Reading time: 5 min.
What Happens When You Stop Using Minoxidil?
Dr Mir Malkani
Medically reviewed by
Dr Mir Malkani
Updated on August 29, 2023

If you’ve been using Minoxidil to slow down your hair loss and promote regrowth, you may be wondering if and when you can stop using Minoxidil.

Minoxidil is designed for daily use, so most users must apply Minoxidil everyday to see continued results. 

If you’re thinking about discontinuing Minoxidil, it’s important to note the possible side effects after stopping Minoxidil. In this article, discover what happens when you stop using Minoxidil, and all the factors you should consider before stopping this hair loss treatment.

Table of Contents

How Minoxidil works

Minoxidil works by opening up the blood vessels in the scalp, so more blood flows to the hair follicles. Blood carries essential nutrients that help your hair grow, so allowing more blood to flow to the follicles can slow hair loss and promote regrowth.

Results of using 5% Minoxidil for 6 months

Results after using 5% Minoxidil for six months in a 31-year-old male patient.

When you stop using Minoxidil, the blood vessels will constrict again, stemming the flow of nutrients to your follicles.

Why might you stop using Minoxidil?

There are a few reasons you might consider stopping using Minoxidil:

  • You’re not seeing the hair growth results you hoped for.
  • You have significant side effects.
  • It’s expensive to continue using Minoxidil every day.
  • You’re concerned that Minoxidil is interacting with other medications you’re taking.
  • You’ve achieved the results you want and no longer want to use Minoxidil.

In general, you’re more likely to stop using Minoxidil if you don’t see any improvements in your hair [1]. You may also be more inclined to discontinue Minoxidil if you have adverse effects from the treatment.

What happens if you stop using Minoxidil?

If you discontinue Minoxidil, you’ll probably see a few changes. These include:

  • Hair loss. Minoxidil only works for as long as you use it, so when you stop using it, the hair you’ve regrown may start to fall out [2].
  • Reduction in side effects. If Minoxidil has caused side effects for you during treatment, you should find that these effects settle after you stop using it.
  • Hair shedding. Minoxidil can prolong the growth phase and shorten the hair shedding phase of the hair growth cycle. When you stop using it, you may see an increase in hair shedding as a result.
Chart of the normal hair growth cycle
The hair growth cycle.

Will you lose more hair if you stop using Minoxidil?

Hair loss often resumes when you stop using Minoxidil. But exactly how much hair you lose after stopping Minoxidil differs from person to person.

One study found that four in ten men had hair counts that fell below baseline levels after discontinuation of topical Minoxidil [2]. So it’s possible to lose more hair than you regained.

That’s because some hair loss conditions, such as male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss, are progressive. They’ll keep getting worse without treatment, which is why it’s important to tackle your hair loss if it’s worrying you.

How long do Minoxidil side effects last after stopping?

It can take a few days to a few months for Minoxidil side effects to wear off after you stop using the treatment. Hair loss usually resumes three to six months after Minoxidil termination [3].

One study found that hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth on the body and face) cleared up without treatment when topical 5% Minoxidil was stopped [3]. Hair on the face and arms disappeared within three months, and hair on the legs disappeared within five months.

Other side effects, such as scalp irritation, also reverse within a few days or weeks of stopping Minoxidil use. You may also be able to reduce irritation and itchiness by switching to Minoxidil foam.

How to treat Minoxidil side effects after stopping

You don’t necessarily need to treat Minoxidil side effects if you’re stopping the treatment. Eventually, most adverse effects will clear up on their own.

However, if you’re finding it difficult to adjust to the side effects of stopping Minoxidil, the table below suggests some treatments you can try.

Side effectTreatment options
Hair lossSwitch to an alternative hair loss treatment
Scalp irritationUse shampoo for sensitive skin. Apply a cold compress to the affected area
HypertrichosisHair removal (e.g. waxing, shaving, hair removal cream)
Contact dermatitisTopical corticosteroids

Should you stop using Minoxidil?

Deciding to stop Minoxidil can be a tricky decision, especially if you’ve been using it for a long time. 

Weighing up the pros and cons of continuing and stopping Minoxidil can help you decide whether or not to stop this treatment. 

For example, if the side effects are worse than the regrowth you’ve seen, you may decide the payoff isn’t worth continuing with Minoxidil.

On the other hand, if you’ve seen good regrowth but are still experiencing some mild side effects, you may choose to continue using Minoxidil in spite of those issues.

Note that topical Minoxidil has a relatively low-risk profile, so consider the side effects of possible Minoxidil alternatives before you make the switch.

What happens if I stop Minoxidil and start again?

Restarting Minoxidil after a break can help you regain the hair you’ve lost since stopping Minoxidil. If Minoxidil worked for you the first time, chances are it will work again.

You may also experience the same side effects you had the first time unless you switch to a lower strength or less frequent application. 

Depending on how long it’s been since you last used Minoxidil, you may go through a phase of Minoxidil shedding again. If you’ve only taken a short break from Minoxidil (less than two or three months), you might be able to avoid this. But if it’s been longer than a few months since you last used Minoxidil, expect to see some additional shedding.

How long does it take for Minoxidil to leave your system?

When you stop taking Minoxidil, around 95% of the topically applied treatment will leave your system within four days [4]. So side effects like itchiness and irritation may ease off within a few days.

However, it takes longer than this for you to start losing your hair after stopping Minoxidil, as it depends on your hair growth cycle. When your hair re-enters the shedding phase, you’re likely to see some hair loss.

How do I discontinue 5% Minoxidil without losing hair?

The only way to stop using Minoxidil without losing hair is to replace the treatment with another effective hair loss solution.

For example, you may be able to retain your hair if you switch from topical Minoxidil to topical Finasteride. Topical Finasteride has been shown to effectively slow hair loss caused by male pattern baldness. 

Other possible solutions include caffeine shampoo, ketoconazole for hair loss, and rosemary oil.

While there’s some evidence for these treatments, only topical Minoxidil and oral Finasteride are licensed for treating male pattern baldness. So all other solutions are only available as alternative off-label treatments.

The best way to find the right hair loss treatment is to speak to a hair loss specialist. The Wimpole Clinic team can help you find a safe, effective treatment that works for you. Book a free consultation to get started.

What Happens When You Stop Using Minoxidil?, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Mir Malkani
Medically reviewed by Dr Mir MalkaniUpdated on August 29, 2023
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

Book a consultation

Simply fill in your details in the form below and we'll get in touch with you shortly.