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Does Minoxidil Work for Beard Growth?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Sian Ferguson

Published 05/25/2021

Updated 05/16/2024

When it comes to treating scalp hair loss, minoxidil is the MVP. But what about facial hair? Is it possible to use minoxidil for beard growth?

The short answer: Probably. But there’s relatively little research on using minoxidil for facial hair, and it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects. 

Minoxidil is an over-the-counter topical treatment for hair loss. Research shows it’s pretty effective: Not only can it slow down hair shedding, it might even help with hair regrowth. 

For those guys who wish they had a thicker, fuller beard, minoxidil might be worth a try. 

Read on to learn more about the basics of minoxidil and how to use it for beard growth. 

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Minoxidil is a topical hair growth medication. It’s also a vasodilator, which means it relaxes blood vessels.   

It was first introduced in the 1970s as a medication for high blood pressure. But doctors noticed an unexpected side effect of minoxidil: Some patients experienced “abnormal” hair growth while using it. 

Of course, for people struggling with hair loss, this “side effect” was pretty impressive. One man’s bug is another man’s feature!

Topical minoxidil for hair loss has been around since the late eighties, although it’s often better known by the brand name Rogaine®. Nowadays, minoxidil is sold over the counter (that is, without a prescription) in certain strength solutions

Minoxidil is one of only two medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. (The other FDA-approved medication is finasteride.)

Male pattern hair loss isn’t the only hair disorder minoxidil is used for. It’s also used off-label to treat other conditions like:

Off-label, minoxidil is also used to enhance eyebrows. 

So how does minoxidil work? As a vasodilator, it improves blood flow to the scalp, which means your hair follicles get the nutrients they need to regrow hair. 

Minoxidil also seems to stimulate hair follicles to enter the anagen phase — that is, the growth phase – of the hair growth cycle. So, instead of resting in the telogen phase, your hair grows for a longer period of time.

In order for minoxidil to work, you need to apply it regularly (usually, twice a day). It’s important to note that minoxidil stops working if you stop using it.  

If you’re one of the many people who’ve successfully used minoxidil to treat scalp hair loss, you may be wondering, “Should I use minoxidil for beard growth?”

Well, you certainly can try!

There isn’t a ton of research on the use of minoxidil for facial hair growth, but there was one study published as a letter to the editor in a 2016 volume of The Journal of Dermatology

In it, researchers detailed their observations in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of a 3% minoxidil formula among 48 men over a period of 16 weeks. 

Throughout the study, patients applied 0.5 ml of the formula (or a placebo) on the chin and jawline twice daily. The men’s results were then analyzed using photographs and hair counts every four weeks. 

After 16 weeks, the photograph scores were significantly different for the men using minoxidil, as were the changes in average hair count. Pretty impressive, we’d say. 

That data is in keeping with what we’ve seen from other topical minoxidil studies — just a little lower on the head than the others.

Unfortunately, there’s little other research on minoxidil and beard enhancement.

But if you’ve noticed thinning hair around your chin, or if you’re self-conscious about patchy beard hair, it may be worth a try.

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Overall, minoxidil is considered pretty safe, but some people do experience side effects.  

According to the above-mentioned study on minoxidil and beard growth, side effects among participants were “mild” and not considered significantly different from those experienced by the placebo group. 

The most common side effects of minoxidil use are:

  • Skin irritation or rash

  • Itching 

  • Slight burning sensation

  • Dry skin

You may also experience hair growth in areas where you didn't apply minoxidil. It’s also possible to experience allergic reactions. 

Since your facial skin might be more sensitive than your scalp, it’s good to proceed with caution and keep an eye out for any rashes or itching. 

Applying a small amount of minoxidil to your skin as a patch test before going all-in is a good way to check whether you’ll experience an adverse reaction. 

If the skin around your beard area tends to get dry, look for a minoxidil product that doesn’t contain propylene glycol (which can be extra drying). It’s also a good idea to invest in a quality moisturizer or lotion to keep your skin healthy and hydrated. 

It’s worth noting that side effects are generally more common with stronger minoxidil solutions. So if you experience slight itching with the 5% version, for example, it might be worth trying the 2% formulation.

So, you’ve decided to try using minoxidil for beard enhancement. Great! We offer minoxidil foam and minoxidil solution for hair loss. 

But how exactly do you use this thing?

Try the following:

  • Firstly, clean your beard area — both the hair and the skin.

  • Pat your beard with a gentle towel so that it’s completely dry before applying the solution. 

  • Massage the recommended amount of minoxidil into your beard area using your fingers.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly. 

  • Leave the minoxidil solution on your beard. It may take a while to dry.  

How often should you apply minoxidil to your beard? Because of the lack of research on minoxidil for beard growth, there’s no hard-and-fast rule here. But in the randomized trial mentioned above, participants used minoxidil twice a day.  

As always, we’d recommend seeking medical advice before using a medicated hair loss treatment — especially if you have sensitive skin.

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If you’re trying to get your beard to wooly-mammoth-slash-lumberjack status, you may want to pull out every stop, and we get that.

There are a number of ways to promote better hair growth on your head, from biotin and other supplements to medications like finasteride. But just because something works on the hair of your head doesn’t mean it’ll work on that of your face. 

The best advice, it turns out, is preventative maintenance. After all, all of the following can lead to hair loss on your face or the rest of your body:

What we recommend is that you keep your beard (and the skin underneath it) clean and healthy. Consume a healthy, balanced diet with the correct nutritional balance and prioritize your rest each night. Make sure things like stress and illness don’t get out of hand (or … beard). 

And if you’re noticing bald patches, sudden hair thinning, or other signs of hair loss, contact a healthcare provider. Hair loss can be your body’s way of signaling that something is off.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Minoxidil is a topical treatment for hair loss. Beyond scalp hair, it might also be able to stimulate beard growth.  

If you’re trying to chart a path to a bushier beard, know this:

  • Minoxidil may be able to grow beard hair. There aren’t many studies on minoxidil for beard growth, but the available research is pretty promising.  

  • Careful though. Some people experience side effects of minoxidil, like skin irritation and allergic reactions. 

  • There are other ways to encourage beard growth. Healthy habits and a skincare routine can support beard growth. This guide on "what does aftershave do" is a helpful start.

One final thing to remember about minoxidil and beard growth: If you stop using minoxidil, it may stop working — which means the patchy beard hair you had before treatment can return. Unless you’re keen to try a clean-shaven look, try to use minoxidil consistently. 

If you’re ready to bring the patchwork together, though, we can help you connect with a healthcare provider so that you can get some solid medical advice on coping with hair loss and patchy beards.

3 Sources

  1. Suchonwanit, P., et. al. (2019) Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: A review. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 13: 2777-2786. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/
  2. Ingprasert, S., et. al. (2016) Efficacy and safety of minoxidil 3% lotion for beard enhancement: A randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled study. The Journal of Dermatology. Retrieved from https://www.docdroid.net/PoZ5Iha/jde13312-pdf
  3. Badri T, Nessel TA, Kumar D D. Minoxidil. [Updated 2021 Dec 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
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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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