Does Minoxidil Work for Women? In this article we cover how long minoxidil takes to work, it's side effects and where to find minoxidil cream.
While hair loss is mainly thought of as a predominantly male affliction, it turns out that up to 40% of hair loss sufferers are women.
While women rarely lose all of their hair, and their hairline is generally kept intact, a diffuse thinning over the entire head is all too common.
Luckily, there are things you can do to combat hair loss.
The most popular male hair loss chemical, Minoxidil (the active chemical in Rogaine), has been found to help the ladies out too.
In one study, where women applied Minoxidil every day for 32 weeks, 55% of the treatment group reported new hair growth at the end of the study.
And, that was with the weaker 2% solution.
In this article, we will give you the down-low on the difference between the male and female Minoxidil formulas, how Minoxidil works for women, how to use it, and where to find it.
I think you know what we are going to say here…The main difference is the packaging.
Or at least it is now.
We can explain:
The Minoxidil formula for males is 5%, and the original formula for females is 2%.
But, in 2014, Rogaine released a stronger 5% foam formulation for women.
And, the 5% really should work better for women.
One study found that women using the 5% Minoxidil only once a day had about the same hair increase as women using the 2% minoxidil twice a day.
Aside from the packaging, if the strength on the label is the same, and it doesn’t claim to add any other ingredients, this will be the same product.
The rationale behind making the women’s formula a bit weaker to begin with is that there is a risk of the higher strength dripping down and coming in contact with the rest of the face and causing unwanted hair growth.
Thus, the reason for the new 5% women’s formula being a foam, to help keep it where it is applied.
If you are a woman using a 5% formulation, we advise you to take extra care to keep it from coming into contact with the rest of your face, or washing your face after the application.
If what you were looking for is the stronger 5% Minoxidil strength, you can use the product for males no problem, as long as there are not other ingredients included which should only be used in men, like Finasteride.
Just make sure to reduce the contact with your face, otherwise, you may have lustrous hair growth where you don’t want lustrous hair growth.
The exact mechanism for the way Minoxidil helps men and women with hair growth is unknown.
But, it is thought that the effects are due to increasing blood flow to the follicles, which then leads to increased size and growth rate of the follicle.
And we know that in animal models, Minoxidil shortens the Telogen phase (where the hair “rests” and prepares to shed), and increases the Anagen phase (where the hair is actively growing).
What we end up seeing is more hair regrowth with Minoxidil treatment than without treatment.
Depending on if you are using the 5% strength or the 2% strength, you will apply once or twice daily.
Make sure your hair is clean and dry before application, as water on the scalp may limit the absorption.
Massage the product into the scalp and then wash your hands after the application.
To prevent unwanted facial hair growth, also wash your face after application.
Allow product to fully dry, and do not wear hats or head coverings over the treatment for best results.
Do not wash your head for at least 4 hours after the application.
Make sure to use the product on a daily basis for the best results.
Even if you are applying Minoxidil every day, you may not start seeing results until at least 2-4 months of consistent treatment, so be patient.
Warning: You may notice more hair falling out in the first few weeks of treatment. But, this is actually just the NEW growing hairs pushing out the OLD shedding hairs, so this is a good thing.
Also, you will normally lose all the hair you regrow if you stop the treatment, so make sure you are in for the long haul.
This goes for males using this medication as well.
The most common side effects of Minoxidil are itching, burning, flaking, dryness, scaling, or irritation at the application site.
In rare situations, patients may experience weight gain, swelling, trouble breathing, increased heart rate, chest pain, and lightheadedness.
Since this is a topical medication, very little gets through to the rest of the body, so the majority of side effects are local and minor.
If you do experience scalp redness and flaking, stopping the medication will likely lead to the irritation clearing up rapidly. If you do want to continue treatment with Minoxidil but don't want to experience scalp irritation again, source an alcohol-free minoxidil formula, as it is likely the alcohol component of the formulation that causes the scalp irritation.
Minoxidil formulas put together by a compounding pharmacy may be able to make a gel, cream, or solution that does not contain alcohol and may avoid the scalp irritation.
You can find Minoxidil over the counter in 2% and 5% strengths.
Or, if you want to really get to the “root” of the problem:
Strut Hair Formula combines Minoxidil with Spironolactone for a potent combination approach to hair recovery for women.
The addition of Spironolactone has been found to help stop hair loss progression.
Minoxidil is one of those ingredients that is able to be used in both men and women for hair loss treatment.
The mechanism of regrowing hair for the ingredient is not entirely known, but it is thought to do with increasing the blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles. By increasing the amount of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to these follicles, it may increase healthy hair growth for both men and women.
Minoxidil is the active ingredient in the popular over-the-counter medication, Rogaine. And, while the products offered may specify that it is a men's or women's product, the only difference is probably the strength of Minoxidil used in the formula, or mixing it up into a foam to help prevent the product from dripping down the face and causing unwanted hair growth.
So, even though Rogaine is often considered more of a medication for men's hair loss, women who use the product may also see hair loss benefits with using this ingredient as there is no reason that it may work better in one gender over the other.
Even if you are walking around the drug store and stumble upon a Minoxidil product featuring a man on the packaging, as long as Minoxidil is the only ingredient, it is safe to use in women as well.
This does differ from other hair loss treatment options, however. The popular hair loss medication, Finasteride, should only be used and handled by men as it has been found to cause damage to a growing male fetus in pregnant women.
If you are curious about what hair loss treatment options are the best choice for you, talk to your doctor in-person, or have a free online questionnaire and photo-based consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today.