Using the liquid version on my scalp

Kirkland Minoxidil vs. Rogaine: Which Gives Best Results?

Kirkland minoxidil can be used to reverse hair loss, but how does it compare to other minoxidil products such as Rogaine?

In this article I’ll discuss the best way to use Kirkland, I’ll show you how effective it really is, and how it compares to other minoxidil products.

In addition, you’ll learn:

  1. Common side effects from usage (and how you may be able to reduce them)
  2. Whether you should use the liquid or foam version
  3. How to use a process known as “dermarolling” to make Kirkland 3-5  times more effective (clinically proven)

Minoxidil As a Hair Loss Treatment

Originally developed as a treatment for hypertension, it was soon found that use of minoxidil was associated with hair growth (1).

With this discovery, the drug was soon redeveloped and eventually repackaged and sold as Rogaine. Of course, store brands (including Kirkland Signature) were quick to follow suit.

How Does It Work?

Let’s look more closely at how the topical formula works, as well as the benefits you may experience.

Minoxidil Increases Blood Circulation

Unlike Propecia (generic name finasteride) which works by reducing DHT, minoxidil works by dilating the blood vessels in the scalp (2, 3).

To understand how this can benefit you, it’s first important to understand how hair loss occurs and the effects that it has on the follicle.

Individuals with Male-Pattern Baldness (MPB) are sensitive to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This is an androgen hormone produced from the interaction between free testosterone and 5-alpha-reductase (an enzyme).

When DHT comes into contact with the hair follicles of an androgen-sensitive individual, a process known as follicle miniaturization occurs (4).

The miniaturization of hair follicles as a result of DHT sensitivity.

The sensitivity triggers an inflammatory response. As the follicle inflames, it interrupts the hair growth cycle (5). This leads to shorter and shorter hairs being produced, until eventually the hair can no longer make it through the follicle.

If left untreated, this leads to permanent baldness.

While minoxidil doesn’t inhibit DHT’s activities, it does make it possible for the hair follicle to thrive in a hostile environment.

As mentioned, DHT sensitivity causes inflammation. The connection between the blood vessels and hair follicle weakens, and this leaves the follicle without proper oxygen or nutrients.

As a vasodilator, minoxidil ensures that the blood vessels and follicle stay connected. This means your follicle is still able to receive everything it needs to thrive, and the hair growth cycle can then start again.

Minoxidil Opens the Potassium Channel

Another activity that scientists believe may contribute to minoxidil’s effects is its use as a potassium channel opener (6).

In short, potassium channels are mechanisms that control the flow of potassium ions to certain areas of the body. Potassium (K) is an important nutrient, performing a number of vital biological functions (7).

So, what happens when the potassium channel is closed?

While the channel should open and close according to its programming, the effects of hair miniaturization can damage the channels mechanisms.

Therefore, the channel stays closed when it should be open, and this deprives the follicles (and hair) of a vital element.

And potassium channels may also stimulate cell proliferation, which is just one more reason to keep them open (8).

There are two main potassium channels near the hair follicle, Kir6.2/SUR1 and Kir6.1/SUR2B. According to research published in 2008, only one responds to minoxidil (9). However, this seems to be enough for it to have a positive impact on nutrient delivery.

Is It Effective?

There’s no doubt that minoxidil is an effective treatment for hair loss. In fact, there are plenty of studies to back this.

One of the first long-term studies that followed the effects of minoxidil was published in 1990 (10). Thirty-one men participated in the study, and their minoxidil use (either 2 percent or 3 percent solution) was followed for four-and-a-half to five years.

The period of active regrowth peaked at one year of use, after which regrowth began to decline. However, maintenance was continued for the duration of treatment.

An earlier study, published in 1987, compared two of minoxidil’s popular formulations (2 percent and 3 percent) with a placebo solution (11). As expected, minoxidil outperformed the placebo solution.

Kirkland Minoxidil vs. Rogaine

The liquid and the foam versions of rogaine

If you’re considering minoxidil as a hair loss treatment, you may be curious as to the difference between the brand name Rogaine, and store brand products such as Kirkland Minoxidil.

In short, both products contain minoxidil as the active ingredient.

However, there are slight differences in inactive ingredients which may change the consistency.

So, which product should you go with? It all comes down to personal preference.

While the active ingredients are the same (and, therefore, the results will likely be similar), the inactive ingredients can play a role in side effects.

For example, formulations containing alcohol (specifically, propylene glycol) can cause irritation for some users.

(Learn more about alcohol-free minoxidil here.)

Another thing to look out for is consistency, as mentioned above.

Minoxidil is minoxidil, whether it’s under a brand name or not. However, the inactive ingredients can change a lot in how the product applies. For many, the differences are minimal.

Though, if you’re sensitive to such things, you may want to stick with the brand you know.

Liquid or Foam?

Another question that users of minoxidil products have is whether they should use the original, liquid formulation, or go for the foam.

But why are there two formulas available for the very same product?

Rogaine foam

While Rogaine quickly became a popular product for hair loss sufferers, not everyone could use the product without unpleasant side effects. One of the most common ones was an allergic reaction on the application site (12).

Interestingly, this wasn’t caused by the active ingredient, minoxidil. Instead, it was caused by an inactive ingredient found in the liquid formulation, propylene glycol.

In response to this, Pzifer decided to create a formulation without propylene glycol. That’s where Rogaine Foam comes in.

Of course, store brands (including Kirkland Signature) then went on to develop their own foam formulation.

So, which one should you choose?

If allergic dermatitis isn’t a problem for you, then it really comes down to preference.

Some believe that the liquid formulation provides better results due to absorption abilities (13). However, this has not been proven.

My advice would be to choose the formula you’re more likely to use.

If you’re looking for a more convenient formulation – one that dries quickly and leaves little in the way of greasy residue – then choose foam.

However, if you’d rather use the formulation that’s been around longer, choose liquid.

(Are you interested in learning more about the differences between liquid and foam Rogaine? Go here.)

Are There Any Known Side Effects?

Whether brand name or generic, there are a few side effects commonly associated with minoxidil products (14).

The most common side effects include local irritation and allergic contact dermatitis. These can cause itching, redness, flaking, and burning/tingling at the site of application.

In rare cases, a more severe reaction, called anaphylaxis, can take place (15).

Symptoms of such an event include hives, body rash, nausea/vomiting, and swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or mouth. In such a situation, stop use of the product and seek emergency medical care.

One other common adverse effect to consider, especially as you begin treatment, is an increase in shedding.

Sometimes referred to as ‘minoxidil shedding’ or ‘dread shed,’ the start of minoxidil products can induce short-term hair shedding known as telogen effluvium (16).

The period of shedding is caused by the shortening of telogen phase so as to push more follicles into anagen (active growth).

It’s common to experience an increase in shedding for four to eight weeks, but any longer than that and it’s best to stop use and speak with a physician before continuing.

Who Shouldn’t Use Minoxidil

While minoxidil is sold over-the-counter and, therefore, a prescription is not necessary, there are still those individuals who should avoid use. They include:

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Those with patchy hair loss
  • Those with sudden hair loss with no known cause
  • Babies and children
  • Those with inflamed, irritated, or otherwise infected scalps
  • Anyone with a history of low blood pressure
  • People who use other medications on their scalp

In addition, anyone with cardiovascular health problems should speak with their primary care physician before they begin use. The same can be said for anyone who is currently taking any prescription medications to be sure that no interactions exist.

Availability and Cost

Kirkland Signature is a brand offered by Costco. As of this writing, these brand products are also available at Walmart and Amazon. However, it seems that these products may soon be phased out from Walmart stores.

As a store brand product, there’s no doubt that you’ll spend less. For example, a 6 pack of 2-ounce minoxidil runs for $16.99 on the Costco website, while just a 3 pack of 2-ounce Rogaine runs for $37.99 on Amazon.

Considerations Before Use

Before using minoxidil – Rogaine brand or not – there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Namely, minoxidil is not a cure for baldness. Minoxidil is a product that has been shown to regrow hair; however, it cannot create new hair follicles or replace what has been lost.

With this in mind, you’ll get best results if you begin use immediately upon noticing the signs of hair loss.

(Unsure if you’re beginning to bald? Learn the early signs so you can begin treatment now!)

Second, you’ll only see results for as long as you use minoxidil.

As minoxidil doesn’t treat the underlying cause of hair loss, it cannot prevent it from recurring in the future. This means, if you want to keep a full head of hair, you’ll have to continue to use minoxidil.

Last, minoxidil results vary from person to person.

The reviews you see online are the individual experience of the user. There’s no guarantee that you’ll see much in the way of results – if any.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give minoxidil a try, but it does mean to be wary of anyone claiming it as a miracle drug.

Microneedling + Minoxidil: A Worthwhile Combination?

If you choose to add minoxidil to your hair care routine, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the product most effectively. That’s why I recommend you add microneedling into the mix.

As a natural way to stimulate blood circulation, as well as a way to encourage the repair and regrowth of healthy hair follicles, microneedling is a skin care technique commonly used to lessen the appearance of scars (17, 18).

While professional treatments are commonly used, you can also perform this treatment at home with a dermaroller.

The tool is fairly cheap, and the time it takes to perform the treatment only adds about 10 – 15 minutes to your routine one to three times per week.

A man with a large bald spot receiving microneedling

Even better, the use of a dermaroller in combination with minoxidil has proven to be effective.

In a study performed on 100 men in 2013, the participants were split into two groups (19). The first group used minoxidil treatment only, while the second group used minoxidil in combination with once weekly dermaroller treatment.

The group that received microneedling was instructed to skip use of minoxidil on the day of the treatment, and for 24 hours afterward.

They were then to continue their twice-daily use of minoxidil lotion (5 percent). The other group applied minoxidil lotion 5 percent twice daily with no breaks.

The results of the 12-week study speak clearly for themselves:

Before and after photos of minoxidil group + dermaroller
Source.

As is obvious from the comparison images above, the group that underwent minoxidil plus microneedling saw significantly more hair growth than the minoxidil-only group.

What does this mean for you?

Well, if you want to increase absorption of minoxidil and increase its effects, then the use of a dermaroller is a must.

Just look at this graph below from a clinical study that shows how effectively the dermaroller helps hair growth:

Source.

(Ready to add a dermaroller into your hair care routine? Learn more here!)

If this interests you, I’d also recommend one more thing when it comes to ‘microneedling.’

Because a dermaroller is hard to use anywhere apart from the hairline (because it can tangle with the hair) and it also because it causes a larger (but not deeper wound) I recommend using a stamp instead of a roller.

This makes the treatment even more effective.

My preferred dermastamp for this process looks like this:

Now you can do the microneedling process all over the scalp. This drastically improves blood flow, reduces fibrosis, and maximizes absorption of the Kirkland or whatever topical treatment you choose (20).

Conclusion

Kirkland minoxidil and similar brands have proven to be an effective hair loss treatment. As such, they are one option that you might consider as you start (or continue) your hair growth journey.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that minoxidil doesn’t treat the underlying cause of hair loss. Instead, it covers up the symptoms, and they’ll be sure to return once the course of treatment has ended.

This means it’s important that, during treatment, you also work to discover the cause of your hair loss and work to treat that directly. This will provide you with longer, more noticeable results.

The best way to begin learning the cause of your hair loss? Check out the posts on this website! You can also work closely with a dermatologist, or speak with your primary care physician about your concerns.

39 thoughts on “Kirkland Minoxidil vs. Rogaine: Which Gives Best Results?”

  1. Will, so at the end of the day you wouldn’t recommend using it, you’d just use the PEO and rosemary mixture instead? Is that because of the possible side-effects or because the natural option works better?
    Thanks,
    James

    • Hi James, yes I absolutely recommend the natural version over Kirkland or any minoxidil product for that matter. It’s both reasons. Why choose something that is proven less-effective, and a much more likely chance of side-effects when the other option is more effective and minimal side-effects (if any!)?

  2. Hi, I’ve just bought a dermaroller and peppermint oil after reading your webpages. The oil is 100% pure though and says ‘use a carrier oil for skin’. If I have to mix it, what should I use and what ratio please? Or do I use neat?

    • I would recommend magnesium oil as a carrier oil. Castor oil and a few other plant based oils could also work. No, I wouldn’t use it neat, it needs to be diluted down to approximately 5% by volume.

      • Hi Will, I see that there are several 100% pure Peppermint Essential Oil and Rosemary Essential Oil varieties available on Amazon. I see that you have mentioned that PEO should be used 5% by volume with a carrier oil. Is it still true that if we mix pure PEO and pure REO, we can use the mixture neat? Or if I were to use pure REO, PEO available on Amazon with a carrier, how would I go about it? Thank you.

        • Hi Subrata,

          When using any essential oil, it must be diluted to avoid irritation.

          As a general rule, you should use 5mL of carrier oil for each drop of essential oil. This is true whether you use PEO alone, or use it alongside REO.

          – Steph

  3. Thank you for this well-researched/truthful article and for providing natural options- However, I do not believe you mentioned the recommended needle length for the “Microneedling roller” and/or “DermaStamp”. I do not see any dermastamps on Amazon but I do see Microneedling Dermarollers for about $16… many of the products have a needle length of 0.25 mm. Is that the length you recommend? One review mentioned how that length was too short for her to notice a difference.

    I appreciate your help!

    • Hi,

      We would suggest 1.0mm as this tends to be the length that penetrates deeply enough without causing any permanent damage.

      – Steph

  4. I recently bought a minoxidil foam which doesn’t contain alcohol. Is it safe to change the brand and use non- alcoholic minoxidil?

    • I would think that it’s a better option. Although I haven’t seen any research on the subject and I haven’t tried it myself so I don’t know for sure. But I do know that putting alcohol on the skin everyday is almost definitely not good for it in the long term, so it probably is a better option.

  5. Hi there,
    How to use PEO & rosemary oil extract?
    Is it used separately every morning and night
    And which 1 to use 1st
    Thanks

  6. Hi Will,
    If I were to buy the pure 100% PEO and REO as available on Amazon how would I create a solution for use? Just mix them, as is? Or use 5% REO, 5% PEO and 90 % Carrier oil like Castrol? Thanks a lot for all the information.

  7. Hello, Could peppermint+rosemary oil be applied on scalp neatly OR they should be diluted? If yes how could it be done? And does it have to be applied on scalp everyday and for how long??

    • They need to be diluted. Pure essential oils are powerful and would be too strong. You can use a carrier oil or magnesium oil as a good starting place.

      • Hi i am facing hairfall and im not sure which natural oil should i use can you please help me with this problem because my hairs fall very quickly

  8. Can PEO and rosemary be able to grow a beard? Because on youtube, many are using minoxidil. But in your article, PEO is better than minoxidil? And I once used minoxidil, it worked, but not too dense, just with a thin hair

    • Hi Ari,

      There’s no reason it shouldn’t work, though I would recommend you dilute it more than we recommend for the scalp. I would also recommend you test it out on a small area of your chin before applying it directly to your beard.

      To dilute, I recommend 5mL of carrier oil for every 1 drop of essential oil. You can increase this (such as 10mL of carrier oil for 1 drop of essential oil) if you’re particularly sensitive.

      – Steph

    • I recommend an adjustable dermastamp, so you can change the needle size very quickly and easily to suit your needs. In some places of your scalp a slightly longer needle is needed, at the front where the skin is thin, a shorter size is better.

  9. Hi Will,

    Thank you so much for your tip! I try using the combination of Peppermint oil and Rosemary oil and they really work.
    Anyway, there is the problem that many people can’t stand the smell of it. So I can’t apply it on mornings since the smell may annoy my colleagues. Do you have any solution to get rid of the smell?

    Thanks.

  10. Hi, I tried the combination of these 2 oils. They really help to reduce hair loss and stimulate hair growth, but people surrounding me can’t stand its smell.
    Is there any way to remove the smell?
    Thanks.

    • Hi Kun, have you tried using them before bed time and then washing out in the morning? Although this wouldn’t reduce the smell for yourself at least it would stop other people being affected by it.

  11. Hi Will,
    Thanks for the article
    I would like to try the PEO and REO mixture
    Unfortunately i have started using minoxidil 5% for two days.
    Is it ok if i switch it now to the PEO and REO mixture? Will it be too late?

    • Hello Mayven, it’s up to you what topical treatment you use. Personally I prefer not to use minoxidil because of the side effects, but you should talk to your doctor if you have questions about it. Remember, topical treatments have limited effectiveness so you’ll also need to work on other areas to get good results, such as diet.

  12. What about using both Minoxidil and one of the oils in combination? They use different mechanisms so maybe could synergize?

  13. Hi Will,
    How’s it going?
    I’ve bought a dermaroller, but on the box, I read that 0.5 ml is good for many things, but for hair regrowing, you need 0.2 – 0.3 ml. Is that right (for the top of the temple)?
    Another question: do I need to skip Minoxidil when using dermaroller? Is it OK for Minoxidil to get in the micro-wounds?
    Thank you!
    Igor

    • Hello Igor, if you use minoxidil right after using the roller it will sting a lot. You need to wait at least 8 hours. There are some topical solutions you can and should use in conjunction with dermarolling/stamping. We are currently developing a new serum for this.

      It’s not easy to answer the needle size question, that’s why we recommend using our adjustable dermastamp, because you can easily adjust the size of the needles. In the most well known microneedling study they use 1mm. Personally I vary the needle length depending on which part of the scalp I am doing it on, and the number of days since I last used it.

      With the larger sized needles you’ll need longer in between sessions for the micro-wound to heal.

      I hope that helps answer your question.

  14. Hi Will,

    Thanks for this article, I have been trying hard to see a well researched article on hair growth products like this.

    After reading his article, I was discourage by the smell complaints by Kun on PEO and REO.

    Then I went on to read more of your articles, about women, and came across oleuropine, I asked if men could use it too, and what other necessary details required, such as if the oleuropine needs a carrier oil too.

    But on reading further, I read about the products produced by your org, and I want to ask, if I can use both the caffeine shampoo and scalp elixir for beard growth. If yes, does it have any smell?

    Or what would you recommend.

    • Hello Ayo, I wouldn’t recommend them for beard growth. That’s not what we’ve formulated them for. Honestly, some people say our shampoo and elixir have a distinct smell. Some people seem to like it and others don’t. We made a conscious choice to focus on efficacy rather than trying to make our products smell nice and have a good foam. Personally I’d rather have the most beneficial ingredients in the products I use even if it means it’s an unusual smell. Thanks.

  15. Worth to mention the Clinical trial mentioned for PEO are only for mice.. which is the first step in any trial.. and many medicin trials works on mice, but not on humans. but never the less.. cheap and safe to try.. so will give it a go.

    anyone who have used the PEO and ROO without minoxidil. and had the effect?

  16. Hi Will,

    Thanks for putting this article together. I have done my research on hair loss and know the contents here are solid. Had no idea about the micro needling till now though so going to give that a try too. Just ordered your elixir.

    For the after needling cocktail of emu/saw/apple/hydluronic do you have a recipe posted somewhere in this article, if not could you suggest a ratio for the four ingredients?

    Many thanks

  17. Hi,

    Thanks so much for the content. Really helpful!

    I want to mix PEO and REO. What is the best oil to dilute them with?

    Thanks in advance.

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