Dermatologists often recommend Rogaine as the first line of treatment for many different types of hair loss. It’s well-tested, relatively inexpensive, and easy to find on drugstore shelves. However, if you skim through Facebook groups for people experiencing androgenetic alopecia (male and female pattern baldness) and other types of hair loss, you’ll see that people are often hesitant about using Rogaine for a wide variety of reasons. Whether you’re on the fence, heard a rumor about Rogaine that you’re not sure is true, or just want a little more information before picking up a 3-month supply, you’re in the right place. We’re here to give you the facts.
1. Rogaine is FDA-approved to Treat Male and Female Pattern Baldness
In the 1970s, Rogaine, the brand name for the generic medication called Minoxidil, was tested in an oral pill form to treat hypertension. During research studies, physicians noticed that the medication caused a side effect of regrowing hair that patients had lost. The discovery led to the development of a topical hair loss formula designed to treat male and female pattern baldness. In 1986, a two percent topical formula was marketed, and the five percent was made available in 1993. Rogaine is only available in liquid and foam formulas. Minoxidil is also available as a pill that is taken orally.
Currently, Rogaine and Finasteride, a DHT blocker, are the only FDA-approved medications available to treat androgenetic alopecia. However, Rogaine is often used off-label to treat other types of hair loss, including alopecia areata and scarring alopecias.
2. Rogaine is Effective
Rogaine has been used for over 30 years and has been thoroughly tested over the years. Although the exact reason why Rogaine works is still a bit of a mystery, research indicates that the hair loss medication is effective when patients use the medicine as prescribed. What is known is that Rogaine is a vasodilator, which means that the medication brings oxygen to shrunken hair follicles and enlarges them, allowing new, healthy hair to emerge. Rogaine may also prolong your hair’s growth phase. When more follicles are in the growth phase, you’ll see more hair coverage on your scalp. A study conducted in 2004 by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatologists indicated that over 90 percent of patients in the study achieved growth or halted hair loss after using Rogaine for one year. (01)
Dermatologists can also combine Rogaine with other hair loss medications to maximize results. Research indicates that Rogaine combined with Finasteride has better efficacy than Rogaine alone when treating male or female pattern baldness. (02)
3. You may shed hair before new hair begins to grow
You may have heard of the dred shed people get when they first use Rogaine. Yes, it’s a real thing. Not all people experience initial shedding, but some do during the first few months of using the medication. When shedding occurs, it means that the Rogaine is doing its job. Keeping it simple, Rogaine accelerates the last stages of hair growth when the old hair falls out so that your hair can go through the growth phase faster. That means you may see more hair loss for a short period before seeing new growth. Most people notice small changes in three or four months. It can take up to a year to get complete results.
4. Certain application techniques make Rogaine more effective
You may have heard about a derma roller before. It’s a little roller that gently punctures the skin to allow topical products to penetrate the skin deeper than if you apply the products with your hands. According to research, people with androgenetic alopecia who use a derma roller to apply Rogaine get significantly better results. (03) If you have another type of alopecia that isn’t male or female pattern hair loss, check with your dermatologist before using a dermaroller. Dermarollers aren’t recommended for people with scarring alopecias.
5. Rogaine is available without propylene glycol
Fortunately, topical Rogaine doesn’t have a lot of side effects. If you do experience irritation, it’s possibly due to propylene glycol in one of the liquid formulas. Propylene glycol is an active ingredient that contains two different types of alcohol. If you experience irritation, you can make a couple of easy changes. The first is to use Rogaine foam rather than liquid. The foam does not contain propylene glycol. If you use a compounded liquid formula that includes other medications, such as Finasteride and retinol, you can request that the propylene glycol be omitted.
6. Yes, it’s true that once you start using Rogaine, you have to continue
Once you begin using Rogaine, you’ll need to continue to maintain the hair you grow. If you stop using the hair loss product within three to four months, you will most likely lose any newly grown hair. Your hair will look the way it did before you started using Rogaine.
7. Stronger formulas do give better results
Rogaine is sold over-the-counter in two and five-percent liquid and foam formulas. As you might guess, the 5 percent formula is more effective than the two percent for both men and women. According to a study conducted on men, the five percent formula worked faster and resulted in better scalp coverage than the two percent formula. (04) Although Rogaine is not sold over the counter at a higher dose, the generic equivalent, Minoxidil, is available by prescription for up to 10 percent and can be prescribed off-label. Higher doses can cause more irritation than lower doses. Minoxidil combined with cortisone helps prevent irritation from occurring. Combining retinol as well helps improve absorption.
8. Rogaine is safe to use on facial hair too
Some people with forms of alopecia are disturbed when they realize that they have lost hair in their eyebrows, mustache, and beard areas. Fortunately, Rogaine is effective for facial hair as well as hair on your head. According to a research study, Rogaine was superior in enhancing beard growth. Adverse effects were mild. (05)
If you have male or female pattern baldness or another type of alopecia, being able to take proactive steps toward halting your hair loss and stimulating new growth can be empowering. If you are a bit nervous about giving Rogaine a try, remember that it is a trusted medication with few downsides and many potential benefits. And our board-certified dermatologists and hair specialists are here to help. Let us know if we can answer any further questions or be of assistance.