Minoxidil is one of the most popular treatments used for hair loss and hair regrowth in men. It is a topical solution and more widely known under its brand name Regain.
Studies have shown positive effects of using Minoxidil in stimulating hair growth in men experiencing male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia).
However, how exactly does Minoxidil work and how quickly into the treatment can you expect results?
Hair Growth Cycle Explained
In order to understand how Minoxidil works we need to take a quick look into the hair growth cycle which consists of four distinct stages – anagen, catagen, telogen and exogen phase.
- Anagen (Growing Phase): Also known as the growth phase and last on average 3-5 years, during which a healthy hair grows about half an inch a month.
- Catagen (Transition Phase): At the end of the anagen phase, the hair enters the catagen phase. A short transitional phase that lasts on average 10 days.
- Telogen (Resting Phase): The follicle remains inactive for 3 months. While the old hair is resting a new hair begins the growth phase.
- Exogen (New Hair Phase): The exogen phase is actually part of the Telogen phase. The old hair falls out, a new hair continues to grow and the hair growth cycle is repeated.
Hair loss, hair thinning and problems with hair growth occur when your growth cycle is disrupted.
How does Minoxidil work?
Minoxidil is a topical solution which is applied directly onto the scalp twice daily.
It is understood to work by widening blood vessels and allowing more oxygen, blood and nutrients to the hair follicles. This, in turn, is believed to start an early anagen phase, meaning it can make hair follicles go through the entire hair cycle process before starting again.
As a result, some people experience some hair to fall out (shedding) when starting their Minoxidil treatment. This happens as new hair enters the anagen phase, making your old hair to fall out. However, this does not mean that you are losing more hair, but rather that old and weak hair is replaced by
How Long Before You See Results From Minoxidil?
Given Minoxidil can stimulate to start a new anagen phase (growth phase) in your hair follicles, it can take at least 4 months before you will see any effects on hair growth and density.
A study from 2015 has shown that three months into the Minoxidil treatment no significant change in hair count was observed, while after 6 months a significant increase was observed.
Minoxidil should be applied for at least four months before any hair regrowth can be seen. The treatment must be used consistently to increase the chance of seeing results. An earlier study found that 26% of men reported moderate to dense hair regrowth after using minoxidil topical solution 2% for 4 months.
In other words, Minoxidil starts to have an effect on your scalp immediately, but it may take 4 months before you see any noticeable positive effects with regards to your hair density. You may experience shedding at the beginning of the treatment, but this is normal and should not discourage you from persisting with the treatment.