Get essential information about minoxidil.
What is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil (also known as Rogaine) is one of the most popular and established hair loss solutions for balding men. First approved by the FDA in 1988, it’s applied directly to the scalp. Most scientific studies show that minoxidil has a beneficial effect on hair loss.
5% Minoxidil can be bought as a liquid or foam product. It should be rubbed into the scalp twice daily to see the best results.
Like all medicines there are side effects to consider before using it. Also realise that Minoxidil has to be used continually for it to work. If you stop using it, your hair loss will definitely start again.
What Does Minoxidil Do?
Male pattern baldness causes the miniaturisation of hair follicles.By increasing blood flow to the scalp, minoxidil is able to reverse this process.
Enhanced blood flow helps to reduce hair loss by increasing the size of hair follicles and hair shaft diameter.
Minoxidil also interrupts the hair growth cycle by moving hair follicles from a resting phase into a growth phase.
It will take at least 2 months of continual minoxidil use before most men experience any positive effects.
The science is clear that minoxidil is able to stop hair loss, and may also promote hair regrowth in SOME individuals.
- 47 men who used 2% minoxidil had no significant further hair loss when assessed after 12 months of use.(1)
- In an Australian study using 2% minoxidil, researchers found that 12% of men who used minoxidil for at least 24 weeks had moderate hair regrowth.(2)
- Turkish academics estimated that 52% of men who used 5% Minoxidil for 12 months had an increased amount of hair.(3)
- 5% minoxidil was found to be effective in stabilising hair density and hair width over a treatment period of 2 years.(4)
Minoxidil is therefore likely to be of use in the fight against further hair loss. Whether or not it will regrow some of your hair is more debatable. For those men who do benefit, peak regrowth is often achieved after a year of constant use.
Weight Of Science
Minoxidil has been widely studied for more than 30 years. It’s approved for both male and female hair loss, and there is a good understanding of the side effects which may occur.
As a topical medication, less than 2% of minoxidil is systemically absorbed.
This means that most side effects are minor problems such as skin irritation, and are localised to the scalp or face areas. More side effects are noticed when using the 5% minoxidil formulation.
Here’s the most concerning potential side effects:
Increased Heart Rate
Originally developed to treat high blood pressure, minoxidil can impact the cardiovascular system. Topical minoxidil has the ability to increase heart rate by 3 to 5 beats per minute.(5)
Headaches are one of the most commonly reported side effects. If headaches become a regular occurrence, it may be best to look for an alternative hair loss treatment.
Some users of minoxidil can experience increased water retention which leads to rapid weight gain.
Shortness Of Breath
According to an analysis of over 17,000 minoxidil users who reported side effects, 2% of people stated they had experienced breathing difficulties.
What Does It Cost?
Minoxidil can be bought online or offline without a prescription. Chemists, supermarkets, and e-retailers such as Amazon all stock it.
Minoxidil is approved for men aged 18-49 years old. People over the age of 49 are advised not to use minoxidil. If you are starting to use minoxidil in your 40’s then it may be wise to consider if it’s a good long-term product to use.
If you have heart disease, always speak to your GP before beginning treatment. People with high blood pressure should not use minoxidil.
Expect to pay around $20/£20 per month if you order from an online retailer. If you don’t see any positive results within 4 months then it’s unlikely you will. The best option at that stage is to stop using it.
Are There Alternatives To Minoxidil?
Finasteride tablets tend to outperform minoxidil when it comes to regrowing hair, but can cause some pretty nasty side effects in comparison. If you are worried about the side effects of using minoxidil, it’s unlikely you would want to try finasteride tablets either.
Using finasteride topically is possible. This may reduce side effects, but so far topical finasteride has not been approved for use.
Nizoral shampoo/topical ketoconazole is a good alternative. Hair growth studies are generally favourable and compare well to minoxidil’s results.
Dermarolling is a minimally invasive, zero-medication technique that encourages hair regrowth in some people.
Scalp massage may also be worth considering as, like minoxidil, it also increases blood flow to the scalp. However, the dedication and time commitment needed for success is much more than is required with minoxidil.
Our full list of science based hair loss treatments can be found here.