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Is Hair Loss From Minoxidil Normal? Top Trichologists Weigh in and Share Tips for Using the Treatment

Learn what causes shedding while using minoxidil and how to help avoid it


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If you’re using minoxidil or have ever tried the hair re-grower, you’ve likely experienced some hair loss at the beginning. And you might think doesn’t that defeat the purpose of using the treatment in the first place?! Well, it’s actually a very normal side effect of the drug and surprisingly, it means that it’s working. But if you’re like us, you might be wondering why hair loss from minoxidil is even a thing. So, we turned to a hair expert to answer this question and they shared genius tricks for using minoxidil so you can get the best results.

Related: How Does Minoxidil Work? Hair Experts Explain Why It’s the Best Ingredient to Treat Thinning Hair

What causes hair loss from minoxidil?

“Minoxidil can cause a shift from the telogen (resting or dormant) phase of hair growth to the anagen (active growth) phase,” says Mandy Buechner, trichologist and hair loss practitioner. “This means that hairs that were in the resting phase need to shed to make way for new hair growth.” She adds that “this can happen because minoxidil affects the hair follicles’ growth cycles, leading to the shedding of weaker, thinner hairs before new, thicker hairs can grow in their place. Hair follicles may also go through an adjustment period when first exposed to minoxidil. This can cause a temporary increase in hair shedding as the follicles adapt to the medication.”

“While the shedding is concerning, it is temporary,” says Sophia Emmanuel, trichologist, cosmetologist, & V&Co. Beauty brand ambassador. And she notes that the shedding lasts only about two months.

Related: 5 Best Products That Work Like Minoxidil to Reverse Hair Loss in Women Over 40

Is hair loss from minoxidil normal?

Woman brushing her hair and dealing with hair loss from minoxidil
Sol de Zuasnabar Brebbia/Getty

Buechner says yes and points out that this is a sign that minoxidil is working. “However, if the shedding does not slow down within 30 to 45 days it is best to meet with a certified trichologist or dermatologist to further investigate the cause of the hair loss,” she advises.

How to prevent or limit hair loss from minoxidil

While there’s no way to truly prevent or limit hair loss from minoxidil, there are a few strategies that can help with other side effects of using the treatment. “For women, Nutri-Ox 2% is a great option because it is a gentle solution that won’t cause irritation or rapid shedding like some 5% can do,” says Buechner. Using a 5% minoxidil solution can also cause irritation for some women, but more on that to come below.

Related: 5 Best Minoxidil Products to Treat Thinning Hair for Women Over 50

Also, the shampoo and conditioner you’re using on hair while using minoxidil can factor in. That’s why Buechner recommends using products that “also combat hair thinning like Nutri-Ox Hair Thinning System, which was formulated to help maintain the optimum scalp environment for healthy, thicker, fuller-looking hair ​in just 1 week and is clinically tested.” She adds that “these types of shampoos and conditioners can aid the minoxidil to get through the shedding phase quicker so the anagen phase can begin. They also help your hair stay in the anagen phase longer because they keep the hair follicles stimulated.”

Emmanuel also advises taking stock of your shampoo and conditioner and looking for ones with nourishing ingredients. She likes V&Co. Beauty Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner, which are “formulated for thinning hair or adding volume.” She adds that “these products work by hydrating and strengthening your hair and scalp. Their proprietary peptide technology strengthens the scalp’s natural barrier, while the coconut oil provides moisture to your scalp.”

Related: How to Use Minoxidil: 4 Hacks That Help the Ingredient Work Better to Reverse Hair Loss

Trichologist tips for using minoxidil

Read on for tricks and answers to the top questions that come with using minoxidil.

1. How often should I apply minoxidil?

Woman applying a minoxidil treatment to her scalp and hair
aquaArts studio/Getty

“For 2% solution it is best to use it two times a day, once in the a.m. and once in the p.m. before bed,” advises Buechner. “If you are using 5% once at night is the best time to apply.

2. How long does it take to see results when using minoxidil?

“Minoxidil can take 90 to 180days before you start seeing baby hairs aka new growth appear with the naked eye,” says Buechner.

Related: Minoxidil Before and After Transformations — See How 6 Women Reversed Hair Loss

3. How can I help minoxidil work better?

“Be sure to massage the solution into the scalp for at least 2 minutes either manually or with a scalp massager,” says Buechner. “This helps to bring blood flow to the scalp and allows the minoxidil to penetrate into the deep layers of the epidermis.”

4. What should I do if my scalp has become inflamed from using minoxidil?

“If you are experiencing irritation, it is time to drop the dose,” says Buechner. She says “if you are using a 5% solution, drop to a 2%. [And] if you are using a 2% 2x a day, drop to one time a day.” Also helpful? “You can also use it every other day or two to three times a week to maintain your growth without the daily exposure,” she adds.

Additionally, Emmanuel, advises to “try using the foam version of Rogaine, which is less irritating than the liquid. The foam version of Rogaine has cetyl alcohol, as opposed to the liquid form of Rogaine, which has propylene glycol.” She says, “Cetyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol that is less irritating on the skin. The Rogaine foam also has glycerin, a humectant that helps hydrate the scalp.” If after that you’re still dealing with irritation, “you can ask your dermatologist for a compounded version of minoxidil,” she notes. “Compounding involves mixing and altering ingredients and medication to fit your needs. This compounded topical treatment can help with scalp irritation and must be prescribed by a dermatologist.”

See more expert-backed hair growth remedies:

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Pros Share How To Brush Hair To Prevent Breakage and Boost Hair Growth + the Best Brushes To Use

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