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Finasteride vs. Minoxidil: 8 Things That Make Them Different

Read on for 8 things that make these two hair loss medications different to help you and your doctor decide if you should try Finasteride, Minoxidil, or both.

Read on

Finasteride and Minoxidil are the only 2 FDA-approved medications on the market for male pattern hair loss, and they have both shown benefits in reducing additional hair losses as well as hair regrowth.

So, if they are both so great, how do you choose between them? Or can you use both of them together?

Read on for eight things that make these two hair loss medications different to help you and your doctor decide if you should try Finasteride, Minoxidil, or both.


1. Prescription-only 

One of the most obvious differences between these medications is how you can get them. With Minoxidil, you can find up to 5% Minoxidil as a single ingredient over the counter in formulas like Rogaine. Or, you will sometimes see either higher percentages of Minoxidil or mixtures with other ingredients in formulations from a compounding pharmacy, in which case a prescription would be needed. T

his differs from Finasteride, which is always a prescription-only medication in the U.S. and would need a prescription from a doctor to obtain.


2. Brand name products they are in

As we mentioned before, you can find the ingredient Minoxidil in the brand name product Rogaine in 2% or 5% strengths. Finasteride is the active ingredient in the prescription medications Propecia and Proscar.

Propecia is the brand name medication with Finasteride at a strength to treat hair loss (1mg) and only has the indication for male pattern hair loss. Proscar is the brand medication containing Finasteride that is FDA approved to treat prostate enlargement (BPH), and only comes in the 5mg strength.


3. What hair benefits they have

Minoxidil touts its main benefit to be the regrowth of hair after male pattern hair losses. Finasteride's main effect is to help stop the additional losses of hairs that are currently in place, and also sometimes causes increases in regrowth.

So, you will need to take into consideration if you are aiming for more regrowth, or more maintenance measures for your current hair when choosing between the two medications.


4. Mechanism of action

These two medications function in very different ways even though they are both approved for the same male pattern hair loss indication. Minoxidil is a vasodilator, so that means that it opens up the vessels under the skin in the scalp to increase blood flow to the area. And, since this increased blood flow will likely bring more oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles, this is thought to be the mechanism behind how Minoxidil increases hair growth. 

One thing to keep in mind with Minoxidil is that when these hairs start regrowing, it will sometimes start by pushing out tiny hairs that are in the resting phase to then grow new hairs which are in the growth phase, leading to potential increase loss of tiny hairs just in the beginning of treatment to make way for a thicker head of hair. 

Finasteride has a completely different mechanism that focuses on the hormonal aspect of male pattern hair loss. Finasteride blocks the conversion of testosterone into another hormone called DHT.DHT is a normal hormone that plays a role in certain manly attributes in normal amounts, but in high amounts it causes damage to the hair follicles, eventually leading to them shrinking and stopping the growth of hair. By Finasteride blocking this overproduction of DHT in the scalp, it helps keep the hairs you have in place as well as giving your locks a fighting chance to regrow. 

For both medications, the treatment needs to continue for hair improvements to continue. The hairs which were maintained with treatment will be shed if treatment is discontinued.

5. Who can use them

Minoxidil is a medication that can be used in both men and women. Finasteride is only for use in men due to the hormonal aspect of its mechanism. Women and children should not use Finasteride, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not even handle the tablets as it may cause hormonal imbalances and deformities in the developing male infant.


6. How you can take them

Minoxidil is a topical medication when used for hair loss, so it can be applied to the scalp as a liquid, foam, cream, or gel. You normally apply Minoxidil once or twice daily, depending on your product.

Finasteride is mainly found as an oral medication that you take by mouth in tablet form once daily. But, you may sometimes come across formulations made by compounding pharmacies that also mix Finasteride into a prescription topical medication that is applied to the scalp once or twice daily.


7. What else they treat

Interestingly, both of these medications started their medical lives by treating conditions other than hair loss, and stumbled upon their hair loss medication powers when people were using them for other reasons. Minoxidil started out as a blood pressure treatment, and Finasteride was originally used as a treatment for an enlarged prostate. 

Minoxidil was originally used as an oral medication taken by mouth when it was treating high blood pressure, but it is not used very often for this indication any longer. Finasteride for an enlarged prostate is still used quite often. It can be found for BPH in a tablet form under the name Proscar.


8. Potential side effects

Although these medications tend to be well tolerated by most users, as with most medications, they do have their risks of side effects. Minoxidil is applied to the scalp and does not get into the rest of the body in very high amounts, so its most common side effects include burning, itching, or redness at the application site. 

Finasteride, in rare cases, may have the side effects of erectile dysfunction, ejaculation disorder, and decreased libido since it is dealing with hormone regulation.


Can you take Finasteride and Minoxidil together?

One of the most important take-aways that you can get from this article is that these medications are pretty different from each other, and work in totally different ways to achieve the same effect. 

This means that it is not uncommon for doctors to prescribe or recommend that a man uses both medications together to really increase both reducing hair losses while maximizing new hair growth. These medications do not interact with one another, and the mechanisms may actually complement each other. 

In animal models, studies show that using both medications together increased more hair regrowth than either medication alone. However, always speak with all of your doctors before starting a new medication, even if it is over-the-counter, as they may interact with other medications you are already on or other conditions that you have.


Strut Finasteride Tablets and Strut Minoxidil Topical Formulas

Here at strut, we know the importance of making sure that you are happy with your hair, and that hair loss can take a toll on your self-esteem and confidence. Having that “hair loss talk” with a doctor in person may feel intimidating or embarrassing for some, so we have implemented a free online hair loss consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors to help you get the hair help you want. 

We carry FDA-approved Finasteride tablets, as well as custom-formulated topical hair loss prescriptions containing Minoxidil for both men and women. 

Start the conversation with our doctors today to see if you are a good candidate for Finasteride, Minoxidil, or both. If approved, your prescription medication can be shipped discreetly and quickly to your front door with our free shipping.

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