

buy Patti’s wigs

buy generic Rogaine (minoxidil):

CVS, Walmart, Target, almost anywhere. Or on amazon:

Paula’s opinion on hair loss treatment

Hey guys – guess I was wrong – because I couldn’t resist writing this blog – if I do post it will probably be about hair not makeup, over this two week break.

[for an update of how I style my recovering but fine thin hair, check out my extensions]

To read a more recent update, check out this post here.

63 thoughts on “Alopecia update – my experience with treatments including Revivogen, Surface Awaken and Minoxidil (Rogaine Generic)”

  1. Thanks for sharing this sweetie, you are an inspiration. Your wigs look fantastic, so natural, I would never be able to tell. I hope your hair keeps on growing, I am sure you will have long flowing locks soon 🙂 xx

  2. Thanks for sharing all this. I’m sure it will help other sufferers. I’ve seen a lot of your pictures and I would never have guessed you were wearing a wig. Also, I do think shorter hair suits you
    Good luck with the extensions 🙂

    1. Hi and thanks for visiting!! 🙂 Just curious – do you primarily mean the shorter Julia wig or the really short hair I have now? Just curious cause I think it’s too short but I was curious to see peoples reaction.

  3. You are an amazing woman and an inspiration. I am really impressed and incouraged by these results Thank you for sharing Marisa.

  4. OMG! CONGRATS!!! My hair is super thin…it is a curse that my sisters and I have to come to accept. When I say thin I mean see through to your scalp thin. My face usually turns bright red when I think people are staring at it so I have mastered the side sweep and various methods to hide it. I am going out to buy rogain today. I’ve used it in the past and felt like it left a whitish residue on my hair…any suggestions. Thank you so much for sharing. I am also sending the link to your blog to my sisters. 🙂

    1. Yeah even now I can see through to my scalp but it’s much better. Thank you so much for your encouraging response – it made me smile! I’m not sure about the whitish residue. Maybe it was the brand? I don’t think I ever noticed that. I use the CVS brand. Don’t know if there’s a difference. And thanks for sharing my link! I really hope it’s helpful. 🙂

  5. WOW! That’s a great before and after! Even though you look incredible with the wigs i’m sure it’s a relief not having to put them on in the morning. What a great post, I can imagine it being super helpful for tons of people out there on the big webspace. ^_^

  6. Oh Marisa, I am so sorry that this awful condition affected you 🙁 I can’t imagine losing my hair… I went through phases where I lost a lot of hair, but I never got any bald spots, thank god. It still depressed the hell out of me though, and all I did all day was worry about my hair… But anyway, this is not about me, this is about you. You looked great with the wigs. They looked so natural! I never would have known it wasn’t your real hair. It’s good to hear that things are improving. It’s a slow process, I know that. My boyfriend is on Minoxidil for his hair loss and the results are amazing. But it took about 6 months for the effects to kick in. I hope that things will continue to go uphill for you! And in the meantime I think you still look super duper fab! 🙂

    1. 🙂 Thanks so much for the encouragement! I am hopeful at this point but have heard the results can reverse but I’m not going to think about that until it happens. Thanks for the compliments and I’ll keep you all posted.

  7. Try Toppix to fill in where the scalp is showing. I was told extensions pull and eventually cause more hair loss nit to mention the expense. You look cute in short hair but add some length to the back.

  8. Hi, so cool to see your journey =). Question, before you started using any of these things (vitamins, minoxidil etc) did u visit a doctor to see what may have caused the loss?

  9. Hi, your blog/post was filled with so much helpful info!! Thanks for taking the time to write and post it! Your hair looks really good–looks like it has come a long way! Do you have a phone number or web site info for Patti’s Wigs in CA? You seemed really pleased with your experience dealing with them and your replacement hair looks great!! Who did the extensions you recently had placed for some length? That looks great too! Thanks for answering my questions….

  10. Marisa–wow, thanks for your quick reply!! I appreciate the info–hoping maybe I might have some luck with Patti’s wigs, too. So, you were able to deal ok with it being long distance and all? I’m always nervous about not being able to see the actual replacement hair and not being physically there for Patti or the hair techs to actual see what my head size and all is like, but I’m definitely going to check out the web site–thanks again….

    1. Well they show you how to take your measurements. There are some videos on their site showing you how to do that. They have really helpful customer service, too. I would probably recommend going with heat defiant or human hair.

  11. Thanks, I was thinking the same too –heat defiant or human hair. Biggest challenge is going to be finding a hair color that works as I’m a red head–kind of an auburn color. I’m hoping I can find something that comes close. But, again, really glad to hear that you were pleased! I also ordered the Hair Omega vitamins and their version of Rogaine foam. Very nervous about using it, but I think it’s time. Hope I tolerate the vitamins well. I have always taken supplements, but when I checked the ingredients they didn’t have saw palmetto. Anyway, thanks again for all the helpful info–much appreciated!! One last thing–do you belong to the closed group on Facebook–Reviews on Hair? That’s where I saw your blog. If you haven’t joined the group, you may want to consider it. A lot of woman with hair loss issues post really helpful info there too. Thanks again….

  12. Hi again–it’s a closed group I don’t see a direct url on Facebook for the group. I tried adding you, but I don’t think it will work as we aren’t friends on FB. But, check anyway on FB to see if you got any type of notification that you were added to the group. Last resort, you can friend me if you want, I’m fine with that and then I think you can be added to the group a lot easier. Again, the members of this hair loss group really do post a lot of helpful info and, like you, they are very knowledgeable! Let me know if you were able to join the group….

  13. Hi, Marisa–I’ll send you a friend request and this way I think you’ll be able to join the Reviews on Hair page. If you don’t get my request for some odd reason, let me know….

  14. Glad to see you back with your confident (and the hairs of course).I also have a men balding pattern. 25 y/o and my hair is falling at a rapid rate i could see my hair line is receeding and the top of my head starts thinning.

    Onnce i buy a bottle of Rogaine in foam form, but stopped at the half bottle (literally like using two weeks) because the inconvenient caused that i have to use it twice a day. Also i heard, if i happy with the result and stopped the treatment, the hair starts falling. SO basically it’s a lifetime commitment. Is this true?

    Also thinking of Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) but it’s quite expensive, yet, it is permanent.

    hoping you to reply,
    erick.

    1. Hi Erick! Thanks for visiting and your questions and comments! 🙂 Yes it is a lifetime commitment. But it is not expensive. And it is not unpleasant. I guess it is so much more convenient to me than any of the other things I’ve tried and I feel very thankful for it. Yes the hair gain will not stay when you stop using it. Later when I have more money I am going to look into things like FUI (is that like transplant of hair follicles?), transplant, and binding hairs to one piece at a time. Unless I’m completely happy with my hair – we’ll see.

  15. My sister started taking keratin hair vitamins for alopecia from a company called Nourage- it made a difference. This is something that really does cause so much pain for people, they are so ashamed. And weaves make it all worse. I am glad that people are bringing attention to it.

  16. You’re really a brave lady Marisa. We must have hope and have to be brave in our lives to bare things like this. So many people suffering with this hair loss problem. Stress can be a reason for hair loss so you need to lose stress first by doing meditation and yoga. Lack of nutrition also a reason for hair loss. So have a proper diet, it is the main thing you have to do is, make sure that your diet must contain leafy greens, vitamin c rich vegetables and fruits and also vitamin A,D,E rich foods can boosts up your hair to grow. Give external nourishment like coconut oil, coconut milk hair packs and massages with essential oils like lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus oils, etc., can improve the blood circulation to the scalp. Also using minoxidil products like Provillus(I’ve used this and got best results, for women 2%, for men 5% minoxidil) which includes biotin and saw palmetto helps a lot in hair growth.

    1. Hi Janet!!

      Thank you so much for your comment and ideas!

      It is very interesting that I actually have started doing much of this. Let me give you a quick update:

      Yoga has helped me so much. Using a macadamia oil shampoo and conditioner right now and I love it. My favorite minoxidil product hands down is Lipogaine, and I plan to do an update on how much my hair has improved after using it for 5-6 months. It’s amazing. I also love Hair Repair as a supplement. I like your other suggestions. Coconut oil masques, more vitamin C and vegetables and fruits – I want to do all of this. I think it would be helpful.

      Thanks again for visiting my blog.

  17. Hi Marisa.
    I stumbled upon your blog somehow while researching probiotics.I don’t have alopecia myself, but I had a thought about something that might help. Have you ever tried using a nutraceutical called Anatabloc? It stops chronic inflammation and I used it to help my back. I have used it for 3 years now and one of the things I noticed are my hair and nails grow much faster, like when I was a kid. Maybe alopecia is caused by inflammation of the hair follicles and this could help. It sure helps cure my back.

  18. hello marisa 🙂

    I have female androgenic alopecia condition and i was looking for a genuine review for rogaine and revivogen product. Thanks to you I have a better understanding of the working of these products 😀 😀

    And in future if I see any positive result for myself from the usage of rogaine and revivogen, I will share it with you 😀

    1. Hi Fievy!

      I am going to post an update soon. By far the most effective Rogaine (minoxidil) product I’ve found so far is actually Lipogaine. I wish I had started with that. It is still minoxidil, but mixes in the herbal things that are also good for your hair and saw palmetto, so the effect is synergistic. It just built on the progress I’ve already made and I like it. I use the women’s 2% Lipogaine. thanks for visiting and please keep in touch!

      Marisa

  19. Hi Marisa- Did the dermatologist ever tell you what kind of alopecia you had? From the pattern it appears to be the androgenic alopecia, is that correct? I have PCOS and hypothyroidism and have been losing my hair. Even though it is disease oriented the type of hairloss I’m facing is andro alopecia. I was wondering if yours was the same since it looks like you’ve gotten great results! It gives me hope! 🙂

    1. Hi Terra! No. 🙁 I don’t think that dermatologist cared very much. It’s very confusing to me. I tried talking to my doctor and my dermatologist and I’m not sure where to turn next.

      1. I’m sorry! I hate that its difficult to find anyone who will listen or care. Is your real hair still growing back?

        1. I’m actually writing about this right now! 🙂 I’m switching to saw palmetto mixed with other herbs and hair vitamins and it’s so subjective – I don’t know. I’ll try to go into more detail in the blog post. I don’t think it’s really growing back very much but my goal is to at least stop the shedding. It’s such a personal decision, choosing between the options. Like being a guinea pig.

  20. Hello Marisa,
    I am 32 years old. started to noticed the thinning of my hair when I was 17 or 18 and I have struggled to style it since then. I read you blog looking for something concrete that I could do to help my hair. As you, I and many others, have tried most vitamins, shampoos, etc. About 3 days ago stopped using rogaine due to that unbearable itch, inflammation on my scalp and dandruff like stuff that I never had in the pass (which after much research seems to be a common side effect from the use of it). I was on it for 5 months and I just couldn’t take it any more. I really tried and I did see that little fuzz hair on the top of my scalp growing but honestly, I don’t think it would had gotten better than that and, honestly speaking, in my eyes, my hair looks just the same but worse because of the horrible itch, which will take a while to completely go away…
    I would like to know how is your experience with rogaine? I did tried like you did the walgreens version (after reading you :)), it itched less but still, tried the rogaine original 2 and 5%; Hope it works better for you but I am not doing it again.
    I also agree with you, it’s hard to find a professional that really cares that is not gonna cost you a fortune. My dermatologist was a bald young guy, didn’t care for my visit, I knew much more about treatments and stuff than him; he just looked at my hair, touched it and said: “yeah, you have female pattern hair loss”, after checking on my pituitary gland results and making sure my iron was right. He said there is nothing you can do about it except using rogaine, which I had just started using about a week prior and started to suffer the itchiness. I asked him about it, he said he had never hear of such side effect. So obviously had no care, no time and I just knew he was ready to leave the moment he walked in. Any way… I knew I had thinning hair; having a Dr. -even a careless one- a professional make it official, is pretty devastating though. And it never happened before but I did cried a little outside Kaiser that day.
    My hair loss is on top of my scalp in the center and slightly to the front and right side so, I keep my part on the left, never on the center; still, my hair is thinning over all. I can manage but I would hate it to get worse.
    I also have a very supportive boyfriend and after seeing that Dr. I talked about it to him for the first time ever (he didn’t seem to ever even noticed! was very surprised that I was so worried about my hair ’cause I never show it and he loves me just the way I am which has help me a lot, that feels pretty cool). I told him that I was considering hair transplants and he said, whatever makes you happy…
    That was 5 months ago and I was considering Thailand for the matter. Now I don’t know, on women as myself, having over all thinning hair the outcome is much different and more complex to be a good candidate for it that of a men that has the specific area to fill in, as you know… I don’t know…
    I try to be in good spirits but I think about my hair a lot. Every where I am, every where I go I always look at other girls hair thinking man… I wish I had any body’s hair but mine, lol!
    I hope soon science comes up with something that we all men and women can take that will regrow our hair, is just not fair!

    1. No it’s not fair! It’s crazy. Thank you for your comment and I’m sorry I’ve been absent for awhile. I am enjoying reading over comments and seeing that people have been visiting my site. I’m sorry you are going through this painful experience. I am enjoying solutions varying from Saw Palmetto, Microlinks, and wearing hair. All are helpful. Nothing is complete. Nothing is like having your own hair. I’m glad you have such a sweet boyfriend! My husband tries to tell me nothing is wrong with my hair. 🙂

    1. I’ve gone back and forth between Surface Awaken and Minoxidil for a few years. Currently not using either because I’m pregnant and I could probably use surface awaken but I’m not 100% sure.

  21. Hi marisa, im just starting with monoxidil, my question is since your first post 2013 how much did your hair grow? Could you post a picture of your hair now? Thank you .

    1. Hi Nina!

      Minoxidil worked very well for me as far as hair regrowth, and just got better and better. 5% was better than 2%, but both worked. As far as side effects (mostly mood), I eventually decided to go back to herbal remedies (not as effective). Today I am 39 weeks pregnant so I haven’t been able to use anything at all. However, because of pregnancy hormones my hair is much thicker than ever. I am not looking forward to the postnatal shed! I’ll try to get you some pictures of what it is like now (not too helpful though I know).

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