Dealing with hair loss or thinning?

Chat with our Care Team

Start now

Minoxidil 10% and 15%: Is High Strength More Effective?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Nicholas Gibson

Published 04/03/2021

Updated 01/07/2024

More is always better, right? Well, that might not be the case when it comes to minoxidil. 

You can use minoxidil for a receding hairline or hair loss on your crown, and you may familiar with it under the name Rogaine®, the brand name it’s sold under.

Minoxidil comes in a few different strengths. While we don’t have much research on 10% and 15% minoxidil, the stronger stuff doesn’t appear to be better. In fact, the 5% solution may be the most effective of all.

Below, we’ll dive into whether 10% and 15% minoxidil are effective and what the risks of using them are.

Yes, minoxidil 10% and minoxidil 15% are available — but not over the counter.

Minoxidil comes in several strengths. Do a bit of clicking around online and you’ll find a range of products like minoxidil 1%, minoxidil 2%, minoxidil 5%, minoxidil 7% and even minoxidil 15%. 

These numbers refer to the percentage of the active ingredient — how much minoxidil is in the medication. But stronger doesn’t necessarily mean better.

Topical minoxidil is available over the counter in both liquid and foam formulations. You’ll most likely see these products as 2% and 5% minoxidil. These are the only minoxidil dosages approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). 

At 2% and 5%, minoxidil is FDA-approved to treat androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss). 

It’s also used off-label to treat other types of hair loss, including: 

  • Alopecia areata 

  • Chemotherapy-induced alopecia 

  • Hair loss after a hair transplant 

  • Scarring alopecia 

It was first developed as a vasodilator (something that opens up your blood vessels) and used to treat severe refractory hypertension — high blood pressure resistant to treatment.

When it comes to your hair, minoxidil shortens the telogen (resting) phase of the hair growth cycle and extends the anagen (growing) phase. This combo leads to thicker, longer hair.

At least, that’s what we think. We don’t know exactly how minoxidil works — think of it as a gift from the hair gods. 

And it’s not just topical minoxidil that can work wonders on your hairline. 

There’s research into oral minoxidil and hair loss that’s looking promising so far, but more clinical trials are needed. Though oral minoxidil is prescription-only, you can buy topical minoxidil over the counter. We’ve covered more on where to get minoxidil in our blog. 

As for 10% and 15% minoxidil topical, they’re not as common over the counter. You might see them advertised online as more powerful hair loss treatments, but these strengths aren’t generally recommended, and they may not actually be more effective. *Gasp.*

Buy finasteride

more hair... there's a pill for that

Now for the big question: Is higher-strength minoxidil more effective? We can’t say for sure, but it might not be.

There isn’t much research into 10% and 15% topical minoxidil solutions. We know a lot more about 2% and 5% minoxidil. 

What do we know, exactly? Well, both 2% and 5% minoxidil have been shown to be effective at increasing hair growth and decreasing hair loss. And the 5% strength seems to be more effective than minoxidil 2%.

What the Research Says

A 2002 study compared 5% and 2% minoxidil. Almost 400 men with male pattern baldness used either the 2% or 5% solution or a placebo twice a day for 48 weeks.

At the end of the experiment, the 5% minoxidil treatment was described as “significantly superior” to the 2% treatment and the placebo. 

The men who used 5% minoxidil had a higher hair count and scalp coverage — and we’re not talking about a small amount here. 

At week 48, there was a whopping 45 percent more hair regrowth for men who used 5% minoxidil compared to 2% minoxidil. Wowza

Even better? The 5% minoxidil worked quicker than the 2% minoxidil treatment.

There was one downside, though. The men who used the 5% treatment had more side effects, like itching and irritation, than those who used the 2% treatment. 

This is where it gets interesting. More recent research looked at a higher dose of minoxidil and found it wasn’t more effective. 

A 2021 study gave 90 men with male pattern baldness 5% minoxidil, 10% minoxidil or a placebo. The men took the treatment for 36 weeks.

Surprisingly, 5% minoxidil was found to be more effective than 10% minoxidil. Guys who used the 5% solution saw more hair growth around the hairline and crown of the head. 

Shocked? Us too.

The 5% treatment also caused less irritation compared to 10% minoxidil.

It’s not all bad news for the higher strengths, though. 

If 5% minoxidil doesn’t kick your hair follicles into shape, the 15% solution might do the trick. But the study showing results like this was done on women. 

Research from 2016 looked at women with female pattern hair loss who didn’t respond to 5% minoxidil treatment. The women used 15% minoxidil for 12 weeks. At the end of the treatment period, 60 percent of participants experienced hair growth.

Another bonus was that none of the women reported adverse events when using the stronger solution.

To wrap it up, a 2022 review looked into multiple minoxidil studies to try and answer the question of whether concentrations higher than 5% are better. It reported mixed results and that higher concentrations increased the likelihood of irritation.

The lesson? More research is needed.

Just an FYI: minoxidil has been shown to be effective, but don’t expect to wake up one morning to a full head of hair. It can take about eight weeks for minoxidil to work its magic, and the best results may come after four months of treatment (or longer). Also, you have to keep applying it to avoid losing the new hairs that grow in.

You can learn more in our guide on how long it takes minoxidil to work

Will you join thousands of happy customers?

4.5 average rating

Before/after images shared by customers who have purchased varying products, including prescription based products. Prescription products require an online consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. These customers’ results have not been independently verified. Individual results will vary. Customers were given free product.

The risks of using high-strength minoxidil include an increased likelihood of side effects. 

When using it as a topical solution, side effects of minoxidil may include: 

  • Skin irritation

  • Itching

  • Scaly scalp

  • Allergic contact dermatitis

  • Hair shedding (oh, the irony)

  • Hypertrichosis (unwanted hair growth on areas other than the scalp) 

Oral minoxidil comes with potential side effects too.

These include: 

  • Low blood pressure or high heart rate

  • Swelling

  • Weight gain 

  • Enlarged breast tissue in men 

  • Worsening angina (chest pain) 

  • Inflammation in the lining around the heart 

  • Excess fluid around the heart 

  • Exacerbation of congestive heart failure 

There’s also the risk of a high-strength minoxidil product not working for you — not bad for your health, but your wallet and hairline may not be happy. 

You don’t need to use extra-strength Rogaine to treat hair loss. Lower-strength solutions and other treatment options can make hair grow faster.

Here are some other options to treat hair loss: 

Not here to mess around? Pulling out all the stops, our Hair Power Pack comes with finasteride pills, minoxidil drops, thickening shampoo and biotin gummies. 

Hair loss treatments, delivered

You see a higher number on a bottle and think it must be better than a lower dose — seems logical enough. And when you’re losing hair, you want the strongest stuff you can get your hands on. We get it.

But 10% and 15% minoxidil may not be more effective than the weaker solutions. 

Here’s the low-down: 

  • 5% minoxidil is more effective than 2%. Men tend to experience a lot more hair growth when using 5% minoxidil compared to 2%. And when we say a lot, we mean a lot. Research shows the 5% solution could provide 45 percent more hair growth than the 2% option.

  • High-strength minoxidil comes with an increased risk of side effects. The downside of using a 5% minoxidil product over a 2% one is that you’re more likely to get side effects like itching, irritation and a scaly scalp. That risk is there with anything over 5% too.

  • More research is needed into 10% and 15% minoxidil. We just don’t know enough about the strong stuff. It’s not FDA-approved for hair loss — unlike 2% and 5% minoxidil — and studies on higher-strength formulations are few and far between. Clinical trials that have been done suggest that 5% minoxidil could be more effective than 10% minoxidil. Go figure.

Noticing a receding hairline, thinning hair or a bald patch up top? We’ve got you. Check out our range of hair loss treatments (including minoxidil) to get back to a healthy head of hair.

8 Sources

  1. Singh, S., Patil, A., Kianfar, N., Waśkiel-Burnat, A., Rudnicka, L., Sinclair, R., & Goldust, M. (2022). Does topical minoxidil at concentrations higher than 5% provide additional clinical benefit?. Clinical and experimental dermatology, 47(11), 1951–1955. https://academic.oup.com/ced/article/47/11/1951/6966079
  2. Patel, P., Nessel, T. A., Kumar D, D. (2023, August 24). Minoxidil - StatPearls. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  3. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S., & Leerunyakul, K. (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug design, development and therapy, 13, 2777–2786. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/
  4. Olsen, E. A., Dunlap, F. E., Funicella, T., Koperski, J. A., Swinehart, J. M., Tschen, E. H., & Trancik, R. J. (2002). A randomized clinical trial of 5% topical minoxidil versus 2% topical minoxidil and placebo in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 47(3), 377–385. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12196747/
  5. Ghonemy, S., Alarawi, A., & Bessar, H. (2021). Efficacy and safety of a new 10% topical minoxidil versus 5% topical minoxidil and placebo in the treatment of male androgenetic alopecia: a trichoscopic evaluation. The Journal of dermatological treatment, 32(2), 236–241. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31403367/
  6. McCoy, J., Goren, A., Kovacevic, M., & Shapiro, J. (2016). Minoxidil dose response study in female pattern hair loss patients determined to be non-responders to 5% topical minoxidil. Journal of biological regulators and homeostatic agents, 30(4), 1153–1155. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28078868/
  7. Hair Loss: Diagnosis and Treatment. (n.d.). https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/treatment/diagnosis-treat
  8. Zito, P. M., Bistas, K. G., Syed, K. (2022, August 25). Finasteride - StatPearls. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513329/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

Education

Training

Certifications

Publications

Read more