Hair Loss Treatment: Minoxidil versus Finasteride

Over the years, lots of research has been made about baldness, how it happens, and the solution for it. Hair loss or alopecia or baldness as it is commonly called occurs when the hair on the scalp thins out gradually and new hair doesn’t grow back to replace it. It also occurs when the rate at which hair is shed off is way more than the rate at which new hair grows back. There are different types of alopecia. Alopecia areata, the commonest of all,  traction alopecia that occurs when there is a strain on the hair caused by tight braids, trichotillomania, tinea capititis caused by fungi infection, androgenic alopecia also called male-pattern baldness, and telogen effluvium that usually occurs in women shortly after giving birth.

Hair Loss

Hair Loss

Hair loss or alopecia can be caused by a lot of factors like hereditary, chemotherapy, hormonal imbalance, pregnancy, and so on. Great news! Alopecia can be treated by various means, drugs, laser treatment and surgically depending on the type of alopecia being treated. In this article, we will be looking at two great chemical substances that can be used to treat hair loss: Minoxidil and Finasteride, the way they work, their efficacy, their side effects, and a general guide to help you choose the treatment regime that suits you.

Read Also: Role of IGF-1 in Regulating Hair Growth and its Effects on Hair Loss

Minoxidil and Finasteride are two substances or drugs that are commonly used to treat hair loss. They come in various forms: tablets, hair creams, shampoos, and so on. They are very effective although they work in various ways and by using various mechanisms.


Minoxidil is a drug that was formerly used exclusively to treat hypertension. But over the years, patients who took it started growing and having thicker hair. So it was adopted as a drug that can be used to treat hair loss. Its chemical name is 3-hydroxy-2-imino-6-piperidine-1-pyrimidine-4-amine. Minoxidil is a vasodilator. It helps to treat alopecia and grow hair by dilating or relaxing the blood vessels in the scalp, thereby promoting blood flow and transportation of nutrients to the hair follicles and at the end, simulating growth. It has a half-life of 4.2 hours, that is after that time, it is reabsorbed by the body. Minoxidil is metabolized by the liver and broken down in the Kidneys and excreted in the urine. It has two major routes of administration, oral and topical. Minoxidil is a drug that works both in males and females. However, it should not be abused or taken in more than recommended amounts. The maximum dosage of minoxidil is about 2 to 5 mg depending on the individual. Although the drug is effective, hair growth can be noticed 6 to 12 months after using the drug for the first time because it may take time for the hair follicles to start working again. Minoxidil has a few side effects, but they are usually seen in few individuals. Side effects such as dizziness, fainting, burning sensation on the applied site, rapid weight gain, and so on could be noticed.

Read Also: Study: Hair Loss Drug Minoxidil May Help Reduce Risk of Heart Attacks


This drug on the other hand is also an effective medication for alopecia generally used only in men. It can be used in the management of benign prostatic hyperplasia in men too. Its chemical name is N-tert-Butyl-3-oxo-4-aza-5α-androst-1-ene-17β-carboxamide. It works by inhibiting an enzyme, 5-alpha reductase. It prevents hair loss by stopping testosterone from being converted into dihydrotestosterone another hormone that damages the hair follicles and also enlarges the prostate gland. DHT as it is popularly called is a powerful androgen so it triggers the development of male sexual organs. It also shrinks the hair follicles and shortens the cycle, causing hair to thin out, making the hair to be brittle. Finasteride is usually administered orally. It has an average half-life of about five to six hours in younger men and eight hours in elderly men above seventy years. It is metabolized by the liver but excreted in the urine and feces. Finasteride is very effective.  It takes about 14 days before the body’s DHT level comes back to normal after use. The results can be seen as early as a month after Finasteride’s first administration. However, hair loss continues if medication is skipped. Finasteride cannot be used in women unless otherwise stated. Finasteride comes with lots of side effects that affect sexual performance in men like erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, and premature ejaculation. It also causes a host of other side effects like breast enlargement and tenderness, rapid weight gain, swelling of lips and face, redness of the skin and blotting, and a host of other effects. Surprisingly, these effects may persist even after the medications are stopped.

Read Also: Hair Loss: A Promising Treatment That Can Regrow Hair Back in 15 Days

Finasteride and Minoxidil, Which One Should I Use?

There has been a lot of research on these drugs, and on which of them that is more effective in preventing hair loss. We will be comparing these two drugs using different parameters like their efficacy, costs, and so on and also suggesting the one you can use based on your needs, health conditions, and physiological state.

Minoxidil and Finasteride are both effective, but Finasteride is actually more effective than Minoxidil. Minoxidil also produces long-lasting results but it takes time before results start showing. So in essence, Finasteride is more effective. To back up this claim, the result of an experiment showed 80.5% efficiency in people who used Finasteride and only 59% in people who used Minoxidil.

Based on cost, Finasteride is more expensive than Minoxidil. The average cost of 30 tablets of 1mg of Finasteride is $80. While that of Minoxidil is about $20.

Read Also: Hair Loss: A Promising Treatment That Can Regrow Hair Back in 15 Days

Although they carry out different actions, they produce the same result. While Minoxidil works on the blood vessels around the scalp to increase nutrient supply to the hair follicles, Finasteride acts as a hormone blocker to prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT. To that effect, Finasteride cannot and should not be used to treat alopecia in females unless otherwise stated or prescribed by the doctor. While minoxidil on the other hand can be used both on men and women alike, a review on Fin vs Fin notes that about 60% of men may not see any results. Minoxidil when compared to Finasteride has fewer side effects. 

Minoxidil when compared to Finasteride has fewer side effects. The side effects associated with Minoxidil are usually a result of underlying heart disease and probably overdosing. It is usually advised that a person suffering from a cardiac disease such as hypertension should not use minoxidil or should see the doctor for advice before use. On the other hand, Finasteride has a lot of side effects that are related to sexual performance like sexual dysfunction, enlargement of the breast, and so on. It also causes psychological problems in men such as anxiety, stress, depression, and a host of other issues. It is usually advised that a man who is sexually active should consider his options carefully before using Finasteride. In other words, minoxidil is much safer to use than Finasteride.

Minoxidil and Finasteride both have the required amount of dosage that should be taken. For Finasteride, it is 1mg and for minoxidil, it is 2mg per day and can vary with the individual. An overdose doesn’t increase hair growth but rather it increases the tendency of the person having side effects of sexual erectile dysfunction for Finasteride and reduced blood pressure in minoxidil.

Read Also: Hair Loss Breakthrough: Human Skin With Hair Created for the First Time

Drug Interactions

There are different drugs that should not be taken with either minoxidil or Finasteride for a number of reasons. Firstly, with taking Finasteride, drugs like carbamazepine, rifampin, and St John’s wort reduce its efficiency by increasing the rate at which the liver breaks it down. On the other hand, minoxidil shouldn’t be taken with other vasodilators cause it can cause the blood pressure to drop below normal. So it is advisable that you always consult your doctor before you choose the type of drugs you use especially if you are on medication. Alcohol affects both minoxidil and finasteride adversely. With finasteride, it reduces or negates or reverses the efficacy of finasteride and with minoxidil, it reduces the blood pressure of the body below normal. So alcoholics are also advised to quit or at least reduce their alcohol intake if they want to use any of these products to prevent hair loss. It is advised that a woman should not use finasteride especially women of childbearing age. This is because the mechanism of action of the drug can adversely affect the children they have, especially males. Women who are planning on getting pregnant or about to are not to use minoxidil too. Minoxidil can cause congenital hypertrichosis and congenital heart diseases in the baby.


Minoxidil and finasteride are two drugs that are very effective in treating hair loss. Though they work in different ways, they produce the same result. It is also important that you consider a lot of factors before choosing which of them to take, if you are not sure, then you should consult a medical professional or doctor for advice.

Read Also: Study Finds New Key To Reverse Wrinkles and Hair Loss


Hair loss – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic



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