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Is Minoxidil Over-the-Counter?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Grace Gallagher

Published 03/01/2021

Updated 01/16/2024

If you’re losing your hair, you’re likely open to trying most things that claim to stop hair loss. Olive oil on your scalp because your Italian grandma said it works? Sure. Hair gummies? Hand ‘em over.

If it’s been a while since you’ve had the absolute pleasure of aimlessly roaming a drugstore, you may wonder, Is minoxidil over-the-counter (OTC)? We’ll get to that soon — promise.

Ahead, we’ll talk about minoxidil dosage, its ingredients and other OTC hair loss treatments to consider.

First things first: What causes male pattern baldness? Well, hair loss is caused by a number of factors, so it’s hard to distill briefly — but we sense you’re not here for a dissertation, so we’ll keep it short. 

Your body is home to a male steroid hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It’s responsible for creating male sex organs in utero and, later, doing other distinctly male things like deepening the voice and promoting beard growth.

But DHT is a double-edged sword. It also shortens the hair growth cycle and causes the hair follicles to shrink, known as miniaturization. And that’s where hair treatments come in.

Minoxidil (brand name, Rogaine®) is a topical hair loss treatment that works by increasing blood flow to your hair follicles (so it’s a vasodilator) and keeping your hair in a state of active, ongoing growth.

Such sorcery seems like it should be prescription-only, but luckily for you, minoxidil is available over the counter.

However, there’s some confusion on the topic, which may be why you’re here (hi, hello!). 

Topical minoxidil is entirely OTC, but oral minoxidil requires a prescription. Typically, minoxidil tablets are prescribed for heart conditions like hypertension, though studies show they might be effective in treating hair loss as well.

Research suggests that low-dose oral minoxidil is a “well-tolerated” alternative to topical minoxidil. It may be worth asking a dermatologist or another healthcare professional about the oral treatment in the rare event the topical solution causes a reaction.

Topical minoxidil is available in a foam or a liquid, and both are over-the-counter options.

Then there’s the dynamic duo known as topical minoxidil and finasteride spray. This one does require a prescription because finasteride (Propecia®) is not over the counter. More on the foam, liquid and spray ahead.

hair loss treatment

balding can be optional

Buying minoxidil foam or minoxidil liquid solution over the counter is as easy as walking into a pharmacy and pulling it off the shelf.

But if self-checkout or finding a parking spot gives you a feeling of intense dread (we feel ya), you can also order minoxidil online.

The cost of Rogaine® and generic minoxidil varies. If you go to the fancy pharmacy with goat milk soap and French beauty products, it’ll probably cost much more than at a chain drugstore.

Minoxidil prices also vary by vendor. We offer generic minoxidil at a cost of $15 per month, which is significantly less than what you’d find at a store (another reason to stay in).

Since it’s over the counter, knowing how minoxidil works and how to use it is essential. After all, you probably won’t be chatting with a pharmacist (though you can always ask us anything).

The exact way minoxidil works isn’t entirely understood, we’ll tell you what we know.

Studies show that minoxidil shortens the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle (when the hair is at rest), thereby extending the anagen (growth) phase. Your hair grows for a longer time and, therefore, gets longer.

Side effects of minoxidil are generally minimal. They can include scalp irritation, dry or itchy skin, skin flaking or slight burning.

In many cases, adverse reactions aren’t due to minoxidil itself but rather propylene glycol. Researchers think this alcohol is responsible for irritating some minoxidil users.

The foam doesn’t contain this ingredient, so it’s a good option if you’ve had a reaction in the past or have particularly sensitive skin.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

As many as 50 percent of men and women experience androgenetic alopecia.

White patients are most affected by the condition, and Native Americans are least likely to experience baldness. Losing your hair can be anxiety-inducing, but you’re in good company here.

Minoxidil works for a receding hairline or any other area where you see thinning. It’s one of two hair loss treatment options approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

A 2019 meta-analysis found minoxidil to have a “remarkable increase in hair growth” and a decrease in hair loss, especially at the 5% strength. One of the cool things about minoxidil is that it works for different types of hair loss and has few common side effects.

But other products are also effective in the lifelong fight against hair loss (not to be super dramatic or anything). Here are our top recs for products that promote hair growth:

Finasteride

Finasteride is FDA-approved and proven to slow hair loss and stimulate hair growth in men (it’s not approved for female pattern hair loss, though).

Remember our fickle friend DHT? Finasteride can reduce the amount of it in your system, making it a star in the fight against hormonal hair loss.

As noted, finasteride requires a prescription (yep, we got you covered there) and can be used in tandem with topical minoxidil. In fact, a meta-analysis on the efficacy of minoxidil and finasteride found that the combo of oral finasteride and topical minoxidil is more effective than either on its own.

Finasteride-Minoxidil Combo Spray

Topical finasteride and minoxidil are like the Bert and Ernie of the hair world. They’re different, but they jive. Our quick-drying spray contains 3% finasteride and 6% minoxidil — since it contains finasteride, you’ll need a prescription.

Minoxidil and finasteride both work — studies show that topical finasteride decreases hair loss and increases hair count. Minoxidil, on the other hand, dilates blood vessels, which brings blood, nutrients and oxygen to the scalp.

One small study showed that the two combined didn’t cause sexual side effects. This is sometimes a concern when using finasteride.

Volumizing Hair Products

Volumizing shampoo and volumizing conditioner are an easy way to make hair look thicker at the root, giving the appearance of fuller hair.

Our thickening shampoo with saw palmetto is kind of like nature’s finasteride. As with the hair loss medication, saw palmetto is a plant extract that can partially block DHT.

Biotin Supplements

Biotin gummies or supplements may help with hair loss if you have a true deficiency of the vitamin. This is pretty unlikely if you eat a varied diet, but not entirely impossible.

One of the cool things about our gummies is that, in addition to biotin, they contain other essential nutrients for healthy hair, like folic acid, niacin and vitamins D and E.

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.

Minoxidil is effective, has mild side effects and is easy to use, making it one of the best medications on the market for treating hair loss. Topical minoxidil is also OTC, so it’s as easy to get as toothpaste or Advil. Actually, it’s probably even easier because you can buy it here without standing up.

Here are a few things to remember about minoxidil:

  • While it’s over the counter, make sure you buy it from a reputable in-person or online pharmacy.

  • If you have any questions or are wondering if the use of minoxidil is right for your goals (whether that’s new hair growth, retention, hair regrowth or treating thinning hair), seek medical advice from your healthcare provider who can help figure out the right course of action.

  • Want to up the ante? Try a product that combines minoxidil and finasteride for maximum results.

As for where to buy minoxidil, we offer minoxidil solution, minoxidil foam, finasteride and a wide range of other options for treating hair loss online as part of our range of hair loss treatments for men.

We didn’t want to overwhelm you with every detail about this hair loss treatment, but if you’re wondering how to apply minoxidil or minoxidil foam, check out our deep dives on each. And for the Are we there yet? people, here’s how long it takes before minoxidil starts working.

15 Sources

  1. Kinter K., Anekar A. (2023, March). Biochemistry, Dihydrotestosterone- StatPearls Internet. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557634/
  2. Asfour, L., Cranwell, W., Sinclair, R. (Updated 2023, Jan).Male Androgenetic Alopecia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278957/
  3. Patel, P., Nessel, T., Kumar, D. (2023). Minoxidil-StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  4. Panchaprateep, R., & Lueangarun, S. (2020). Efficacy and Safety of Oral Minoxidil 5 mg Once Daily in the Treatment of Male Patients with Androgenetic Alopecia: An Open-Label and Global Photographic Assessment. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7649170
  5. Arca, E., et al. (2004). An open, randomized, comparative study of oral finasteride and 5% topical minoxidil in male androgenetic alopecia. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15316165/
  6. Hoover, E., Alhajj, M. & Flores, J.L. (2022, July 25). Physiology, Hair. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nPiraccini B.M., Blume‐Peytavi, U., Scarci, F., Jansat, J.M.Falqués, M.,Otero, R., Tamarit, M.L.,Galván, J., Tebbs, V., Massana, E. (2022, Feb.) Efficacy and safety of topical finasteride spray solution for male androgenetic alopecia: a phase III, randomized, controlled clinical trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9297965/
  7. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S., & Leerunyakul, K. (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug design, development and therapy, 13, 2777–2
  8. Minoxidil Topical. (2017, November 15). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a689003.html
  9. Friedman, E., Friedman, P., Cohen D. Washenik, K. , Allergic contact dermatitis to topical minoxidil solution: etiology and treatment. (n.d.). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11807448/
  10. Ho, C., Sood, T., Zito, P. (2022, Oct). Androgenetic Alopecia. StatPearls Internet. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/
  11. Zito, P.M., Bistas, K.G., Syed K. (2022, Aug. 25). Finasteride- StatPearls. NCBI Bookshelf. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513329/
  12. Chen, L., Zheng, J., Wang, L., Wang, H., Chen, B. (2019, Nov). The Efficacy and Safety of Finasteride Combined with Topical Minoxidil for Androgenetic Alopecia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Retrieved from https://cdn.mednet.co.il/2012/05/the-efficacy-and-safety-of-finasterideminoxidil.pdf
  13. Tanglertsampan, C. Efficacy and safety of 3% minoxidil versus combined 3% minoxidil / 0.1% finasteride in male pattern hair loss: a randomized, double-blind, comparative study. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23193746/
  14. Evyatar Evron,E., Juhasz, M., Babadjouni, A., Atanaskova, N.Mesinkovskab(2020, Nov).Natural Hair Supplement: Friend or Foe? Saw Palmetto, a Systematic Review in Alopecia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7706486/
  15. Patel, D., Swink, S., Castelo-Soccio, L. (2017). A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair Loss. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/
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. 

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