Finasteride and Minoxidil are two of the most popular men’s hair loss treatments on the market today. Both are used by millions of patients to manage a variety of hair loss conditions. In 2021, the global Minoxidil market size was valued at almost $991 million, while the Finasteride market was worth more than $118 million [1-2].
These figures suggest that Minoxidil is the more popular solution — but does that mean it’s more effective, or simply more widely used? In this article, we’ll compare Finasteride vs Minoxidil to determine which is the right non-surgical hair loss treatment for you. Discover:
Finasteride is an oral medication that stops your body from converting testosterone into DHT. DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, is the hormone responsible for both female and male pattern baldness. Blocking DHT production is a highly effective way to stop progressive balding in men.
Minoxidil, meanwhile, is a topical or oral treatment sometimes recommended as an alternative to Finasteride. It widens the blood vessels in your scalp so more nutrients can flow to the follicles, stimulating hair growth. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and acts as an anti-androgen [3-4]. DHT is a powerful androgen.
You’ll need a prescription to get Finasteride, while Minoxidil is available over the counter. Finasteride and other DHT blockers like Dutasteride aren’t suitable for everyone, so it’s important your doctor or trichologist assesses your suitability before prescribing this medication. Minoxidil is generally more suitable for lots of different hair loss patients.
Minoxidil is usually sold under the brand name Regaine in the UK. Finasteride is sold under the brand name Propecia.
For men experiencing male pattern baldness, Finasteride is widely considered to be more effective than Minoxidil [5-6]. But a combination of both is often more effective than one or the other [7-9].
Finasteride can also work for women with female pattern hair loss . However, Finasteride isn’t usually prescribed to women because it can interfere with the effectiveness of birth control medication, or cause foetal development problems in pregnant women . Many premenopausal women avoid Finasteride, but it can be useful for addressing menopause-related hair loss .
Minoxidil for women is usually suitable unless you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. If necessary, seek out another Minoxidil alternative to tackle your hair loss. Learn more about Minoxidil use during pregnancy.
If your hair loss isn’t caused by pattern baldness, Finasteride is unlikely to help. Other types of hair loss aren’t caused by hormonal changes, so adjusting your DHT levels won’t impact hair growth. In these instances, Minoxidil is usually a more effective treatment.
It’s important to consider your dosage when deciding whether to use Finasteride or Minoxidil. Research shows that while 5mg of Finasteride is more effective than 5mg of oral Minoxidil, the latter can be more effective than a 1mg dose of oral Finasteride .
Here’s how one study found dosage and medication type — i.e. oral intake or topical solution — impact effectiveness:
Most Finasteride patients are prescribed 1mg a day. There’s a slightly higher risk of sexual dysfunction side effects if you take 5mg of Finasteride each day, although these effects may reduce over time .
Yes. In fact, research shows that using Minoxidil and Finasteride together can boost results.
In two separate studies, researchers found that adding a small dose of 0.1% topical Finasteride to a 5% topical Minoxidil solution improved hair count and reduced the balding area [8-9].
Another study showed that this combination could help maintain hair density after using 5mg of oral Finasteride for 8 to 12 months . This is good news for patients who don’t want to take oral Finasteride indefinitely, but still wish to maintain their hair.
Finasteride is more likely to have significant side effects than Minoxidil, particularly relating to sexual function. Studies suggest this can affect anywhere from <2% to 15.8% of men [13-14]. Reported side effects include [12, 15]:
Minoxidil also has several reported side effects, although these tend to be more manageable [16-18]:
Oral Minoxidil has been linked with some cardiovascular symptoms [3, 19]. So patients with angina or other heart conditions may need to avoid this treatment.
Both treatments can cause temporary hair shedding after a few weeks or months of use. This can be disheartening, but don’t worry — it’s a normal part of the regrowth process. Learn more about Minoxidil hair shedding and Finasteride shedding.
Male androgenetic alopecia patient taking 1mg Finasteride a day at baseline, 12 months and 24 months
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