Saturday, January 17, 2009

How I Accidentally Grew Hair on My Left Temple with Retinol – Experiment Conclusion

Carrots contain the plant form of vitamin A. (Photo by John-Morgan)

This post is the rather surprising conclusion of my topical retinol experiment.

For the past six months, I've used retinol, a form of vitamin A, on the left side of my face. The idea was to see whether it improves fine wrinkles and increases collagen production like at least one study suggests.

I have to admit I haven't seen much in terms of skin quality during these six months. I don't really have wrinkles at this age, but the fine lines on my forehead and the small crow's feet next to my eyes are still there.

I don't doubt the quality of the product, however. Applying the cream on my face gives a slight tinge, and afterwards there is a small but notable peeling effect. This peeling effect is behind the effectiveness of stronger forms of vitamin A, like tretinoin. Retinol is not supposed to cause peeling, but at least the 2% cream I used seemed to do so.

The surprise is that I have grown a few new hairs on my left temple. Even though I have experimented with and reported on various substances that are supposed to grow hair, this experiment was not supposed to be about growing hair. It happened by accident.

I'm pretty sure my hairline has always been where it is now, and no hair has ever grown where these new hairs are suddenly sprouting up. I'm not sure yet whether they're vellus hairs or terminal hairs, but it seems they're still growing.

I attempted to capture the whole thing with a camera. The result is not that great, but you can see the areas where the 3-4 new hairs are growing from circled with red.

On the right temple where no retinol was applied, no new hair is growing, so I think it's safe to conclude that the hair growth effect is due to the retinol cream. If you've read the blog before, you know that this is not my usual conclusion (for examples, see the conclusions to my MSM experiment and biotin experiment).

As you can see, it's very modest: only a couple of new hairs are growing and you kind of have to zoom in to even see it. Still, I find the result interesting, since it proves that retinol is absorbed and does something to the skin. It's effect on wrinkles may be too small to notice, but it's effect on hair growth is visible.

Especially strange is that, as far as I know, this is not a part of the skin where hair used to grow and is now growing again, but a part of the skin where hair has never grown.

If you're bald, I doubt retinol cream alone will grow you a new set of hair. Nonetheless, I think these results warrant further studies on how different forms of vitamin A affect hair growth. I'm probably going to give tretinoin a go next to see whether the stronger stuff has a stronger effect.

I would like to see these results replicated in other people, so if you've tried retinol or tretinoin, do drop a comment and tell about your experience!

For more information on hair growth, see these posts:

1,000-8,000 mg of MSM Has No Effect on Hair & Nail Growth - Experiment Conclusion
Green Tea Extract Grows Hair in Vitro, May Work in Vivo
Nature's Hair Growth Medicines: Korean Red Ginseng vs. Tea Tree Oil
Vitamin E Tocotrienols May Grow Hair in Humans

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20 kommenttia:

Anonymous September 14, 2009 at 4:06 PM  

How things going with retinol? I plan to use retin a to see how it goes

JLL September 16, 2009 at 10:38 AM  


I'm not using retinol at the moment. Young Again (the company I bought it from) refuses to ship to Finland anymore. I know I could get it from elsewhere, but once I get my experiment with Hair Again vs. emu oil out of the way, I'll start using retinoids (stronger than retinol) instead.

If you're using it for treating wrinkles, retinoids are probably the way to go, but if you want to see if it grows hair, retinol may be a good idea. I know it's the only thing I've tried that actually grew hair -- and I've tried quite a few. Whether retinoids have the same effect, I don't know, but I guess we'll see once I get the experiment started.

JLL September 16, 2009 at 10:40 AM  

Sorry, I misread "retinol" instead of "retin a" in your post!

Anonymous November 15, 2009 at 5:27 PM  

I used a night cream containing retinol for about 3-4months and during that time noticed new growth of hairs on my temples and cheeks. My husband noticed the change in my hairline (I have dark hair and rather pale skin, and my hairline at the temples was getting dangerously close to the eyebrows). I had been wondering what was causing the hair growth but couldn't isolate it until I stopped using this cream for a few weeks, now no more of these hairs! I also didn't notice much in terms of wrinkles (and also don't have many serious ones). In fact I found your post by looking for a documented correlation!

Anonymous January 19, 2010 at 7:18 AM  

Out of curiosity, which cream were you using? You mentioned here a 2%, but your other (linked) post said it was ~0.3.
Anyway, great stuff!

JLL January 19, 2010 at 11:09 AM  


If my calculation in the other post is correct, it was a 0.3% retinol cream. I don't know where I got the 2% from -- thanks for the correction!


Anonymous January 20, 2010 at 10:17 PM  

can you please further elaborate on the retinol creams the brand name of the product

Anonymous March 19, 2010 at 10:30 AM  

My dermatologist recommended retinol for possibly decreasing facial pore size. I'm a guy in his 30's. Only after 1-2wks of daily use of retinol, there was much noticeable new hair growth in several locations of application: velus hairs on top and sides of nose, velus hairs on cheeks, and ... new eyebrow hairs that grew thick and long. After a month of daily use, I swear that my eyelashes are thicker, and I don't apply it there except maybe some excess runoff. Weirder still, and this is harder to believe... the hairs on my arms are longer and more noticeable where before they were thin and wispy. Could this effect all-over body hair that doesn't come into contact with the cream? I don't notice any significant difference in skin quality, though. There might a bit of less sebum production on the nose.

Anonymous October 15, 2010 at 5:42 PM  

The peeling is caused by tretoin acid, which is derived from retinol and used for creams.

About Me March 23, 2011 at 6:27 AM  

Which retinol did you use?

Anonymous July 20, 2011 at 11:37 PM  

I only made the connection between retinol and hair growth when after bleaching I noticed fine hair in my face...For a while I thought I had policyst ovarian syndrome and I spoke with my doctors about having stopped the pill, but now I think that retinol is the blamed element!
What do you feel like?

Tomjeffy August 5, 2011 at 10:49 AM  

There is a slight scent to this, but it's not very noticeable. It has a kind of chemical scent, but since it's so light, I don't find it to be a problem.

Fernando November 28, 2011 at 7:00 PM  

I have been doing intramuscular injections of the oil-based retanic acid form of Vitamin A for several months now, and I have definitely noticed new hair growth and darkening of my grey hairs since I have started this protocol! I thought I noticed this when looking at my hair in the mirror, but didn't say anything as I thought it couldn't be true. But then, one day my mother-in-law commented that my hair was getting darker again and she wondered what I was doing. My partner, who is bald, is also doing the same protocol and we can see many new hairs appearing on his bald spot that weren't there before. After reading your comments, I now feel I can attribute this new hair growth to the Vitamin A we have been doing at very high doses of 1 million IU/injection.

Adam June 27, 2012 at 4:32 AM  

Hello JLL,

Which nutrients/chemicals/vitamins/topicals grew your temple hairs most efficiently? Please help, I am trying to regrow my temple hairs which were damaged by hair trimmers at the barber, and the temple hairs are not growing back. I just bought Retinol Cream and I will use it with Minoxidil.

JLL June 27, 2012 at 11:19 AM  


Just the retinol. For some reason retinol more so than the retinoids I'm using, even though intuitively retinoids should be more effective. I'm sure the minoxididl will help too.


Adam June 28, 2012 at 5:31 PM  

Thanks JLL,

I will be using Retinol cream with Minoxidil and Men-U Piroctone Olamine shampoo. I will let you know how it goes!

Anonymous August 16, 2012 at 11:04 PM  

Interesting!! I just started using a product with retinol a week ago and this monday i noticed small blonde hairs on my cheeks and jawline...wasn't sure if it was just that i am turning 32 or the retinol! What a great way to add to my mid life crisis! LOL I think i will stop using the lotion to see what happens to these hairs...they are very light and probably only i notice them, but i don't want them to get worse! =T

Anyone recommend a good facial regimne that doesn't consist of retinol?! :)

Anonymous August 16, 2012 at 11:07 PM  

Interesting! I just started using a retinol product a week ago and started noticing small blonde hairs on my cheeks and jawline! I wasn't sure if it was me turning 32! or the product! What a way to add to a mid life crisis!! LOL They are very small and probably only I notice them, but i'm afraid it will get worse! I think I will stop the lotion for now!

Anyone recommend a good face regimne without retinol?! :)

Anonymous October 11, 2013 at 7:35 PM  

I started using Olay Regenerist cream. It did improve my skin but after a few weeks I noticed downy hairs on the lower part of my face. They were never there before. I wonder if your effect was from an ingredient in the cream that is the delivery vehicle for the retinol. I will have to stop using the regenerist.

Anonymous April 17, 2014 at 9:35 AM  

I have been using Minoxidil 10mg. tablets twice a day for high blood pressure. Never saw any hair growth.
Two months ago I started using retinol cream from puritan pride for wrinkles and now I noticed that I have grown five new hairs on my left side where I have a receding hairline and two on my right side. No sign of wrinkles going away but I will continue to use the cream for new hair growth.

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