Rogaine (Minoxidil)

Rogaine, or minoxidil, was the first hair growth drug to be FDA approved. It was originally a prescription medication but is now available in two forms: as the brand Rogaine and generically named minoxidil. Minoxidil was originally taken orally as a blood pressure medication, but as doctors noticed that body hair growth was a side effect, it was tested as an external application to bald spots. It's unknown exactly why minoxidil works, but it has been shown to increase the length of the hair growth cycle and increases the size of hair.

Rogaine/minoxidil does not work on everyone, but unlike surgeries that can only be performed on men, it does appear to work well in both men and women. Minoxidil must be applied to areas of the scalp that are not completely bald. If an area is completely bald, the medication will not work at all. You should expect to wait at least 6 months and possibly longer to notice initial affects, and keep in mind that it will not necessarily stop hair loss, but slow the progression. Additionally, if you stop using minoxidil you'll lose whatever hair you gained as a result of its use. Therefore, if minoxidil is working for you and you're happy with the results you should continue to use it without a pause in application.

Because Rogaine/minoxidil helps increase hair growth wherever it is applied, you should be very careful to only apply it where you want hair to grow. One side effect of minoxidil usage is unwanted facial hair growth, especially in women. This can be minimized (but not entirely prevented) by only applying the medication to the top of the head. Other side effects of minoxidil include a decrease in blood pressure, skin irritation where it's applied, and birth defects.

Studies show that Rogaine/minoxidil is not as effective as Propecia (an oral medication), and also that taking both Rogaine and Propecia together are better than taking either of them alone.