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The Ultimate Minoxidil Guide: What Is Minoxidil?

UPGUYS > Blog > Hair > The Ultimate Minoxidil Guide: What Is Minoxidil?
The person who wrote this article

Written by the UPGUYS Editorial Team
Published on May 31, 2022
Last Updated on January 14, 2024

Recent surveys in Canada show around 26% of individuals have stopped taking their medication or are not using it properly. The reasoning?

Patients report side effects, affordability, or noticing improvements as some of the top reasons. However, not taking medication as prescribed can have dangerous health consequences. Luckily, minoxidil is an easy-to-use medication that comes in a topical solution

You can seamlessly incorporate it into your morning and evening routine without a hitch. Have you wondered about minoxidil and what it is used for? At UPGUYS, we have you covered. 

In our complete guide, we go over minoxidil, how it works, the cost, and how you can find affordable prices today. Keep reading for more information!

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Table of contents:

What Is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is the generic version and active ingredient in Rogaine. What is minoxidil used to treat?

In the 1970s, it was researched as a peripheral vasodilator agent for hypertension. However, it resulted in severe side effects and was reserved for specific cases. 

In the 1980s, researchers started discovering minoxidil for hair loss benefits. Minoxidil is still available in tablet form, but topical treatments are more popular and widely used.

Read more: Minoxidil before and after

How Does Minoxidil Work?

What is the drug minoxidil used for? Minoxidil is a vasodilator or antihypertensive medication that improves blood flow to your scalp and hair follicles. It works by relaxing blood vessels and improving dilation, bringing oxygen and nutrients to cells. 

There are three primary hair growth stages:

  1. Anagen
  2. Catagen
  3. Telogen

Hair grows the most during the anagen phase, lasting upwards of six years. During the catagen phase, hair growth begins slowing. This phase only lasts between two and three weeks.

Lastly, the telogen phase is also known as the "resting phase." After a few months, hair stops growing and falls out. This phase is critical regarding hair loss since stress and other components can shift more hairs from the catagen to the telogen phase.

While minoxidil's mechanism of action with hair follicles is a bit vague, experts believe it reacts to hair follicles in the telogen stage. It may seem counterintuitive, but minoxidil shortens the telogen phase of hair growth. Instead, more hairs enter the anagen or "growth" phase. 

With shorter telogen phases and longer anagen phases, hair has an opportunity to grow and mature more fully before falling out. 

Read more: How To Use Minoxidil

What Is Minoxidil Taken For?

What is minoxidil used for? Most patients utilize minoxidil when they have problems with constricted blood vessels.

Topical treatments are commonly used on the scalp to help stimulate improved blood flow to your hair follicles. Poor scalp circulation is caused by:

  1. Age
  2. Genetics
  3. Hormones
  4. Shrinking hair follicles
  5. Stress

While it may seem strange to take medications that improve blood flow to the scalp, it is a common technique used in other products, such as low-level laser therapy. Although, instead of paying for expensive procedures not covered by insurance, topical solutions are administered in your home for low monthly costs. 

Other treatments that stimulate blood flow can also cause unwanted side effects and may not be available near you.

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Is Minoxidil Effective?

Have you wondered "how minoxidil works for hair loss?" Hair grows at 0.35 mm/day, while your body sheds nearly 100 strands of hair around the clock. 

Blood vessels that contribute to hair growth start in the dermal layers of your skin. These deeper blood vessels provide nourishment and help with waste elimination. Adequate blood supply is critical for full maturity and hair follicle maintenance.

Medications like minoxidil that help with scalp blood supply play a crucial role in the entire process. Patients who do not have sufficient blood flow to these regions could benefit from minoxidil or Rogaine. 

What Minoxidil Dosage Works Best?

Minoxidil comes in a topical solution or foam format, with 2% and 5% solutions the most common. As you can imagine, 5% solutions could offer better (and faster) results. But stronger medication isn't always necessary. 

If you don't start seeing results with a lower dosage after four months, talk to your doctor about increasing. Typically, you will administer minoxidil onto the affected area twice daily. Usually, instructions indicate using only one millimetre, but follow up with your physician before starting. 

Minoxidil Hair Loss Costs

On average, minoxidil will cost less than Rogaine. Generic medications are cheaper because it costs less to manufacture, and there is greater market competition. Rogaine costs upward of $40 or more per month. 

You could end up spending hundreds of dollars per year on this medication. Typically, insurance will not cover these treatments. Generic Rogaine is fairly similar in price, and it often depends on your prescription strength or dosage. 

How To Store Minoxidil

Like most medications, you should avoid exposing minoxidil to extreme temperatures. You should store minoxidil in a room temperature drawer or cabinet. Avoid storing it directly in your bathroom since it accumulates moisture. 

Alternative to Minoxidil for Hair Loss

You might also be interested to know more about other minoxidil alternatives for hair loss. 

Finasteride is the next most popular medication, but it falls under a different medication classification than minoxidil. 

Finasteride is the active ingredient and generic version of Proscar and Propecia. Finasteride also has different uses, including managing symptoms in people who have difficulty urinating. It falls under the drug classification: 5-alpha reductase inhibitors.

It acts on the gonads and adrenal glands that produce androgens. From this point and several processes, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) are formed. However, there is one distinguishing point here. 

Read more: Minoxidil Warnings & Precautions

DHT is formed through several instances and enzymes, including 5-alpha reductase. Compared to testosterone, it can limit prostate and hair growth. At its core, 5-alpha reductase inhibitors block this enzyme and reduce DHT levels. 

It comes in an oral tablet form. Since it is a different class of drugs than minoxidil, you can ask your doctor about it if you do not see the results you would like.

However, there are some side effects to be aware of when taking finasteride. One of the most common ones is orthostatic hypotension or a drop in blood pressure. 

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Order Oral And Topical Minoxidil Online
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Minoxidil for Men's Hair Loss FAQs

Minoxidil is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it may not work for everyone. Rather than searching the internet for your most pressing questions, we have you covered. Here are four common FAQs regarding minoxidil. 

Finding the Best Results Through Minoxidil

Have you wondered, "does minoxidil work?" Hopefully, you have a better understanding of minoxidil, how it works, and whether it is something you may benefit from. 

Luckily, at UPGUYS, we have streamlined the process of consulting with a physician and prescription ordering. Are you ready to get started? 

1- Is Minoxidil Good for Hair Loss?

Studies found that patient satisfaction after using minoxidil or Rogaine was around 92 percent. These results were after one year of using the medication, so it is important to remain vigilant in your prescription refills! Most patients started seeing results within four to six months.

2- Will You Lose More Hair Initially?

In one word: yes. But don't worry - this is entirely normal! Since minoxidil shortens the last phase of hair growth, it is expected that you will lose more hairs initially.

After a few weeks to a few months, hair shedding subsides, and new hair follicles have room to mature and grow. Minoxidil is not a short-term solution, and you must remain consistent in your topical administrations before you start seeing results.

3- Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Minoxidil?

There are no current drug interactions between minoxidil and alcohol. However, alcohol can have a dehydrating effect, limiting hair growth and maintenance. If you start noticing scalp irritation or dryness, ask your doctor about drinking alcohol in moderation and its risks.

Alcohol with topical minoxidil may have fewer noticeable side effects or reactions than combining oral minoxidil and alcohol, such as a drop in blood pressure. Reactions may vary between patients, and it is important to note any adverse complaints or allergic reactions immediately.

This article is written for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information provided in the articles cannot and should not replace advice from a healthcare professional. Talk to your healthcare provider about any physical or mental health concerns or the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.