What is Minoxidil and How Does it Work?

What is Minoxidil and How Does it Work?

What is Minoxidil? 

Minoxidil Chemical Formula

Minoxidil, originally formulated as a remedy for high blood pressure, has gained prominence due to an unexpected and beneficial side effect observed during clinical trials - the stimulation of hair growth. This serendipitous discovery ultimately led to its endorsement by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a topical treatment for hair loss. Currently, Minoxidil is readily available both over-the-counter and through prescription, primarily intended for addressing male and female pattern baldness. It is crucial to acknowledge that individual responses to Minoxidil can vary, and not everyone may experience its desired effects. Furthermore, it necessitates adherence to prescribed usage guidelines and patience, as results may take several months to manifest.

How does it work? 

Minoxidil operates as a vasodilator, a substance that functions by dilating blood vessels, thereby augmenting blood circulation. When applied topically to the scalp, it effectively widens blood vessels in the immediate area, resulting in an enhanced blood supply to the hair follicles. This increased blood flow enriches the hair follicles with higher levels of oxygen and vital nutrients, ultimately fostering the stimulation and prolongation of hair growth.

Moreover, Minoxidil exerts a direct influence on the hair follicles themselves. This medication activates potassium channels within the hair follicles, triggering the opening of cell membranes and the influx of calcium ions. This influx of calcium ions acts as a potent stimulant for hair follicles, further promoting the growth of hair.

In addition to its impact on blood flow and hair follicles, Minoxidil may possess anti-inflammatory properties when applied to the scalp. Inflammation is believed to be a contributing factor in hair loss, and Minoxidil's potential to mitigate scalp inflammation may facilitate the regrowth of hair.

It is imperative to note that the precise mechanism underlying Minoxidil's efficacy in promoting hair growth remains incompletely understood. Nevertheless, scientific research suggests that the medication's capacity to enhance blood flow, stimulate hair follicles, and reduce scalp inflammation all collectively contribute to its effectiveness as a hair growth promoter.


  • Regrowing Hair: One of the primary benefits of using minoxidil is that it can help to regrow hair. Studies have shown that minoxidil can effectively regrow hair in men and women with androgenetic alopecia, which is the most common form of hair loss.

  • Improve Hair Density: Studies have shown that minoxidil can effectively improve hair density in men and women with androgenetic alopecia, the most common form of hair loss. However, the results can vary from person to person, and it may take several months of consistent use before any noticeable improvements are seen.

  • Slowing Down Hair Loss: In addition to regrowing hair, minoxidil can also help to slow down the process of hair loss. By widening the blood vessels in the scalp, minoxidil can increase blood flow to the hair follicles and help to prevent them from shrinking.

Who can use Minoxidil? 

Minoxidil is typically recommended for individuals experiencing hair loss or thinning due to androgenetic alopecia (AGA), the most common type of hair loss. AGA is a hereditary condition that causes hair follicles to shrink and eventually stop producing new hair.

Minoxidil can be used by both men and women and is available in different formulations, including 2% and 5% topical solutions and foams. It is important to note that this treatment option is most effective when used early in the hair loss process. Because of this, it is recommended that individuals start using it as soon as they notice signs of hair thinning or shedding.

While it is generally safe for most people, some groups should exercise caution or avoid using it altogether. These include:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Individuals with scalp irritation or sunburn: Minoxidil can irritate the scalp, so individuals with existing scalp irritation or sunburn should avoid using it until their skin has healed.
  • Individuals with a history of heart disease: Minoxidil is a vasodilator and can lower blood pressure, which can be dangerous for individuals with a history of heart disease.
  • Some individuals may be allergic to Minoxidil or one of its ingredients, so it is recommended that individuals with a history of allergies consult their doctor before using it.

Overall, Minoxidil is a safe and effective treatment for hair loss. Still, it is important to use it as directed and to be aware of any potential side effects or contraindications. If you have any concerns or questions about whether it is right for you, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor or a healthcare professional.

Can women use Minoxidil? 

Minoxidil is an effective treatment for hair loss in women. Several clinical studies have shown that Minoxidil can help women regrow hair, especially in cases of androgenetic alopecia (AGA), which is the most common cause of hair loss in women. In one study, 52% of women with AGA who used a 5% Minoxidil solution for 48 weeks showed significant improvement in hair growth, compared to just 11% of those who used a placebo. Another study found that Minoxidil helped to increase hair density in women with AGA after six months of use. (1,12,13)

Here are some tips for using minoxidil for women:

  1. Choose the right strength: Women should use a 2% minoxidil solution, while men typically use a 5% solution. Using a higher strength can increase the risk of side effects.

  2. Apply to dry scalp: Make sure your scalp is dry before applying minoxidil. Use a towel or hair dryer to dry your hair and scalp thoroughly.

  3. Apply twice a day: Apply minoxidil to the affected area of the scalp twice a day, ideally in the morning and at night.

  4. Use the dropper to apply the solution: Use the dropper provided to apply the solution directly to the scalp. Be sure to spread the solution evenly over the affected area.

  5. Massage into the scalp: Gently massage the solution into your scalp with your fingertips for about 1 minute after applying. This helps to distribute the solution evenly and increase absorption.

  6. Wash your hands: Wash your hands thoroughly after applying minoxidil to avoid accidentally spreading it to other parts of your body.

  7. Allow the solution to dry: Allow the minoxidil solution to dry completely before styling your hair or going to bed.

  8. Be patient: It may take several months of consistent use to see results. Don’t give up if you don’t see results right away.

By following these tips, women can use minoxidil safely and effectively to promote hair growth and combat hair loss. However, consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment is always a good idea.


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