Minoxidil is a compound that is found in many hair treatment products. Some of these are creams, but there are also foams and serums. However, not everyone has the time to use foams or creams and apply them once or twice a day.
This is why minoxidil is now starting to be put in more things, including in shampoos. These shampoos allow you to shower normally and get some minoxidil on your scalp without having to change any part of your schedule.
What Is Minoxidil
Minoxidil is a unique compound that was invented all the way back in the 1950s. When minoxidil was being created, the scientists behind it were trying to make a product that could serve as an antihypertensive agent.
However, minoxidil did not do well during these tests. What minoxidil did do well on was functioning as a vasodilator, the type of agent commonly used to treat high blood pressure.
Treating high blood pressure was what minoxidil was originally sold for. While going through all these tests, however, the scientists noticed that there was one fairly common side effect. This side effect was that minoxidil tended to increase hair growth in the test subjects.
One this effect was discovered, a lot more testing was done to get the minoxidil that we have today. At first, minoxidil was sold as Rogaine, and there was only that one form that you could buy it in. However, now you can find minoxidil in the form of shampoos.
There are both name-brand shampoos and generic options to choose from that have minoxidil in them. In addition, there are different strengths of minoxidil that you can get in the shampoo. Every year there is more variety in the different minoxidil shampoos that you can buy.
Minoxidil’s main function is that it has potassium channel openers (PCO’s) in it. These PCO’s open up the blood vessels that go to your scalp. As a result, the circulation to your hair is improved, and your hair growth is stimulated.
What’s more, minoxidil’s PCO’s function without negatively affecting your other hormones. Since other hair treatments can affect your hormones in one way or another, this is a definite advantage. It also means that minoxidil can work for many different hair problems that might cause your hair to be thinning.
How Minoxidil Works
As mentioned, minoxidil is used to treat high blood pressure thanks to its vasodilator properties. Your capillaries in your scalp are the tiny blood vessels that are responsible for the health of your hair. They deliver the nutrients and oxygen to your hair follicles.
These capillaries are also responsible for taking waste and DHT away from your hair follicles. DHT is renowned for causing hair loss, which it does by irritating your scalp. This irritation leads to your follicles becoming inflamed.
Inflammation, then, goes hand in hand with swelling, and your capillaries get squeezed shut. Shut capillaries then find it impossible to get rid of the DHT, compounding the problem. At some point, your hair follicle will give up trying to grow out its hair and will go dormant as it tries to stay alive.
However, your follicles will eventually die without the nutrients they need. At that point, they are dead and nothing can be done for them. If you start using minoxidil soon enough, your blood vessels can open back up enough to get the DHT out.
With the DHT out of your follicles, the inflammation goes away, allowing even more nutrients to get to them. Though this has not been proven by studies yet, there is some speculation that minoxidil also extends the growth phase of your hair too.
Does Minoxidil Work In Shampoo Form
In order to understand the debate on minoxidil shampoo and if minoxidil even works in shampoo form, you first have to understand how minoxidil is absorbed. Back in the late 1990s, when all these studies were being done, there was one study that is important.
This minoxidil study was done specifically on how long it takes the minoxidil to absorb into your scalp. A set amount of minoxidil was applied to areas of bald scalp. After set amounts of time, samples were taken to see how much of the minoxidil had been absorbed.
The results showed that after 1 hour, 50% of the minoxidil had been absorbed. After 4 hours, 75% had been absorbed by the scalp. By this point, the absorption rate plateaued, but the important thing to note is that minoxidil takes time to absorb.
This is why minoxidil should be left on your scalp for at least 1 to 2 hours. This is also is why minoxidil shampoo does not often work as well as other forms of minoxidil. Minoxidil shampoos often instruct you to rub the shampoo in thoroughly and to leave it in for a few minutes.
However, a few minutes is a lot shorter than a few hours. Often minoxidil shampoos will try to compensate for this by adding ingredients like caffeine or peppermint oil. These increase the blood flow to the scalp with the hopes that more of the minoxidil can be absorbed before you rinse it off.
Therefore, while minoxidil shampoo can be a convenient way to use minoxidil, it will not do as much for you. Can you get results from using minoxidil shampoo? Yes, of course. If you do not have the time to use minoxidil in any other way, this could still be the best option for you.
The Different Strengths For Minoxidil Shampoo
There are two different minoxidil solutions that you will tend to see in shampoos: 2% and 5%. The smaller percentage of minoxidil solution is easier on your skin. However, it is also not as strong and, therefore, will not have as much of an effect on you.
Most minoxidil shampoos for women will have a 2% minoxidil solution. This is in part because women tend to have more sensitive skin. Meanwhile, most men’s minoxidil shampoo will have a 5% minoxidil solution.
However, this segregation really makes no sense at all. In the many studies that have been done on minoxidil, all of them show that 5% works better than 2%. Some of these studies were done exclusively on women.
The women who were not bothered by the strength of the 5% minoxidil solution all got much better results with it. You should be warned, though, that using minoxidil even on your head only can still increase the hair elsewhere.
Finally, sometimes you may run across a minoxidil shampoo that has a higher concentration of minoxidil. These 10% or even 15% minoxidil solutions are not approved by the FDA and may not be worth the extra risks of side effects.
In short, don’t worry about if a minoxidil shampoo says it is men’s or women’s shampoo. In fact, you may find that you get better results with men’s minoxidil shampoo even if you are a woman. Since the minoxidil in a shampoo does not get to stay on your scalp long, it can be more important to have a higher minoxidil percentage.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Minoxidil Shampoo
Minoxidil shampoo may not lend itself to giving you the same results, but it can still be worth using. Shampoo is something that everyone has to buy, unless you are nifty enough to make your own. Therefore, you won’t be spending money on anything more than you already do.
You are also more likely to remember to use a minoxidil shampoo than you are to remember to apply a topical treatment to your hair. The topical treatment will take time, and it can interfere with the chemicals in other things like hair dyes.
All of these things put minoxidil shampoo in a very favorable light. Then, there is also that minoxidil shampoo can be gentler on the scalp than the liquid minoxidil. However, there are a few minoxidil disadvantages as well.
For starters, some people react to the minoxidil. However, it is also entirely possible to have a reaction to one of the other ingredients in a shampoo. Due to this, it can sometimes make it hard to tell if you are reacting to the minoxidil or to something else in the shampoo.
Minoxidil shampoo will also not give you results as quickly or regrow as much of your hair. Sometimes other ingredients in the minoxidil shampoo can complement the minoxidil amazingly.
Minoxidil in any form can take weeks, or even months, to start visibly affecting your hair. When it comes to minoxidil shampoo, which doesn’t stay nearly as long on your scalp, it can take even longer.
Finally, as with any form of minoxidil, you can still end up with certain side effects. Minoxidil has some potentially serious side effects that it can cause that involve your heart and lungs. Some of the milder effects can be redness, obvious irritation, itching, and headaches.
How To Get The Most Of Your Minoxidil Shampoo
Since minoxidil doesn’t get a chance to stay as long as your scalp in shampoo form, you should help it. For starters, minoxidil doesn’t really do anything to DHT. Sure, it helps your body get around it, so to speak, and sometimes clean some of it out.
However, the DHT is still there. Using a DHT blocking conditioner after your minoxidil shampoo is one way you can get the best of both. A DHT blocker will work to clean the DHT out of your follicles, which will be easier to do thanks to the minoxidil.
This, in turn, will help more blood get to your scalp to absorb more of the minoxidil and the DHT blocker. While a DHT blocking conditioner might be the most convenient, you could do this with any form of DHT blocker.
You should never use a derma roller when using foam, liquid, or cream minoxidil. If you wait a while after using minoxidil shampoo, you might can get by with it. The reason why derma rollers and minoxidil do not mix well is that the derma rollers break your skin, and the minoxidil can get in your bloodstream.
Minoxidil in your bloodstream can be dangerous and can cause side effects that you don’t want to experience. Since the minoxidil shampoo is rinsed off quickly, you can use a derma roller as long as you rinse thoroughly. Wait until your scalp is fully back to normal before using the minoxidil shampoo again too.
Finally, another way that you can make the most of your minoxidil shampoo is to increase your vitamin intake. Since the minoxidil is opening up the channels to your hair, this will make sure that your follicles have what they need to start repairing themselves.
While, as you can see, minoxidil shampoo is not the best option, it is still quite useful for busy schedules. You can try letting the minoxidil shampoo sit in your hair a few minutes longer, and you may get more of the minoxidil that way.
In order to see results from minoxidil shampoo, you should use it no less than every other day. For more cases, minoxidil shampoo should be used every day. There have been few to no minoxidil tests done on shampoos containing this ingredient, so this is still a new area.
If you do decide to use minoxidil shampoo, try to choose a shampoo that has good secondary ingredients in it. Something to help stimulate your scalp would be a good one. Also, ingredients to nourish your scalp while the minoxidil opens up the path are useful.