When looking for information on hair loss medications, you’ll come across two options: minoxidil (also known as Rogaine®) and finasteride (Propecia®).
For decades, both of these medicines have been used to treat male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia.
Is one of these, however, genuinely effective? If so, which one is the most beneficial for regrowing hair and preventing hair loss?
We’ve broken down how minoxidil and finasteride operate, as well as how successful they are in treating male pattern baldness and stimulating hair regrowth.
We’ve also discussed stopping hair loss and developing a fuller, thicker head of hair with minoxidil and finasteride, either separately or in combination.
Minoxidil vs. Finasteride: What’s the difference?
Minoxidil and finasteride are two of the most often prescribed hair loss treatments. Although both therapies are backed by scientific evidence, there are a few key distinctions between them.
The most significant distinction between minoxidil and finasteride is the dose type in which each drug is administered.
Minoxidil is a topical medicine that comes in the form of a liquid or foam. It’s designed to be applied directly to your scalp and promotes hair growth on a local level.
Finasteride, on the other hand, is available as a pill. It has a more systemic impact throughout your body, rather than acting locally to encourage hair growth on your scalp.
What does Minoxidil do?
Minoxidil is a vasodilator that is sold as an over-the-counter drug. According to research, minoxidil is thought to operate by expanding the blood arteries in your scalp and boosting the rate of blood flow to your hair follicles.
It also promotes hair development by prolonging the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle.
Minoxidil does not technically stop hair loss. Instead, it actively encourages hair development by forcing hairs in the dormant (telogen) phase to shed and be replaced with new hairs in the growing (or anagen) phase.
Minoxidil may cause you to shed more hair during the first few months of usage since it disrupts your hair growth cycle.
This is a common side effect that will go away on its own. Your hair may begin to seem thicker and denser when telogen hairs are replaced with new anagen hairs.
This multi-phase cycle is explained in further detail in our introduction to the hair growing process and how treatments like minoxidil may help.
Male pattern baldness, the most prevalent kind of hair loss in males, is caused by the actions of an androgen hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, according to literature found online about treating hair loss.
DHT can miniaturize your hair follicles and stop them from producing new hairs over time if you’re genetically susceptible to hair loss. The hairline and vertex scalp, often known as the crown, are frequently affected by this procedure.
Minoxidil doesn’t seem to have any effect on DHT levels. Thus, it won’t “protect” your hair against DHT’s effects.
However, it can encourage hair growth for many and make thinning hair regions on the scalp seem thicker, fuller, and less impacted by hair loss.
How does Finasteride work?
Finasteride is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, which is a type of medicine. It acts as a hair loss therapy by inhibiting the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, which is responsible for the conversion of testosterone to DHT in your body.
As previously stated DHT is the primary hormone responsible for miniaturizing your hair follicles and triggering male pattern baldness.
Finasteride decreases DHT levels and prevents this hormone from attaching to your hair follicles and causing damage by preventing testosterone from converting to DHT.
On the other hand, Finasteride may be thought of as a barrier that prevents the hair follicles in your scalp from being exposed to the effects of DHT in the first place, while minoxidil acts as a hair growth agent.
Finasteride is well recognized for its ability to slow the progression of male pattern baldness and preserve existing hair.
Finasteride can induce modest regrowth in regions of hair that are starting to thin since DHT takes a long time to destroy your hair follicles.
Are Finasteride and Minoxidil effective?
Minoxidil and Finasteride have been clinically shown to assist men in stopping hair loss and increasing hair growth in some cases.
Finasteride is effective in several trials. Researchers studied Finasteride’s effects on more than 1,500 men with male pattern hair loss in a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 1998.
According to the researchers, Finasteride increased hair growth on the scalp by more than 15% on average after two years of therapy.
Finasteride has also been proven to assist most men in stopping hair loss and boosting hair growth in several additional trials.
Finasteride was found to enhance scalp hair development and slow the course of hair loss in a five-year trial published in the European Journal of Dermatology.
In a 10-year trial performed in Japan, daily finasteride usage prevented male pattern baldness from deteriorating in more than 99 men and improved hair development in more than 91 percent of those who took part.
In brief, Finasteride successfully prevents hair loss and stimulates the development of new hair in most men. See before and after Finasteride results here.
Several credible studies have also shown that topical minoxidil helps reduce hair loss and increase hair growth.
Researchers discovered that 97.1 percent of balding men who took minoxidil reported an improvement in hair growth or no worsening of their hair loss during a 12-month trial in Germany.
Minoxidil was judged “very effective,” “effective,” or “moderately effective” as a hair loss therapy by 84.3 percent of the men who took part in the research.
A study of minoxidil published in the journal Drug Design, Development, and Therapy looked at numerous trials and found that it has “amazing advantages” for patients with hair problems.
In summary, minoxidil, like Finasteride, is backed by actual, credible scientific research that demonstrates it works.
Do minoxidil and finasteride have different dosages?
Finasteride and minoxidil have extremely varied dose formulations. It’s critical to take either drug (or meds together) at the prescribed dosage to achieve the most significant benefits.
A standard minoxidil dosage is 1ml of liquid solution applied directly to the scalp twice a day, generally in the morning and evening. Our minoxidil application guide shows how to get the best benefits from this medicine.
Finasteride is usually used once a day, with or without meals, to treat male pattern baldness.
Which is better: Minoxidil or Finasteride?
Finasteride and minoxidil are two different medicines with different objectives. While both prevent hair loss and encourage hair growth, one does so on a topical level, while the other is a hormonal medication that stops hair loss at the source.
Many doctors would prescribe finasteride as first-line therapy for hair loss before using minoxidil since it helps by inhibiting DHT production.
Along with finasteride, you might want to consider adding minoxidil to your hair loss prevention program for more significant results.