Hims: Hair Loss Treatments Go Mainstream

For the past six months, I have seen an inordinately huge number of online and TV ads concerning a relatively new US-based company called hims. They also go by the name “forhims”. The direct-to-consumer company sells men’s wellness and grooming products, with what seems to be an especially keen focus on the hair loss and erectile dysfunction (Sildenafil) markets. Hims is planning to add more products in other sectors, especially in the current barren skincare section.

The surprising thing is that hims only commenced operations in November 2017. Yet, they already have a global Alexa website traffic ranking of under 35,000. Their Google Trends chart for the US (ht/ HLprevention) has also been on quite an impressive continuous upwards trajectory in 2018. How on earth can such a recently formed company succeed so spectacularly in spite of still having some relatively barren pages on their website (almost like they are still partly in beta mode)?

Of course the answer as always is money and funding. Absolutely tragic that most of the world renowned hair loss research scientists who are working on hair loss cures can never get this type of access to funding (several have even been desperate enough to ask me to help them raise funds in the past). By March 2018, hims was already valued at $200 million, and had raised $40 million in funding. All this less than four months after starting business.

Company CEO Andrew Dudum seems to have great connections in the venture capital world. His company managed to get positive reviews in well known online publications just weeks after launch. Such favorable publicity continues to this day, and hims now has Snoop Dogg on board.

Hims and Hair Loss

One of the main consumer markets hims serves is the hair loss treatment sector. Their focus is on men’s hair loss products, although most of their products can be used by women too after consultation with a doctor.

Normally, I do not write about any hair loss product related company on this blog. I do not want to promote anyone for no strong reason, especially if I have not tried their products and the products are nothing groundbreaking. However, hims has become so big, that at this point I can not ignore them. Moreover, I am extremely glad that they are providing these products at a very low cost relative what most hair loss product vendors charge.

Currently, hims will give you all of the below for just $44 a month. Prescription for Finasteride is given via an online consultation. Disclaimer: I do not get any commission or advertising income from this company.

  • 30-day supply of 1-mg generic Finasteride pills.
  • 2 ounce supply of Minoxidil (I assume this will last for a month).
  • A DHT blocking shampoo.
  • 30-day supply of biotin gummies.

Not bad at all, although at this low price, I would want a lab to check the ingredients of all the above products to make sure that they are as advertised and are of decent quality. For example, the DHT blocking shampoo page does not really list many DHT blocking ingredients at present. Moreover, it seems like one of the listed ingredients (Ketoconazole) was not in the shampoo in 2017 per the footnote in the Racked magazine article that I linked to earlier in this post. Instead, the shampoo had salicylic acid in it at the time. Perhaps this has now changed in 2018. You should also check reviews and ratings for hims hair loss products before purchasing.

Despite these reservation, I am glad that after years of us consumers being gouged by crazy high prices of Finasteride and Minoxidil (even after generics version came out), this type of company is now succeeding. It represents a mini-revolution in the hair loss treatment world.

If hims were to ever come out with topical Finasteride or topical Dutasteride, I would very seriously consider buying from them every month.

Hims versus Keeps

Interestingly enough, shortly after the launch of hims, a new competing company named Keeps was launched in early 2018 with significant fanfare and publicity. Unlike hims, Keeps limits its offerings exclusively to the hair loss market, and is focusing on monthly Finasteride and Minoxidil subscription plans. Keeps has obtained nowhere near the funding levels as hims, but nevertheless has still managed to get decent publicity in recent months.

Organ Technologies and RIKEN Update

A week ago, important news came out from Japan that the Organ Technologies and RIKEN team (led by Dr. Takashi Tsuji) partnership was making progress in its development of a cure for hair loss that they still aim for commercial release in 2020. The latest update mentions that the team has succeeded in creating equipment that “allows for more efficient mass production of such hair follicle cells”.

They will conduct safety trials on mice starting next month. If all goes well, human trials will commence next year. Since new Japanese laws related to clinical trials are aimed at speeding up the process, it is not out of the realm to aim for a 2020 product release. Especially since this autologous treatment entails using ones own cells (and multiplying them), implying less likelihood of major side effects. Key new quote from Dr. Tsuji:

“The latest results indicate that we have gone beyond the research stage. We will seek to industrialize a technology born in Japan.”

Not Impressed at Speed

A significant number of people posted links about this news; or e-mailed me about it; or criticized me about not covering it and instead focusing on hair systems and celebrity news (I deleted all insulting comments).

While I was very glad to read this positive update from the RIKEN team, I delayed this post primarily because I was not too impressed with the speed of progress in their research and trials. So I first chose to discuss the two new video updates in the previous two blog posts.

I thought that by now the Tsuji team must have already started work in humans. Clearly an incorrect assumption.

Edit: Thanks to “PinotQ” for pointing out the following paragraph from Organ Technology’s press release, which sounds like a big breakthrough:

“Previously, epithelial stem cells had not been identified, and it was known that the hair follicle regenerative capacity of cells disappears while cultured in vitro. However, we have overcome these problems with mouse and human cells after research activities over 7 years.”

Tsuji Still the Man

We have already known for several years that this RIKEN/Tsuji team aims to release their treatment in 2020. Both of my posts in 2016 that were related to this at-the-time groundbreaking news (see here and here) garnered around 300 comments each. At the time, there was justifiable reason for major excitement. This work represented the breakthrough that we had been awaiting for decades. Moreover, all four parties involved (Organ Technologies, Kyocera, RIKEN and Dr. Tsuji) have great reputations. Each brings unique strengths to the table. Most importantly, funding would never be an issue for this work due to involvement of large corporations as well as the Japanese government (via RIKEN).

Last year, I conducted a future hair loss treatment related poll on this blog. This work, led by Dr. Tsuji’s team, came in as the 2nd most looked forward to treatment that people were most optimistic about. I would definitely rank it as number 1 most important, as would numerous others on various hair loss forums out there.

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