Does minoxidil work
American Academy of Dermatology, one of the most influential dermatology associations in the world, has stated in its campaign in August 2003, that the 2 most efficient solutions for people suffering from hair loss were: minoxidil topical solution, finasteride (better known as Propecia) oral drug and hair transplant.
This in itself could be implied that minoxidil does work because it had undergone many tests to prove its effectiveness before being approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Minoxidil and finasteride can be ingredients for many drugs, but only Rogaine and Propecia are approved for hair loss problems by FDA (first one in 1988 and the other 10 years later).
Both of these hair loss treatments were discovered by chance: initially minoxidil was used for high blood pressure problems and finasteride was used for increased prostate.
Minoxidil grows hair but does not stop hair loss
Rogaine, having minoxidil as active ingredient (in 80% ethanol solution, water and Propylene Glycol) is applied topically twice a day and helps the hair growth with visible effects on the crowns of men's heads and on the forehead areas for women (but it does not cure the hair loss).
Propecia, having 1 mg of finasteride, is taken orally and decreases the level of androgens, the hormone that causes the hair loss. Women cannot use Propecia. Instead, they may try to use another DHT blocker, Revivogen.
While we don't no exactly how minoxidil works, for finasteride is quite clear: restrains the action of 5 alpha enzyme and that shrinks the transformation of testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone ). The positive effect is that having less DHT, the miniaturization of the hair follicles will also be decreased. But having a diminished level of testosterone can lead to side effects like: depression, a loss of muscle mass, a decreased sex drive, an erectile dysfunction.
Study showing minoxidil is effective for both men and women
The conclusion of a 48 weeks study published by “Dermatology Times” in 2003 showed that minoxidil 5% is by far more efficient than minoxidil 2% for men hair loss problem. For women though, the 2% concentration is recommended because in the trial studies the 5% concentration didn't have better effects than the 2% formula.
Higher concentration minoxidil
Nowadays there are also drugs with minoxidil 15%. They are not approved by FDA, but if you still want to try them you have to talk to a physician first. And don't start using them if by applying minoxidil 2% and 5% you have experienced major side effects.
A simple answer to the question “does minoxidil work” cannot be given because for some people does, for others it doesn't. Minoxidil is to be used daily and the positive effects have to appear in 2-4 months. If after 6 month of topical application they haven't become visible, then that is the sign that it doesn't work for you and a new drug should be tried.
The overall conclusion is that minoxidil works because it is effective at recruiting hair at the follicles, especially when used with DHT inhibitors such as Propecia. It is also true that many users do not give minoxidil sufficient time for it work. They either do not apply as instructed or simply give up too soon. It can take anything between 6 and 12 months for some to see any results. Of course, many users get results within 3 or 4 month of starting.