We’re all probably prepared to experience some degree of hair loss sooner or later, but for those that already have, it can often be a pretty troubling experience, with many men and women around the world taking a huge hit to their mental health and suffering with anxiety, low self esteem and low self confidence.

Some good news though is there many options out there for those seeking a solution to their hair loss, and one you may or may not have heard of is Minoxidil. Minoxidil is the active ingredient found in numerous hair loss treatments, and while it was originally available in pill form as a treatment for hypertension, today it’s widely available as a lotion or foam, and has been proven an effective treatment for both men or women who are starting to experience gradual hair loss.

If you’re looking for a treatment for your own thinning hair, or even if you’re just curious, the following is a brief guide to all things Minoxidil, including what it is, how it works, and how effective it can be.

What is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is the main active ingredient found in a number of over-the-counter hair loss treatments, for both men and women. While it won’t be able to treat a receding hairline, it has been proven effective in rejuvenating hair on the back of the head that’s fallen victim to male pattern baldness.

Typically Minoxidil is available in two different strengths: 5% (for men) and 2% (for women). Around 2 out of 3 men have reported positive results after using products featuring Minoxidil, although it’s most effective for those under the age of 40 who’ve only just started noticing the effects of hair loss.

Minoxidil can only rejuvenate hair and encourage more growth; it won’t unfortunately be able to cure baldness. It should be applied twice a day, however as soon as you stop applying Minoxidil to your hair it’ll revert back to its previous state.

How does Minoxidil Work?

While the science isn’t exactly 100% known as of yet, what we do know is that Minoxidil can encourage more blood flow to the scalp, which improves the function of the hair follicles and in turn encourages their growth.

Patients using products with Minoxidil will typically need to use them twice daily for a good 2 to 4 months before any noticeable hair growth can take place, so it’s important to remain patient and understand that results won’t be appearing overnight. Hair takes a while to grow as it is, and it’ll ultimately differ from person to person anyway.

At least initially, the regrown hair will feel soft and fine, and will eventually start to take on the same appearance as your other hair as you continue to use your Minoxidil product. If there’s no noticeable hair regrowth after using a Minoxidil product for 6 months, then you should stop using it. It may be worth visiting a doctor to discuss the potential causes of your hair loss.

Is Minoxidil Effective?

Regaine, with a 5% solution of Minoxidil, was subject to two separate studies in Germany to test its effectiveness in treating hereditary hair loss in men. In both studies the subjects used the solution twice daily, and after a year it was found that around half of those involved found it to be an effective method of stimulating hair growth. In addition to this, a fraction just shy of 16% said they found it very effective.

The second study was undertaken over a 4 month period instead of a year, however with the same 5% solution of Minoxidil. 55% of subjects found it to be effective, and 7.5% of subjects found it very effective. On the whole, almost 75% of men reported a general increase in the thickness of their hair.

Tests have also been performed to establish the effectiveness of Regaine for women too, for those suffering with female pattern hair loss. Whereas Regaine for men has a 5% concentration of Minoxidil however, Regaine for women has only a 2% concentration.

After a 32 week study looking into how effective a 2% Minoxidil solution would be at treating female pattern hair loss, 60% of the women involved reported success when it came to new hair growth. By contrast, only 40% of the women in the placebo group reported the same.

Are There any Side Effects to Worry About?

— Irritation
— Itching
— Additional unwanted hair growth (around other parts of the body)
— Facial swelling
— Soreness around the hair roots
— Increased hair loss
— A burning sensation on the scalp
— Skin reddening

While rare, it’s possible that Minoxidil could be absorbed into the skin, leading to some more severe side effects. If any of the following occur then it’s vital that you stop using the product and seek medical attention right away:

— Chest pains
— Dizziness
— Numb or tingling face, hands or feet
— Itching, swelling of the mouth, breathing difficulties, a tight chest, hives, rash, or other symptoms of a severe allergic reaction
— Fainting
— An irregular or fast heartbeat
— Blurred vision
— Swollen hands, feet, or lower legs
— Breathing difficulties

What Alternatives are Available?

Minoxidil isn’t the only treatment that’s available for the treatment of thinning hair. Propecia is one such alternative, which is taken orally. Unlike Minoxidil though it’s only available on prescription, and isn’t suitable for women.

Nourkrin is another alternative that is suitable for women, and is a natural hair supplement that’s available as a tablet, lotion, or shampoo. One of the key ingredients of Nourkirin is a marine protein extract, which helps to promote hair growth by supplying all the necessary nutrients needed.