- Low-level laser therapy is believed to promote hair growth, and several new hair-growth products using the technology are currently being sold.
- A company called Capillus claims that its low-level laser caps can effectively reverse hair loss while simultaneously increasing hair counts in just six minutes a day.
- There’s very little evidence to support the efficacy of Capillus caps, and consumer reviews are less than stellar.
What if you could correct baldness or thinning hair by wearing a baseball cap for a few minutes a day? According to a company called Capillus, this is now a viable option.
The company — which produces caps featuring low-level laser technology — says that hair restoration is possible in the same amount of time it takes you to drink your morning cup of joe. Simply wear your laser cap for six minutes a day, they advertise, and you could kick hair loss to the curb.
But does this laser therapy device actually do what it claims to do? Let’s take a look.
How do Capillus laser caps work?
Low-level laser therapy applied to the scalp has been shown to stimulate hair growth in men and women. It is thought to work by acting on the hair follicles at a cellular level, triggering the anagen (growth) phase of the follicles.
Capillus says their caps can effectively treat androgenetic alopecia by “energizing hair follicles and spurring new, natural hair growth.” Each cap features between 82 and 272 laser diodes (the number of diodes depends on which Capillus cap you buy) that target the hair follicles at the hairline and on the scalp. The cap is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack that you can slip onto your waistband while you wear the hat, allowing you to move around freely.
Capillus offers three laser therapy caps for the treatment of hair loss, none of which are cheap.
The most affordable one is the Capillus82, featuring 82 laser diodes, which costs $899; the mid-range model is the Capillus202, featuring 202 laser diodes, which costs $1,999; and the deluxe version is the CapillusPro, featuring 272 laser diodes, which is yours for a mere $2,999.
Reviews: what do users and experts say?
Although Capillus asserts that its caps are highly effective, in 2016, the National Advertising Division (NAD) recommended that it discontinue its claim that the product is “clinically proven” and “physician recommended.” The NAD also took issue with the company’s claim that the cap has “no known side effects.”
In other words, you should take any and all claims from Capillus with a grain of salt.
In addition, 53% of reviews of Capillus on Amazon give the product only one star, and include comments such as: “It’s a scam,” “I have seen zero changes in my hair,” and “NEVER buy this product or anything from this brand.” The reviews don’t get any less scathing on other sites, although there are a few people who say the product worked well for them.
The biggest issue with these kinds of devices isn’t that laser therapy doesn’t work, it’s that finding the right lasers is a long and arduous process. The wavelength, power, pulse structure, and other aspects of low-level light therapy can affect how well a certain device works.
“There are a variety of low-level light laser therapies available for patients, from laser combs to laser caps,” says Dr. Marc R. Avram, a Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “There is no firmly established frequency and length of treatment.”
So although you might see promising results from in-office laser treatments, there’s a good chance that the take-home laser devices you see sold in stores won’t deliver the same caliber of results.
However, Dr. Avram says that at-home laser hair devices may help hair grow. “There have been multiple published, peer-reviewed studies over the past several years confirming their efficacy. It is important to give 6-9 months to judge efficacy,” he says.
Because the proper kind of low-level laser therapy can work, and because these types of lasers can be incorporated into consumer devices, we’re starting to see hundreds of new at-home laser devices emerge.
A product similar to the Capillus cap is the HairMax Laser Comb, a laser-equipped comb that’s said to stimulate hair growth via “medical-grade laser modules.” HairMax also makes laser headbands that are designed to work in the same way. There are also several hair growth “helmets” on the market, and another baseball-cap-type product called the GrivaMax Laser Cap.
The bottom line: better, proven options
At the end of the day, there’s just not enough solid evidence proving that at-home low-level laser devices do what they claim to do. But there are several procedures that have been proven to correct hair loss, and many of them are cheaper than the laser caps, combs, and helmets.
Here are the top hair-loss treatment options to consider before investing in a costly home laser device.
The hair transplant is by far the most reliable way to treat balding and hair thinning. Plastic surgeons commonly use one of two surgical options: follicular unit extraction or follicular unit transplant; however, both procedures require a significant recovery period, can leave scarring, and are costly and complex procedures.
For people with moderate balding or thinning, scalp micropigmentation (hairline tattoos) might be a good option. Similarly, some experts recommend microblading at the hairline.
“Done artistically and scrupulously, hairline microblading can have superior results for patients who have significant hair loss, and can’t or won’t have hair transplants,” says Dr. Sonam Yadav, from the Juverne Clinic in New Delhi. “It is also useful for redesigning the hairline for aesthetic reasons of proportion and symmetry.”
This is a less invasive and more affordable option for people who don’t want to have surgery, or for people who want to see immediate results, but it doesn’t always leave the most natural or real-looking outcome.
There are a few drugs that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat hair loss, including minoxidil (Rogaine), finasteride, and spironolactone. These drugs, classified as androgen-blockers or potassium-sparing diuretics, help correct the physical functions that inhibit hair growth.
Many people find success when taking one or a combination of these medications to treat hair loss and thinning.
Platelet-rich plasma injections
Injections of platelet-rich plasma can help slow or reverse hair loss. The injections introduce new platelets into the system, which encourage hair growth by stimulating the follicles. For best results, the plasma must be directly injected directly into the scalp every few months.
Is the Capillus cap worth a try?
If you have time and money to burn (which most of us don’t) then there’s no reason not to give the Capillus laser cap a try. But don’t expect it to transform your sparse scalp into thick and luscious locks. For that, you’ll have to stick with time-tested hair-loss treatments.
The first step in any cosmetic journey is to speak to your doctor or plastic surgeon; they will be able to guide you towards the right products or procedures for your specific needs.
» Find a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience performing hair restoration treatments by searching Zwivel’s cosmetic doctor directory.
Cover photo credit: Capillus.com