Minoxidil, more commonly known as Rogaine, is a popular treatment for hair loss. Millions of people over the years have turned to this easy-to-use treatment option, and about half have seen results.
Does this mean that minoxidil is an effective treatment option for those suffering from frontal baldness? As you’ll see below, the answer isn’t quite so clear cut.
In this article, I’ll first touch upon the cause of frontal baldness.
Second, I’ll explain how minoxidil works and discuss some of the research studies which have been performed over the past few decades on minoxidil and its efficacy, as well as the science behind its use.
Finally, I’ll tell you how minoxidil can be used, where you can buy it, and how to get best results.
Watch our video below if you prefer that to reading about it:
What Causes Frontal Baldness?
I’ve previously discussed DHT, and how individuals who are genetically disposed to DHT sensitivity are at higher risk of hair thinning and loss (1).
To recap, DHT is produced when the enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase, comes into contact with testosterone, the male sex hormone. This newly-converted hormone then spreads throughout the body, connecting with androgen receptors.
When this occurs in the scalp, it can lead to hair thinning and loss through a process known as hair miniaturization (2). This is what leads to male-pattern baldness, scientifically referred to as Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA).
How Minoxidil Works
There are drugs on the market – specifically, finasteride and dutasteride – which inhibit 5AR and therefore reduce levels of DHT (4, 5). And while this seems like the logical approach to treating pattern hair loss, it does have some downsides.
DHT is, after all, a natural androgen within the body. By reducing its levels, this can adversely effect your sex life and perhaps even your health (6).
So, what’s the alternative?
Minoxidil is a vasodilator which was originally developed to treat hypertension (7). However, the notable side effect of hair growth made it a popular off-market treatment for pattern baldness. As such, it was soon developed into its own formula – known as Rogaine – and FDA approved as a topical treatment for men (and later women) with AGA (8).
As a vasodilator, the drug is believed to increase blood flow to the scalp (9). This ensures the delivery of oxygen and nutrients even when miniaturization is present. But we don’t know for sure.
But there are other theorized mechanisms, too.
Perhaps the most convincing is minoxidil’s ability to upregulate Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), which supports dermal papilla vasculature (10).
Minoxidil – An Effective Treatment for Genetic Baldness?
While research has shown that not everyone will benefit from the use of minoxidil , the low cost and minor (if any) side effects make minoxidil a treatment that may be worth a try.
In slightly less than 50 percent of individuals with AGA and treated with minoxidil , this is an effective treatment. One study has found, though, that hair growth results seem to peak at the 1-year mark and hair regrowth levels slowly decline afterwards (11).
By the 5-year treatment mark, an improvement of baseline hair regrowth levels are still present, but hair growth had slowed significantly.
Another study, in 2016, performed over the course of 104 weeks, found similar results, with hair growth peaking between week 52 and week 76 (12).
And, while the rate of hair growth returned to baseline levels by week 104, there were no major side effects associated with this long-term use.
As mentioned above, the root cause of MPB is DHT and scalp tension. That is, as long as DHT is present in the hair follicles, follicle miniaturization will most likely continue.
Minoxidil doesn’t work to stop the production of DHT. Instead, this treatment method works to stimulate hair growth by dilating the blood vessels (13).
In a way, minoxidil works despite the presence of DHT. However, as stated, the DHT is still there within the hair follicles.
So, can minoxidil effectively treat frontal balding? Yes, and no.
Yes, as it will temporarily (as long as you use it) stop hair shedding and stimulate hair growth.
No, as once application of the topical solution is stopped, so too is the hair growth.
The evidence would suggest that, since frontal baldness is the early stage of male pattern baldness that minoxidil would work most effectively on the frontal area.
Loss of hair that gone on for a long time is actually harder to re-grow than early stage ‘frontal’ baldness.
Frontal baldness is recession along the forehead and temples where the hairline is receding – this is also called a maturing hairline – and this is one of the areas that minoxidil is most effective.
A cream version of minoxidil could be particularly effective for the front hairline since it can be easily and carefully applied exactly where you need it. The advantage is that it stays on the scalp longer and is therefore more effective.
How to Use Minoxidil for Hair Growth
One of the great appeals of minoxidil is the ease with which it can be used.
This topical solution is applied to the scalp twice daily. There are two different solutions of minoxidil – foam and liquid – so consumers can choose the application method which works best for them.
Brands, Availability, and Cost
While there are a variety of store brands available over then counter, the most common brand name associated with minoxidil is Rogaine.
This can be purchased from a variety of retailers, both in-store and online. Due to this, prices will vary based upon location, solution type (foam version, spray, or liquid dropper), and where you purchase.
Of course, you can always choose a store brand option to save on costs, but be sure to double check the active ingredients and that they match the Rogaine solution.
Kirkland is another brand name you could consider. I’ve compared it to Rogaine in an article here.
Are There Side Effects?
As with any treatment, there is always a risk of adverse effects. But how common are these risks with minoxidil, and what are they exactly?
The most common side effects of minoxidil use are mild dermatological issues, including itching, flaking, and redness (15). This is very likely linked to an inactive ingredient, propylene glycol, which is found in most liquid formulations of the drug.
Fortunately, there is a foam alternative available for those who are sensitive to propylene glycol.
But there are those side effects which have more to do with the drug’s mechanisms and less to do with an inactive ingredient.
Some individuals may experience adverse effects related to the hypertensive nature of the treatment. These include flushing of the face and neck, headaches, light-headedness, dizziness, palpitations, and chest pain (16).
If you are pregnant or nursing, it’s important to speak with your physician before you begin (or continue) treatment. The same can be said for anyone with underlying health conditions.
With two-thirds of the male population affected by hair loss and baldness, a large number of pharmaceutical treatments have been created over the years (17). Above, we’ve examined one such treatment option – minoxidil – and its efficacy.
Initially, I set out to answer the question, “can minoxidil be an effective treatment of frontal baldness?”
While I’d like to provide you with a clear cut answer, the truth is, only you can decide.
About half of those who use minoxidil will see results, though these results only last for as long as treatment continues. Of course, the cost isn’t so prohibitive that you can’t give it a try for yourself.
You may find that the effects are worth the hassle of use (though, it is pretty easy to apply), or you may decide that minoxidil treatment isn’t for you.
Since frontal baldness is typically early stage hair loss, and minoxidil works more effectively to re-grow recently lost hair there is a good chance it will work effectively for you.
Whatever you decide, however, keep in mind that the cause of AGA is sensitivity to DHT, and only treating the root issue will permanently stop further thinning and promote hair growth.