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Minoxidil Foam vs. Liquid; Which one is for you?

Minoxidil is a popular, topical product for hair loss treatment among men and women. What are the similarities and differences, advantages, and disadvantages between Minoxidil foam vs. liquid? Which one is more effective? Which on is easier to apply? Read on to find out what is better for you.

What is Minoxidil?

Several treatments for androgenetic alopecia have been developed in recent years. However, there are only two FDA-approved medications for the treatment of male pattern baldness. One of them is Minoxidil.

Minoxidil is a vasodilator, meaning that it increases the diameter of blood vessels. Because of this effect, it was first used as a drug to treat high blood pressure. In the clinical trials of Minoxidil, some of the patients observed hair growth on some unwanted areas of their body, and that is when scientists decided to use Minoxidil as a topical hair loss treatment.

Until today, we still don’t know the exact mechanism of action of Minoxidil in hair growth. There are several hypotheses, but the most acceptable one is related to the vasodilator effect of the molecule.

When applying Minoxidil, blood vessel dilates, more blood passes through the vessel, which increases the amount of oxygen and nutrition to the follicles and stimulates hair growth.

Does Minoxidil work?

Yes, it does. If Minoxidil was not effective, the FDA would not have approved it. Studies have shown that 40% of men who used Minoxidil for 3 to 6 months, regrew hair. Minoxidil slows down the rate of shedding and often used in combination with other drugs such as Finasteride to stimulate hair regrowth.

The only caveat with Minoxidil is that you need to be consistent. For Minoxidil to be effective, you should take it two times every day. Most men tag along applying Minoxidil with brushing their teeth as it is easy to remember.

Also, with Minoxidil if you don’t take it regularly, it will not be very effective. The easiest way to have Minoxidil in hand all the time is to purchase it via subscription companies like him, and they will deliver it to your address every three months.

Can I use Minoxidil without a doctor?

Absolutely. Minoxidil is an over the counter product (OTC), so you can purchase it from your local pharmacy, Amazon, or subscription-based companies such as Keeps, Hims, or Roman.

Rogaine vs. Minoxidil

Rogaine is the brand name of Minoxidil. Rogaine brand used to be part of Pfizer. Since 2006 it belongs to Johnson and Johnson as a result of the acquisition of Pfizer consumer healthcare.  Rogaine products include Rogaine Foam, Rogaine Extra strength for men, and Rogaine topical solution for women. Minoxidil for women comes in the same concentration for foam (5%) but the lower concentration for liquid (2%).

Minoxidil is the generic form of Rogaine. The active ingredient of Minoxidil and Rogaine is the same, which means the effectiveness of the product is similar weather you buy the generic type or branded one. FDA requires the generic drug to have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the brand name drug.

For Rogaine, the active ingredient is 5% Minoxidil, and it is a topical drug (Liquid or foam). The generic form also comes as a 5% Minoxidil topical product in both liquid and foam versions. For women, Minoxidil comes in 5% and even 2% concentration.

Keeps Mixonidil
Roamn vs Rogaine Minoxidil

What is the best form of Minoxidil? Liquid vs. Foam

Minoxidil was first introduced in a liquid form more than two decades ago. The liquid form shows a positive effect on hair regrowth on the scalp and hairline for millions of men who used it. However, some of the patients observed side effects such as itching and irritation of the skin, where they applied the Minoxidil solution.

Minoxidil solution contains propylene glycol, water, and alcohol. Scientists conducted several studies and found that the main reason for itchiness and irritation of the skin is propylene glycol. Propylene glycol helps the scalp with the absorption of Minoxidil. People with a sensitivity to this molecule have irritation and itching of the skin.

In the effort to reduce the side effect and help more men to use Minoxidil, propylene glycol was removed from the formulation, and the foam version was developed. Men who are using Minoxidil foam rarely experience redness and itchiness on their skin.

Foam and liquid Minoxidil both have 5% active ingredient, so the effectiveness of the product is similar in both versions. A topical solution is more effective for precise applications, and the foam version is better for covering a larger area.

Rogaine foam vs. liquid

Rogaine products

Rogaine foam does not have propylene glycol compared to the liquid one. Same as Minoxidil, Rogaine foam is recommended for men who have sensitive skin or experienced side effects from Rogaine liquid.

If you are interested in the Rogaine brand, don’t have sensitive skin and not sure which one to purchase, think of where you are planning to apply it. If you are going to use it on a large area, buy the foam, but if you need to be very precise, like your hairline, then purchase the liquid as it comes with a dropper.

Minoxidil foam or liquid, which one is better for men?

For men with sensitive skin, we recommend foam as it is less likely to develop side effects such as redness or itchiness on the scalp. Some men say applying and carrying foam around is more convenient compared to liquid (as you need to carry a dropper as well).

If you are planning to apply Minoxidil on larger areas, foam tends to be easier and faster compared to the liquid version which would take some time to cover the whole area.

For men who are interested in hair growth on the parting line, liquid form with dropper works more precisely. Also, if you like to grow your beard, the foam will probably cover the hair and most likely doesn’t reach your skin as quickly as the solution.

Minoxidil Liquid vs. Foam price

If you purchase the Rogaine brand from Amazon, foam and liquid have the same price. Foam from Amazon costs $45.97 for three months ($15.3 per month) which is the same price as the liquid.

If you decide to purchase the generic version from Keeps, the solution costs $10 per month vs. foam, which is $15 per month.  Other brands like Hims and Roman only offer a liquid version for the price of $15 and $16, respectively.

Here is the comprehensive review between Hims vs, Keeps vs. Roman; what they offer, and how much they cost. 

Minoxidil Liquid vs. Foam Aesthetics

Lots of liquid Minoxidil users complain that it is too greasy. Greasiness is not a big problem with foam seems like, and therefore styling your hair with foam should not be an issue.

On the other hand, some liquid users like greasiness as a styling product. So, at the end of the day, it comes to your preference, but in general, Minoxidil users prefer foam over the liquid when it comes to styling hair.

Is Minoxidil foam less effective?

There are only a handful of studies between Minoxidil foam vs. liquid. However, in animal studies, foam formulation was as effective as the liquid formulation. Also in a study that was done at Duke University, Minoxidil foam had the same effect as the liquid in regards to hair growth, but the chronic itches were significantly lower for men who used foam vs. liquid (1.1% vs. 6.6%)

Minoxidil, in general, does not cure baldness, and it cannot cause any new follicle to grow where there are none, therefore if you are suffering from advanced alopecia, it may not be very useful.

How to apply Minoxidil, Foam vs. Liquid

For the foam:

  • Make sure your hair is dry or damp (do not apply it on wet hair). To maximize the scalp exposure, part your hair in a few rows. Hold the can upside down and dispense half a capful foam onto fingers (make sure your hands are clean). Gently massage it on the scalp where you would like to see hair regrowth. Allow foam to absorb entirely before styling your hair.
  • Do not shampoo your hair for 4 hours after applying Minoxidil. Immediately after using this medicine, wash your hands to remove any medicine that may be on them.
  • Do not use a hairdryer to dry the scalp after you apply Minoxidil. Blowing with a hairdryer on the scalp may make the treatment less effective

For the solution:

  • Make sure your hair is dry or damp (do not apply it on wet hair). To maximize the scalp exposure, part your hair in a few rows. Fill the dropper to 1 mL line and hold it where you want to treat. Gently massage it on the scalp where you would like to see hair regrowth. Allow foam to absorb entirely before styling your hair.
  • Do not shampoo your hair for 4 hours after applying Minoxidil. Immediately after using this medicine, wash your hands to remove any medicine that may be on them.
  • Do not use a hairdryer to dry the scalp after you apply minoxidil solution. Blowing with a hairdryer on the scalp may make the treatment less effective.

How to apply Rogaine foam with long hair?

With longer hair, it may get messy when you apply the foam. The best is to part your hair completely where you want to use it, and try not to apply the foam directly on the scalp. Squirt a little on your fingers and rub it on the area that hair is thinning. The same principle applies if you are trying to use Minoxidil for the beard. Make sure Minoxidil touches the skin and does not stay on the beard.

What is Minoxidil Shampoo?

As it appears from the name, the active ingredient of this shampoo is Minoxidil. It is straightforward to apply as you can replace it with your daily shampoo. For Minoxidil to be effective, it needs to sit on the affected area for at least 2 to 4 hours. The shampoo has minimal contact time, though. Based on the instruction, you need to apply it for a minute and leave it in for two minutes. But a total of three minutes is a very short time for Minoxidil to be absorbed.

Because of the short contact time with the skin, Minoxidil shampoos are not very useful compared to Minoxidil foam or liquid.

Minoxidil Side effects

The most common side effects of Minoxidil are itching of the skin and rash. These are mostly seen in men who use the liquid from. Here are some user comments from the Rogaine website. 

Rogaine side effects
Rogaine side effects

Other uncommon side effects of Minoxidil include:

  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling of the tongue or lip
  • Severe hives or rashes
  • Swelling of hands or feet
  • Loss of continuous

If you experience any of the above side effects, make sure to seek medical advice. If you are subscribed to Keeps, Hims or Roman, you can talk with their doctors as soon as you observe any of these adverse effects. The absorption of too much Minoxidil can cause most of these side effects. Make sure to use the correct dosage, and the side effect will disappear.

Summary: Minixidl Foam vs. Liquid

Effectiveness: Same for both

Aesthetics: Foam

Fewer side effects: Foam

Affordability: Depends on the brand

Ease of use: Same for both

FAQ

Finasteride vs. Minoxidil

Minoxidil is an over the counter topical product; Finasteride is a tablet that needs a prescription. You take Finasteride once daily but apply Minoxidil twice daily.

Switching from foam to liquid

It is ok to switch from foam to liquid. You are using the same strength of Minoxidil, so it should not change the effectiveness of Minoxidil.

Can I use Rogaine foam and liquid at the same time?

You don’t want to apply too much Minoxidil on your skin, since you may experience side effects. Pick the one that you prefer and use it twice daily and no more.

Which is better? Minoxidil or Finasteride?

They have different mechanisms of action and depending on what you want to treat; you may need to use Minoxidil, take Finasteride, or a combination of both.

How long does minoxidil foam take to absorb?

For the foam, it takes between 20 to 25 minutes to dry. It is recommended to leave the Minoxidil for 4 to 6 hours. After about 4 hours, 75% of the Minoxidil is absorbed.

Do you rub in Minoxidil?

Yes, that is how you make sure Minoxidil touches your skin where you want the hair to regrow.

Can I leave Minoxidil on overnight?

Yes, you can. You need to leave it on the skin for several hours, so you might as well apply it before you go to bed.

Is Minoxidil a DHT blocker?

No, Minoxidil does not block DHT. Finasteride, on the other hand, is a DHT blocker.

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