Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
While it’s probably not part of your daily group chat discussion, minoxidil is a popular topical medication for treating hair loss — in fact, we’d argue it might be the most popular, when you consider it’s sold under brand names like Rogaine®.
The reason it’s so popular? Research shows that minoxidil helps to improve hair growth, and can potentially fill in a bald spot (even in your beard) or receding hairline, usually over the course of several months of daily use.
In other words, it actually works — and unlike a hair transplant, it won’t require any surgical work. After using minoxidil, you might notice that your hair loss stops, or that hair in some parts of your scalp becomes thicker and less affected by male pattern hair loss.
The thing is, you’ve got to use it correctly — like the voice control for the TV. And some guys just don’t get that not using minoxidil the right way will keep you from the best possible results.
Below, we’ve explained how you should apply both minoxidil foam and minoxidil liquid to treat hair loss. We’ve also discussed the basics of how minoxidil works as a hair loss treatment, and what to do after using it to get the best and safest results.
Minoxidil is a topical medication that you apply directly to your scalp. It’s designed for use two times a day. Most people who use minoxidil apply it once in the morning and once in the evening, typically a few hours before going to bed.
Using minoxidil liquid solution is pretty easy, although the first few times might feel a little bit awkward or unnatural until you get the hang of it.
The good news is that the entire process only takes a few minutes, making it easy to work into your morning and evening routines. Here’s how it works:
Make sure that your hair is completely dry before use. If you’ve taken a shower or bath, dry your hair before applying minoxidil solution.
Fill the dropper provided with your medication with 1mL of minoxidil. There should be a black line on the dropper indicating the 1mL mark.
Using the dropper, apply the minoxidil to the areas of your scalp that are affected by hair loss. It may help to part your hair in several places so that the minoxidil can easily come into contact with your scalp.
After you’ve applied the minoxidil, put the cap back on the bottle. Using your fingers, rub the minoxidil solution into your scalp.
After you’ve finished applying the minoxidil solution, wash your fingers thoroughly using soap and warm water to remove any remaining minoxidil from your skin.
That’s all there is to it. If you have minoxidil foam, however, it’ll go a little differently.
Minoxidil foam is also easy to apply, but you can also use it to make your hair into horns or a mohawk before rubbing it in. That’s not official medical advice, it's just… happiness advice.
Make sure that your hair is completely dry before applying minoxidil. Before applying the foam, gently part your hair so that your scalp is easy to reach.
Hold the can upside down and press the nozzle to dispense half a capful of foam onto your fingers.
Using your fingers, gently apply the foam to the areas of your scalp that are affected by hair loss. Try to massage the foam into your scalp using your fingers as you apply it.
After you’ve finished applying the minoxidil foam, wash your hands thoroughly to get rid of any remaining minoxidil.
That’s it — and now just continue to apply as directed until you get results. And then keep using it, to maintain your newly full tresses.
FYI: there’s no need to use minoxidil more than twice a day. Applying minoxidil more often will not improve your results, although it may increase your risk of experiencing skin irritation or other side effects. Stick to the recommended minoxidil dosage for hair loss and apply two times per day.
After you’ve applied minoxidil, allow four hours for the medication to dry before you wear a hat, use a hair dryer or wash your hair.
That’s assuming it goes where you want it to go, but accidents happen:
If it goes on fabric, you might be in trouble. Minoxidil can stain clothing, bed linen and other fabric items, so it’s important to let it dry before allowing these to touch your scalp.
If you accidentally apply minoxidil to your face, eyes or any sensitive areas of your body, wash the area carefully using cool water.
If you notice irritation in these parts of your body, contact your healthcare provider.
If you forget to use minoxidil and remember shortly after the missed dose, try to apply it as soon as you can. If it’s already close to time for your next dose, skip the dose you missed and use the medication as normal.
Generally, you should be using minoxidil consistently to enjoy the best results. Consistency is key, boys — somebody said that, right?
That being said, accidentally forgetting a dose won’t cause your newly-grown hair to fall out overnight like the houseplant you didn’t water last year.
If you often forget to apply minoxidil, you could try duct taping it to your hand before bed every night, but before you go to extremes, here are a couple suggestions from us on how to keep the streak going:
Keep it in an obvious, impossible-to-miss location. It’s helpful to store minoxidil in a place where it will be right in front of you at the right times to use it (night or morning). Good examples are on your bedside table or next to the toothbrush, though you need to be careful of light exposure from windows.
Place a sticky note or set a calendar reminder. A simple note listing your medications and reminding you to use them can work wonders, but if you’re yelling “okay, grandpa” then try setting an alarm on your phone for a few minutes after your morning alarm. Hit snooze a lot? Create a recurring event in your phone’s calendar app.
How to store your minoxidil might not be your top question right now, but we’d like to point out that it’s something you shouldn’t ignore.
Excess heat and moisture could affect the product, so when you’re not using minoxidil, keep it stored in a convenient location away from places like your radiator or in your shower.
And if you have young children in your home, we’re going to assume you don’t want them getting into this (we certainly don’t), so store minoxidil and other medications in a location that’s out of their sight and reach.
“I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.”
“Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger!”
“When I show my barber my progress, he is always in disbelief. I have to recommend Hims to any guy who’s experiencing thinning.”
“Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.”
“I noticed a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.”
“Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!”
“I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!”
“In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.”
“4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.”
“I’m a 34-year-old father of two and have been using Hims for over a year now. My hair is back to what it was in my mid-twenties.”
For the most part, minoxidil is a safe and effective medication — most of the time, for most people. That being said, there are potential side effects of minoxidil, like there are for every medication.
The most common minoxidil side effects include:
Talk to your healthcare provider if you experience any of these side effects while using this medication.
Generic for Rogaine®, this FDA-approved over-the-counter version of topical minoxidil is used for regrowth on the crown of the head.
This is the FDA-approved dynamic duo. When used together, men saw better results in clinical trials compared to using either alone.
If you’re looking for something effective but don’t want too many steps in your routine, this once-a-day pill could be right for you.
Clinically proven to regrow hair in 3-6 months, no pills required.
Whatever has you investigating minoxidil — thinning hair, attempts at hair regrowth or the word of several dermatologists — you’re in the right place if you’re losing hair.
The majority of hair loss in men is caused by male pattern baldness (also known as androgenetic alopecia), a genetic and hormonal condition that causes your hairline to gradually recede as you get older. It sucks, but it’s also science.
Luckily, minoxidil is a science-backed medication that’s approved by the FDA and supported by comprehensive, large-scale scientific research. So, follow the science when using minoxidil, and keep this key info in mind:
Minoxidil comes in two forms — a liquid solution and a foam. Make sure to follow the instructions for the type of minoxidil you have.
Experts don’t totally know how minoxidil works to increase hair growth. Currently, most research suggests that minoxidil improves blood flow to the scalp, increasing the flow of nutrients to your hair follicles and encouraging hair to enter the growth phase.
Using minoxidil is a simple process. Follow the instructions above to apply minoxidil solution or foam to your scalp.
Minoxidil may start working immediately. However, it usually takes a few months before you’ll start to see results.
If you’re prone to forgetting your minoxidil, try setting an alarm or sticking a note to your bathroom mirror to remind you every morning and evening.
Although minoxidil can improve hair growth, it doesn’t cure baldness. To maintain your results, you’ll need to continue using minoxidil daily. If you stop applying minoxidil, you will typically lose your “new” hairs over the course of a few months.
Some people notice side effects from minoxidil, especially during the first few weeks of use. These usually go away on their own. If you notice persistent or severe side effects, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider.
Basically, minoxidil is one of the most effective hair loss treatments on the market today, alongside finasteride. If you’re ready to use minoxidil but can’t decide where to start, consider our topical finasteride & minoxidil spray for two-in-one hair loss help.
Got more questions? We can help — check out our hair health resources for more.