Minoxidil for Beard Growth: Most Frequently Asked Questions
Minoxidil & Beard Growth
The subject of applying Men's Rogaine, or more specifically its active ingredient Minoxidil 5%, has been rising into the mainstream narrative as thousands of men are embarking into this journey towards growing a better beard with it.
You simply apply it on your face, morning and night, everyday for around 8 months-2 years and in most cases, a beard will be significantly grown. It's both an exciting and lengthy journey.
There are over 8,000 searches on Google for "beard growth" a month. Vulnerable, beardless men scavenge through beard growth oils, beard growth supplements and pills to sooner or later realize that there really isn't much you can do to stimulate and boost beard gains. However...there is a significant amount of successful anecdotal reports and noteworthy scientific data that suggests Minoxidil 5% can indeed grow facial hair.
Here are some of the most FAQs regarding the application of this drug, in order to grow a beard faster and fuller.
[[As a disclaimer, the information provided is not to be taken as medical consultation. Use Minoxidil out of your own risk. It is widely accepted that Minoxidil 5% is safe and effective for hair regrowth, but many do report mild side effects such as heart palpitations. Affiliate links are offered in this article, which helps support our brand.]
Which brand of Minoxidil?
It depends which country you live in, but all brands of Minoxidil are equally effective if the active ingredient is Minoxidil 5%. Whichever pharmaceutical brand you choose, make sure Minoxidil 5% is the only active ingredient, and avoid brands that have azelaic acid and other actives inside. The concentration should be 5%.
Minoxidil Foam or Liquid?
In summary, liquid is cheaper but takes longer to dry. Foam is more expensive but dries much quicker. Both are theoretically equal in effectiveness.
Most recommend starting with the liquid; some use both liquid and foam throughout the day. Some people report that Minoxidil Liquid "feels" like it's more effective, but there's no evidence. I would suggest starting small (maybe a 3 months worth).
Kirkland's brand seems to be the cheapest, while still delivering the same benefits as more expensive brands (like Rogaine). Don't let the prices fool you, Minoxidil 5% is Minoxidil 5% no matter the brand. Just be wary that the bottle doesn't have any other active ingredients.
3 Month's Liquid Supply for $15 here.
1 Month's Liquid Supply for $1.18 here.
How Long to Leave it On/Can I Wash it Off? How Should I Start?
Do I need to take biotin, dermaroll, or use moisturizers? You just start. Buy a supply of Minoxidil liquid/foam, and start applying once a day. When you feel comfortable, apply the recommended daily dosage, which is twice a day, once in the morning and night. Use 1mL per application.
With Minoxidil, it is best to leave it on, without other cosmetics, for 4 hours as that will maximize its absorption rate. Because Minoxidil foam dries very quickly, you can probably wash it off after 1 hour (my opinion). With Minoxidil liquid, it's best to leave it on for at least 2 hours to fully dry. But again, 4 hours is recommended for maximum absorption.
How Long Will I Be On the Journey?
Back then, people used to say 6 months. Then it changed to generally a year. Nowadays, accounting for the slower gainers and multitude of anecdotes, the journey generally lasts between 1.5 years - 2 years. This may seem forever, but keep in mind that balding men and women generally use Minoxidil on their scalps for 5 years+.
However, there is no exact time frame, as it depends on every unique person. It is very important, however, that all of the gains are thick, terminal hairs. If they are still immature, vellus hairs ("baby hairs"), they will likely fall off. This is why the journey takes so long; your goal is to turn those baby hairs into grown adult hairs.
How Long to See Progress?
Generally, you will start seeing noticeable, exciting results after 8-10 weeks. After this period, you will most likely encounter phases of shedding and stagnation, and then spikes in growth. Sometimes growth is continuously steady, while sometimes it's up and down. In some cases, users experience huge growth in just 3-6 weeks, while some experience very modest results after 2 years+. Every person is different.
Most Common Side effects?
The most common side effects include: dry skin/skin irritation and heart palpitations. These typically dissipate and are not serious. You can explore all of the potential side effects in this blog post.
Dryness/flaky skin = Expected. First week will probably be worst, then your skin will adjust. Use moisturizers generously after 2-4 hours upon application. Some good moisturizers include Carrier Oils, Vaseline, and Jamaican Black Castor Oil. Avoid cleansers with sulfates, as these will make your skin even more dry.
How long for vellus hairs, or "baby" hairs, to become thick, terminal hairs?
The vellus hairs will shed and be replaced with a terminal hair and there is no timescale for how long this takes. It could take 6 weeks, or 6 months even. But when the hairs begin to shed, this is a good sign that new thicker hairs will soon replace them.
Hair growth cycle:
Will my beard shed?
Slight shedding is normal and expected, and you already shed a good amount of hairs daily anyways. One of Minoxidil's mechanisms of actions involve affecting the hair growth cycle: anagen, catagen, telogen. When the hair sheds, it just means that those individual hairs are going through the natural hair growth cycle. The hairs that are shed will be replaced my new hairs, either vellus or terminal.
Will my (scalp) hair fall off?
When minoxidil is absorbed onto the facial hair area, this absorption can deliver its effects on other parts of your body as well. This means that hair growth and hair shedding can result in your scalp hair as well. When the hair/beard sheds, it's natural to be worried but as explained, it is a part of the hair growth cycle. It is normal, and you should not be worried as the shedding would only be minor and temporary.
In other cases, some people are genetically predisposed with a form of alopecia. In these cases, Minoxidil would not be the cause, genetics would be the playing factor here. Also, if you're genetically predisposed with the male pattern baldness gene, then Minoxidil would not be the reason for your hair shedding...unfortunately this type of hair loss is very hard to treat.
Can I shave/trim?If you want, but it will not make your beard grow faster. Shaving to grow thicker hairs is probably the most common beard myth you will hear. If your beard is getting very thick, then shaving will allow for easier absorption of Minoxidil. It's up to you.
What else should I do when first starting out?Apply Minoxidil once or twice depending on the degree of side effects you first may experience. Use moisturizer to tackle dryness. Avoid over-cleansing/cleansers with sulfates. Take a multivitamin pill. Workout, eat right, and have a healthy lifestyle. And don't shave obviously (until it gets messy).
Should I take biotin?
You can, but it is not necessary to consume it everyday especially because a standard diet will have a sufficient amount of Biotin anyway. Some even experience acne breakouts from taking it too often. 5,000mcg a few times a week is adequate. You can get this supplement here.
Should I avoid DHT-Blockers?
To answer this question, you'll first have to understand...
The Difference Between Scalp Hair & Facial Hair
Firstly, there is a distinct difference between scalp hair and facial hair. So as of now, discontinue use of any scalp related products on your beard. Those soaps are full of harsh chemicals, and those oil stripping shampoos and conditioners? Your current beard doesn’t appreciate it.
Beard follicles are dependent on androgens, or “male hormones”. The androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is primarily responsible for beard growth. This is basically the bigger brother of testosterone.
Conversely, scalp hair follicles actually miniaturize and become less active under DHT. Notice how many bald men have legendary beards? That's no coincidence.
These androgens act together in facial hair development. "T for hair follicle priming and DHT for promotion of linear growth" is what this study claimed.
...Now back to the question, "Should I avoid DHT-Blockers?"
Many Minoxidil users are religiously against anything that can lower their DHT production. Essentially these DHT-Blockers are in all sorts of foods and products, so avoiding them would be extremely difficult. Chances are, the majority of your cosmetics have ingredients that may decrease DHT production.
So wouldn't it make sense to avoid decreased DHT? Yes, it would make sense. But in my personal opinion, attempting to avoid DHT-blockers is a burden that does not seem substantially justified. The mechanisms for hair/beard growth depend on so many different factors, such as sulfotransferase activity, blood circulation, susceptibility of potassium channels, etc. So I take the position that avoiding DHT-blockers will not have any noticeable effects on your beard growth rate because of this complexity. This my opinion of course, so do what you must!
After quitting, will the gains fall off?
No. The hairs that are likely to fall off are the non-mature vellus hairs. You will have to wait till all of your vellus hairs transition into terminal for you to keep the gains. If you stop using Minoxidil and your hairs are not terminal, then do not be surprised if they fall off.
What are signs that I should quit?
After some time using Minoxidil, you may ask yourself this question. This is a personal question, but here are my recommendations that it may be time to throw in the towel:
- The experience of unpleasant, mild side effects that do not seem to go away
- The experience of unpleasant, mild side effects that simply don't justify your personal reason for continuing.
- The experience of serious side effects, which you can check out here. (You should immediately stop if you experience these effects, seriously)
- Very insignificant results even after 6-8 months of consistent daily application. The definition of "very insignificant" is unique to each individual. (By all means, continue if hope is still present)
Will Minoxidil cause acne?
It can, as well as hundreds of other things, but some people have also reported Minoxidil clearing up their acne. Minoxidil dries your skin and dry skin can lead to acne if the dryness is excessive. In contrast, drying up very oily skin can be beneificial.
If you do start experiencing breakouts, check your diet, assess certain supplements you may be taking, and actively treat your dry skin with quality skin care products. It is very possible for acne prone people to maintain clear skin and still simultaneously use Minoxidil. Try to solve the acne before you decide to quit.
Where to order Minoxidil?
Minoxidil 5% is so far the most practical and effective way you can speed up your beard growth. If you've been thinking about buying Beard Growth Pills, "Elixers", or any other kind of "Beard Growth Booster XL" product, don't waste your money. These products are basically multivitamin pills or oils, and they don't have significant evidence for hair growth effects.
Starting out with a 3 month's supply is optimal. This will give you enough time to see how your body reacts, and you should see some noticeable gains. Keep in mind, you'll have to use it much longer than 3 month's however.
Here are the cheapest sources for Minoxidil:
3 Month's Liquid Supply for $15 here.
12 Month's Supply for $50 here.
As it may seem unnecessary to say, I am not a certified medical consultant so take this general advice with a grain of salt and conduct some more research on your own. Like all drugs, there are side effects, serious and unserious, and each individual reacts differently. For the most part, Minoxidil is not detrimental towards your health, sex-drive, or well-being in short-term and long-term; and millions use it everyday for years. If you want to check out some of the possible side effects, check out this blog here.
Please understand that the Minoxidil journey...is a journey. It will require patience, willpower, persistence, and hope in order to pursue the hair/beard of your desire. Don't expect to achieve significant results within a short period of time, otherwise you will likely give up and have wasted your time and money. Minoxidil is for longer term. For motivation, there are countless forums, Youtubers, and communities all on this journey!
Good luck and take care!