Minoxidil for Men: A Review

Published June 15th, 2021 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Erik Rivera
Medically Reviewed:
Dr. Angel Rivera

Minoxidil is a topical solution used to combat hair loss. Minoxidil for men can be purchased in different strengths, and it may work better for some people than others. Our guide will tell you everything you need to know about minoxidil, including what the active ingredient is, how it works, and where you can get it.

What is minoxidil?

Minoxidil is a topical solution that helps prevent hair loss and is clinical proven to regrow hair. It is one of only two medications that are FDA approved to prevent hair loss and to stimulate hair regrowth. It can be purchased in different strengths, the most common for men are 2% and 5% variations.

Minoxidil was first created by the Upjohn Company in 1979 with FDA approval for use on patients with high blood pressure, which led researchers to discover that it also helped hair to grow. Today, one of minoxidil's most common uses is to combat androgenic alopecia (this term covers both male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness) and can be used by both men and women. This review will focus mainly on minoxidil for men.

What is the active ingredient?

Minoxidil is a drug that men may use in order to deal with hair loss called male pattern baldness or thinning of the hair. Minoxidil acts as a vasodilator, which means it expands blood vessels. For men, minoxidil is applied topically to the scalp and absorbed through the skin into tissues on either side of hair follicles in order to help increase stimulation for production of new hairs.

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The active ingredient in minoxidil is called minoxidil sulfate, a component that plays an important role. Minoxidil sulfate is responsible for opening up blood vessels which leads to increased circulation of oxygen-rich blood near the scalp. The effect provides more oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the root of each individual follicle where hair growth begins.

The other ingredients in minoxidil are mostly inactive carriers such as alcohol, propylene glycol, and purified water. You can also find minoxidil without fragrance.

What are the different strengths of minoxidil?

There are four different strengths available – minoxidil with an active ingredient concentration of 2% or 5% and minoxidil with an active ingredient concentration of 10% and 15%. Only 2% and 5% minoxidil have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of hair loss.

Minoxidil is the generic form of Rogaine, but it can also be found as a stand-alone treatment under brand names like Loniten, as well as other generic brands. Minoxidil comes in two main forms: liquid or foam, which are both applied to the scalp once or twice daily.

You'll find that it takes about 12 weeks for minoxidil treatments to start showing new hair growth. You may see around 50% growth or less with one application per day. If you're using an extra-strength formulation such as Men’s Rogaine Extra Strength topical solution which contains a 5% minoxidil solution and use it twice daily, then hairs may grow up to four times faster than they would with other strengths.

Should I worry about side effects?

The most common side effects when using minoxidil are related to the scalp and hair.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Irritation, itching, burning, or scaling of the skin on the scalp
  • Excessive dryness
  • Oily-looking hair in some people
  • Increased shedding at the start of treatment

More serious side effects may include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling near the face
  • Lips that become red
  • Hives

You should stop using minoxidil immediately if you notice these signs. It could signal that your body has developed an allergy to it, leading to an increased risk for more severe side effects like throat swelling and difficulty breathing.

You should wash your hands after handling minoxidil. It can cause skin irritation if it comes into contact with your eyes or sensitive areas on your body.

Where can I find different strengths of minoxidil?

Minoxidil is available over-the-counter in pharmacies, retailers, and online. A doctor can also prescribe an oral tablet of minoxidil, if the topical solution or foam is not well-tolerated. You should speak with your doctor or pharmacist before starting treatment as minoxidil can interfere with some medications or preexisting medical conditions.

There are several online retailers that offer hair loss treatment solutions. The online retailers offer a convenient way to consult with a medical professional. They also provide automated payment and shipping. The shipments are delivered in discreet packaging. We recommend these websites.

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Sources: 

Minoxidil

Mayo Clinic – Minoxidil

DailyMed – Minoxidil For Men

NIH – A randomized clinical trial of 5% topical minoxidil versus 2% topical minoxidil and placebo in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men

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