What Is Minoxidil?

February 6, 2014

Minoxidi-formulaMinoxidil is a drug (antihypertensive vasodilator) which has been shown to stop or slow hair loss and also stimulate new hair growth. Initially back in the 1970’s and 80’s it was used to treat high blood pressure but a more interesting side effects was discovered completely by accident.

It was discovered that minoxidil stimulated the growth of body hair. This side effects was exploited by the Upjohn Corporation (the developers of the product Regaine) which was sold as a topical solution initially 2% minoxidil then 5% and later a foam containing 5% of the drug.

A Treatment For Hair Loss

You can buy minoxidil over the counter or online either in the form of Regaine (branded) or unbranded for the treatment of genetic male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia) – for which it is very effective. It does come with a catch however: you need to keep using it every day – if you stop any improvements gained from using it will be lost within a few weeks.

Regaine-regaine-boxAt the time of writing this the current treatments are a 5% minoxidil topical solution of a 5% foam for men and a 2% concentration topical solution for women. The NHS cannot prescribe Regaine or minoxidil for hair loss so if you need it you either have to buy it from a pharmacy or online or use a private prescription.

It was in 2007 that Upjohn Corporation launched the now very popular product Regaine Foam which is just as effective as the 5% “Extra Strength” topical version but easier to apply to the scalp. It has been show to be effective at stopping male pattern baldness for 8 out of 10 men.

How does Minoxidil/Regaine work?

Even though we have been using it to treat hair loss for over 30 years we still do not fully understand how it works. What we do know it that it is a potassium channel opener (vasodilator). This will cause the hyper-polarization of cell membranes allowing more nutrients, oxygen and blood to flow to the follicles. Also it contains the compound moiety which acts as a nitric oxide agonist.

There is no doubt that it works best if you catch the hair loss in the early stages – if you have large areas of hair less scalp which your success with minoxidil will be very limited. You are also more of a disadvantage the older you are – studies have shown. Use it with a micro-needle roller and the effectiveness of the product is increased by aiding it’s absorption in to the scalp.


Many users notice an increase in hair loss in the first few weeks of use as nutrient starved follicles enter a shedding phace triggered by the minoxidil. These follicles will later grow much thicker, stronger hair when the anagen phase is reached.

What contain Minoxidil?

The most popular minoxidil based product (which is also the most popular hair loss product) is Regaine (as it is known in the UK and Europe) or Rogaine (in the USA and Canada). Others include Hairmax Gel and Provillus