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middle aged man with beard looking at his hair loss in a mirror

There’s been some speculation about just how minoxidil works over the years: is it magic? Science? Dumb luck? Or all of the above?

Minoxidil has been a prevalent ingredient for hair loss reversal over the years, especially for those who suffer from male- and female-pattern baldness. However, the exact way that this medicine works is not yet known. So, let’s take a look at what we do know: it helps stop hair loss.

What is minoxidil?

Minoxidil is a topical treatment and is the active ingredient in revolutionary anti-hair loss products like Rogaine. Usually coming in the form of a foam or liquid treatment, the solution helps stimulate and promote new hair growth on the scalp. While this has only been successful for those with a certain type of pattern baldness, the results have been nothing short of impressive.

How is this different from finasteride?

Finasteride is another common ingredient in hair restoration products but works differently than minoxidil. Where minoxidil works as a topical application, finasteride targets DHT, also known as dihydrotestosterone. According to  WebMD, “This stops the hormone from attacking the hair follicles, slowing or eliminating hair loss. Because it targets DHT, it will not work for other forms of hair loss, such as hair loss due to chemotherapy, stress, medication, or hypothyroidism.”

Who should use minoxidil?

Minoxidil has proven itself to work for both men and women who suffer from hair loss, but there are only certain conditions in which the treatment works. The biggest caveat being that it works only as long as the individual continues using the product. Meaning, when you stop using the treatment, your effective impact rate stops with it. There are other cases where the ingredient will not work, so it’s important to know what those are before having your hopes dashed.

Minoxidil works best for those who:

  • Suffer from pattern baldness

  • Have recently begun balding

  • Are under 40 years old

Minoxidil is not recommended for those who are completely bald or have been bald for more than a few months.

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