Minoxidil or Finasteride: A guide to how they work and their efficacy

If you’re suffering from hair loss, you’re probably familiar with medications called Minoxidil and Finasteride. These medications are widely popular and aid hair growth, but do they really work? Are they effective? We answer all your questions, so you can make an informed choice. Here we compare the medicines, talk about their effectiveness and compare results.

What is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil is an FDA-approved drug used to stimulate hair growth among men and women suffering from baldness and alopecia. It is also used to treat the symptoms of severe or refractory hypertension. Minoxidil belongs to a class of drugs called Vasodilators. Hair loss is a growing concern among men and women, this can have a huge impact on self-esteem. Minoxidil is a popular hair-growth remedy plan. Minoxidil works by strengthening hair follicles, rather than helping you grow new hair. It works on treating the hair you still have and strengthening it.

How does it work?

How does it work

Minoxidil is an effective way of encouraging hair growth. It works by dilating blood vessels in the scalp, which strengthens the hair follicles and stimulates hair growth. It aids the growth by relaxing the blood vessels and increasing blood flow to certain areas. It also provides enough blood and oxygen to your hair follicles, helping them grow stronger. Minoxidil focuses on vasodilation. Vasodilation is the process of widening your blood vessels. By expanding the blood vessels near your scalp, it helps the follicles grow bigger in size to feed the growth. This makes your hair grow thicker in size, giving you a fuller look. You may start seeing the results after a few months (at least 3-6 months). This is not a permanent solution for hair loss. You will experience hair loss if you stop the medication abruptly.

How to take Minoxidil?

You can use Minoxidil by following these steps

  • Get Minoxidil with a concentration of 3% or more.
  • Clean and pat dry the area where you wish to apply the solution or foam.
  • If you are using a solution, use 1 ml or approx. 20 drops and apply the solution evenly to the affected area
  • If you are using foam, use half a capful and rub gently on the affected area. Leave it for four hours, then wash and rinse.
  • Repeat this twice a day

What is Finasteride?

Finasteride is a popular drug to treat hair loss and symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia among men. Finasteride contains Finasteride as its active ingredient. Finasteride belongs to a class of medications called type II 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. 

How does it work?

How does it work

Finasteride obstructs the working of an enzyme (DHT) and reduces its level, responsible for hair thinning and aggravating the prostate. It strengthens the hair follicles giving you a fuller, natural look.This is necessary to change testosterone into another hormone (DHT) that aids the prostate to grow and promotes hair thinning. This process slows down the process of hair loss and shrinks the prostate. It also helps in relieving the symptoms of BPH and supports hair growth.

How to use Finasteride?

Finasteride comes in a tablet form; it should be taken orally once a day. You can take it with or without food. Take this as a whole in dose and duration instructed by your doctor. Do not crush or cut the tablet. For optimum results, it is best to have a fixed time to take the medication. Follow the instructions on the box carefully to avoid any risk of side effects or as advised by your doctor.

Minoxidil v/s Finasteride: The difference

The mechanism of working in both the medications is very different. Minoxidil is a topical available in solution and foam, while Finasteride comes in tablet form. Although both the medications work towards hair growth and strengthening, the biggest difference is in the dosage and working. Minoxidil is externally used, while Finasteride works from the primary source. Minoxidil is used on the scalp that promotes hair growth, finasteride is ingested and works through your body.

Are they effective?

Are they effective

Yes, they are. Both medications have scientific evidence backing their efficacy rate. Efficacy of Minoxidil in enhancing hair growth is promising. Research conducted in 2016 by the Journal of Dermatology showed Minoxidil performed better than a placebo. It showed growth in hair count. A study from Germany showed improvement in balding men with no signs of worsening. Many users reported a positive response, stating that Minoxidil helps in strengthening hair.

Finasteride is shown to have a positive impact after a few months even with a small dose of 1 mg. A study by Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed 15 % improvement in hair growth after two years of use. Around twelve studies conducted revealed it improved hair appearance in users. Long-term use (five years) showed a decrease in visible hair loss.  Efficacy of hair loss in women still needs to be studied.

A combination of minoxidil and finasteride showed improved, better results in maintaining positive long-term growth. (Indian Dermatology Online Journal)

Both the medications are backed up by scientific evidence and show remarkable benefits. These are safe, effective and readily available to use. 

Are they suitable for everyone?

Are they suitable for everyone

Minoxidil and Finasteride are generally safe for everyone above 18 years to use. But we recommend consulting your doctor first if you have any of these conditions

·        People with sensitive skin or a skin condition

.        Women, especially pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use either of these medications unless advised by a doctor

·        People suffering from high blood pressure

·        People with organ damage

.        People under the age of 18

·        Children

It is always safe to do a patch test first to check for any allergies or irregularities.



Dosing is different for different patients. Here we give you the information of a standard dose. Do not change your dosage without your doctor’s order. Minoxidil is available in foam and a solution. Pick the one that suits you the best. Consult your doctor for your appropriate dose.

·        Minoxidil solution: One ml of the solution twice a day

·        Minoxidil foam: Half a capful of the foam twice a day

Finasteride comes in tablet form. Various generic medicines are available, consult your doctor for the best option. If you are taking Finasteride to treat male pattern baldness or alopecia, take a tablet once a day around the same time. You will see the improvement after 3 months as hair growth happens gradually. But if you do not see any improvement after 12 months, consult with your doctor for alternative options.

Common side effects

Common side effects

Minoxidil and Finasteride are well-tolerated and have enough research to prove their safety. However, both have some potential side effects that could affect your health. Most of them occur as your body adapts to these medications, however, if they persist for more than two days, contact your doctor. Stick to the recommended dose on the label or as advised by your doctor to reduce the risk of side effects. Here are a few common side effects

·        Burning, itching, rash

·        Decreased libido

·        Breast enlargement or tenderness

·        Erectile dysfunction

.     Initial hair loss 

Which is better?

Minoxidil and finasteride, although used for the same cause, work differently. One works at the topical level while the other works from the primary source to prevent hair fall. Since finasteride works from the primary source by stopping the DHT production, most doctors would suggest finasteride as the first course of treatment before minoxidil. For better results, doctors might also recommend you to add these two drugs together to your hair care routine. It showed significantly better, visible results after 12 months of use in men rather than those who just used either of these two.

We provide a wide range of FDA-approved products that include minoxidil and finasteride for your hair treatments. Learn more about our products regarding male pattern baldness on our website. 


You can start seeing visible results after 8-10 weeks after you start using minoxidil, after four months you can expect to see a decrease in hair loss and a fuller, natural hair growth. 

Finasteride showed results after a few months(4-6 months), continued use of finasteride for two years showed visible hair growth, little further hair loss and overall improvement in hair growth. 


If you are still facing hair loss, it is time to look for other alternatives that might suit you best. Here are a few options you could discuss with your doctor

  • Vitamins and supplements

If you are facing hair loss due to nutritional deficiencies, it is time to turn to vitamins and supplements. When you lack certain vitamins and nutrients that help in hair growth, your hair becomes susceptible to breakage. These vitamins and supplements help in hair restoration by providing your body with the necessary nutrients for hair growth, thus strengthening your hair follicles.

  • Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been used as a medical therapy for hair loss for years. Acupuncture targets specific points in your body that stimulate hair follicles which encourage hair growth. However, these claims are not backed up by research in treating male or female pattern baldness. 

  • Micro-needling

Micro-needling is similar to acupuncture. It is a cosmetic treatment that includes a device with hundreds of tiny needles. It is believed to induce stem cells in the hair follicles that promote hair growth. When paired with medications like minoxidil or finasteride, it has shown significant results. Micro-needling helps absorb these medications quicker, making them more effective.

  • Hair transplant  

Hair transplant might be the last resort to get rid of hair loss. It is an effective and permanent solution for hair thinning and hair loss. This is a safe surgery and could last between 4-6 hours. Hair transplant surgery gives a natural look, unlike hair plugs. Consult your dermatologist to come up with strategies for hair treatment after the transplant.

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