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Minoxidil Foam: Uses, Effectiveness, Side Effects
Dr Meena Zareie (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Meena Zareie (GMC)
Updated on March 26, 2024

Minoxidil foam is one of the most popular hair loss formulations on the market. With proven effectiveness at tackling lots of different types of alopecia, Minoxidil foam is an excellent first-line treatment for those struggling with hair loss. That’s why 53% of hair loss specialists always or often recommend it to their patients [1].

Learn everything you need to know about Minoxidil foam here, including:

  • The success rate of Minoxidil foam
  • How Minoxidil foam compares to other hair loss treatments
  • Who can use Minoxidil foam for hair loss.
Table of Contents

What is Minoxidil foam and why should I use it?

Minoxidil foam is a type of hair loss treatment that uses the active ingredient Minoxidil to dilate the blood vessels in the scalp. This allows more blood to flow to the hair follicles, giving them the nutrients they need to produce hair.

Minoxidil foam can also stimulate the follicles to enter the growth phase of the hair growth cycle, and even extend the growth phase [2].

These mechanisms can promote hair growth in people with conditions including:

Minoxidil foam works best when used in the early stages of hair loss. So try to apply it at the first signs of thinning or balding.

Does Minoxidil foam work?

Yes, Minoxidil foam is proven to work for hair loss. In one study, more than 70% of 352 male patients agreed that hair loss had improved after 16 weeks of using 5% Minoxidil foam [3-4]. Hair count increased by 13.4% on average.

Does Minoxidil foam regrow hair?

Minoxidil foam isn’t just effective for slowing hair loss. It can actually stimulate regrowth if you use it consistently.

Here’s the effect topical Minoxidil 5% foam had on a male patient after 24 weeks of daily application:

before and after results of using 5% Minoxidil foam

Minoxidil foam can also supplement other hair loss treatments, such as Finasteride. This alopecia areata patient combined Minoxidil with steroid creams for hair loss to regrow his patchy alopecia after just eight weeks:

Before and after results of using Minoxidil and steroid creams on alopecia areata

What is the success rate of Minoxidil foam?

While Minoxidil foam can be very effective, its success rate varies depending on a few different factors. This includes:

  • The extent of your hair loss — For male pattern baldness, this is measured on the Norwood Scale, while the Ludwig Scale is used for female pattern hair loss.
  • How long you’ve been losing hair — Minoxidil generally works best in the early stages of thinning.
  • Minoxidil strength — 5% foam can stimulate more regrowth than 2% Minoxidil, but may have greater side effects.

One study found the success rate of 5% Minoxidil foam to be 42.3% after six months of twice-daily application [5]. They noted that other studies had found success rates of between 35% and 67.7%.

What are the side effects of Minoxidil foam?

Minoxidil foam was specifically formulated to reduce the side effects linked with Minoxidil spray and other liquid formulations. Minoxidil foam doesn’t contain propylene glycol, which is known to cause skin irritation.

As a result, you’re less likely to see side effects like itchiness and irritation with Minoxidil foam than other Minoxidil solutions.

How to apply Minoxidil foam

Applying Minoxidil foam is easy. Part your hair to expose the thinning areas, then dispense half a cap full of foam into your hand. Massage the foam onto the balding or thinning areas of your scalp.

Wash your hands after applying Minoxidil foam to avoid spreading it to other areas of the body. Find out more about applying Minoxidil foam in the video below:

How much Minoxidil foam should I use?

Most men are advised to use half a cap full of Minoxidil foam twice a day.

Women may be advised to apply half a cap full of Minoxidil once a day to avoid side effects like hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth on the face and body).

Is Minoxidil foam less effective than Minoxidil tablets?

Studies have shown oral Minoxidil can be more effective than topical Minoxidil for treating hair loss [6]. However, unlike Minoxidil foam, Minoxidil tablets aren’t yet licensed for use.

That’s because the risks of using oral Minoxidil are higher. You’re more likely to develop hypertrichosis and/or swelling in the feet. People with high blood pressure and those at risk of cardiovascular events are also advised to avoid oral Minoxidil.

You’ll need a prescription for oral Minoxidil, so speak to a qualified trichologist if you’re considering this treatment for hair loss.

Minoxidil foam for women: does it work?

Minoxidil foam is a popular hair loss treatment for women. Research shows it’s effective and well-tolerated by many women with hair loss [6].

results of 5% Minoxidil for women before use and after six months
The results of 5% Minoxidil for women before use and after six months [7].

However, facial and body hair growth may occur as a side effect of Minoxidil foam. To avoid this, women are usually advised to use 2% Minoxidil twice a day, or 5% Minoxidil once a day [8]. Using Minoxidil foam can minimise the risk of skin irritation and dandruff.

Women’s hair loss is often much more difficult to diagnose and treat than men’s hair loss. Getting a professional diagnosis can help you find the right hair loss treatment for women.

Minoxidil foam for beard hair loss: Does it work?

Minoxidil foam can also promote beard growth in men. As with scalp hair, Minoxidil promotes blood flow to your facial hair follicles, so it can be a good way to get a fuller, thicker beard.

Find the right hair loss treatment for you

Minoxidil foam is a great first-line treatment for many types of hair loss. And because it’s available over-the-counter, you can start using it right away.

However, it’s best to speak to a hair loss specialist to get a diagnosis. This can reveal any underlying conditions that are contributing to your hair loss, so you can get the best hair loss treatment for men or women.

Book a consultation at the Wimpole Clinic to get impartial, no-obligation advice about your hair loss treatment options.

Minoxidil Foam: Uses, Effectiveness, Side Effects, Wimpole Clinic

Minoxidil foam FAQs

Find out more about Minoxidil foam in these frequently asked questions.

Minoxidil foam can make your hair appear greasy or oily if you get it in your hair. Part your hair prior to application, and try to keep it on the skin as much as possible.

Studies show that Minoxidil is around 50% absorbed one hour after application, and 75% absorbed after four hours [9].

Avoid rubbing your scalp or getting it wet for at least four hours after application. The longer your scalp is exposed to Minoxidil, the better your results.

Yes, you can take Minoxidil foam on a plane provided it meets liquid capacity requirements. 

Dr Meena Zareie (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr Meena Zareie (GMC)Updated on March 26, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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