Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, is a popular over-the-counter hair loss treatment.
You can often find Rogaine as well as its generic version, Minoxidil, at grocery stores, drug stores, or online. And, Minoxidil is one of the only 2 medications which is FDA approved for male pattern hair loss.
Minoxidil is approved for use in both men and women, and part of the way that it is thought to work is to increase blood flow to the scalp while stimulating the hair follicles.
All in all, Minoxidil is not a bad place to start when you are noticing some thinning or excess hair loss.
But, when you are looking into using Minoxidil, which strength should you choose, and which strengths are even available? Below, we will cover the strengths of Minoxidil available over-the-counter (without a prescription), where you may be able to find higher Minoxidil strengths, and why some Minoxidil products require a prescription.
The only two Minoxidil strengths that you will find over the counter in the U.S. are 2% and 5% (no matter how many stores you go to). These are the two strengths available over-the-counter, and you will not even find any “in-between” strengths.
2% and 5% are the only FDA-approved strengths for Minoxidil topical formulations as well.
In general, you will find products marketed towards men in 2% and 5% solutions, and the products over-the-counter for women are normally 2% solutions and a 5% foam. The reason why the 5% foam is marketed towards women, is so that the stronger formulation will drip down the face less and cause less unwanted facial hair growth, but the active ingredient, Minoxidil, is the same.
So, if you want to stick to over-the-counter Minoxidil products, do you want to go with 2% or 5% Minoxidil?
One study looked into the difference between 2% and 5% Minoxidil in men for androgenetic alopecia (male pattern hair loss). The researchers randomized men into groups to apply either 2% Minoxidil, 5% Minoxidil, or a placebo solution to the scalp twice daily for 48 weeks. At the end of the study, the 5% Minoxidil group was significantly superior to the 2% and placebo groups in terms of hair improvements from baseline. However, the 5% Minoxidil group did report more scalp itching and local irritation than the 2% Minoxidil group.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you. But, if this study is correct, you may have better results with the 5% Minoxidil, although you may experience more local irritation than the weaker formulas.
There are some prescription formulations, normally from compounding pharmacies, which use higher strengths of Minoxidil in hair loss formulas.
If you are looking for high Minoxidil strengths, working with a doctor and a compounding pharmacy is your best bet. The only strengths you will be able to find over the counter are 2% or 5% Minoxidil.
Even if the active ingredient itself is available over-the-counter in other formulations, like Rogaine, every formulation made up at a compounding pharmacy will need a prescription in order to obtain it.
So, if your doctor prescribes a stronger Minoxidil formula for you from a compounding pharmacy, this will always be prescription only.
Minoxidil-containing hair loss formulations from compounding pharmacies may range from 6% Minoxidil, all the way up to 15% or 20% Minoxidil. Or, they may even contain the usual 2% or 5% Minoxidil, just combined with other active ingredients, leaving out potential irritants like alcohol, or made into different dosage forms that are not available over-the-counter.
However, most studies have been done only on the strengths usually found over the counter, like 2% and 5% Minoxidil.
And, while the studies do show improvements with 5% over 2%, because of the lack of studies on higher strengths, we do not know if the improvements continue as you get up to 15% or 20%. In general, higher strengths of medications may come with higher risks of side effects.
Currently, the only FDA-approved topical minoxidil strengths are 5% and 2%, so anything outside of these two strengths is considered an off-label use of Minoxidil.
Here at Strut Health, our telemedicine doctors work with you to help choose a Minoxidil strength that may work best for your personal hair goals and the current state of your hair.
Our topical hair loss medications often combine Finasteride or Dutasteride with Minoxidil and Tretinoin for a combination approach to hair loss. Since our formulations are customizable by your doctor and are made up at a compounding pharmacy, you may see Minoxidil strengths ranging from 2% to 7.5% in our hair loss formulations.
If you are interested in seeing if a higher Minoxidil strength than what is available over-the-counter is a good option for you, you can have a free online consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today.
If you are a good candidate for topical hair loss treatment, your prescription formulation can be shipped to your front door with our free shipping.
If you have any questions during your treatment our staff and doctors are available for free unlimited follow-ups.