When it comes to restoring (and maintaining) a full, healthy head of hair, dermatologist and Shapiro MD co-founder Dr. Steven Shapiro believes in keeping things simple. That was a core goal when he set out to make a natural and easy-to-use hair loss solution for patients who came into his dermatology office 20 years ago.
“People needed something they could use topically and as part of their normal routine,” says Shapiro. “It’s been rewarding to develop products that make hair look fuller and thicker without making it this big complicated process.”
One could argue that emphasis on simplicity is what made Shapiro MD the success it is today.
Shapiro MD started with a single cleansing shampoo (Shapiro MD Shampoo) formulated with natural ingredients known for their ability to either reduce hair loss-triggering hormones like dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and/or stimulate dormant hair follicles.
This hair loss formulation and its companion conditioner (Shapiro MD Conditioner), which came a few years later, were made specifically so that Dr. Shapiro’s clinical dermatology patients had something natural they could use easily and without having to change their normal bathing or beauty habits.
But how did he settle on the formula thousands of patients know and love today?
In the early ‘80s, patients had few good or easy-to-use options when it came to preventing or fighting hair loss. Topical minoxidil was still a few years away (approved by the FDA for balding men in 1988 as Rogaine®), and patients were essentially limited to hair transplants.
Recognizing patients’ frustration, he and partner/co-founder Dr. Michael Borenstein began working on formulas that could help patients maintain and restore the look of full, healthy hair naturally.
Does Shapiro MD Work?
Shapiro had read about native people of Central and South America who regularly ingested saw palmetto berries and had seen a variety of health impacts: some good and some bad.
Based on those findings, he and his team recognized that saw palmetto berry extract was like a naturally-occurring version of finasteride, the only oral medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of hair loss. Finasteride works by inhibiting the enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is considered the primary culprit for most men and women with hair loss. The saw palmetto plant is a recognized inhibitor of the 5-A-R enzyme.
In exploring saw palmetto berry extract’s use as a topical DHT-fighting ingredient, Shapiro and Borenstein settled on a unique (and now twice-patented) blend of saw palmetto extract, green tea, and caffeine for the patients in their clinical practice.
According to published research, all three ingredients have been shown to fight the effects of dihydrotestosterone, along with mechanisms for stimulating the stem cells that control hair follicles. \
“They work very well,” Shapiro said of these botanically-infused formulas. “We’re converting immature hairs into mature hairs and making hair thicker and fuller that way.” \
Of course, the results speak for themselves. Dr. Shapiro recalls working with a male patient who was so bald, he no longer needed a barber. He told this gentleman to start using his shampoo, and – whenever possible – to leave it on his damp scalp for 20 minutes.
“Before he knew it, he’d grown enough hair to get his first haircut in three years,” the doctor says. “Then, he had enough hair where he could color his hair. People thought he’d had a hair transplant, and it was just our shampoo.”
Shapiro says this early patient was one of just many who have benefitted from these advanced formulas.
Today, Shapiro MD is a leader in telehealth, a form of healthcare where patients and doctors communicate online or by phone. On top of its storied original formulations, the dermatology provider now offers a wide range of prescription and nonprescription hair loss formulas to meet patients' unique needs.
These can include minoxidil, finasteride (for men), and custom compounded prescriptions containing a variety of growth-promoting ingredients. Depending on the patients’ specific needs, these formulations may include tretinoin, latanoprost, and higher concentrations of minoxidil, for example, all frequently used in clinical practice but not available without a licensed clinician’s help.
Shapiro MD is all about creating a one-stop opportunity to treat each patient just like an in-person dermatologist would, says Shapiro.
Who is Dr. Steven Shapiro?
Despite the brand’s growth, Shapiro remains intimately involved while maintaining a full schedule at his private practice – a testament to that strong work ethic that has taken Shapiro MD to where it is today. Shapiro received his degree from UMDNJ New Jersey Medical School and completed his residency at the University of Miami School of Medicine. He’s now a faculty member at the Miami school, where he’s taught surgery for 26 years, and he serves as a physician at Gardens Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He also serves as team dermatologist for the St. Louis Cardinals.
His goal in every venture is to reflect a holistic, integrative approach to treating hair loss. That original shampoo for which Shapiro MD has become so well-known is still made with those same vetted, natural ingredients. And, these formulas complement other effective medications commonly used by men and women today, like minoxidil, which Shapiro MD includes in their most popular Regrowth Kits, and the oral medication finasteride.
But no matter who’s using these formulas or which formulations they’re working with, the key to hair growth success is to be patient and remember that you’re playing the long game, says Shapiro.
“People ask how long it takes for Shapiro MD to work, and the answer is it depends on your formula. These are not the types of products you put on at night then run to see what’s in the mirror the next day,” Shapiro says. “Hair takes 6 to 9 months to grow. When you try a hair product, you have to use it for 6 months or more before you see maximum results.”
Consistency is critically important too, he says. “If it's a daily treatment and you only do it once a week, you probably won’t get the full benefits. Just like if you only brush your teeth once a week, you may not get the full benefits of toothpaste,” he laughs.
“If I can give one piece of advice to every person suffering from hair loss, it’s to look for safe, proven, and quality ingredients and then stick with them,” he continues.
The research supports Shapiro’s claim. Hair loss treatments of all types––even the most potent of prescription medications––consistently require months of continued use for best results. And, many of them demonstrate continued improvement at two, three, and even five years of treatment.
Most people with thinning or balding can see noticeable improvements with continued use, it’s just a matter of time, says Shapiro.
“I’m thankful for every patient that’s trusted us with their hair,” says Shapiro of the Shapiro MD platform. “I’m glad to be able to help so many people, and it’s been incredible to see people excited about their results even far from our clinics here in South Florida.”