10 Minoxidil Alternatives: Do Natural Solutions Work?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Sian Ferguson

Published 08/24/2021

Updated 04/02/2024

Minoxidil is an effective treatment for hair loss. But you might wonder if there are any natural minoxidil alternatives worth trying. While some natural solutions can promote hair growth, these aren’t as well-studied as minoxidil.

A well-studied hair loss treatment, minoxidil is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating pattern baldness. It can be used to treat many other types of hair loss.

But that doesn’t mean minoxidil works for everyone.

There are many reasons why you might be looking for a natural minoxidil alternative. Perhaps there’s a minoxidil shortage in your area, or you’ve experienced some unpleasant side effects of minoxidil. Or maybe you just want a natural treatment to use alongside your minoxidil topical.

No natural hair growth solutions are proven to be as effective as minoxidil. Still, there are a few products and methods that may stimulate hair growth and reduce hair fall.

If you’re looking into natural alternatives to minoxidil, here’s what you need to know.

Much like penicillin and Viagra®, minoxidil is one of those medications that was sort of discovered by accident. Originally used to treat high blood pressure, minoxidil produced an unexpected side effect: healthy hair growth.

The active ingredient in Rogaine®, minoxidil is a topical solution that is applied to the scalp. Topical minoxidil can be purchased over the counter (that is, without a prescription).

Minoxidil is a vasodilator, which means it widens your blood vessels. When applied to your scalp, minoxidil boosts blood flow to your hair follicles. It might also lengthen the anagen phase of your hair growth cycle, which means new hair grows for longer.

The result? Thicker, healthier-looking hair with decreased shedding.

Other than minoxidil, some conventional treatments for hair loss include:

  • Finasteride (sold under the brand name Propecia®), which is specifically used for male pattern baldness

  • Laser hair treatments, which is where a low-level light stimulates your hair follicles

  • Hair transplants, which can be effective but costly

While minoxidil is generally safe to use, it can also cause some side effects. The possible side effects of minoxidil include scalp irritation, a dry scalp and allergic reactions.

Is minoxidil natural? No — minoxidil is not considered a natural treatment for hair loss. It doesn’t occur naturally in the body or in nature. Instead, it’s a medication that stimulates the blood vessels to widen, which can increase circulation to the hair follicles.

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Complementary and alternative medicine, often called natural medicine or natural treatments, are those outside the realm of your doctor’s prescribed medications.

And when it comes to hair loss, there are several natural treatments and supplements marketed as being effective.

Unfortunately, as with many complementary treatments, the research is lacking around these treatments. When it comes to natural hair health treatments, more scientific evidence is necessary in order to claim that one natural solution can produce similar effects to minoxidil.

In other words, there’s no natural minoxidil alternative that is proven to be as effective as minoxidil (or any other FDA-approved hair loss medication, for that matter).

With that said, there are some natural treatments for hair loss. Here’s a quick summary of these natural alternatives. 

Microneedling

It’s possible that microneedling can support hair growth.

A review from 2020 looked at whether needle therapy can treat hair loss. It found that microneedling delivered with a rolling device seemed to promote hair density and hair regrowth in people with hair loss conditions.

This includes conditions like:

  • Male pattern baldness, also called androgenic or androgenetic alopecia caused by a type of male hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT)

  • Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair thinning and bald patches 

  • Telogen effluvium, which is hair fall caused by severe stress or illness

It’s believed that microneedling increases blood circulation, which might stimulate hair follicles.

Saw palmetto

When used topically or orally, saw palmetto, which is a plant, may have hair loss benefits.

A 2020 review looked at the benefits of saw palmetto for hair loss. It found that about 60 percent of users saw their hair quality improve, while nearly 30 percent saw an increase in total hair count in a collection of seven studies.

 This natural treatment is often blended into topical hair care products, like saw palmetto shampoo.

Rosemary oil

Do essential oils reduce hair loss? Some research suggests that rosemary oil might stimulate hair regrowth.

A study compared the effectiveness of rosemary oil vs minoxidil for hair loss. The researchers concluded the results of applying rosemary oil daily was “not inferior” to the results of 2% minoxidil.

Still, science needs to further explore the effects of rosemary oil to support the hypothesis that it can function as an effective natural substitute for minoxidil.

Capsaicin

Capsaicin is a compound found in peppers. It’s also used in some pain-relieving creams.

In one clinical trial, oral use of capsaicin was found to improve hair growth when compared to placebo.

Take these findings with a grain of salt: , This study involved fewer than 50 participants and combined capsaicin with isoflavone, making it difficult to credit capsaicin alone.

Topical capsaicin did result in the growth of vellus hair (often referred to as “peach fuzz”), but this isn’t the thick scalp-type hair you’re usually after if you’re struggling with hair loss.

Caffeine

You might’ve seen a few hair growth shampoos that contain caffeine. But does caffeine treat hair loss?

In some small-scale clinical studies, topical caffeine (such as a caffeine-enriched volumizing shampoo or lotion) has been shown to reduce hair loss progression and intensity.

Some studies combined caffeine with other treatments such as minoxidil, and reported more dramatic benefits than minoxidil alone.

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Curcumin

Many people claim that it’s possible to use turmeric for hair loss.

Some research shows curcumin, which comes from turmeric, may improve the effects of topical minoxidil in people with male pattern baldness.

However, these findings don’t support the use of curcumin alone for successful treatment of hair loss.

Amino acids

While several amino acids have been researched for treating hair loss,  cysteine and lysine, in particular, have been studied in humans.

There’s still a lot of inconclusiveness around these amino acids: When studied, both were evaluated in conjunction with numerous other ingredients.

For example, a formula containing lysine, iron, vitamin B12, biotin, selenium and vitamin C was found to reduce hair shedding in women after six months.

With a treatment of so many components, it’s impossible to know whether the reduction in hair shedding came from the amino acid, one of the other ingredients or from the ingredients working together.

Biotin

Biotin is also known as vitamin B7. It helps your body produce keratin — the building block of healthy hair and nails.

Biotin deficiency can cause hair loss, so it makes sense that biotin consumption may reduce hair fall in people suffering from deficiency.

If you’re looking for a natural supplement for hair loss, you could try our biotin gummies. Our volumizing conditioner also contains biotin if you’d prefer a topical application.

Zinc

There is a link between zinc deficiency and hair loss, studies have shown.

This research shows that zinc supplementation may boost hair regrowth in some people, although further research is needed.

Our dandruff detox shampoo contains pyrithione zinc 1% and salicylic acid to promote a flake-free, clear, healthy scalp.

Pumpkin seed oil

Pumpkin seed oil can be found in a number of hair growth supplements.

One study evaluated the effects of pumpkin seed oil vs minoxidil for hair growth. Specifically, it looked at 60 women with female pattern hair loss. Half of them used 5% minoxidil foam every day, while the other half used pumpkin seed oil.

While it wasn’t as effective as minoxidil, pumpkin seed oil did seem to promote hair growth in some participants.

You might’ve also heard about using apple cider vinegar, stinging nettle or garlic for hair growth. Much like the natural remedies listed above, there’s a lack of rigorous research to prove whether they’re effective.

Remember that the type of hair loss you’re experiencing will determine which treatments work for you. Treating your hair loss ASAP is critical because it’s not always reversible. So, we’d advise you to speak with a healthcare professional so that you can get the help you need — as soon as you need it.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Minoxidil is a well-researched, FDA-approved treatment for hair loss. But some people might seek natural substitutes for minoxidil.

  • No natural minoxidil alternative has proven to be as effective as minoxidil. In other words, none are as rigorously well-studied and proven to be as good at stimulating hair growth.

  • But some studies show that certain natural treatments could promote hair growth. These include microneedling, saw palmetto and biotin supplements, among others.

  • Minoxidil still comes out on top. As a versatile, safe and effective hair loss treatment, minoxidil is certainly worth trying. You can try our topical finasteride and minoxidil spray, minoxidil foam and minoxidil solution.

If you’ve noticed thinning hair, a receding hairline or bald patches on your scalp, we can help you connect with a medical professional. They can advise you on your treatment options, both conventional and natural.

17 Sources

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  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Hair Loss: Diagnosis and Treatment. Retrieved August 19, 2023, from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/treatment/diagnosis-treat
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  8. Ho, C. H., Sood, T., & Zito, P. M. (2024). Androgenetic Alopecia. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/
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  11. Khairnar, R. P., Dube, S. B., Pinjarkar, R. N., & Aher, R. B. (2023). Rosmarinus Officinalis L.: Used for the Treatment of Hair Loss. International Journal in Pharmaceutical Sciences, 1(12), 524-533. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10405202
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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. 

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