While Rogaine is a popular treatment for pattern baldness, it does cause a disturbing occurrence in the beginning of use: shedding. In this article, you’ll learn why Rogaine shedding happens, how long it lasts, and how much loss you can expect.
Additionally, you’ll learn of natural methods you can use – either alone, or alongside Rogaine – to stop shedding and grow your hair more quickly.
By the way, if you want to find out about my hair regrowth story and the 10 steps that made my hair grow again you can click on my photo further down this article.
Using Rogaine to Treat Thinning and Receding Hair
Rogaine is a hair loss treatment – consisting of a drug, called minoxidil – that is applied to the scalp on a daily basis.
The main use for Rogaine is in the treatment of Male-Pattern Baldness (MPB), the most common form of alopecia.
When applied regularly, the active ingredient minoxidil works to promote blood circulation and reduce the effects (such as inflammation and hair miniaturization) caused by DHT.
Unfortunately, as with any medication, this drug does have some side effects associated with use.
These include local irritation (itching, redness, rash), but also some systemic side effects, such as dizziness, excess facial/body hair, and fast/irregular heartbeat.
Another “side effect” of Rogaine/minoxidil use is hair shedding, popularly referred to as “dread shed”.
What Causes Rogaine Shedding?
During the course of the normal hair growth cycle, shedding takes place. About 100 hairs are shed per day in a healthy individual, and this just means that the telogen phase has ended and anagen is next.
When shedding takes place while on hair growth treatments, including Rogaine, the reason is the same.
Rogaine and Propecia – the only two FDA-approved baldness treatments on the market – both bring your hair from the resting phase to the active growth phase.
They do this in different ways, but the end result of both is excess shedding.
This can be a disturbing side effect, especially as you’re taking the medication to grow new hair. However, you really have nothing to worry about.
How Common is Rogaine Shedding?
It helps to think of Rogaine shedding as less of a side effect and more of a stage of use.
This is something that happens in the beginning of treatment – typically in the first 2-8 weeks – but that should subside as treatment continues.
Of course, not everyone will suffer from shedding as a result of use, especially if your hair loss has progressed to the point of baldness. But, the majority of users will experience some level of shedding.
How Much Shedding Should You Expect?
As mentioned, whether shedding occurs will vary. The same can be said for how much shedding takes place.
During the usual hair cycle, about 100 hairs per day are shed during the telogen phase.
However, it’s not uncommon to experience more than this during the first few months of minoxidil use, as many hairs will be prematurely pushed into telogen.
So, when should you worry?
If shedding continues for more than 8 weeks, or if it seems to worsen as treatment continues, I recommend you speak with a hair loss specialist.
If you choose to stop minoxidil, be aware that shedding can also occur as a result of this, so you may notice an increase in shedding for a few weeks.
Is It Possible to Avoid Shedding?
As shedding is a sign that the drug is working effectively, stopping the shedding would be counterintuitive.
However, you can work to grow the new hair as quickly as possible once the shedding has taken place.
1: Essential Oils
Whether you want to increase blood circulation, reduce DHT, or cleanse and moisturize your scalp, essential oils are an excellent tool to have in your arsenal.
A few essential oils that I recommend include:
Keep in mind, if you use these oils in conjunction with Rogaine, you must wait at least four hours after you’ve applied the Rogaine. This will give the product sufficient time to absorb into the scalp, and it will ensure it works as it should.
Not sure how to apply essential oil most effectively? Take a look at this guide here.
2: Scalp Stimulation
As Rogaine works by increased blood flow to the scalp, it can be beneficial to add in your own scalp stimulation routine to boost results.
There are two basic ways to stimulate the scalp manually: One is simple massage, and the other is microneedling.
For scalp massage, all you need is your hands. Of course, you can also add in some essential oils, or even use a scalp stimulation tool to make it a bit easier.
I recommend performing a massage for about 5-10 minutes every day.
The second way to stimulate the scalp is with microneedling.
This is a technique used commonly to reduce scarring on the face, but it’s also proven to be beneficial in hair growth. In fact, microneedling performed alongside minoxidil treatment improved results significantly, as shown by a 2013 research study:
To perform microneedling at home, you can use a dermaroller. This is a handheld tool that can be easily used on a regular basis to provide you with the same effects as in-office microneedling.
An additional tool – though, a bit pricer than a traditional dermaroller – is the dermastamp. This tool has increased precision, and is great for beginners. However, the dermaroller works just as well, and is cheaper and more accessible.
3: The Scalp Solution
I’ve personally used Rogaine and other minoxidil-containing products in the past. However, the side effects and the fact that results stop quickly after use ends made it non-ideal for my needs.
That’s why I created The Scalp Solution, an effective hair growth technique that’s natural.
In brief, this method involves breaking down the scalp plaque that has built up over time, and applying a hair growth elixir on a regular basis.
Here’s how to get started.
#1. Cleanse the Scalp
It’s crucial that you remove scalp buildup before applying the elixir. This will ensure the elixir is able to fully absorb, and it will leave your scalp a healthier environment for hair to grow.
What You’ll Need:
- Himalayan or Celtic sea salt (½ teaspoon)
- Powdered activated charcoal (1 teaspoon)
- Ginger (4 medium-sized ginger chunks)
- Cucumber (1 whole cucumber)
- Lemon juice (1 whole lemon)
- A juicing machine (or a blender and muslin cloth)
First, juice the ginger and cucumber (or blend them together and strain with a muslin cloth). I recommend you juice the ginger first, as ginger can easily clog the juicer and the cucumber will ensure you get every last bit.
Add 100 mL of this mixture to the container of your choice. Add in the himalayan or celtic salt, the powdered activated charcoal, and the juice of one lemon. Combine well.
Rub the combination into the areas of your scalp with thinning or irritation. Allow the mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes, as the lemon and ginger need a bit of time to properly break up the buildup. Rinse with lukewarm (not hot!) water.
For better results use a brush to gently wipe away the remaining mixture after mixing. This can help to lift more plaque from the scalp, and it will also increase circulation to the area.
#2: Use the Hair Growth Elixir
You can use this alone, or in conjunction with minoxidil. However, be sure to follow the four-hour rule mentioned above.
What You’ll Need:
NOTE: The exact measurements are not important. Instead, this recipe will be given in parts so you can make as much (or as little) as you’d like.
Combine the hyaluronic acid and emu oil in equal parts. Then, pierce a gel saw palmetto capsule and add the gel into the hyaluronic/emu mixture in a 1:6 ratio (1 part saw palmetto:6 parts hyaluronic/emu).
Add 1 part of apple polyphenol to 6 parts of the hyaluronic/emu/saw palmetto combination.
Mix the combination well.
Shake the mixture to evenly distribute ingredients. Pour into your palm, and apply to the entirety of your scalp with your fingertips.
Leave in for 10-30 minutes (the longer, the better), and then rinse thoroughly with lukewarm or cold water.
For best results, I recommend using this elixir twice per week. You will begin to see new hair growth within a few weeks of use, and this can be continued indefinitely.
To increase results, I recommend you use a dermaroller before applying the elixir. This will increase the mixture’s absorbance, and it will also improve blood circulation which is a positive result in itself.
Shedding is common in the very beginning stages of minoxidil (Rogaine) or finasteride (Propecia) use. It’s simply a part of the process, and is nothing to be worried about in the majority of cases.
As hair cycles from the resting to growth phase it “sheds” the old, thin hair. This is so the hair follicle can enlarge and start growing new, thicker hair. This has to happen and is part of the treatment process.
It is not possible for the hair follicle to thicken an already thin hair. It has to “shed” it and start building anew.
However, if you’d rather avoid “dread shed”, or if you’re looking for a more natural, healthier alternative to minoxidil and finasteride, I recommend you follow the course of action outlined above.
While over-the-counter treatments can be effective, their positive results stop as soon as treatment does.
*This article was reviewed by Dr. Anil Simhadri