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Hair Loss
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Man with full head of hair using topical finasteride Canada

Topical Finasteride

Topical Finasteride in Canada: What it is, where to buy it, and more

Finasteride is one of the most effective treatments for androgenic alopecia, also known as male-pattern hair loss.

Finasteride has been available for years in Canada and is very effective. However, it can result in some undesirable side effects. While these are relatively uncommon, the fear of finasteride side effects can make some men hesitant to begin this hair loss treatment.

Luckily, there’s an alternative version of finasteride that results in fewer side effects: topical finasteride.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about topical finasteride in Canada. We’ll cover what it is, how it works, what side effects may occur, and where to buy topical finasteride in Canada.

What is finasteride?

Finasteride is a prescription medication for male pattern hair loss, often known by its brand name Propecia. It’s been found to be very effective: in about 83% of men it can stop hair loss, and in about 63% it actually causes hair regrowth.

Finasteride works by blocking the enzyme, 5α-reductase, that converts testosterone to DHT. DHT is what causes male-pattern hair loss, so finasteride works by lowering DHT concentrations.

Finasteride, together with dutasteride and minoxidil, are the most effective treatments that we currently have for hair loss. A combination of oral finasteride with topical minoxidil is the gold standard for hair loss treatment in Canada.

What is topical finasteride?

Finasteride is usually taken orally in pill form, but recently scientists have developed a topical version of it that comes as a gel or liquid solution. Rather than working systemically, as the oral version does, topical finasteride gel permeates the scalp and starts working directly around the hair follicles.

Topical finasteride gel works the same way as the oral version—by reducing DHT. Once it permeates into the scalp, topical finasteride blocks the 5α-reductase enzyme from breaking down testosterone into DHT. By blocking the synthesis of DHT, it protects the hair follicles and keeps them healthy so they can continue to produce healthy, thick hair.

Why use topical finasteride?

The primary benefit of topical finasteride is that it doesn’t have the same side effects of regular finasteride.

Regular finasteride is considered safe and well-tolerated for most people. But, there can potentially beare some side effects. Most worrying for some guys are the sexual side effects: oral finasteride can sometimes lead to erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, and ejaculatory dysfunction, among others.

These are uncommon; studies consistently find that only between 3.4% to 15.8% of individuals experience side effects.

Still, some men prefer not to take the risk. Topical finasteride provides an option with a different safety profile.

Topical finasteride side effects

So what are topical finasteride side effects?

This is a relatively new medication, so there has not been as much research done on topical versions of finasteride as there have been on the oral forms.

Still, the research suggests that topical finasteride side effects are minimal. No studies have reported any serious side effects as a result of using finasteride topicals. Minor side effects have been reported in some studies; these include scalp irritation, erythema, and contact dermatitis.

Users of finasteride topical gels may also notice some shedding. This is normal—the medication often causes your hair to shed and then begin a new growth phase. Shedding is a sign the medication is working.

Topical finasteride results

So, does topical finasteride work?

It certainly seems to. Several studies have now demonstrated that topical finasteride can be effective. The research that exists has found that it can be as effective as oral finasteride.

But it’s important to keep in mind that topical finasteride is newer, so there is less high-quality research that has been done on it. In particular, there haven’t yet been any large randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that test topical finasteride. RCTs are the “gold standard” for testing medications.

So, yes, the data we have suggests that topical finasteride can certainly be effective. But scientists are currently more confident in what they know about the effectiveness of oral finasteride than they are for the topical versions.

But not all finasteride topicals are the same

One caveat is that it appears that not all finasteride topical products are created equal. The research is ongoing, but it appears that some formulations are better than others.

  • Topical finasteride combined with minoxidil. The combination of finasteride and minoxidil, together, seems to be more effective with greater hair regrowth than either of these medications on their own. Finasteride + minoxidil solutions may therefore be the best topical hair treatment.
  • Topical finasteride liposomal gel combined with minoxidil. It also appears that liposomal gels are the most effective finasteride formulation. These have been found to effectively penetrate the scalp to get finasteride past the skin and nearer to the hair follicles. At the same time, liposomal gel in particular minimizes systemic absorption, which reduces the chance of topical finasteride side effects. While it is the most effective, it is difficult to obtain this type of topical finasteride in Canada. Essential Clinic is one of the only hair loss treatment clinics in Canada that offer it combined with topical minoxidil.
  • Topical finasteride with other formulations. Finasteride topicals made with other kinds of gel or solutions also appear to be effective, but the risk of side effects may be higher than topical finasteride made with liposomal gel. It also won’t be as effective as topical finasteride combined with minoxidil.

Where can I buy topical finasteride liposomal gel in Canada?

Topical finasteride liposomal gel is not widely available in Canada—it is offered by only a handful of clinics. Even when it is available, some of those clinics have a waiting list of up to four months.

Essential Clinic is your easiest option to buy topical finasteride in Canada.

  1. First, complete an online hair loss consultation and select topical finasteride/minoxidil as a treatment option (under the "All Options" tab).
  2. Our medical professionals will conduct an evaluation and, if appropriate, approve a prescription for topical finasteride/minoxidil gel.
  3. We’ll then deliver it right to your home.

How do I use topical finasteride?

It is easy to apply.

  1. Once you obtain your topical gel from Essential Clinic, check the instructions on the bottle to know exactly how to apply your product and how often.
  2. You apply it with a pump on to your hands and rub it directly onto your scalp. You will apply it once a day.
  3. Wash your hands after to remove any remaining finasteride.

Do you need a prescription for topical finasteride in Canada?

Yes, you need a prescription for topical finasteride in Canada. Getting a prescription is easy through Essential Clinic. We prescribe the medication and deliver it right to your home.

Topical finasteride is an effective hair loss treatment

Finasteride effectively treats hair loss, whether it's taken orally or applied topically. It works. The topical version might be an especially good option for guys who are worried about the side effects of taking oral finasteride.

Regardless of your treatment preference, the most important thing you can do to treat hair loss effectively is to treat it early. The more hair you have when you start your treatment regimen, the more successful it is likely to be.

Complete an online hair loss visit now to get started.


Caserini, M., Radicioni, M., Leuratti, C., Terragni, E., Iorizzo, M., & Palmieri, R. (2016). Effects of a novel finasteride 0.25% topical solution on scalp and serum dihydrotestosterone in healthy men with androgenetic alopecia. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 54(1), 19.

Caserini, M., Radicioni, M., Leuratti, C., Annoni, O., & Palmieri, R. (2014). A novel finasteride 0.25% topical solution for androgenetic alopecia: pharmacokinetics and effects on plasma androgen levels in healthy male volunteers. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 52(10), 842-849.

Hajheydari, Z., Akbari, J., Saeedi, M., & Shokoohi, L. (2009). Comparing the therapeutic effects of finasteride gel and tablet in treatment of the androgenetic alopecia. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, 75(1), 47.

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Kumar, R., Singh, B., Bakshi, G., & Katare, O. P. (2007). Development of liposomal systems of finasteride for topical applications: design, characterization, and in vitro evaluation. Pharmaceutical development and technology, 12(6), 591-601.

Lee, S. W., Juhasz, M., Mobasher, P., Ekelem, C., & Mesinkovska, N. A. (2018). A systematic review of topical finasteride in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men and women. Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD, 17(4), 457.

Mazzarella, G. F., Loconsole, G. F., Cammisa, G. A., Mastrolonardo, G. M., & Vena, G. A. (1997). Topical finasteride in the treatment of androgenic alopecia. Preliminary evaluations after a 16-month therapy course. Journal of dermatological treatment, 8(3), 189-192.

Mella, J. M., Perret, M. C., Manzotti, M., Catalano, H. N., & Guyatt, G. (2010). Efficacy and safety of finasteride therapy for androgenetic alopecia: a systematic review. Archives of dermatology, 146(10), 1141-1150.

Tanglertsampan, C. (2012). Efficacy and safety of 3% minoxidil versus combined 3% minoxidil/0.1% finasteride in male pattern hair loss: a randomized, double-blind, comparative study. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, 95(10), 1312.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.