When considering buying Minoxidil it is important to have all the facts at your fingertips. You will no doubt have a lot of questions, the most important of which is 'does Minoxidil work?' Well the short answer is yes, for many people. To gain a more in depth understanding of whether Minoxidil is right for you and how to give it the best chance of giving you the results you want, it's necessary to explore a little further.

What is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is a medication that is used to stop or slow down hair loss; it is particularly popular among men suffering with male pattern baldness. It has also been proven to promote regrowth in many cases. Originally only available on prescription as an oral drug and used to treat high blood pressure, Minoxidil was found to have a side effect which was beneficial for some users; in several cases significant thickening and growth of the hair on the head. Minoxidil is now readily available over the counter.

Continued use of the drug is required for it to be effective in the maintenance of existing follicles and the stimulation of new growth. If treatment is discontinued, hair loss will return to normal within 60 days.

Minoxidil is available under many brand names, the most popular being Rogaine or Regaine. For men the solution of these brands contains 5% Minoxidil and for women, 2%. Since 2007, it has been available as a foam as well as the original topical solution.

A generic version of Minoxidil from the Perrigo Company will be available from mid 2012.

Rogaine before and afterHow does Minoxidil work?

The positive influence Minoxidil has on hair growth was only really discovered by accident; it was a side effect of a medicine used to treat a completely different condition. For this reason, it is not fully understood how it works. It is thought that by widening blood vessels and opening potassium channels, more oxygen, blood and nutrients reach the hair follicles. In the telegen phase, follicles shed and are replaced with thicker, stronger hairs in the anagen phase.

How do I apply Minoxidil?

The makers of Rogaine (the most popular brand name for Minoxidil) advise users to apply the solution or foam twice a day and continue use indefinitely. The solution is applied via an applicator and then massaged into the scalp. The foam can be applied directly to the hair and massaged thoroughly into the scalp.

It is important not to apply any styling products such as gel, wax or hairspray until the hair is fully dry.

Does Minoxidil have any side effects?

Occasionally side effects have been reported. These include:

  • Irritation or burning of the eyes
  • Itching and redness of the scalp or treated area
  • Unwanted hair growth in other areas of the body
  • Dandruff may be caused by the drying of the scalp (as Minoxidil must be preserved in alcohol)
  • In the early stages of use, increased hair loss may occur - this is quite normal and is a sign that Minoxidil is influencing the hair follicles positively. The shedding phase should not continue past 16 weeks.

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following rare but extreme side effects:

  • Harsh allergic reactions (such as rash, hives, tightness in the chest, swelling of lips, mouth or tongue)
  • Dizziness
  • Quickening heartbeat
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Swollen hands or feet
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain

Will Minoxidil work for me?

Minoxidil has been shown to work to a certain extent in 85% of male users and around 60% of female users. The results will vary depending on what stage of the hair loss process you are at.
For example, it is unlikely to produce total regrowth on a large bald area of the head.

It has been proven to be most effective on men who are in the early stages of male pattern baldness. Men in their twenties within the first five years of experiencing hair loss are the best candidates. It is likely to stop the loss of hair in the majority of men, but the amount of regrowth will depend on the individual.

Minoxidil is approved by the FDA and is proven to be effective in the halting of hair loss and regrowth of hair.

How long will Minoxidil take to work?

It is vital to be persistent and patient. Losing hair is a gradual process, as is the reversal of that process; Minoxidil needs time to work on your scalp before you will see any actual results. The more advanced the hair loss, the more advanced the follicle deterioration, the more time the reparative phase will take. This is a rough estimate of the progress you can expect.

  • 4 - 12 weeks:  You may shed more hair than normal in this period. This should not be an area for concern. It is probably a sign that a new growth cycle is beginning and deteriorating follicles are being pushed out to make way for newer, stronger ones.
  • 16 - 40 weeks:  You may begin to experience signs of regrowth, but again, patience is required. The first hair may be soft and downy. With each new growth phase, these hairs will grow back stronger and thicker.
  • After 1 Year:  You should be seeing either a slowing in the balding process or significant regrowth in certain areas.

How can I improve the chances of Minoxidil working for me?

  • The best chance of success comes from combining an over the counter treatment like Rogaine (Minoxidil) with an oral prescription drug like Propecia, which has been proven to be highly effective in the fight against hair loss.
  • Make sure that your hair doesn't get wet for at least four hours after applying Minoxidil.
  • Combine Minoxidil with a scalp-cleansing shampoo like Progaine Volumizing Shampoo to maximize thickening of the hair.
  • Wear sunblock on your scalp to protect it from the sun.
  • Ensure your hair is completely dry before applying Minoxidil.

Other articles that may be of interest:

Natural Ways to Thicken Hair

How Long Does It Take For Rogaine to Work?

Best Haircuts For a Receding Hairline

Prevent or Disguise a Receding Hairline