It’s safe to say that the Rogaine craze is a thing of the past, as patients are now discovering that minoxidil is not the best hair loss option available.
Instead, therapies like finasteride and microchanneling are more effective, according to studies and anecdotal evidence from our patients. We urge clients to explore a full range of hair loss options and work closely with doctors to get the desired results rather than just reaching for the nearest over-the-counter fix.
However, for those who want to use minoxidil, you might as well use it correctly. Proper minoxidil usage is fairly straightforward, so here’s what you need to know. In the meantime, be on the lookout for treatments that industry leaders recommend and provide.
The more you know about the inner workings of medication or technology, the more likely you will adhere to best practices and stick with the program long-term. Here’s a brief overview of minoxidil to get you on the right track.
Minoxidil is a topically administered vasodilator, meaning it works to activate and open blood vessels for increased delivery of nutrients and oxygen. More specifically, the drug is a potassium channel opener, similar to how nitric oxide helps patients with blood pressure issues.
In other words, minoxidil doesn’t directly grow hair with its active ingredients but instead creates the conditions in the scalp which allow your hair to grow back as it should.
Keep in mind, however, that this is a best-case scenario with no guarantees. Minoxidil may be popular, but it lacks the efficacy of oral finasteride, microchanneling, and other therapies recommended by Dr. Jae Pak, MD, and our clinic.
While the creators of minoxidil first tested the drug as an ulcer treatment, its vasodilation properties became apparent to researchers in trials using dogs. The focus switched to blood pressure treatment, leading to the first FDA approval in 1979.
It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that researchers discovered a clear link between minoxidil use and the prevention of hair loss in men. The most conclusive studies show that nearly three-quarters of trial participants experienced significant hair density improvements.
The FDA approved the drug for male pattern baldness in 1988, and the product was made available for women in 1991. Since then, only one other drug — Finasteride — has been approved by the FDA for hair loss in men only.
This puts minoxidil in rare company as one of two FDA-approved hair loss drugs and explains its persistent popularity through the years.
You don’t need to look far to get your hands on minoxidil. The drug was approved for over-the-counter sales more than 20 years ago and can be found in most drug stores and department stores in the United States.
However, getting a minoxidil prescription is the recommended route, as hair loss specialists will give you more precise directions and expectations when starting out.
While industry leaders like Dr. Jae Pak, MD, do not directly recommend minoxidil, we will provide additional support and insights to maximize your results at any stage.
Why doesn’t Dr. Jae Pak recommend minoxidil? Just because a medicine has FDA backing does not guarantee its effectiveness. We believe that minoxidil is not the best medicine for pure efficacy and has issues with ease of administration and consistent use over time.
Consider that minoxidil requires daily use, sometimes twice per day, morning and night. The process is tedious and can lead to rashes or other adverse reactions. Furthermore, the drug becomes time-consuming to administer, and it’s only a matter of time before accidentally missing doses.
Finally, minoxidil doesn’t have the potency to help hair loss after a certain stage, meaning most patients will find little use for the medicine. Our policy at Dr. Jae Pak, MD, is to deliver results rather than sell false hope with drugs like minoxidil.
The good news is that modern medicine offers plenty of alternatives to minoxidil. Microchanneling, a form of collagen induction therapy, is a favorite in the hair restoration field.
This methodology uses custom equipment to create small punctures in the scalp. This stimulates key growth factors and triggers healthy hair development with only a handful of treatments per year.
Oral finasteride is also powerful for those cleared to take it, working to block DHT in the scalp and renew hair on a hormonal level. Before you jump into minoxidil, consider all your choices and see what’s new.
While we don’t recommend Minoxidil, some patients may want to give it a try.
If you’ve decided to add minoxidil to your hair restoration plan and have a consistent source readily available, here are the nine rules of minoxidil application to consider.
Your doctor’s instructions always override public opinion and intuition, which remains true for minoxidil use. Try not to make any assumptions about how you think minoxidil should be used.
Communication with your doctor will clarify any questions about minoxidil use and best practices, whether you opt for liquid, gel, or foam versions of the drug.
No matter the type of minoxidil you use, the substance should never be applied to the scalp and hair unless the surface is 100 percent dry. If this means waiting a few minutes to dry after bathing, so be it.
A dry surface allows active ingredients to do their job without being diluted or blocked from absorption. If you’re in a rush, blow-drying hair can help speed things up, but natural drying techniques are preferred for keeping hair strong and healthy.
Determine your proper dose of minoxidil and commit that number to memory. Depending on your selected form, it may be a “capful” of foam or a “dropper” of liquid. However, too much or too little of the drug will be counterproductive, so always aim for that perfect amount.
Even if you miss a dose, don’t “double down” by applying more the next time. Just continue as normal and try to minimize the frequency of missed doses.
Even application is crucial when using minoxidil, especially if you see advanced Norwood pattern balding. There are two main ways to go about this.
Firstly, you can use the dropper or foam cap to “dot” the substance evenly across the scalp to ensure even distribution. The second option is to apply the substance in the primary target area, then use your fingers or a small brush to spread it further in every direction.
Most importantly, avoid concentrating too much of the material in one place — this won’t result in better or quicker results.
Once the substance is positioned properly on the scalp, it’s time to apply pressure with the fingers to ensure each droplet is fully absorbed into the scalp and hair.
It’s a fine line between effective massaging and going over the top with force. You don’t want to dislodge hairs or cause further irritation. A better approach is to spend more time massaging with a lighter touch since the substance will sink in easier over a few minutes.
Once the minoxidil has been applied and absorbed, avoid coming into contact with moisture or other surface friction for at least the next four hours. That means no showering or sweating and avoiding accessories like hats if possible.
That four-hour gap may not always be attainable, but try your best to schedule applications for maximum absorption for each dose.
Since minoxidil is so potent, you don’t want any substance to linger on your hands, clothes, or other nearby surfaces. Give your hands a deep clean with soap and water, and scrub down the sink or countertop should any material spill or leave residue from the bottle.
Once a day or twice a day, minoxidil is most effective when applied consistently. Ideally, you will administer once upon waking, then once in the evening after showering.
Try to avoid applying minoxidil right before bed, as tossing and turning may allow some material to spread onto your pillows and sheets.
Like any hair restoration strategy, take stock of your progress every few weeks and connect with your doctor after the two-month mark of consistent usage.
This will help you determine if minoxidil is worth the continued effort and if other meds or therapies might support your goals. Better yet, snap photos from several angles once per week during your initial usage period to see trends developing in real-time.
It seems easy at first, but minoxidil mistakes happen. Here are the most common ones to avoid.
Minoxidil has an effective dosage for a reason, so don’t be misled by thinking that a bigger dose means better results. Stick to the proper amount each time and give your body time to respond.
Concentrating too much minoxidil in one area may cause the opposite of the intended result. Follow the protocol of even distribution and maximize absorption across the entire scalp, even in areas that seem fine for now.
Don’t expect transformative results from using minoxidil only now and then. Daily or twice-daily use is required for the medicine to work and compound over time. If you miss a dose or a day, get back on track without hesitation.
Minoxidil is not designed to deliver overnight results. Even if you follow the rules, you may need to wait up to eight weeks to see things move in the right direction. You might see further hair loss early on as your system adjusts.
The key here is to fight the urge to abandon minoxidil and stick with the game plan for those first two months at least. Remember that discontinuing the drug will cause your natural hair loss to persist, so enduring some growing pains is worth the wait.
From men with hair transplants to women navigating menopause, minoxidil is a common suggestion. Unfortunately, it simply doesn’t hold up in terms of results, especially long term.
On the other hand, alternatives like microchanneling and oral finasteride are better options for those who can successfully incorporate them. Connect with Dr. Jae Pak, MD, to formulate a plan that goes beyond minoxidil and addresses your hair loss in totality.
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