Minoxidil Side Effects Revealed – And 3 Better Natural Alternatives!!

Minoxidil products contain alcohol which can cause itching and dryness

In this article I’m going to show you the most common side effects of using minoxidil. And YES, there are some which will make you think twice about using it!

Secondly, I’m going to show you the alternative that I use everyday instead. It’s 100% natural, cheaper and has been proven more effective than minoxidil in scientific studies.

Wait, what!!

You mean there is a completely natural substance that is even more effective at hair regrowth than minoxidil – but without the nasty side-effects??

YES – That’s exactly what I mean.

It’s like super-minoxidil without the side effects.

The drug companies don’t want you to know about this!

Thirdly, I’ll show you the simple device you can use to increase the effectiveness of minoxidil and my natural alternative by 45%. So you can use less and reduce the side effects even more.

At the bottom of this page there’s also a quiz that I recommend taking when you’ve finished reading. It will calculate for you how easy it will be to regrow your hair and takes only 1 minute.

1 month supply of rogaine (minoxidil)Minoxidil In The Treatment Of Hair Loss

Minoxodil is a vasodilator which has been shown to reduce and slow hair loss in those who suffer from alopecia.

It is speculated that the active form of the drug, minoxidil sulfate, triggers the dilation of capillaries in the scalp which supply hair follicles, thus improving their function and stimulating hair growth.

It is thought that hairs which are already in the telogen phase – the final stage of a hair’s development, are shed as a result of this, to be replaced by stronger and healthier hairs in the anagen, or growth, phase.

It is often taken along with other synthetic drugs designed to prevent hair loss, such as finasteride, and is often required to be used as preparation for hair transplant surgery like Neograft.

See also, topical finasteride.

How It Is Applied?

Minoxidil is commonly used in both foam and topical solution forms in the treatment of hair loss. It is commercially marketed and sold as Rogaine. It is applied topically and massaged into the scalp as a liquid, foam or cream

The drug is left to be absorbed into the scalp, where it is converted into its active form and stimulates the widening of the capillaries supplying blood and nutrients to the hair follicles.

How Much Is Taken?

The FDA has now approved the use of 5% minoxidil foam for both men and women, whereas the use of 5% topical solution has only been approved for men.

There is a 2% solution which was approved for women’s use in 1992. The manufacturer recommends that people use half a cap full, twice daily – in the morning and at night time.

How Long Does It Take To Work?

The manufacturer of Rogaine states that it may take up to four months to start seeing the effects of minoxidil topical solution and foam.

There is a body of anecdotal evidence suggesting that the topical solution leads to better results, as it is applied with more precision to the scalp, whereas the foam may be left on the stem of the hair if not properly massaged into the scalp.

In the case of people with advanced alopecia, there may be no positive effect at all.

If the scalp does not contain hair follicles, growth cannot be stimulated.

Here’s a study about 5% vs. 2% minoxidil for men and women.

Consideration Before Using Minoxidil

Dryness and itchiness caused by dandruff can make hair fall out more easily

Minoxidil (MXD) is popularly used in topical form to curb the progress of androgenic alopecia and may not be appropriate for the treatment of other forms of alopecia.

If you are not sure as to the cause of your hair loss, consult your physician before using minoxidil, especially if you have no family history of hair loss.

If you already know that you are allergic to any of the ingredients, it goes without saying that you should avoid using it.

If you are allergic to propylene glycol, you should avoid using the topical MXD solution as it is known to provoke dermatitis in some people. Minoxidil foam does not contain propylene glycol.

Pregnant and breast-feeding women are advised not to use minoxidil as the drug’s effects on the fetus are not yet known, and it may well turn out to be harmful to unborn babies.

Those who are already taking other forms of medication and people with cardiovascular problems, hypertension and hypotension are advised to consult their physician before using minoxidil.

As the drug is absorbed into the blood, it is possible that it could interact with other medicines, with unforeseen effects.

MXD is not approved for use by those under 18 years of age as its effects have not fully been studied yet. If the area of skin you want to treat is inflamed or irritated, you should avoid use.

Don’t apply it to facial or body parts other than the top of your head, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after each application.

Minoxidil foam may cause dizziness, especially when used with alcohol or certain other drugs. It is advisable to apply it the first times in a safe environment so as to be able to gauge your reaction to the drug.

Avoid driving and other hazardous tasks until you are sure it won’t make you dizzy.

The alcohol in most MXD products can also cause itching and irritation, which is why an alcohol-free version is recommended.

I did a review of the popular minoxidil brand Kirkland and how it compares to Rogaine here.

Man pulling out his hairReported Common Side Effects

Most common side effects of using minoxidil do not pose an immediate threat to your health, but if they become bothersome, you should cease using the drug until you have consulted your physician.

The most common symptom is itching of the skin and the appearance of a rash.

As mentioned earlier, this is also a common allergic reaction to propylene glycol – if you are using minoxidil topical solution and experience such side effects, you may find that they disappear if you switch to using minoxidil foam.

Rare Side Effects

Severe side effects from using minoxidil are very uncommon, but urgent medical attention must be sought if any of the following symptoms are experienced:

  1. Swelling of the hands or feet
  2. Unexplained weight gain
  3. Chest pain
  4. Dizziness
  5. Loss of consciousness
  6. Difficulty breathing
  7. Palpitations
  8. Severe rashes, hives
  9. Swelling of the tongue or lips

Many of the side effects listed above can be caused by absorption of too much MXD into the bloodstream. If you resume use of the drug, ensure that you are administering the correct dosage and check this your physician.

Update! Bags Under Eyes & Dark Circles

We get a lot of emails and comments from minoxidil users here at the website and one thing that seems to keep coming up is that dark circles can be one of the biggest unexpected effects.

And it doesn’t just seem like this is related to lack of sleep. There seems to be a clear connection for some users that minoxidil has caused dark circles around their eyes which hasn’t quickly cleared up even after stopping use.

If this is something you’ve experienced then please write a comment in the box at the bottom of the article giving your experience. This would be greatly appreciated.

Complications

Minoxidil foam and topical solution should only be applied according to specified directions. It should be kept well out of the reach of children.

If you get it in your eyes, nose or mouth, rinse it out immediately and thoroughly using cool water.

It should be stored in a securely and tightly closed container, away from direct sunlight or appliances which give off heat. It is ideally stored at room temperature (between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit, or 20 and 25 degrees Celcius).

If you or another person have ingested minoxidil, you must seek emergency medical attention.

Do not smoke when using MXD foam or directly after using it, as the foam is highly flammable and contact with hot smoke or a flame could result in serious injury.

Minoxidil In The Treatment Of Hypertension & Related Side Effects

Minoxidil’s role as a vasodilator is also what helps it play an effective part in the treatment of hypertension. It is usually taken in pill form along with a diuretic.

By triggering a widening of the blood vessels, it helps reduce the overall pressure of the blood being pumped around the body.

As the body starts to adjust to the lower body pressure, users may experience dizziness and drowsiness.

This is a normal and expected side effect of using minoxidil in the treatment of hypertension, but it should not happen when using the drug as a topical treatment for hair loss, in which case treatment must be stopped and urgent medical attention must be found.

Other adverse effects that have been noted as a result of using minoxidil as a treatment for hypertension are:

  1. Chest pain
  2. Nausea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Changes in body hair
  5. Fever
  6. Headache

Further Complications

Scalp calcification reduces blood flow to hair follicles which causes miniaturization and eventually follicle death.

Perhaps more of interest to those using MXD as a topical treatment for hair loss, are the dermatological side effects sometimes associated with oral minoxidil.

Some of those treated noticed a change in the color of their body hair, along with longer and thicker hairs – a symptom of hypertrichosis.

The first areas to be affected are typically the temples and between the eyebrows, and may be noted between three and six weeks after commencement of treatment.

Cessation of treatment results in a lack of new growth, however, it can take up to six months of abstention from the drug to return the user’s appearance to normal.

A serious side effect of using oral minoxidil is increased salt and water retention. Up to 7% of those treated with the drug have been found to develop temporary edemas.

Likewise, in some cases, inflammation of the pericardium – the membrane surrounding the heart, has been noted, along with pericardial effusion – a serious condition.

It has also been noted that in 60% of those using the treatment, heart rhythm changes, although there is no outward presentation of this.

In addition to this, laboratory tests on blood, liver and kidneys may show changes in results, influenced by the use of minoxidil.

Likewise, such changes do not manifest themselves in any visible symptoms.

Are There Any Alternatives To Minoxidil?

Applying a topical natural liquid to the scalp

Are there any alternatives to minoxidil that don’t have the horrible effects of using a chemical on your skin everyday?

Yes, there are.

They use natural ingredients to block DHT topically as well as promoting hair growth through increased circulation.

I have written longer articles about removing DHT from the scalp naturally, as well as making a homemade minoxidil so I won’t go into too much depth.

I recommend you read both of those articles, but I will summarise the alternative to minoxidil quickly here.

Ingredients:

  1. Hyaluronic acid (6 parts)
  2. Saw palmetto (1 part)
  3. Apply polyphenol (1 part)
  4. Tea tree oil (1 part)
  5. Emu oil (2 parts)
  6. Pumpkin seed oil (1 part)

The ‘parts’ represent the ratio of ingredients, so how much you make is up to you. You can store the mixture in the fridge for a month or so.

Rub the mixture into your scalp (especially around the area of thinning or receding hair.) Let the mixture sit on the scalp for around 10 minutes before washing off thoroughly with mild warm water.

A Simple, Natural Alternative To Minoxidil Without Side Effects

peppermint leaves and oil on a table

Here’s a recipe I use everyday to protect my hairline from receding.

It works more effectively than minoxidil, it’s also cheaper and doesn’t have the adverse effects of a chemical because you’ll only be using natural ingredients.

Firstly, take some magnesium oil. Magnesium oil helps reduce calcification in the scalp. With a 200ml bottle of magnesium oil add around 10ml of peppermint essential oil and 10ml of rosemary essential oil.

From the graph below it’s clear that peppermint oil (PEO) ranks above minoxidil (MXD) for hair regrowth effectiveness.

Even the title of the study from 2014 was “Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs” showing that the side effects associated with peppermint oil are non-exsistant compared to minoxidil.

The results of using peppermint oil for hair loss

Both of these essential oils have proven to be more effective than minoxidil by themselves. They’re also natural, and easy and cheap to find. When mixed with magnesium oil they become even more powerful.

Mix thoroughly and use the magnesium spray bottle to apply to the hairline each night before bed. In the morning wash out the mixture with cool water.

Formulated Hair Growth Elixir

  • Natural extracts blocks DHT on the scalp
  • Cleans & unblocks the scalp pores
  • Provides essential nutrients and minerals
  • Fights scalp calcification and fibrosis
  • Stimulates blood flow to the hairfollicles

How To Make Topical Treatments More Effective

There is a simple, yet incredibly effective way to make minoxidil, or even better, the natural alternatives I’ve suggested. This can allow you to use less of the liquid, which can help to decrease any adverse effects.

This method is to use a dermaroller, in a process called microneedling.

There are convincing studies that how microneedling helps to drastically increase the effectiveness of minoxidil.

Here are the results from a study conducted in 2013:

Improved hair count of microneedling minoxidil group

As you can see from the graph above, the mean hair count  after 12 weeks for the dermaroller + minoxidil group was 317 vs. 218. That’s a 45% increase in effectiveness.

Here’s a further breakdown of the results:

As you can see from patients 1 and 2 below from the microneedling group, the results were impressive:

Before and after photos of minoxidil group + dermaroller

My point here is that if you’re worried about the adverse effects that are associated with minoxidil, firstly, why not try a homemade mixture that’s more effective and 100% natural?

Secondly, why not increase your results, so you can use less liquid by using a dermaroller, thereby decreasing associated adverse effects?

Update! Have You Heard Of Oleuropein?

The olive plant contains Oleuropein

Oleuropein is a compound derived from the leaves of the olive tree and it’s also found in argan oil.

There was a really interesting study done in 2015 on the topical application of Oleuropein for hair growth and how it compared to minoxidil, and I think you’ll find the results quite interesting.

Although the study was carried out on mice, and only lasted 28 days the results are very encouraging.

Oleuropein beat minoxidil in every criteria that the researchers used to assess how well topical solutions regrew hair, there were:

  1. Hair follicle length
  2. Hair follicle diameter
  3. Number of hair follicles
  4. Skin thickness (important for blood flow to hair follicle)
  5. Dermal papilla cell proliferation

As you can see from the diagram below, after 28 days OP (Oleuropein) had regrown the hair more than MXD (minoxidil) and much more than the control.

Oleuropein hair length mice

The number of hair follicles, and the hair follicle diameter was also significantly better with OP than with MXD as you can see from the graph below:

The thickness of the skin can be used as an indicator for how well the hair will grow. With thicker dermal layer suggesting higher blood flow and nutriment going to the hair.

Again, we can see from the graphs from the 2015 study that OP clearly outperforms the control and the minoxidil topical solutions.

 

Finally, we can see the OP stimulates the growth of the number of viable dermal papilla cells (the cells responsible for growing the hair follicles.)

With all this evidence for the nasty side-effects of using minoxidil, and the evidence of the efficacy of natural alternatives, by now you should be asking yourself, why even use minoxidil at all?

Conclusion

It is important to consult with a physician before taking minoxidil due to the various complications and nasty unintended effects that it can present.

Each individual may react differently to the drug, according to their personal circumstances and state of health.

It is impossible to know the short and long-term effects of using minoxidil in conjunction with other medications, although your health care professional will be able to tell you if you should avoid use.

Be that as it may, in the cases where side effects are reported as a result of minoxidil, most are not severe, and subside with cessation of usage.

By far the most likely side effect is irritation of the skin, which may not be caused by the active ingredient itself. In such cases, treatment may be continued by using minoxidil without propylene glycol.

Before using minoxidil, it is essential to understand the cause of hair loss.

Minoxidil has been shown to be effective in certain people who suffer from particular conditions such as androgenic alopecia, but is not an effective treatment for other types of hair loss, which may have other causes such as stress or fungal infection – for which there is often already a different, effective treatment.

Is Your Hair Loss Reversible?

Question 1 (of 6)

How many years have you had hair loss for?
Select the number of years below.

  • Chug says:

    Hey will. I have been having a tingling sensation in my scalp.my hair are thin and I have been using minoxidil after a break. Could the tingling mean that dht is removed or is it being deposited?

    • Will Hartfield says:

      The tingling could be from the increased blood circulation that minoxidil causes, since its vasodilator and supposedly opens up the blood capillaries.

  • Chug says:

    Does minoxidil block dht or not?

    • Will Hartfield says:

      The way it works is generally believed to be via increased blood flow to the follicles, not by blocking DHT.

  • Danny says:

    Hi Will, now you mention it I do remember getting really bad dark circles around my eyes while I was on Rogaine. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but there was a noticeable difference, I just didn’t connect the two things. Thanks for pointing it out. All natural products or nothing at all for me, from now on.
    Dan

    • Will Hartfield says:

      Hi Danny, thanks for sharing that. That’s interesting! I wonder how quickly the dark circles went away after you stopped using it, if they ever did?
      Regards
      Will

  • Ravikant says:

    Thanks for sharing the natural alternatives. It looks like you did a lot of research into them. I used mxd for about 5 months, but I couldn’t stand the itching and I think my skin got dryer during that time. I want to try your product.

    • Will Hartfield says:

      Hi Ravikant, yep it’s best to avoid any products with alcohol in them, such as most minoxidil products. I would highly recommend trying our Scalp Elixir instead.

  • Verisco says:

    I used minoxidil for 4 1/2 months, and just recently stopped. I was sick for 4 weeks with nausea/diarrhea in the mornings, which started around 3 1/2 months and continued to get worse until I realized it was the minoxidil causing it. I’m feeling better now, it’s been a few days since I’ve used it.

    Honestly despite promising initial results in the first month (had plenty of vellus hairs appear on my cheeks, neck, etc.) the progress didn’t improve much after that and I achieved sparse transitional hairs for the most part. Guess they’ll be falling out now. I honestly used it to grow a beard, not for my head. Sucks watching my dream die again, and I doubt any of these natural prducts can help with that either.

    • Will Hartfield says:

      Hi Verisco,
      Thanks for sharing your experience with Minox, can I ask which specific product it was you were using?
      I’ve never heard first-hand about this particular type of side effect. I think these chemicals can affect the body in weird and unexpected ways.
      Have you thought about trying our Scalp Elixir? Studies show the ingredients we use can be more effective than minoxidil for regrowth, but are completely natural. I would recommend trying it for 2 months and seeing how you get on.
      Will

  • Dan says:

    Hi, how do you apply the oleuropein? Is it safe or beneficial to leave any of these “potions” on your scalp during the day or are they all rinsed off due to oiliness?

    • Will Hartfield says:

      In general, the longer you leave them on the better, because they have longer to absorb. However, they can make the hair look oily, which is why the best option is to leave them on overnight and then rinse out in the morning. The other option would be to apply on when you don’t mind your hair looking oily and then lightly rinse out (leaving some of the ingredients still on the scalp.)

  • Divya says:

    I am suffering with vertigo since 3 mnths bcz of using minoxydil .. initially I got rashes, bumps ,itching,ring sound in ears..I had MRI and ent checkups done.. everything is normal.despite using many medicines I cudnt get rid of vertigo..is this a permanent side effect of minoxydil..???I am worried..plz suggest ..

    • Will Hartfield says:

      I have never heard about vertigo from using minox. The other effects sound quite typical though. You would definitely want to talk to your doctor about this, but I would be confident that the effects would fade.

  • D Jan says:

    I used minoxidil 5%+12.5%cream for one month. I stopped it because I couldn’t breathe and there was black circle around my eyes and I m still not feeling good of chest pain and breathing.

    • Will Hartfield says:

      Hey there,
      Thanks for the comment. Those are some quite serious side-effects. I would definitely recommend going for a all-natural approach if you want to continue with a topical treatment.

  • Mark says:

    Hi,
    Many thanks for posting this information. Out of interest how long generally does the peppermint, rosemary in magnesium oil take to see results in hair growth?

    • Will Hartfield says:

      It varies for everyone. Some people don’t see results at all. Some people see new hairs after a month or so. If you’re only using topical treatments then you shouldn’t expect too much though because the problem really needs to be attacked from multiple angles.

  • Adal says:

    When you say rashes and hives does that mean it could develop anywhere on my body like the lower half aswell. Because it’s my 2 month of using Monoxidil and I have red bumps and constant itches on my lower and upper part of the body

    • Will Hartfield says:

      Yes it’s a possibility. I have heard of people getting it, not just on or close to the scalp. Did the itching start at a similar time to when you started minox?

  • Uriel Hurtado says:

    Hi, I’m from Colombia, I have used minoxidil for 3 months and in the last two weeks dark circles have appeared around my eyes. Also,
    I have felt pain chest occasionally, which is probably due to minoxidil

  • Gupta says:

    How often can we use the scalp elixir sir per week? with the 6 parts. I have scalp itching that has improved with acv + peppermint oil + tea tree oil + rosemary oil BEFORE SHOWER EVERYDAY FOR 30 MINS, regenepure dt shampoo every other day — what do you recommend?

  • Martin says:

    Hi, I have been using Minoxidil for 16 months and I have noticed this year my skin under the eyes is very tired and looks wrinkly and I have puffy dark bags under my eyes. The other side effect I have noticed is blurred vision. I didnt know what was causing it, I taked to my optician and they couldnt really help. Only then I came across an article where blurred vision is quoted as one of the recently reported side effects. I stoppped using Minoxidil two weeks ago and I have not yet seen any improvement in my skin under my eyes and I still blurred vission. Do you know if theese side effects are reversable and if so how long it may take to get back to normal? Thank you.

    • Will Hartfield says:

      Hi Martin, thanks for your feedback on what you experienced. Puffy dark bags seem to be fairly common for users. The blurry vision is a less known effect, but that is quite scary. I would be hopeful that your bags and vision would return to normal over the next few months. It’s hard to say though, it varies for everyone. I don’t know why it has this effect on the eyes and eye bags in particular. it would be worth looking into. Could you update us with your progress in a few weeks or months?
      Thanks
      Will

  • Dennis says:

    I applied it on my beard, but I started experiencing hair loss on my head, why?

  • ken says:

    I used minoxidil 5% for 4 months, I have same problem like dark circle,
    my eye colour became a black, how to solve this problem?

    • Will Hartfield says:

      The first step is to stop using the product and move over to something completely natural. I suggest taking a look at our Scalp Elixir as an alternative. As for proactively reducing the dark circles, I am not entirely sure how you would do this. You could try using cold cucumber slices placed on the eyes. It should fade over time.

  • jsfreak says:

    I have been using minoxidil 5% since 3 month on my beard and moustache and i feel unbelievable change, I got large amount of beard and thicker moustache, I suggest to all those who are feeling shy to be in front of the society because of lack of facial hair.

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