How does minoxidil treat hair loss?

Man inspecting hair
Is your hair starting to thin? Or maybe you’re in a long, losing battle with your male or female pattern baldness. Wherever you are on your hair loss journey, now is the time to take back control.
There are many different treatments for hair loss on the market, so it can be tricky to choose one that’s right for you. There’s expensive options like a hair transplant, or budget-friendly, topical choices like the very subject of this guide - minoxidil.
If you’re looking to get swatted-up on minoxidil, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to get to know this hair loss saviour and discover what it can do to transform your hair. 

What causes hair loss?

It’s normal to lose hair. In fact, you can lose between 50-100 hairs per day without even noticing (well, whoever is cleaning out the shower drain might!) Hair loss isn’t just a problem for men, either - it affects women, too, and it can knock your confidence.
Hair loss is a common problem with multiple causes. There’s temporary hair loss which can be brought on by an illness, stress, cancer treatment, weight loss or iron deficiency. 
Then there’s hair loss that’s permanent, like pattern baldness. This type of hair loss is usually genetic, meaning it runs in your family.
In fact, around 6.5 million men in the UK will develop male pattern baldness, with it affecting around 50% of men over the age of 50.
Don’t worry! There are many ways to treat your hair loss, and today we’re introducing you to the wonderful and highly effective ingredient, minoxidil.


What is minoxidil and how does it treat hair loss?

Minoxidil belongs to a group of medicines known as ‘vasodilators’, meaning it works by expanding the blood vessels and improving the blood flow to the area affected by hair loss. 
Additionally, it’s thought to reverse the shrinkage of hair follicles and extend each follicle’s growth phase, resulting in thicker, healthier hair. 
Minoxidil is the active ingredient in numerous hair loss treatments such as Regaine and Sons. There are plenty of minoxidil products suitable for men and women - always read the patient information leaflet to see if it's suitable for you.
Please be aware that it’s typically recommended for women to use 2% minoxidil, while for men it’s 5%. If you’re unsure, speak to your doctor for advice.
Woman pulling hair out of hairbrush

How to use minoxidil

Applying minoxidil is easy, but it’s a little bit different than how you would apply your regular shampoo. Minoxidil can come as a topical solution or a foam, but we’ll provide the instructions for both below.
After you’ve used minoxidil, you need to allow 4 hours for it to dry. During this time, avoid wearing a hat, using a hair dryer or washing your hair. For best results, apply minoxidil consistently, twice a day.
Before you get started, you need to prepare yourself and your area - we’d recommend you apply the treatment in the bathroom. Minoxidil can stain, so it’s important to remove any fabrics such as towels or clothes away from the area.

Topical solution

Ensure that your hair is completely dry. If you’ve just washed your hair, wait for it to dry before you apply minoxidil.
Fill the dropper with the minoxidil solution and apply it to the affected area. This might feel unnatural at first, but you’ll get used to it. It may be helpful to part your hair in several places in order for the minoxidil to easily come into contact with your scalp.
After you’ve applied the solution, place the cap back onto the bottle and put it aside. Then, using your fingers, massage the minoxidil into your scalp. Once done, wash your hands thoroughly to ensure you don’t transfer the product onto surfaces. 

Foaming solution

Start with dry hair and part it into several sections in order for the foam to easily reach your scalp. Hold the can upside down and dispense about half a capful of the foam into your hands. Then, massage the foam into the affected area, being cautious to avoid getting the product onto your clothes or surfaces. Wash hands thoroughly after use. 
You should only use these instructions as a guide; always read the instructions provided with your minoxidil treatment carefully.


How long does it take for minoxidil to work?

We’re all different, so it’s no surprise that we all take to different products, well, differently!
Generally, it can take up to 8 weeks before you start to see any changes in your hair growth, but it’s the 4 month mark where you’ll start to see a real difference. After this time, it’s likely that you’ll be able to close the door on your hair loss and open the door to significant, visible new hair growth.

Can minoxidil be used on other parts of the body?

Minoxidil works wonders for hair growth, so with that logic, it should work on other parts of your body too, like your eyebrows and beard, right?
Wrong, unfortunately! Minoxidil products like Regaine and Sons are only intended to be used on the scalp. If you’re struggling with hair growth on other parts of your body, speak to your doctor or Chemist4U pharmacist for advice.

Do you need to use minoxidil forever to prevent hair loss?

If you’re suffering from male or female pattern baldness, you would need to use minoxidil forever to upkeep the growth of new hair. As this type of hair loss is caused by genetics, it’s incurable, so once you stop the minoxidil treatment, your hair loss will return.
Thankfully, minoxidil is an easy and inexpensive treatment that’s more permanent than a hair piece, and better for your pockets than a hair transplant.
If you’re unsure about the type of hair loss you’re dealing with or you’re unsure how long to use your minoxidil treatment, always speak to your doctor or Chemist4U pharmacist for advice.
Man inspecting hair in the mirror
Minoxidil is a budget-friendly, easy-to-use treatment that’s suitable to treat hair loss in both men and women. But it’s not an instant cure. You’ll have to be patient and persevere to get the hair of your dreams - but slow and steady wins the race.
What are you waiting for? Give your hair a well-needed boost and shop our range of minoxidil treatments today, from top, trusted brands like Regaine and Sons.
If you need any more information about hair loss or minoxidil, visit the NHS website.


Alexandra Moses - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 15 March 2023
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