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If you’re losing your hair, chances are that you have already heard of minoxidil, also known as Rogaine. Especially since Rogaine is available in different strengths over the counter, you may be wondering if this product could be an effective solution for your hair loss.

While you should always consider seeing a doctor or dermatologist first to diagnose the cause of your hair loss, here’s everything you need to know about Rogaine and how to best discuss the product with your doctor before use.

Language matters

In this article, we use “male and female” to refer to someone’s sex as determined by their chromosomes, and “men and women” when referring to their gender (unless quoting from sources using nonspecific language).

Sex is determined by chromosomes, and gender is a social construct that can vary between time periods and cultures. Both of these aspects are acknowledged to exist on a spectrum both historically and by modern scientific consensus.

Minoxidil, the key active ingredient in Rogaine, has been available on the market for hair loss for more than three decades, since the introduction of 2% formula in 1986. This popular hair loss treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat male and female pattern baldness, and is available over the counter as a liquid or foam.

While the exact way in which Rogaine may promote hair regrowth aren’t fully understood, one 2022 review points to the anti-inflammatory, vasodilating, and anti-androgenic effects of minoxidil that could all contribute.

Rogaine works only for certain types of baldness and only if you keep up with its application. But it doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s also possible for results to peak after several months before declining. The product may be used off-label for other types of hair loss, but only if recommended by a doctor.

If the product does work, you probably won’t grow back all of the hair you’ve lost, and it can even take up to 4 months to see the results. You’ll also have to use Rogaine indefinitely to maintain any hair regrowth.

Rogaine is considered a vasodilator. The exact mechanism of action for minoxidil (the active ingredient) isn’t actually clear. But it’s believed to work by partially enlarging hair follicles and elongating the growth phase of hair. With more follicles in the growth phase, you’ll see more hair coverage on your scalp.

Rogaine is applied to the scalp to help grow hair and prevent hair loss caused by male or female pattern baldness. This is the most common type of hair loss, and it runs in families.

Rogaine works best in people with hereditary hair loss at the vertex of the scalp (the area at the back of the head, just under the crown) or for women with general thinning of hair on the top of the scalp.

Rogaine is most effective for people who start using it at the first signs of hair loss. It won’t help people who’ve already gone completely bald.

Rogaine for men

Rogaine has been found to be an effective hair growth treatment for male pattern baldness. An older 2002 study found that over the course of 48 weeks, participants who used 5 percent topical minoxidil, compared to 2 percent topical minoxidil, experienced quicker results as well as 45% more hair regrowth.

The researchers of this study also found that the study participants who used the 5 percent topical minoxidil had improved “psychosocial perceptions” of hair loss.

Rogaine for women

Rogaine can also be effective for women. An older 2004 study showed that 5 percent topical minoxidil was superior compared to 2 percent topical minoxidil.

The study was conducted over the course of 48 weeks, and both the 5 percent and 2 percent versions helped to improve psychological perceptions of hair loss in women who had female pattern hair loss.

Rogaine is not recommended for people who are breastfeeding or pregnant.

Who should not use Rogaine

You should not use Rogaine if:

  • your hair loss comes on suddenly and falls out in patches
  • you’re under the age of 18
  • unexplained hair loss
  • hair loss after giving birth
  • your scalp is discolored, itchy, infected, or painful to touch
  • your hair loss is caused by hair products, chemicals, or hair grooming methods
  • your hair loss is caused by another condition, like thyroid disease or alopecia areata, nutritional deficiencies, scarring of the scalp, or medications, like chemotherapy

Rogaine is approved for helping with hair growth in male pattern baldness and thinning hair in women. It’s not typically used for helping with a receding hairline or balding at the front of the scalp. But a doctor may recommend Rogaine for other types of hair loss.

If you have heart disease, talk with your doctor before trying Rogaine.

Product How it works Active ingredients Price Rating
Rogaine Triggers new hair growth Minoxidil $59.99 4.3/5
Propecia Promotes hair growth and prevents hair loss Finasteride $25.00 4.8/5
Generic minoxidil Promotes hair growth and prevents hair loss Minoxidil $39.99 4.4/5

Rogaine vs. Propecia

Propecia, also known as finasteride, is a DHT blocker used to treat male pattern baldness.

DHT is one of the main causes of baldness in men because it binds to hair follicles and miniaturizes them. Propecia works to prevent hair loss and baldness by stopping testosterone from converting to DHT.

Both are effective in treating male pattern baldness. In fact, a 2015 study showed that the two medications can even be used together for the ultimate efficacy.

Rogaine vs. minoxidil

Minoxidil is the generic form of Rogaine, so the active ingredient in the generic or name brand of Rogaine is the same. The only main differences would be found on various brands’ inactive ingredients lists.

According to an older 2003 study, Rogaine is considered safe, and its side effects are usually not serious. The most common include:

  • scalp irritation
  • hair growth in adjacent areas, like your forehead
  • changes in hair texture or color

When applying Rogaine, be careful not to get any in your eyes. If you do, rinse your eyes with lots of cool tap water. Seek advice from your physician.

Rogaine can lead to more serious side effects, but this is rare. Talk with your doctor right away if you experience any of the following:

  • sudden, unexplained weight gain
  • faintness or dizziness
  • swelling of your hands or feet
  • chest pain

When you first start using Rogaine, you might notice an increase in hair shedding for the first couple of weeks as your hair follicles push old hair out to make room for new growth.

Rogaine products will vary in price, and that price will depend on the type of product you’re purchasing. For example, Rogaine Extra Strength Topical Solution runs $46.99 on Amazon, while Rogaine Foam costs $25.98 on Amazon.

As with other health conditions, it’s best to see a doctor as soon as you’re experiencing possible hair loss so you can promptly start possible treatments like Rogaine. Early signs of hair loss may include:

  • a receding hair line
  • noticeably thinner hair
  • a widening part
  • a bald spot that grows gradually
  • losing hair on your face and other parts of your body

Since Rogaine isn’t appropriate for all types of hair loss, it’s important to get a correct diagnosis from your doctor before starting this product–even though it’s widely available over the counter.

Also, if you are already using Rogaine and aren’t seeing results within 4 months, follow up with your doctor. They may recommend another form of treatment to address the underlying causes of your hair loss.

Stop using Rogaine and talk with a doctor if you experience any possible side effects, such as itching, burning, and redness. These may be signs of irritant contact dermatitis, which is considered the most common adverse side effect from Rogaine. Seek help right away if you’re experiencing chest pain, rapid heart rate, or swelling in your hands and feet.

Here are some commonly asked questions about Rogaine and how it works.

Does Rogaine really work? Will I get all my hair back?

Rogaine does work to some extent, as evidenced by clinical studies. But this is only for certain types of baldness (and only if it’s used continuously). That said, it won’t work for everyone. For those it does benefit, Rogaine will likely not help recover all hair lost.

When will I see results from Rogaine?

You may start seeing results from Rogaine in 4 months. However, you may not see the full results until about eight months of continued use.

How long does it take Rogaine to work?

While it can take up to 4 months to see hair regrowth with Rogaine, the product may start working within 2 weeks. During this time, you may also experience a temporary increase in hair shedding.

Does Rogaine only work for men?

No, Rogaine is also available and effective for some women.

Is Rogaine safe?

Yes, Rogaine is FDA-approved. But people who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not recommended to use it.

Can Rogaine make hair loss worse?

Rogaine may cause some temporary hair loss for about 2 weeks. Until the product takes full effect, you may notice that your hair initially grows back colorless and with a softer than normal texture. If you respond well to Rogaine, continued use should yield results that are the same color and thickness as the rest of your hair.

How often should I use Rogaine?

If you see results from Rogaine, it’s recommended to adhere to it indefinitely, as results aren’t permanent without continued use.

Where can I get it?

You can get Rogaine at your local pharmacy or online at their site. You can also purchase the generic form, minoxidil, through online services like Roman, Hims, and Keeps.

Does Rogaine work for beards?

Rogaine is only approved by the FDA for the part of the scalp known as the vertex, which sits at the top of your head. But your physician may recommend using it off label for beard growth.

Does Rogaine work on receding hairlines?

Again, because Rogaine is only FDA approved for hair growth at the vertex on top of the scalp, it’s not intended to treat receding hairlines. You may want to talk with your doctor about using it in other areas.

While Rogaine has been proven to be effective in regrowing hair, it does not work for everyone and every type of hair loss.

It’s FDA approved for helping with hair growth in male pattern baldness and female hair thinning. But it’s been used in other types of hair loss, although you should speak with a doctor before using it.

If it does work for you, you likely won’t grow all of your hair back. You typically have to use it continuously if you want to maintain your results.

To make it easier, you can subscribe to a Rogaine delivery program through the product website. Less expensive generics are also available.

Talk with your doctor if you don’t see any results after 4 months.