Does Minoxidil work?

Published June 11th, 2021 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Chris Riley
Medically Reviewed:
Dr. Angel Rivera

With so many promises of stronger, longer, thicker hair it may be difficult to know whether minoxidil, a topical hair growth treatment, really works. We’ll walk you through what minoxidil is and how it works. You’ll learn more about what kinds of results to expect, where you can buy it, and whether the product is right for you.

What is minoxidil?

Minoxidil is a topical hair growth treatment that you apply to your scalp and is the active ingredient in brand name Rogaine. It helps those with male and female pattern baldness by opening blood vessels which can increase blood flow to the scalp. The result can help stop hair from falling out, promote hair growth, and help regrow lost hair. Minoxidil comes in a liquid topical solution and foam found over-the-counter. There is an oral tablet available if the topical solution is not well tolerated, but you will need a doctor’s prescription. In clinical studies, using minoxidil has proven to be an effective treatment to combat hair loss for both men and women.

Regrowth Made Easy
Minoxidil Foam | Hims

Minoxidil Foam | Hims

Look and feel your best with thicker, fuller hair—thanks to this FDA-approved minoxidil foam. It’s clinically proven to regrow hair in 3-6 months, no pills required.

 

What is minoxidil's active ingredient?

Minoxidil's active ingredient is called minoxidil sulfate, and it also has inactive ingredients such as alcohol, propylene glycol, and purified water.

The active ingredient, minoxidil sulfate, works as a vasodilator to widen blood vessels and increase blood flow to the scalp bringing nutrients. When minoxidil reaches your scalp, it is believed to work by enlarging the hair follicles and elongating the growth phase to promote healthier, thicker hair.

Does minoxidil work?

Minoxidil was originally created as a drug to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). Doctors noticed that patients taking the drug were also growing hair and after going through FDA approval, started treating patients with hair loss.

In clinical studies, the use of minoxidil has proven to be an effective treatment for hair growth, regrowth, and building strong hair. One study showed that 80% of patients with alopecia reported some level of hair growth. Minoxidil may also decrease hair shedding by keeping more healthy hairs in place.

What results can I expect from minoxidil? 

While clinical trials do show promising hair growth and regrowth, the mechanism in which this happens is still unclear. For some people, the drug will not help hair loss.

However, some people respond favorably to treatment with minoxidil. You can expect to start seeing results within two to four months. At six months of use, you may be able to visibly see new hair growth and decide whether minoxidil works for you.

If you do notice significant results when using minoxidil then you’ll want to continue using it. Stopping the treatment with minoxidil will eventually result in a return to your hair’s previous condition.

When you start using minoxidil, you may experience an initial shedding of hair. This is considered normal and may be due to shedding fine hair to make room for new hair growth. The drug acts to stimulate new hair growth where there are bald patches, and increase hair density and growth in existing hair.

The initial results from using minoxidil may be dramatic. Some people report  their hair loss decreased or even reversed after about six months of daily topical application.

How do I get minoxidil?

Minoxidil is an over-the-counter drug that can be found in pharmacies, retailers, and online. It does not require a prescription. If you are unable to tolerate the topical solution, you can see a doctor for an oral tablet prescription for minoxidil which may work better for you.

As with any medicine, please consult your physician before starting any new treatment. Although minoxidil has been shown to have a few, mostly mild, side effects, there are some complications that can occur due to prior existing conditions or interacting with other medications you may be taking.

Where can I buy minoxidil?

You can find minoxidil in stores like Walgreen, CVS, Target, Walmart, and other retailers and pharmacies. If you prefer to order minoxidil online for ease and privacy, there are several websites you can visit that offer consultations with a medical professional and fast, free shipping.

If you would like to order discreetly online we recommend using:

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Sources: 

A one year observational study with minoxidil 5% solution in Germany

How minoxidil was transformed from an anti-hypertensive to a hair-loss drug

Yes, It’s Normal to Lose More Hair When You Start Minoxidil

Why Does Rogaine (Minoxidil) Cause Hair Shedding? 

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