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Nanoxidil vs Minoxidil: Which Is Better For Hair Growth?

Minoxidil is one of the most popular hair loss treatments among patients and clinicians alike, with more than half of hair transplant surgeons prescribing it to their patients [1]. But with more and more people searching for effective hair loss solutions, other treatments have emerged on the market.

Nanoxidil is one of the newest hair loss treatments. Unlike Minoxidil, it’s not yet licensed for use in the UK, but there is early evidence to suggest it can also help treat hair loss.

So which is more effective for hair loss: Nanoxidil or Minoxidil? In this article, we’ll compare Nanoxidil vs Minoxidil for hair loss, including each treatment’s effectiveness, safety profile, cost, and application, so you can decide which treatment is best for you.

Table of Contents

Nanoxidil vs Minoxidil at a glance

Here’s a head-to-head comparison of Nanoxidil and Minoxidil:

 NanoxidilMinoxidil
EffectivenessUp to 75% of patients see increased global hair density [2]Up to 74.2% of patients see hair density improvements [3]
Dosage5% solution2% or 5% solution
Side effectsScalp redness, dryness, oiliness, and irritationScalp irritation, itchiness, temporary hair shedding, changes in hair colour
Safety profileNo severe adverse effects reportedNo severe adverse effects reported with topical Minoxidil; some may be linked with oral Minoxidil [4]
Cost (1 month’s supply)£38.00From £14.99
Application methodSpray applicatorSpray/foam/dropper applicator
Is it safe to combine with other treatments?UntestedYes
Is it available as a generic formula?NoYes
Is it suitable for male and female patients?YesYes
Is it licensed in the UK?NoYes

What’s the difference between Nanoxidil and Minoxidil?

When you apply Minoxidil, just 1.4% of the active ingredient is absorbed through the scalp [4]. Nanoxidil was formulated to improve absorption by creating a similar formula with a lower molecular weight.

The Nanoxidil molecule has one less carbon chain and two fewer hydrogen atoms than Minoxidil:

Chemical composition of Minoxidil and Nanoxidil

Having a lower molecular weight may make it easier for Nanoxidil to penetrate the skin. 

Nanoxidil’s similar structure to Minoxidil means it could improve symptoms of hair loss in the same way. Minoxidil is a vasodilator — it widens the blood vessels in the scalp, allowing more nutrients to reach the hair follicles [4]. It also opens the potassium channels within the peripheral artery cells, which can influence hair growth [5].

Nanoxidil also contains a potassium channel opener, so the mechanism is similar to Minoxidil [2]. But it’s also said to help tackle hair loss through several other ingredients, including:

  • Azelaic acid and caffeine for hair loss — These ingredients may reverse the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the hormone that causes pattern baldness [6-7].
  • Topical retinol — This can increase the rate of hair growth and prolong the growth phase of the hair cycle [8].
  • Piroctone olamine — An antioxidant that’s proven to reduce hair shedding [9]. 

Is Nanoxidil better than Minoxidil?

While these extra ingredients and mechanisms might suggest Nanoxidil is superior to Minoxidil, clinical evidence indicates that Nanoxidil and Minoxidil are actually similar in terms of their effectiveness at treating hair loss. With both treatments, up to 75% of patients see substantial hair density improvements [2-3].

Results from taking Nanoxidil for 90 days
Patient hair before and after 90 days of Nanoxidil use.
Patient hair before and after six months of Minoxidil use.
Patient hair before and after six months of Minoxidil use.

No studies have directly compared the effectiveness of Nanoxidil and Minoxidil yet. Minoxidil has been much more widely researched than Nanoxidil, and is consistently shown to reduce hair loss and improve growth.

There’s currently no robust evidence to confirm that Nanxoidil is better at tackling hair loss than Minoxidil, despite the extra hair loss vectors it aims to address.

Nanoxidil vs Minoxidil: Which is more effective?

Nanoxidil and Minoxidil offer similar results in terms of effectiveness. Here’s a breakdown of results from clinical studies:

Nanoxidil Minoxidil (5%)
Hair loss reduction (hair changes) Reduced hair shedding by up to two-thirds after 6 months [2] Reduced hair shedding by 48% (on average) after 4 months [11]
Hair loss reduction (% of patients) ~95% of patients noticed reduced hair loss [10] ~97.1% of patients had unchanged or reduced hair loss [11]
Hair density improvements (hair changes) Hair mass index improved by >10% after 6 months [2] Hair density improved by 11% after 6 months [12]

Hair density improvements

(% of patients)

~75% of patients had improved hair density [3] Up to 74.2% of patients had improved hair density [3, 13]

These results suggest a very similar effectiveness profile for both Nanoxidil and Minoxidil, though the evidence for Minoxidil is more substantial.

This evidence relates to the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (also known as male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss). Unlike Nanoxidil, Minoxidil has also been shown to effectively treat several other hair loss disorders, including [4]:

More research is needed to determine if Nanoxidil can address hair loss conditions besides pattern hair loss.

Nanoxidil vs Minoxidil: Side effects and safety

Nanoxidil’s creator, DS Laboratories, says the formula isn’t known to have any side effects.

Nanoxidil side effects

However, the studies establishing the effectiveness and safety profile of Nanoxidil have noted some mild side effects [2, 14]. These include:

  • Skin/scalp irritation
  • Skin dryness
  • Mild to moderate skin redness
  • Oiliness

There haven’t been any long-term studies into the safety of Nanoxidil, so the likelihood of long-term side effects is unknown.

Unlike Nanoxidil, Minoxidil has been licensed as a topical hair loss treatment by the MHRA. Its known side effects include:

Minoxidil is recognised as one of the safest hair loss treatments, with fewer side effects than medications like Finasteride and Dutasteride. Minoxidil is also safe to use alongside other treatments, including Finasteride and PRP therapy. Using Minoxidil in conjunction with other treatments may offer better results [12, 15].

Nanoxidil vs Minoxidil: Which is more expensive?

Nanoxidil is more expensive than Minoxidil. That’s because it’s only available as a branded formula, which costs £38.00 for one month’s supply.

Branded Minoxidil (known as Regaine in the UK and Rogaine elsewhere) is available at a similar price point (currently £34.95). But you can also buy generic Minoxidil, which is much cheaper. You can buy one month’s supply of generic Minoxidil for around £14.99.

Nanoxidil vs Minoxidil: Application

Nanoxidil is available as a spray solution. Apply six sprays twice a day on the affected area, then evenly rub it into the skin.

Minoxidil is available with a spray, dropper, or foam applicator. Research suggests foam is the most effective type, as it allows for better absorption with less irritation, and is less likely to spread to other areas [4]. Find out how to apply Minoxidil for best results.

Nanoxidil vs Minoxidil for women

Both Minoxidil and Minoxidil are safe and effective for women to use [2, 4]. These photos show visible regrowth in female hair loss patients after six months.

Before and after Nanoxidil results in a female patient after 6 months
Female patient at baseline and after six months of Nanoxidil treatment.
Patient hair before and after six months of 5% Minoxidil use.
Patient hair before and after six months of 5% Minoxidil use.

Does Nanoxidil block DHT?

Unlike Minoxidil, the Nanoxidil formula contains ingredients that may help block DHT production. These include caffeine and azelaic acid.

More evidence is needed to show whether Nanoxidil blocks DHT production to the same extent as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors like Finasteride and Dutasteride.

Is Nanoxidil or Minoxidil best for your hair loss?

For most people with hair loss, Minoxidil is the best entry-level hair loss treatment to try. It’s cheaper, has a more extensive body of evidence supporting its use, and creates minimal side effects.

That said, Nanoxidil may still offer good results for some patients with pattern baldness. Thanks to its mild and minimal side effects, there’s little risk in trying this formula if you want an alternative to Minoxidil.

For those with more advanced hair loss, there are lots of other treatment options that may be more effective than both Minoxidil and Nanoxidil. These include Finasteride, Dutasteride, and hair transplants.

Speaking to a hair loss specialist can help you determine which treatment is most likely to help with your hair loss. Book a free consultation with the Wimpole Clinic to discuss your treatment options.

Nanoxidil vs Minoxidil: Which Is Better For Hair Growth?, Wimpole Clinic

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