Minoxidil FAQ – When & How to Use, Side Effects & Best Products
This is a FAQ tutorial on the popular hair loss medication, minoxidil. Also known as Rogaine, minoxidil is one of the two medications approved by the FDA to treat male pattern baldness (aka adrogenic alopecia). The following are some common and important questions that cover the use of minoxidil as a hair loss medication and that you should be studying if you want to jump on minoxidil.
What is minoxidil?
Minoxidil was initially researched as an anti-hypertensive drug until researchers found out that the drug would grow hair in balding patients. This interesting side effect then prompted researchers to delve into minoxidil as a hair loss medication, and thus today’s minoxidil ever-growing presence.
Minoxidil is believed to increase the amount of blood flow (and thus nutrients) to the hair follicles as well as promoting the production of hair material. However, the mechanism of action of minoxidil is only poorly understood presently.
A box of minoxidil
What is minoxidil useful for?
Minoxidil is most useful for male pattern baldness, an irreversible balding condition that affects males. Minoxidil typically slows down the balding process and, in some cases, can also regrow some of the hair lost. Minoxidil works best on the vertex area (i.e. crown or top of the back of the head), which is a common problem area for men with male pattern baldness.
How is minoxidil used?
Minoxidil is most commonly used topically (i.e. on the scalp). Minoxidil can be applied as a foam or liquid, and it is very rarely ingested in tablet form. To use minoxidil, first clean your hair thoroughly with a shampoo and then dry the hair prior to applying the minoxidil on your scalp. Depending on the format of the minoxidil, the precise instructions for its use will differ slightly, so always refer to the instructions that come with the minoxidil as a product.
When should I use minoxidil?
If you are balding/suffer from male pattern baldness, as soon as possible. Research has shown that minoxidil works best in the earlier stages of male pattern baldness i.e. men whose balding is a Norwood IV or below will benefit the most.
Men with a Norwood V or more should not bother with minoxidil unless they are planning to get a hair transplant.
The Norwood stage classification
How long foes minoxidil take to yield results?
Minoxidil usually takes 3 months of continuous daily application yield visible results. I recommend you to trial minoxidil for at least 6 months to be able to gauge its full performance. Furthermore, bear in mind that hair-growing or maintaining results will depend on your unique genetic makeup, how aggressive your balding is and also what Norwood stage you currently find yourself at (the lower the Norwood stage, the sooner the results will be visible).
Can I use minoxidil if I’m under the age of 18?
I cannot advice you on this; you must consult your doctor. All I can tell you is that there are reported cases of minoxidil use in men who are younger than 18 years of age. Unlike finasteride (another hair loss medication), minoxidil has no impact on DHT, thus its side effect profile is benign.
Having said the above, it is very rare for a male younger than 18 years of age to be anything higher than a Norwood III; ergo, minoxidil use tends to be most commonly started at age 25 and above.
What are minoxidil’s side effects?
Local and temporary itching and irritation are common side effects of minoxidil, which tend to subside as the treatment goes on. Dry hair and/or a dry scalp is also reported and is normal.
Paradoxically, sudden and precipitated loss of hair is also reported when commencing treatment with minoxidil; this is in fact normal as minoxidil encourages the growth of new hair and thus hairs that were in the later stage of their life cycle will fall off to make space for new thicker and healthier hair to grow.
Anything other than the above side effects is a cause of concern, and you should consult your doctor since minoxidil can potentially precipitate an allergic reaction. This potential allergic reaction is thought to be precipitated not by minoxidil itself but by propylene glycol, which is an ingredient frequently used in topical minoxidil preparations.
Is minoxidil sold over the counter and can I get it without a doctor’s prescription?
Minoxidil is sold over the counter and, in most jurisdictions (including USA), you do not need a doctor’s prescription to buy minoxidil.
Should I see a doctor prior to using minoxidil?
Yes, although the keyword here is “should”. My advice is to always see a doctor or at least consult one prior to using any supplement or over the counter drug, including minoxidil. What you may think is male pattern baldness (which is a benign condition by itself) could be something else much more serious. You can and are free to, however, not follow my advice and buy and use minoxidil without consulting a doctor.
Is minoxidil generic?
Yes. The most common brand of minoxidil is Rogaine.
Do I have to use minoxidil forever to keep the regrown hair?
Unfortunately, yes. Once you stop using the minoxidil, it will take a maximum of 6 months to lose all of the hair that was regrown in the first place. Likewise, your balding will speed up or resume if the minoxidil had slowed down or altogether stopped your balding.
What are some good minoxidil preparations I can buy?
The most known brand of minoxidil is Rogaine although there are some other good ones too. You can get some excellent prices and supplies of minoxidil from Amazon itself, and I recommend you to buy the longest-lasting supply you can afford as you’ll typically be using minoxidil for at least a year.
View each of these minoxidil preparations, and then decide which one you’d like to use for the next months (each product opens on a new Amazon page):
- Rogaine 6-month supply (foam)
- Kirkland 12-month supply (liquid)
- Kirkland 12-month supply (foam, which is easier to apply)
- Equate 3-month supply
- Simply right 6-month supply
- And you may also want to grab my bestselling book, The Men’s Hair Book, as I cover male pattern baldness and its management (plus much more stuff) in much needed detail.
Overall, minoxidil is just short of a miracle medication for men who suffer from male pattern baldness. Minoxidil is just-about free of side effects and it is backed by medical research; when used right and with a good brand as the ones referenced above, minoxidil will at the very least slow down hair loss and will usually regrow some hair provided that the initial baldness is not massive. The only downside to minoxidil, so to speak, is that it is not a cure for male pattern baldness but, rather, an effective way to manage one’s balding. For what is worth, there is not cure for male pattern baldness as of 2013; ergo, without a doubt, try minoxidil before anything else if you’re experiencing male pattern baldness and need an effective treatment pronto!
All the best.
For your male grooming needs, visit the Barbershop Forums, the mens style and fashion community with some epic male grooming stuff thrown in!