If you’re losing your hair, you’ve probably already heard of minoxidil, or Rogaine.
This popular hair loss treatment is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It’s available over the counter as a liquid or foam to treat male and female pattern baldness (also known as androgenetic alopecia).
Rogaine does work to some extent as evidenced by clinical studies, but only for certain types of baldness and only if you keep up with its application. But it won’t work for everyone. If it does work, you probably won’t grow back all of the hair you’ve lost, and it can take up to four months to see results. You’ll have to use Rogaine indefinitely to maintain any regrowth.
Clinical studies have indeed shown that Rogaine can effectively regrow hair in some people. In the large clinical study that led to the drug’s approval in 1987, 40 percent of men had moderate to dense hair growth on the crown of their head. In a one-year observational study, 62 percent of the 984 men using 5 percent minoxidil reported a reduction in hair loss. As for hair regrowth, the drug was rated as “very effective” in 16 percent of participants, “effective” in 48 percent, “moderately effective” in 21 percent, and “ineffective” in 16 percent. The side effects were minimal.
Clinical studies were also done in women. In one double-blind study, 19 percent of women ages 18 to 45 using Rogaine for eight months reported moderate hair regrowth, while 40 percent had minimal growth (compared to 7 percent and 33 percent for placebo, respectively).