Minoxidil is touted as one of the best solutions to hair loss available. We will look at the claims made regarding Minoxidil, including clinical studies, side effects and application process in this evaluation.

Minoxidil has been used to treat hair loss and baldness since the 1980s. It is available as a topical solution or as a foam that is applied to the scalp and left on for a period of four hours before being rinsed off.

It is generally used in a 5% concentration for men and a 2% concentration for women. It isn’t clear exactly how Minoxidil works, but it is believed that it is related to its chemical structure, which contains the chemical structure of nitric oxide and may be that of a nitric oxide agonist. That means it bonds to nitric oxide, which is a known vasodilator- or a chemical that relaxes the smooth muscle in blood vessels, causing them to dilate.

By bonding to nitric acid, minoxidil would actually increase the ability of nitric oxide to dilate blood vessels. When the blood vessels are dilated, they are able to nourish the hair follicles on the scalp, thereby sustaining hair growth and inhibiting hair loss.

Clinical Studies

Clinical studies regarding minoxidil as an effective medication against hair loss and promoting hair growth have been positive. The following abstract recounts a study sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, done in 2005 and verified in March 2008.

A Study to Evaluate the Effectiveness and Safety of 5 Percent Minoxidil Foam in the Treatment of Male Pattern Hair Loss

Information provided by Johnson & Johnson Consumer; Personal Products Worldwide.


A Study to Evaluate the Effectiveness and Safety of 5 Percent Minoxidil Foam in the Treatment of Male Pattern Hair Loss

Brief Summary

The primary purpose of the study is to evaluate the efficacy of a topical 5% minoxidil formulation in males for the treatment of pattern hair loss. The secondary purpose is to evaluate the safety of a topical 5% minoxidil formulation in males when used twice daily for the treatment of pattern hair loss and to obtain the safety data on the investigational product when used twice daily for up to one year.

Detailed Description

Male subjects with androgenetic alopecia were enrolled in this fourteen-center trial. Subjects were randomized to use either 5% minoxidil or placebo foam twice daily for 16 weeks. A total of 143 subjects continued use of the 5% minoxidil foam for 8 to 12 months in an open-label phase to obtain safety data on 5% minoxidil topical foam when used twice daily for up to one year.

The 5% minoxidil foam was shown to be effective in the treatment of male androgenetic alopecia in a 16 week trial. It was statistically significantly superior to placebo foam in the primary efficacy measure of mean change in the non-vellus hair count in the target region between Baseline and Week 16, and the subject rating assessed an overall improvement from Baseline.

The efficacy of 5% minoxidil compared to placebo was confirmed by the secondary efficacy endpoints of scores from the expert panel review of hair regrowth when comparing photographs obtained at Baseline with photographs obtained at Week 16, as well as the percent change from Baseline in non-vellus hair counts within a pre-specified area of clipped hair.

The 5% minoxidil foam formulation was well tolerated, the incidence of adverse events was similar between groups, and no safety concerns were raised based on clinical laboratory test results, vital signs or scalp irritation scores.”

We are in complete agreement with this study that minoxidil is an effective medication for the treatment of hair loss and to stimulate the growth of new hair.

There are also the findings from research conducted by D A Fenton and J D Wilkinson in their study titled ” Topical minoxidil in the treatment of alopecia areata” on October 8, 1983 and represented in the abstract below:

“Topical minoxidil in the treatment of alopecia areata.”
D A Fenton and J D Wilkinson


A modified double blind crossover study was performed to assess the effect of 1% topical minoxidil as compared with placebo in 30 patients with alopecia areata and alopecia totalis. The active preparation produced a highly significant incidence of hair regrowth. A cosmetically acceptable response was noted in 16 patients. No side effects were seen.

The study confirmed that topical minoxidil will induce new hair growth in alopecia areata but that it is less likely to do so in more severe and extensive disease. Furthermore, patients with alopecia universalis and totalis may not respond at all. Nevertheless, as compared with other drugs minoxidil applied topically is relatively non-toxic, is easy to use, and has no systemic or local side effects.

”Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1983 October 8; 287(6398): 1015–1017.
PMCID: PMC1549582

We find this study to be indicative of the success of Minoxidil in women’s formulas, which are typically a 2% concentrate and this study showed success at a 1% concentrate.

Side Effects of Minoxidil

When used as directed, side effects of minoxidil are usually short lived and may include a burning, stinging or redness when minoxidil is first applied to the skin. These side effects should disappear within a few days. If minoxidil is used in excess amounts, side effects can include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, chest pain, change in hear rate or in blood pressure, fatigue or swelling of hands or feet. If these side effects are seen, you should contact your doctor.


Your scalp must be clean and dry before applying the medication, which comes in either a topical solution or in foam. Apply to the scalp twice daily, and let dry for at least four hours. The medication can be transferred if not try, so it is imperative to wait the four hours for the best results.

Minoxidil is shown to be effective after four to six months of regular use. You may notice an increase in the shedding of hair upon initial weeks of use. This is a normal part of the hair cycle and hair will regrow in a stronger, thicker state. Minoxidil provides ongoing results as long as the product is used consistently.


Based on the clinical information as well as empirical evidence, we wholeheartedly endorse Minoxidil for its use in preventing hair loss and encouraging new hair growth. Minoxidil is approved by the FDA for this use.



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