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Minoxidil Shampoo: Does It Work?
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Updated on January 25, 2024

As you’ve probably guessed, Minoxidil is a primary ingredient of Minoxidil shampoo. The medication is the only FDA-approved topical drug used to treat or slow down hair loss.

In a 1-year Minoxidil results study conducted by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), comprising 984 men with male pattern baldness, the use of Minoxidil reduced areas of hair loss in 62% of the patients [1].

With these facts in mind, Minoxidil shampoo most likely sounds like an effective way to combat male hair loss, and an effective hair loss treatment for women. However, at present, there is limited research on the efficacy of Minoxidil shampoo to promote hair growth.

This article will cover how Minoxidil shampoo works and how quickly it can take effect, as well as the ingredients, a step-by-step guide on use, and alternative solutions you might wish to consider.

Table of Contents

How does Minoxidil shampoo work

Minoxidil shampoo is a shampoo designed to slow hair loss, as well as clean your hair. The shampoo is usually 1-2% Minoxidil containing and is applied to the scalp and wet hair, in the shower or bath.

It is understood that Minoxidil works as a vasodilator, widening the blood vessels and increasing circulation to the scalp. This stimulates hair growth by allowing more blood flow to the hair follicles [2]. When this hair loss treatment is added to shampoo, the individual can wash their hair and expose their scalp to Minoxidil simultaneously.

Though there isn’t much research on the efficacy of Minoxidil shampoo at present, however, one study tested the therapeutic effect of 1% Minoxidil shampoo over 4 months. The double-blind placebo-controlled study comprised 60 subjects.

After 4 months there was an increase in hair growth in the 1% Minoxidil users, however, the increase was not significantly superior to the results of the placebo group. The study states that more than 4 months of continuous treatment is needed to truly test the efficacy of Minoxidil shampoo [3].

It should be noted Minoxidil shampoo does not have sufficient exposure time on the scalp compared to a topical Minoxidil solution. A lengthy exposure time is needed to see success from Minoxidil, therefore the efficacy of Minoxidil shampoo can be limited.

It is also important to note that lower doses of Minoxidil may not be effective for hair loss, and therefore more research needs to be conducted for shampoos with Minoxidil concentrations in the range between 2% and 10% Minoxidil.

How quickly does Minoxidil shampoo work?

There is limited research regarding how quickly Minoxidil shampoo for hair loss works.

Research into topical Minoxidil, foams, and solutions states that the medication starts working after around 2 months and results are seen at 4 months, however, this refers to dosages such as 2% Minoxidil and 5% Minoxidil [2].

An important thing to remember is that Minoxidil shampoo is less concentrated and has less exposure time than Minoxidil topical liquid or foam. The average exposure time from using Minoxidil shampoo would be around 3 minutes before it is washed off the scalp.

One study, comprising 22 healthy males, was conducted to determine the relationship between the contact time of the applied drug on the scalp and minoxidil absorption.

By hour 1, 50% of the solution had been absorbed into the scalp, and by hour 4, over 75% had been absorbed. This study shows that Minoxidil needs at least 4 hours of exposure time on the scalp to be effective [6].

The reduced exposure time is likely to contribute to how quickly the medication produces results, as less exposure means the need to use the medication for longer in order to see results.

Which shampoos contain Minoxidil?

These are two known brands that offer shampoo containing Minoxidil.

Foligain shampoo is suitable for both men and women and contains 2% Minoxidil.

Foligain shampoo to treat hair loss

Foligan includes an agent called 2% Trioxidil, which, along with 2% Minoxidil works to increase hair density, stimulate regrowth, and revitalise hair follicles. 

Bioken’s Biotin shampoo and conditioner contain Minoxidil.

Biotin shampoo and conditioner

The shampoo and conditioner set uses Minoxidil and Biotin alongside each other to maximise hair growth and density.

A step-by-step guide to using Minoxidil shampoo

5 Easy Steps

When using Minoxidil shampoo it is important to remember to thoroughly wash your hands afterward. Though Minoxidil shampoo contains a small dosage of the medication, it could still cause hair growth when left on the skin.

  • Step 1: In the shower or bath, wet your hair.
  • Step 2: Squeeze a drop into your palm.
  • Step 3: Massage the shampoo into your hair and scalp for 2 minutes.
  • Step 4: Allow the solution to sit on your hair and scalp for an additional 4 minutes, as this will give the Minoxidil time to work.
  • Step 5: Rinse the shampoo from your hair thoroughly, and ensure that you have washed your hands afterwards to avoid leftover Minoxidil on the skin.

For the best results, you should aim to use the shampoo 3-5 times a week.

Minoxidil shampoo alternatives

If you find that you can’t use Minoxidil, then there are a few alternatives to Minoxidil shampoo to try.

Caffeine shampoo

A common alternative is caffeine shampoo. Caffeine can be a popular ingredient in hair loss shampoos due to its ability to naturally impede the effects of the dihydrotestosterone hormone (DHT), which is responsible for hair loss in men. Caffeine also protects the roots of your hair and prevents breakage [7].

Alpecin caffeine shampoo

Some common brands of caffeine shampoo are:

  • Alpecin- find out whether Alpecin works
  • Umberto Gianni Grow Long
  • Seba-Med Anti-Hairloss Shampoo
  • Dr. Organic Coffee Hair Stimulating Shampoo

Ketoconazole shampoo

Ketoconazole is a medication commonly used to treat fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and ringworm. It is available in a shampoo form for fungal and scalp infections, and it also tackles dandruff.

One study conducted using 2% Ketoconazole-containing shampoo shows that Ketoconazole may disrupt the pathway of the DHT hormone in androgenetic alopecia [9].

A common Ketoconazole shampoo is Nizoral for hair loss, which acts as a DHT-blocking shampoo.

Nizoral anti-dandruff shampoo

Studies show that Ketoconazole can improve hair loss, and in one study, a 2% Ketoconazole shampoo was found to be non-inferior to a 2% Minoxidil solution for androgenetic alopecia (known as male pattern baldness in individuals assigned male at birth and female pattern hair loss in individuals assigned female at birth) [10].

Want to learn more about hair loss treatments?

If you want to explore hair loss treatments for men and women, our trichology team is on-hand to help.

We can answer any questions or concerns you may have about treatment for your thinning hair and support you in exploring non-surgical and surgical options in addition to diagnosing any underlying conditions.

If you want to learn more about Minoxidil, book a consultation today.

Minoxidil Shampoo: Does It Work?, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)Updated on January 25, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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