The Hair Clinic London

How A Cartoon Helped Make A Hair Loss Solution Famous

It is somewhat astonishing to think that three decades ago, so many conditions that have proven, trusted, and approved treatments now were accepted as mere facts of life, and male hair loss was one of them.

Whilst most people will lose a certain number of hairs each day, people who are suffering from premature hair loss have far more options besides embracing it or investing in a transplant.

The medication minoxidil (often sold in the UK under the brand name Regaine), was initially designed to treat ulcers but ultimately was found to be effective at widening the blood vessels and reducing blood pressure before its potential for hair growth was found.

After it was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1988, minoxidil was still relatively unknown, given that it was not available over the counter. However, a 1990 cartoon episode watched by nearly 30m people at the time made a lot more people aware of the drug ahead of its over-the-counter approval in 1996.


Simpson And Delilah

For over three decades, the animated sitcom The Simpsons has been a cultural juggernaut, but in its second full television season, it was still largely seen as a countercultural renegade of a show that brutally satirised everyday life circa the 1990s.

Simpson and Delilah, the second episode of the second season, was centred around Dimoxinil, a hair regrowth medication similar to prescription minoxidil, and main character Homer Simpson’s anxieties surrounding his male pattern baldness.

After acquiring it via dubious means, Homer’s life turns around as his new hair and the confidence it provides him get him a new executive position, respect from his friends and his boss, and the undying support of new secretary Karl (played by Harvey Fierstein).

Homer’s life continues to peak as he receives the key to the executive washroom, solidifying his position in the good graces of his boss. However, this leads to the start of Homer’s fall when Mr Burns’ assistant, Mr Smithers, finds out about how he acquired Dimoxinil and Karl takes the fall for him.

This, combined with Homer’s son Bart accidentally spilling months of his supply means that by the time of his next major meeting, even with a speech prepared by Karl before he left, he has lost all of his hair and the respect of much of the audience.

Mr Burns sympathises with his male pattern baldness and gives him his old job back.


Fiction And Reality

The episode was exceptionally popular at the time, with more viewers watching the episode than what was considered at the time to be the most popular show on television, The Cosby Show.

Because of this, 30m people would see an exaggerated representation of minoxidil and would become increasingly curious, even if the results are not quite as immediate and dramatic as those on the show.

Alongside the development of a formulation for female pattern hair loss and increasing calls for over-the-counter approval, the episode helped show a lot of people anxious about their hairline that a solution was available, and whilst it was not for everyone, it helped a lot of people.