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.
Keep in mind that if you experience hair loss, making a doctor’s appointment is a good first step. They can diagnose the cause of your hair loss. But to help you prepare for your appointment, here’s everything you need to know about Rogaine and how to best discuss the product with your doctor before use.
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.
What is Rogaine?
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.
The ways in which Rogaine may promote hair regrowth aren’t fully understood. But one 2021 research review showed that minoxidil’s anti-inflammatory, vasodilating, and anti-androgenic effects might 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. 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 the hair you lose, 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.
How Rogaine works
Experts consider Rogaine a vasodilator. The exact mechanism of action for minoxidil (the active ingredient) isn’t actually clear. But people believe that it works 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.
However, any growth that you may see as a direct result of using Rogaine will only last as long as you keep using the product. If you discontinue its use, that hair growth returns to previous levels, since the effects are not permanent without regular Rogaine use.
Who gets the best results from Rogaine?
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. However, a 2014 study also showed that it may work for the front of the scalp as well in men.
Rogaine is most effective for people who start using it at the first indications of hair loss. It isn’t likely to 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. A 2002 study showed that over the course of 48 weeks, participants who used 5% topical minoxidil, compared with 2% topical minoxidil, experienced quicker results as well as 45% more hair regrowth.
The researchers of this study also showed that the participants who used the 5% topical minoxidil had improved “psychosocial perceptions” of hair loss.
Rogaine for women
Rogaine can also be effective for women. A 2004 study showed that 5% topical minoxidil was superior compared with 2% topical minoxidil.
The study was conducted over the course of 48 weeks, and both the 5% and 2% versions helped improve psychological perceptions of hair loss in women who had female pattern hair loss.
Rogaine is not recommended for people who are chestfeeding or pregnant.
Who should not use Rogaine
Always talk with a doctor before using Rogaine if you’re under 18 years old or have:
- sudden hair loss, which involves the hair falling out in patches
- unexplained hair loss
- hair loss after giving birth
- a discolored, itchy, infected, or painful scalp
- experience with hair products, chemicals, or hair grooming methods that cause your hair loss
- another condition that may cause hair loss, like thyroid disease or alopecia areata, nutritional deficiencies, scarring of the scalp, or medications, like chemotherapy
Rogaine is FDA approved for helping with male and female pattern baldness. While it’s not FDA approved for other types of hair loss, your doctor may recommend off-label Rogaine usage for other types of hair loss.
If you have heart disease, talk with your doctor before trying Rogaine.
Comparing Rogaine vs. competitors
|Product||How it works||Active ingredients||Price||Rating|
|Rogaine||promotes hair growth and prevents hair loss||minoxidil||$50.99||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 dihydrotestosterone (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. The active ingredient in the generic formula and Rogaine are the same. The only main differences would be found on various brands’ inactive ingredients lists.
Side effects of Rogaine
According to a 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. Get advice from your physician.
Serious side effects with Rogaine are rare. Talk with your doctor if you experience:
- sudden, unexplained weight gain
- faintness or dizziness
- swollen 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 purchase. For example, Rogaine Extra Strength Topical Solution runs $50.99 on Amazon for a three-month supply, while Rogaine Foam costs $44.97 for a three-month supply on Amazon.
When to talk with a doctor
As with other health conditions, it’s a good idea to contact a doctor as soon as you experience possible hair loss so you can promptly start possible treatments like Rogaine. Early symptoms of hair loss may include:
- getting a receding hair line or widening part
- having noticeably thinner hair
- experiencing a gradual growth of a bald spot
- 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 already use Rogaine and don’t see 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:
- a sensation of burning
- redness or discoloration
- chest pain
- rapid heart rate
- swollen hands and feet
Frequently asked questions about Rogaine
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 the hair you lose.
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 8 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 does not only work for men. It is also available and effective for some women.
Is Rogaine safe?
Yes, Rogaine is FDA approved. But people who are pregnant or chestfeeding 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 maintain regular use indefinitely, as results aren’t permanent without continued use.
Where can I get it?
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. 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.