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Minoxidil shampoo is a shampoo that contains minoxidil as an active pharmaceutical ingredient that is generally present in a concentration of 1%, 2%, or 5%. It is made by various different brands and is easily available at pharmacies or general stores.
You’d be surprised to know that minoxidil was first introduced in the market as an antihypertensive drug due to its blood pressure-lowering activity. Later on, excessive hair growth (hypertrichosis) was found to be an adverse effect of minoxidil, which led to the development of a topical product for hair growth.
Minoxidil is a hair growth treatment, but how it works exactly is not fully understood yet. However, scientists believe that it extends the amount of time that hair follicles spend in the growth phase.
It is known that minoxidil can open potassium channels in the body, which can lead to the dilation of blood vessels and improvement of blood flow to the scalp. This effect may stimulate the growth of hair follicles and help the body produce certain chemicals that are involved in hair growth.
What Is Actually Minoxidil Shampoo and How Does It Differ From Other Formulations?
Minoxidil shampoo is a type of hair care product that contains minoxidil as its active ingredient. Minoxidil is a medication that has been approved by the FDA to treat hair loss and stimulate hair growth.
Compared to other formulations of minoxidil, such as topical solutions or foams, minoxidil shampoo is formulated to be applied directly to the hair and scalp during the hair washing process.
It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new hair loss treatment. (1)
Uses of Minoxidil Shampoo
Here are the uses of minoxidil shampoo.
1. Helps deal with androgenetic alopecia
Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is a type of alopecia in which a person’s terminal hairs are converted into miniaturized hairs. In men, baldness starts with frontal recession and hair thinning, while in women, there is a reduction in hair density on the central part of the head.
In one study, topical minoxidil such as in shampoo may, at all concentrations, deliver more definitive outcomes than the placebo in people suffering from AGA. (1)
2. Can help manage alopecia areata (AA)
Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune disorder of the hair with clinical manifestations ranging from alopecia to complete hair loss on the scalp and body.
Based on various studies, topical application of minoxidil, such as in shampoo, provides a few advantages to patients suffering from AA as it improves hair growth compared to placebo without modifying disease advancement or causing remission.
However, using topical minoxidil as the sole treatment for AA will not result in statistically substantial progress. Thus, it is better to use it only as adjuvant therapy for AA. (1)(2)
What Concentration of Minoxidil Shampoo Is Most Effective?
As per the Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences, minoxidil shampoos are usually available at lower concentrations such as 1% and 2%.
In a double-blind clinical trial in which 1% minoxidil shampoo was used to treat hair loss from alopecia in people suffering from alopecia, the number of terminal hair in the minoxidil-treated group after 4 months of treatment increased significantly more than that in the control group.
Although more long-term studies are required, it is safe to say that minoxidil shampoo at 1% concentration has a positive impact on improving hair growth in patients with alopecia. (3)
There isn’t much research available on the use of different concentrations of minoxidil in shampoo, be it 1% or 5%, but according to dermatologists and experts, the optimal concentration of minoxidil shampoo for an individual may depend on their specific hair loss condition and tolerance for the medication.
How Long Should Minoxidil Shampoo Be Kept on the Scalp?
There is no study done to establish how long minoxidil shampoo should be kept on the scalp before rinsing it off. However, one study showcased that a topical solution of minoxidil 5% facilitated cutaneous blood flow in the scalp of balding people within 15 minutes after application.
It should be noted that most minoxidil shampoos are available only in a concentration of either 1% or 2%. Moreover, topical foams or solutions of minoxidil penetrate the scalp more effectively than shampoo.
So, the duration of leaving minoxidil shampoo on the scalp while showering should be at least 15 minutes or more or according to your personal experience. (4)
Is Minoxidil Shampoo Better Than Other Minoxidil Formulations?
Minoxidil foam and liquid are the two vastly used types of minoxidil formulations. The FDA has authorized them for treating androgenic alopecia in concentrations of 2% or 5%.
Nowadays, with research advancements, you can also find different minoxidil formulations such as minoxidil shampoos, which are new in the market.
Liquid formulations of minoxidil contain propylene glycol as the dissolving vehicle that can be attributed to most of the adverse reactions associated with its use. This led to the development of topical minoxidil foam, which is propylene glycol-free and equally effective with lesser side effects. (5)(6)
According to a study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, minoxidil products are commonly sold in concentrations ranging from 2% to 12.5%, whereas minoxidil shampoos are sold with lower concentrations of minoxidil such as 1% and 2%.
Instinctively, you may wish to buy products with the highest concentration of minoxidil as you might think that it can speed up hair growth better than formulations with a lower concentration, but the truth is less is sometimes more with minoxidil.
A Journal of Dermatological Treatment analysis declares that a 5% minoxidil solution is truly more useful than a 10% minoxidil solution. Also, the risk or chance of adverse effects such as scalp irritation increases with an increase in the concentration of minoxidil solution. (6)
Moreover, it is important to note that while minoxidil shampoo can be a convenient way to incorporate minoxidil into your hair care routine, it may not be as effective as other forms of minoxidil for some individuals. (1)
Does Minoxidil Shampoo Cause Allergic Reactions?
Yes, allergic reactions to minoxidil shampoo are possible, although they are relatively uncommon.
The most common side effect of topical minoxidil is irritant contact dermatitis, which can cause itching and scaling on the scalp. This is typically caused by an allergic reaction to the ingredient propylene glycol, which is commonly used as a solvent in minoxidil formulations.
In some rare cases, individuals may also be allergic to minoxidil itself. (7)
Which Minoxidil Formulation Can Be Used to Avoid Allergic Reactions?
In most cases, allergic reactions to minoxidil formulations are due to the presence of propylene glycol. If you are experiencing allergic reactions to propylene glycol, you may consider using a propylene glycol-free formulation of minoxidil.
New propylene glycol-free minoxidil formulations have recently become available and have shown a very good cosmetic acceptability/tolerability profile and clinical efficacy. The skin penetration of these propylene glycol-free formulations is comparable to the propylene glycol-containing minoxidil lotion. (7)(8)
How Often Should Minoxidil Shampoo Be Used?
The half-life of topical minoxidil averages to be about 22 hours. This means that you would have to apply minoxidil topically at least once a day to get its definitive benefits.
While people who have an oily scalp due to excessive sebum production can shampoo their hair with minoxidil daily, others with a dry scalp may not be comfortable doing the same.
So, since the suggested use of topical minoxidil is 1–2 times per day, you need to, ideally, at least wash your hair using minoxidil shampoo more than 3–4 times per week. (9)
When Will the Results Show?
Available data of 5% minoxidil topical solution indicated that once-daily application of minoxidil foam for at least 12–24 weeks was required before expecting the desired results of hair growth.
Since minoxidil shampoos aren’t available in a high concentration of 5%, have relatively lower penetrability than minoxidil foam, and also may not be used once daily due to dryness of hair, it will take more than 12–24 weeks to see any evidence of hair growth. (9)
How to Boost the Effectiveness of Topical Minoxidil?
Using a derma roller while on minoxidil therapy can support your treatment by unlocking the pores in your skin, thereby resulting in improved transcutaneous absorption.
In one study, using a derma roller along with minoxidil was significantly better in promoting hair growth than using minoxidil only without a derma roller.
A derma roller (0.5 mm) can stimulate hair growth in men with AGA and is thus a safe and beneficial tool to treat hair loss with minoxidil therapy. (10)
Is It Normal to Shed Hair When Using Topical Minoxidil?
A few people have documented an increase in the shedding of hair when they first started therapy with minoxidil topical products. This may be because of minoxidil’s activity of shifting hairs from the resting telogen phase to the growing anagen phase.
The point to remember here is that shedding of hair is only a temporary side effect. It commonly happens 2–4 weeks after initiating minoxidil treatment and subsides soon after.
Note: If shedding continues for more than 4 weeks, discontinue the product and consult a doctor. (9)
Points to Remember
Remember the following when using minoxidil shampoo: (1)
- The use of minoxidil shampoo should be approached with caution, as it can potentially cause hypertrichosis, or unwanted hair growth. The incidence of hypertrichosis depends on the concentration of minoxidil used, with the highest risk experienced by those treated with 5% minoxidil shampoo.
- Unwanted hair growth in different body areas is more commonly experienced by females, although the reason for this is unclear.
- Excessive topical application of minoxidil can potentially cause systemic absorption, which can lead to excessive hair growth in nontreated areas.
Note: If hypertrichosis does occur, it typically resolves spontaneously after minoxidil treatment is stopped, with hair growth disappearing first from the face and arms (within 1–3 months), followed by the legs (within 4–5 months).
Therefore, it is important to use minoxidil shampoo as directed and to be aware of the potential risks and side effects associated with the treatment. (1)
Who Should Not Use Minoxidil Shampoo?
The contraindications of minoxidil are as follows: (11)
- Minoxidil should not be used by patients with a history of hypersensitivity to the drug or its components.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using minoxidil as it may cause rare cases of congenital disabilities, although it is not known to be teratogenic.
- Minoxidil products labeled for use on men should not be used by women.
- Do not use minoxidil if the reason for hair loss is unknown.
- Do not use minoxidil if there is no prior family history of hair loss or if hair loss occurs suddenly or in patches.
- Do not use minoxidil if hair loss is linked to childbirth.
- Do not use minoxidil if the patient is under 18 years old.
- Do not use minoxidil if the scalp is infected or inflamed or if another medication is already applied to the scalp.
What Type of Hair Loss Can’t Be Treated by Using Topical Minoxidil?
Topical minoxidil is not used for: (9)
- Hair loss with a family history of the condition
- Sudden hair loss
- Patchy hair loss
- Hair loss due to childbirth/pregnancy
When to See a Doctor
Stop the use of topical minoxidil products and see a doctor if you detect hypotension (lowering in blood pressure). Other symptoms associated with the use of topical minoxidil products that require medical advice include:
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Faintness or dizziness
- Sudden weight gain
- Swollen hands or feet
- Persistent redness of the scalp
- Irritation of the scalp
Most-Asked Questions About Minoxidil for Hair
Can children use minoxidil topically?
Topical minoxidil formulations are not FDA- approved in patients under 18 years old. Also, there are no guidelines for its use in children. (12)
Should I use a conditioner after using minoxidil shampoo?
Yes, it is generally safe to use conditioner after using minoxidil shampoo.
Is there any minoxidil conditioner?
There is no specific minoxidil conditioner available on the market.
What other shampoo formulations can I use for hair loss?
Based on anecdotal evidence, people with hair loss due to seborrhea or dandruff can benefit from both 1% and 2% ketoconazole shampoo, but it is believed that the stronger 2% formulation may lead to more significant results. (13)
Can I use biotin shampoo with minoxidil?
Yes, you can use biotin shampoo with minoxidil.
Can I go for keratin and other treatment in the salon while using minoxidil shampoo?
It is generally recommended to avoid using any other hair treatments or chemical products while using minoxidil shampoo.
How can I make minoxidil shampoo at home?
It is not recommended to make minoxidil shampoo at home as formulating hair care products requires precise measurements and expertise. Additionally, minoxidil is a medication that requires a prescription and should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
What herb works similarly to minoxidil?
Saw palmetto is an herb that is sometimes claimed to work in a similar way to minoxidil in promoting hair growth. Some studies have suggested that saw palmetto may have anti-androgenic effects, which could help to block the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can contribute to hair loss.
However, the evidence is not conclusive, and more research is needed to determine the efficacy of saw palmetto for hair growth.
It’s important to note that herbal remedies should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment, and always consult a healthcare professional before using any new supplement or medication. (14)
The benefits provided by minoxidil shampoo are still yet to be studied properly as there isn’t enough data to establish any findings. Also, since the product is relatively new, its long-term effects have to be taken with a grain of salt until an additional investigation is conducted.
Minoxidil shampoo isn’t quite different from other minoxidil topical products and is available at low concentrations. It is not as effective as minoxidil serums and foams, but upon proper research, it can open doors for promising results.
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