You are using, or are considering using Rogaine to regrow your hair and want to know how long it takes to work! In this article I’m going to show you with case studies and clinical trials what results you can expect and in what time frame.
At the end of this article I’m also going to reveal to you 3 ways you can dramatically reduce how long minoxidil takes to work, by massively increasing its effectiveness.
Rogaine is an FDA approved hair loss treatment, and the most popular topical treatment in the world. However, results don’t come overnight.
You will need to stick with it to see visible results.
Let’s take a closer look to see how, why and how quickly it works, so you know what to expect.
Note: Take the 6 part quiz at the bottom of this page to calculate your ‘hair loss reversibility score’ out of 100, when you’ve finished reading this article.
Who Is Rogaine For?
Rogaine can be used by both men and women who have thinning or receding hair. Men who use it are most likely to be suffering from androgenic alopecia.
This is the term used to describe the hair loss that affects the temples and crown of the head in men , and is sometimes referred to as male-pattern baldness.
It is caused by the action of DHT (a variant of the hormone testosterone) on the hair follicles. You can read more about DHT in our report.
URGENT: If you are interested in finding out if you are a suitable candidate for holistically treating your hair loss, then check out our quiz, which will let you know if you can try other techniques on your hair and scalp.
How Does Hair Grow?
In order to understand how Minoxidil works you will need to understand how hair grows normally, and what is different in people with a genetic susceptibility to lose their hair.
There are three different phases in the life cycle of every hair, whether it is growing on your toes on on the top of your head. These three phases are:
This is the phase your hair is in most of the time. It is the ‘growing’ phase which sees the hair on your head grow about half an inch a month, though this is faster in the summer than in the winter.
This phase is the longest of all and can last 3-5 years before it enters the next phase.
Interestingly Asians have a much longer anagen phase that can last up to seven years, and subsequently they can grow their hair longer.
This short phase occurs at the end of the anagen phase and lasts approximately 10 days.
This is the phase where the hair falls out. Luckily, this happens gradually so that each hair falls out at a different time. The average person sheds 80 hairs a day.
This period of three months occurs after the telogen phase, and ends when the next anagen phase starts, repeating the cycle again.
These phases occur in normal healthy people, and aren’t usually disrupted.
However, it is important to note that the body can react to stresses, such as extreme dieting or other pressures, by entering telogen effluvium, which means all your hair falls out at once.
If you have androgenic alopecia then the hair follicles will become smaller and smaller, making the hair that grows during the anagen cycle thinner and weaker.
They will fall out more easily, and will appear much finer before you eventually lose the hair for good.
Understanding hair growth cycles demonstrates just how important it is to ensure that you approach your hair loss holistically, so your body can repair itself the best it can.
Read my article on how to regrow your hair naturally for some of these tips.
How Does Minoxidil Work?
Though no one is sure exactly how minoxidil works, it is thought that it allows more oxygen and nutrients to get to the follicles where the hair grows.
Minoxidil was eventually developed as a vasodilator, before researchers saw that it had hair growth promoting properties.
This characteristic helps the hair grow back thicker and healthier than before, and this improves with each hair cycle that someone uses Minoxidil for, according to the journal of Dermatologic Therapy.
This is as Minoxidil induces the anagen phase of hair growth, and makes small vellus follicles (the kind the rest of your finer body hair grows out of) turn into terminal follicles, which grow long, thick, head hairs.
As you already know androgenic alopecia is caused by the gradual narrowing of the hair follicles, which makes the hair frailer, less visible and more likely to fall out.
Minoxidil reverses this process.
Those of you paying attention, may also have realised that it will take up to three months for the next anagen phase to start after a hair falls out, so you are going to have to wait at least that long to see any changes, and potentially a bit longer.
What Can I Expect If I Use Rogaine?
If you use Rogaine according to the manufacturer’s instructions you will need to apply it to the dry scalp, twice a day. That is the case for both the foam and the solution.
One of the more startling effects of using Rogaine is that you will experience a phenomenon called ‘shedding’ in the first two weeks. This means that the hair is falling out, to make way for new, hopefully thicker, hair.
It may take up to four months before you see new hair growing, and even then, this hair may be colourless and fine. This is due to the action of hormones on your hair follicles, which makes them smaller.
It aims to reverse this, but it may take some time to get your hair back to its original state. It is expected that hair will get thicker as time goes on.
If you haven’t seen any improved hair growth after four months it is recommended that you stop treatment.
How Much Hair Will I Grow?
A study issued in 2015 looked at the impact of using 5 per cent Minoxidil (which is the concentration Rogaine comes in) on people with androgenic alopecia, and showed that while 40 per cent of users had some hair regrowth, this typically took three to six months to take effect.
Earlier studies published in American Family Physician showed that those who used the product for two years, had significant terminal (thick and long) hair growth, demonstrating the length of time it may take to see optimal results.
That study also showed that it could in fact take up to six months to see any results, which is significantly longer than the four months suggested by the manufacturer.
This study also found that 50 per cent of men who used Minoxidil for 2.5 years could grow hair of moderate to dense thickness.
In fact, 32 per cent of these men needed that hair to be cut and 36 percent felt that it was worth the time and money to continue treatment.
However you should note that the effectiveness of the product varied depending on where the thinning was on the head.
The ideal candidate had been bald for fewer than five years, with a bald patch that was fewer than 4 inches, or 10cm, in diameter, and located on the vertex, or top of the head.
The chart below shows how the ideal candidate for Minoxidil treatment scores between III-V vertex on the Hamilton chart.
While men who have a greater level of hair loss may still try to use Rogaine, you can see from the following diagram that satisfaction with the results drops off for men who score higher than a V on the Hamilton chart.
Men who stopped using minoxidil showed a rapid loss of the hair that was gained during therapy. Three months after discontinuation of therapy, hair counts were at or below baseline hair counts, the study went on to show.
This means that Rogaine needs to be used permanently. Androgenic alopecia (one of the main causes of hair loss) is due to the action of hormones which are always being produced by the body.
Even if you get good effects with Rogaine you are going to need to continue to use it, or the hair growth you may have experienced will be lost.
What Are The Side Effects?
All medicines have some risks associated with them, and Rogaine is no different. While this product is relatively well tolerated, it can cause dandruff and dryness of the scalp. Some even get contact dermatitis from it, which is a bit like eczema.
Dandruff can contribute to hair problems, so if this is something you suffer from while using it, then stop immediately and consider some of our more natural approaches to dandruff treatment (and learn about why you should never use Head and Shoulders!).
Some people can be allergic to the chemical and end up with breathing difficulties and tachycardia.Obviously this is extremely rare, but usage would need to be stopped immediately.
And if you think those side effects are bad, just take a look at Finasteride, which is a prescription drug taken orally once daily.
Not so bad, you think? It has been linked to low libido and poor erections in a significant minority of the men who take it. So if you don’t want to deal with even more nasty side-effects then give that one a miss.
Rogaine contains chemicals that may not suit some people, or just doesn’t work for some.
You shouldn’t be overly let down if it doesn’t work for you, as there are a wealth of other regimes you could try, such as our holistic approach to hair regrowth.
Tricks To Make Rogaine More Effective/Work Faster
You’re wondering about how long this topical treatment takes to work, but did you know there are a few simple tricks that make it work more effectively?
The first one is to use something called a dermaroller.
Using A Dermaroller
This is a small roller device which is covered in tiny metal pins. The pins penetrate the dermal layer, just deep enough to wound the skin and increase collagen production, stimulate blood flow and reduce calcification.
Studies have shown that using a dermaroller in combination with minoxidil is much more effective.
Just look at the graph below:
After 12 weeks the dermaroller + minoxidil combination went from 226 to 317 = 91. Minoxidil by itself went from 201 to 218 = 17.
91/17 = 5.35. Therefore using a dermaroller along with minoxidil makes it 5 X (at least 500%) more effective than minoxidil alone. Pretty impressive right?
The best place to use the dermaroller (also known technically as microneedling) is along the hairline, where it can be used to directly stimulate hair growth.
Scalp Massage & Exercises
Scalp massages and exercises are one of my personal favourite ways to regrow hair!
Because they work.
They even work without using any topical treatments such as minoxidil. However, if you are intent on using Rogaine, I suggest you also use scalp massages and exercises to accelerate the growth rate.
The goal of the exercises/massages is to detach the scalp from the cranial bone, reduce calcification, increase blood flow and make the scalp more flexible, elastic and soft.
These are all conditions that make new hair growth much more likely.
Just look at someone with a bald head and you’ll see how stiff, shiny and thin the scalp is. This is what causes hair follicle miniaturization in the first place.
Combining Rogaine with these techniques makes the product so much more effective.
And remember, you can also use the dermaroller as well.
I’m not going to go into detail about the exact massage and exercise techniques you need to use to most effectively trigger hair growth, because that is a large topic.
But if you want to learn more then you can check out Hair Equilibrium where we have HD video demonstrations of all the techniques.
Using A Natural Alternative To Rogaine
Did you know there is a natural alternative to Rogaine that is clinically proven to increase hair growth more effectively than minoxidil itself.
There is actually more than 1 alternative, but I want to focus on only one in this article: Peppermint essential oil.
In this study, 3% peppermint essential oil was applied to the scalp and proved to be more effective than minoxidil after 4 weeks:
See how the hair growth score is much higher for peppermint oil than for minoxidil!
In addition to this, peppermint oil also doesn’t have the side-effects associated with Rogaine, such as itchiness, and baggy eyes. It’s 100% natural and good for your skin and hair in the long term.
This isn’t the only natural substance that works topically to regrow hair, there are some really effective combinations out there.
Rogaine can work for up to 40 per cent of people who have male pattern baldness, and it is certainly an option if you want to try it.
However, the cost associated with committing to using this over-the-counter pharmacy product is high, and as it has to be used permanently this is something you need to consider when committing to using it.
There are, as with any drug, potential side effects, but If it doesn’t work for you, then don’t despair.
If you have tried Rogaine and found that it didn’t reduce your hair loss, then learn more about what natural methods really work in our Scalp Secrets guide.
- If Rogaine didn’t work for you then maybe a chemical approach isn’t the best thing. Stop using anything that contains chemicals on your hair and scalp, and try out our homemade shampoo recipe.
- Try a diet that promotes healthy, strong hair growth. You can even use some of our recipes.
- Or at least make sure you aren’t eating anything that could make your hair worse. Check out our list of four foods you must avoid if you don’t want to go bald.
- If you are really serious, consider a seven day detox to kick start your new regime.