When Does Minoxidil Start to Work?


As you brush your teeth in the morning, you can’t help but notice the increasing number of stray hairs that are lining the bottom of the sink. You realize that this is more than just natural hair loss your hair is starting to thin.

Rather than lose sleep over losing hair, you decide to take matters into your own hands and go out and buy some minoxidil to fight it.

When does minoxidil start to work? Minoxidil starts to work immediately, with experts believing that the compound puts your hair into an expedited regenerative state. However, despite this accelerated process, it usually takes between three and six months to see the results, with up to one year required in some cases.

As with most things worth having in life, it takes time to see the results you’re looking for, and hair regrowth is no exception. It is important to remember that although you may not see the results initially, the minoxidil is working for you, and the delayed response is a natural part of the hair growth cycle.

What is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is a systemic medication used for the treatment of male-pattern baldness. It is the active ingredient in many over-the-counter topical products that treat hair loss, such as Rogaine.

When applied topically, some 40% of minoxidil users have reported hair regrowth within three to six months. It is generally considered an effective treatment for androgenic alopecia, which is the balding of the crown or the receding of the hairline in men and the thinning of the hair in women. Its effect on the less common spot balding is unclear.

While minoxidil is effective in the regrowth of hair particles, it must be continued to be used indefinitely for the continued support of existing hair follicles. Failure to regularly apply minoxidil once use has begun will result in the user returning to his or her previous state of thinner hair.

How to Properly Apply Minoxidil

While the concept of rubbing minoxidil into areas of thinning hair seems self-explanatory, the user must be consistent in his or her approach to get the best results with the product. The following steps can be helpful in ensuring that you maximize your odds of getting a successful result with minoxidil:

  1. Identify areas of thinning hair
    for receding hairlines, this is easily accomplished by looking in the mirror. If you are balding at the crown, it can be helpful to put your smartphone on video mode and circle the crown of your head several times with the camera
  2. Start with a clean slate
    For best results, it is best to use minoxidil on a clean scalp, so be sure to jump in the shower and shampoo your hair before attempting to use it.

Note: While there are some minoxidil products that can be used as a liquid during showers, most users report best results with the foam that is used on a clean scalp

  1. Shake the canister
    this makes sure that there is a consistent distribution of minoxidil interspersed throughout the foam
  2. Squeeze the foam into your palm
    while the lid on the canister offers a measurement for how much minoxidil should be used, the amount will vary based on the extent of baldness. Make sure that you are liberal in the amount you apply to your area of need
  3. Apply the foam to the affected area
    simply rub the minoxidil foam into the bald patch on your head, distributing it in much the same way you would apply a styling product to hair. The difference is that once you have the foam spread out, you will really want to make sure that you massage your scalp thoroughly so that it is all absorbed
  4. Comb your hair down
    this can further enhance the blood circulating to your scalp that you started by massaging the minoxidil into your bald spot
  5. Spray some minoxidil into your existing hair
    Run several lines of the foam through the hair that you have and thoroughly rub it into your scalp. This helps ensure that your balding does not extend and that your remaining hair stays strong and healthy
  6. Let the minoxidil dry and add product
    after about 30 seconds, the minoxidil in your hair should be dry and/or thoroughly absorbed by your scalp. Consider styling your hair with an additional product that has organic extracts such as lemon peel or castor oil extract, which can additionally nurture and replenish damaged hair

We recommend: Kirkland Minoxidil 5% Extra Strength

How Often Should You Use Minoxidil?

Minoxidil should be used twice a day, most likely once in the morning, as you prepare for your daily routine and once at night after you shower.

Evidence suggests that using minoxidil more than twice a day offers no additional benefit and will only increase the low risk of side effects that come with the product, which may include a burning, itchy scalp.

What if Minoxidil Is Not Working for You?

If you are not seeing the results you were hoping for with your minoxidil treatments, there may be a couple of explanations:

  • Give it more time – studies have shown that results will be noticeable for most users between three to six months after treatment begins. However, this is just an average, as some will notice results before three months, while others will need more than six before noticing a difference. Give it a year before you jump to conclusions about its efficacy
  • It is not being properly applied – minoxidil works by expediting the hair regeneration process in your scalp. Blood flow is an important part of your body’s healing process, so help the minoxidil out by thoroughly massaging your scalp during application and increasing blood flow to the affected area
  • Your hair loss is extreme – minoxidil is most effective in cases of mild hair loss. If you are almost completely bald or have been balding heavily for more than five years, minoxidil will be less effective at treating your hair loss than it will be for those in the early stages of hair loss who have yet to experience heavy shedding of strands
  • You’re balding at the hairline – while minoxidil is effective for all forms of male-pattern-baldness, best results are typically seen when the balding occurs on the crown of the head. The results may be a little harder earned at the temples
  • It’s not for you – while some 40% of men experience hair regrowth after three to six months, and most men notice some difference, there are a handful that minoxidil does not do the trick for. If you are one of these people, you will want to consult with a hair loss professional on additional options to restore your hair

Minoxidil typically comes in a 2% concentration for women and a 5% concentration for men. While applying minoxidil more often throughout the day offers no benefit for hair regrowth, there is some evidence that a higher concentration may be effective for improved results. Consult with a hair loss professional to get his or her take on the matter before attempting.

How Does Minoxidil Work?

The exact process for why minoxidil works is not completely understood by doctors, but it is thought to expedite the regeneration of hair follicles.

Minoxidil is a potassium channel opener, which causes hyperpolarization of cell membranes. The thought is that in doing this, minoxidil widens blood vessels and opens potassium channels, which clears the path for blood to carry more oxygen and minerals to the affected area of the scalp. This causes old hair follicles to shed to be replaced by thicker, healthier follicles.

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