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Hair loss is common: it will affect as many as half of all men

Most guys already know this. What they often don’t know is that there are actually really effective hair loss treatments available in Canada. 

One of them is minoxidil—often sold under the brand name Rogaine. 

Minoxidil is a topical treatment that’s effective and is widely available over-the-counter or from online hair loss clinics who will deliver it to your door. 

In this post, we’ll give you everything you need to know about this effective hair loss treatment: what it is, how it works, Minoxidil side effects, and where you can get your hands on minoxidil in Canada.

What is minoxidil?

Minoxidil is a hair loss treatment that’s used to reduce male-pattern baldness, also known as “androgenic alopecia”. It’s sold as a liquid, spray, or foam and is applied directly to the scalp.

Minoxidil was originally sold under the brand name Rogaine and has been used since 1988. 

How minoxidil works

It isn’t fully understood how minoxidil works on a molecular level, but scientists think there are two primary ways that it promotes a full head of hair. 

The first is by improving how the hair follicles get nutrients. Minoxidil is a vasodilator, which means that it promotes the widening blood vessels. When you apply it to your scalp, minoxidil dilates the blood vessels that transport blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the hair follicles. It also helps remove cellular build-up (including the DHT that is responsible for hair loss). 

By improving how nutrients and waste are transported, this vasodilation likely promotes healthy hair follicles and supports hair growth. 

The second is by promoting new hair growth. Minoxidil causes hair in the resting growth phase—called the telogen phase—to shed. Those hairs are then replaced with new hairs that begin a new growing phase—the anagen phase. These new hairs are thicker than the ones they replace, resulting in a fuller head of hair.

From there, minoxidil actually shortens the telogen phase and lengthens the anagen phase, giving your hair a longer growth window.

So minoxidil causes you to grow new, thicker hairs, improves the health of the hair follicles, and lengthens the growth phase. 

Is minoxidil an effective hair loss treatment?

Yes, there is quite good research evidence that minoxidil is effective.

Many randomized controlled trials have found strong evidence that minoxidil is effective. In one that lasted 48 weeks, minoxidil was found to be significantly more effective than a placebo—both for increasing hair count and for subjective ratings of hair fullness. Another randomized control study corroborated these results for minoxidil in a foam formula.

In a systematic review of several studies looking at the effectiveness of minoxidil on hair growth, it was found to lead to significantly improved hair growth at both 5% and 2% concentrations. While treatments with both 5% and 2% are effective, a minoxidil concentration of 5% seems to be more effective than a 2% concentration. 

Who does minoxidil work best for?

Minoxidil seems to be most effective for younger men—men under 40—and those that have been balding for 5 years or less. It’s not as effective once hair loss spreads over a large area. As with all hair loss treatment, minoxidil works better the earlier it is used to treat hair loss. 

Once you stop using minoxidil, its effects stop. You need to keep using minoxidil to continue to see hair growth. 

How long does it take for minoxidil to work?

Minoxidil starts working right away. However, since hair growth is slow, it takes some time before you can notice that it’s having an effect—usually a few months.

Most men will start to see some improvement after six months and it will take about a year before you see the “final” results.

What about Minoxidil shampoo?

While some vendors sell minoxidil shampoo, this is not as effective as minoxidil in a liquid, spray, or foam formula.

The reason is that it takes quite a long time for Minoxidil to be absorbed into the skin on the scalp. When used as a shampoo, minoxidil only has a few minutes of exposure to the skin—not nearly enough time to be absorbed effectively. 

Sprays, liquids, and foams are left on the scalp and so have much more time to be absorbed. 

Minoxidil side effects: Is minoxidil safe?

Minoxidil is safe. Research has consistently found it to be well-tolerated by most people

However, there are some minoxidil side effects.

One side effect is actually hair loss—but only temporarily. The reason for the short-term hair loss in some people is that minoxidil encourages the hairs in the resting phase to shed so new hairs can begin to grow. Once those hairs begin the growing phase, you’ll notice a thicker head of hair. 

Some people have also found minoxidil treatments to cause skin irritation, itching, and even flaking. However, it turns out that these adverse effects are not caused by the minoxidil itself, but by propylene glycol, another ingredient in the product. 

Scientists have since created the foam formula without propylene glycol to reduce these minoxidil side effects.

Who can use minoxidil?

Minoxidil for men

It’s an effective hair loss treatment for men and is commonly used by this demographic. 

Minoxidil for women

Research has found that Minoxidil works for women as well as for men. Whereas finasteride and dutasteride are not typically prescribed to women, Minoxidil has been found to be a safe and effective treatment for this demographic.

Minoxidil and finasteride results

Research has found that finasteride, dutasteride, and minoxidil are all effective for treating male-pattern hair loss. But which one has the best results?

  1. Dutasteride is the most effective. However, since it’s approved in Canada primarily for use to treat an enlarged prostate, it’s typically only prescribed as a hair loss treatment in advanced cases.
  2. Finasteride is the second most-effective. Systematic reviews find it to be significantly more effective than minoxidil. You need a prescription to obtain finasteride in Canada.
  3. Minoxidil is the third most-effective. The 5% concentration typically has better outcomes than the 2% formula. You can get minoxidil in Canada over-the-counter.

The current gold standard for hair loss treatment in Canada is a combination of both finasteride and minoxidil. Together, minoxidil and finasteride result in the best hair regrowth outcomes. 

Where can I get minoxidil in Canada?

Minoxidil is widely available. You can get it over-the-counter at your local pharmacy, or you can get it delivered right to your door from Essential Clinic

While you can purchase Minoxidil in Canada without a prescription, we strongly suggest that anyone concerned with hair loss undergo a consultation with a healthcare professional. That way, you can be confident that you’re getting the most appropriate treatment for your particular case.

Schedule an online consultation with our experienced hair loss team, and we can help you find the best treatment option for you. 

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.