Minoxidil For Hair: Benefits And How It Works

Reviewed by Tiffany Young, Certified Trichology Practitioner
By Anjali Sayee

Anyone who has faced hair loss or is struggling with hair growth has probably heard of Minoxidil. If you are curious to know if Minoxidil works for hair, you have come to the right place. It is one of the most recommended treatments to stimulate hair growth. Explore the working and benefits of Minoxidil and why doctors recommend it. Continue reading.

What Is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil, which commonly goes by the trade name Rogaine, was developed by Upjohn Company in the late 1950s to treat ulcers. But today, the medication is used as an oral vasodilator to treat blood pressure (1). This over-the-counter medication is also used to treat male pattern baldness. However, it is believed to work best on those less than 40 years of age.

Minoxidil is available as a tablet, ointment, or foam. It can be taken orally or applied topically to the affected area. Let us look at the research concerning minoxidil.

What Does Research Say About Minoxidil And Hair Regrowth?

Minoxidil was found to be quite effective when used to reverse hair loss due to chemotherapy. In the study, using minoxidil regularly had decreased the duration of hair loss (2).

In another study, the participants (men) were categorized into three groups. While the first two groups were given 5% minoxidil and 2% minoxidil, the third was given a placebo. The study found that men who used 5% topical minoxidil showed more effective hair growth than those in the other two groups (3).

Topical minoxidil used along with finasteride was found to be more effective in treating hair loss than using either of the medication alone (4). However, finasteride is not recommended for pregnant women due to its potential teratogenic effects on the fetus (physical malformations) (5).

In another study, using 5% topical minoxidil and low-level light therapy (a red light device used on the scalp) showed an increased improvement from alopecia (6).

Much of the research does state that minoxidil may help with hair regrowth. But how does it work?

How Does Minoxidil Work For Hair?

Minoxidil is a vasodilator and is used to treat blood pressure. It helps expand the blood vessels, leading to an increase in blood flow in the body. It is believed that this property of minoxidil may help increase the blood flow to the hair follicles, encouraging hair growth (7). However, more information on the mechanism of minoxidil in hair growth is warranted.

How long does the medication take to show results? Keep reading.

How Long Does Minoxidil Take To Work On Hair?

Those who used 5% topical minoxidil showed fasters results than those who used 3% topical minoxidil (3). Based on the type of minoxidil used, one may observe results in 4 to 6 months.

Note: Certain individuals may not see changes right away. Some may even experience hair loss after using minoxidil. In such cases, one must consult their doctor. There could be an underlying condition causing hair loss.

Minoxidil may also cause certain adverse effects you must be aware of.

Side Effects Of Minoxidil On Hair

Anecdotal evidence suggests that topical minoxidil may cause the following side effects:

Oral minoxidil may harm the fetus in pregnant women. Research is limited in this regard. Stay safe and avoid use.

Experts frequently recommend minoxidil, and for a good reason. Various studies have demonstrated that it stimulates hair growth. It is often effective, even if it takes time to show results. However, be aware of the negative consequences. Scalp roughness, dryness, itching, and irritation are common minor adverse effects. If these side effects are serious or do not go away on their own, you should contact your healthcare professional. Even if you don’t observe any day-to-day changes in your hairline, it is crucial to remain patient and continue using minoxidil. More significantly, make changes to your diet and lifestyle habits, as they are the only things that can help your hair stay healthy in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does minoxidil thicken hair?

Yes, along with promoting hair growth, minoxidil may make your hair healthier and thicker.

Can I sleep with minoxidil on?

Yes, you can sleep after applying minoxidil on your hair and scalp, but make sure you let it dry first as it may stain your clothes, pillow covers, and sheets.

Can I apply oil after minoxidil?

You can use some oils with or after minoxidil, depending on your hair and scalp condition. In most cases, you should wait for the minoxidil to soak into your scalp completely before applying oil. Consult a dermatologist or trichologist first to avoid adverse effects.

Can I use onion juice with minoxidil?

You shouldn’t use onion juice with minoxidil unless your doctor recommends it. However, you can apply onion juice to your hair and scalp after a few hours when the minoxidil has soaked into your scalp, and is dry.

Can minoxidil make my hair fall out?

Minoxidil brings your hair into the hair growth phase. So, you might notice hair shedding during the first few weeks of using minoxidil as it quickens the resting phase of hair. After the resting phase, the old strands fall out, and new hair growth occurs.

Do you lose hair if you stop minoxidil?

This depends on the type of hair loss you have. In most cases, hair growth stops once you discontinue minoxidil. Consult your doctor before discontinuing the treatment.

Key Takeaways

  • Minoxidil or Rogaine is an over-the-counter medication used to treat blood pressure and male pattern baldness.
  • Minoxidil helps expand the blood vessels, increasing blood flow to hair follicles.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that minoxidil may cause itching, rashes, acne in some individuals.
  • Once you stop using Minoxidil, your hair may fall out.


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Anjali specializes in hairstyles and hair and skin care and has written over 200 articles in these domains. Her philosophy... more

Tiffany Young

(Certified Trichology Practitioner)
Tiffany Young is the CEO and founder of ThinHairThick. She is also a recognized expert in the hair and beauty... more