If you’re experiencing hair loss or hair thinning, you’ve probably heard of minoxidil. This popular treatment is the only over-the-counter medication for hair loss that is approved by the FDA.
Worth noting is that, this medication is not used for treating total baldness. It only seems to work best for people under 40 facing early signs of balding.
If you’re looking for safer and effective natural alternatives to Minoxidil, you can take a look at this full list of Hair Growth vitamins.
But here is the thing; studies show that the effectiveness of Minoxidil is dose-dependent. So presumably, the more you take, the greater the effects.
Interestingly, the FDA has only approved 2% and 5% solutions for hair loss management. Why not 10% or even 15%?
Here’s everything you need to know.
What Is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter hair loss treatment available for both men and women. It was originally tested in the 1960s but as an oral medication for treating high blood pressure.
In one of the early trials as a treatment for blood pressure, some patients reported hair growth as one of the side effects. And in the late 1980s, the minoxidil topical formula was approved by the FDA as a treatment for male hair loss.
Later in 1992, it was approved as an effective treatment for female hair loss. So, today, it’s the only FDA-approved topical treatment that is formally known to regrow hair.
How Does Minoxidil Work?
Unfortunately, the exact mechanism by which this medication works is not fully understood. However, since Minoxidil is a vasodilator, it is believed that it works by widening the blood vessels. As a result, more oxygen-rich blood is delivered to the hair follicles, which helps to stimulate hair growth.
Additionally, this treatment may help increase the size of the hair follicles, thereby supporting the growth of healthy hairs. More so, researchers believe that the topical formula helps shorten the resting phase of hair growth. This allows your hair to stay in the growth phase longer.
Is Minoxidil 5% vs 10% More Effective? -What to Take
Different studies reveal that the 5% minoxidil solution works better than 2%. Unfortunately, not many studies have examined whether the 10% solution is more effective than the 5%.
A 2019 study published by the Journal of Dermatological Treatment evaluated the efficacy and safety of 10% topical Minoxidil vs 5%. The researchers used topical minoxidil and placebo in the treatment of male androgenetic alopecia (AGA).
The randomized trial comprised 90 men with AGA and lasted for 36 weeks. After 36 weeks of therapy, it was concluded that the 10% formula caused scalp irritation and was clearly inferior to the 5% formula.
We have solely relied on this study because it’s published on the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and is, therefore, peer reviewed.
So, as far as this topical hair loss formula goes the more the merrier rule doesn’t apply.
Another clinical trial published by the American Academy of Dermatology found the 5% topical minoxidil to be superior to 2%.
The purpose of the trial was to compare 5% topical minoxidil with 2% and placebo in the treatment of men with AGA. A total of 157 men applied 5% of the formula, 158 applied 2%, and 78 of them used placebo twice daily.
After 48 weeks of undergoing the therapy, the 5% minoxidil was found to be moderately superior to 2% and placebo. Also, the study indicated that individuals who used the 5% topical formula responded faster to the treatment compared to 2%.
More so, it was reported that patients who use the 5% formula experienced improved psychosocial perceptions of hair loss. As if that’s not enough, both doses were well tolerated by the men in this clinical trial without any side effects.
As expected, the above study was not the only one to report such results. There was another similar study conducted in 2004 but focused on female pattern hair loss. The study concluded that the 5% topical formula was superior to 2% in promoting hair growth.
Dose Response of 5% vs 10% Minoxidil
Few clinical trials are available concerning the efficacy of 5% minoxidil and 10%. As such, it is difficult to come up with a consensus on the most effective concentration of this medication.
More so, existing studies seem to be providing varying results. For example, subjects who were treated with 5% minoxidil experienced superior results compared to those that used 2%.
Also, another study showed that individuals who used 5% of the treatment reported better results than 10%. Plus, the 10% treatment was reported to cause more side effects compared to using the 5% or 2% formula.
So, while you would expect the 10% minoxidil to be more effective than the 5%, this may not be true. This is probably because the dose-response does not always happen as such.
Simply put, you should not expect to experience twice as much hair growth with 10% than with the 5% minoxidil. Some medications like minoxidil reach a point where further increase in the dose does not lead to a corresponding increase in efficacy. This is referred to as the law of diminishing returns.
With minoxidil, the law seems to kick in at within the range of 5 percent concentration.
Therefore, at around ten percent concentration, the results may plateau even if you increase the dosage. Also, the side effects would increase.
Side Effects of Minoxidil 5% vs 10%
Minoxidil is considered to be safe when taken as directed by the doctor. This means that if you take the 2% or 5% daily dosage that is FDA-approved, you’re unlikely to experience any major side effects.
Unfortunately, its non-active ingredients, including propylene glycol and alcohol are not harmless. So, by increasing your minoxidil dosage to 10%, it also means you’re increasing the concentration of its non-active ingredients.
Consequently, this may result in increased side effects like:
- Scalp irritation
- Unwanted facial hair growth
- Contact dermatitis
- Low blood pressure
What If Minoxidil 5% Does Not Provide You With The Desired Results?
Unfortunately, like with every hair loss treatment, what works for me may not work for you. Therefore, 5% of minoxidil may not work for everybody. More so, some people may experience faster results than others.
When this happens, you might be tempted to increase your dosage probably to 10%. While it might be okay to increase your dosage, we recommend you seek the help of your doctor first.
However, you should keep in mind that a 10% dosage of minoxidil may lead to serious side effects. More importantly, it may not be as effective compared to the 5% formula.
Some people find better results by using all-natural hair supplements such as Folexin or the renowned Viviscal formulation.
5% minoxidil is the FDA recommended dosage. Therefore, unless your doctor states otherwise, you should stick to it. However, if the 5% dosage does not provide you with the desired results, you can consider adding a natural supplement.
But with so many hair growth supplements available on the market, which one do you choose? Well, you might want to try out Folexin which complements minoxidil by providing you with a healthy supply of Biotin and Saw Palmetto.