Does Minoxidil Work?

Does minoxidil work to reduce or even reverse hair loss?  The answer is “yes”!

According to the American Hair Loss Association, minoxidil was the very first FDA-approved and recommended as an effective hair loss treatment for male pattern hair thinning.  It is believed that minoxidil is purchased more than any other baldness treatment in the world.

In fact, Wikipedia reports that only two medications for the treatment of male pattern baldness have been approved by the FDA.  One of these is finasteride, a prescription medication.  The other is minoxidil.  It is available over-the-counter as a topical solution or as an ingredient in shampoo.

It is generally accepted that a common cause of hair loss is the effect of a testosterone by-product called dihydro-testosterone (DHT).  High levels of DHT are responsible for the progressive miniaturization – and eventual loss – of hair follicles.

The actual way minoxidil works is not precisely understood.  It is thought to promote blood flow in the areas attacked by the increased levels of DHT. The increased blood flow is believed to promote hair loss prevention and eventually future hair density increases.

Does minoxidil work?

Studies have shown that minoxidil is effective in many cases.  For example, Wikipedia describes a 48-week study of hair loss in men.   This study involved male-pattern hair loss in both the frontal and the vertex (crown) areas of the scalp.  At the conclusion of the study:

a)      some improvement was noted in the vertex area regions of 51% of men using 5% minoxidil, 42% using 2% minoxidil, and 13% of placebo users; and

b)      moderate to great increases in hair growth were seen in the frontal scalp regions of 19% of men using 5% minoxidil, 10% using 2% minoxidil, and 3% of placebo users.

Minoxidil is available in concentrations ranging from 2% to 5% for use by men and women.  Based on the study results, the higher concentration appears to be more effective than the lower.  Thus, men may prefer the 5 percent concentration to seek quicker and more dramatic results.  In fact, the FDA has approved the higher concentration for use by males.   However, the FDA recommends that women use the 2 percent solution.

There are other products available for treating hair loss, both medicinal and natural.

Ketoconazole is the working ingredient in Nizoral shampoo.  This has been shown to reduce the production of androgens in the body.  When androgen levels are lowered, DHT concentrations are reduced in the body.  DHT reduction can slow the progression of hair loss.  However, the American Hair Loss Association has noted that ketoconazole only treats hair loss occurring in women.

Finasteride is an oral medication that inhibits DHT production.  It has been proved effective in treating male-pattern baldness.  It is only available by prescription under the brand name Propecia.  Finasteride is administered as a tablet that is swallowed once a day.  It and works by blocking 5-alpha-reductase to decrease DHT levels.

In clinical studies, finasteride was shown to be most successful in the crown area, but also works on the hairline area as well.  Finasteride is prescribed for men only, and cannot be used by women.

Natural formulas are generally a combination of several ingredients, and are sold under a variety of brand names.

  • Hair loss vitamins provide a wide range of nutrients, minerals, and botanicals.  Saw palmetto, he shou wu, and protein are among the most common ingredients used to stop hair loss.  They are found in several different brands of hair growth vitamins.  These products are generally formulated to act as DHT blockers.
  • The Hair Genesis program consists of hair loss vitamins, topical serum, a shampoo, and a hair conditioner.  The primary ingredient in Hair Genesis is saw palmetto.
  • Revivogen contains active ingredients aimed at reducing the production of DHT by blocking the activity of the enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase. Other ingredients are intended to block the androgen receptors and stimulate hair growth. Revivogen is used topically to deliver the active ingredients directly to the hair follicle area.

Minoxidil can be effective in combating hair loss in both men and women.  It has even been shown to reverse hair loss in some cases. Products containing minoxidil as the active ingredient have been widely and successfully used for years, and are the best known treatments.  However, there are also other treatments that can be used by anyone who wants to deal with a hair loss problem. To see what products are available that you can consider, click here.  Or click on one of the Amazon product images below and check them out!