How Long Does Minoxidil Take To Work? 2024 Review

Medically reviewedby Dr. Amy Revene M.B.B.S.
WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

Is your hairline receding faster than minoxidil's result? The answer may surprise you.

Minoxidil is the go-to OTC treatment for treating male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness.

But between impatient users and tall claims, many think it simply doesn't work.

What if we told you it actually takes half a year to see real results?

Yep, you read that right. 6 whole months of applying this liquid or foam before you start to regrow hair. Sounds brutal, right?

But don't throw in the towel yet. We'll show you exactly how it works, how long it takes, and what other options you can take for your thinning hair.

How does minoxidil work?

Minoxidil is a topical medication hair loss treatment approved for male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss (known as androgenetic alopecia).

It comes as a liquid or foam that users directly apply to the scalp. There are also oral minoxidil tablets.

Minoxidil works by prolonging the growth phase of hair follicles, known as the anagen phase.

Hair follicles normally go through distinct growth, regression, and resting phases called the hair growth cycle.

Minoxidil helps keep follicles in the active growth stage for longer than they would be otherwise.

The exact mechanism is not fully understood, but minoxidil is thought to stimulate blood flow to the scalp. Increased circulation provides more nutrients to hair follicles, allowing them to remain productive and encourage hair regrowth.

Minoxidil may also function by interfering with programmed cell death, or apoptosis, which typically signals follicles to transition to the resting phase. This permits follicles to keep producing hair for longer stretches before entering the resting phase.

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How long does minoxidil take to work?

Minoxidil takes 4-6 months for most users to work and see noticeable hair regrowth results. By extending the growth phase of follicles, only subtle improvements are usually seen in the first couple of months. However, consistent application prolongs this effect, allowing fuller regrowth to emerge over the mid-treatment period as more follicles remain active in steadily growing new hair.

Let’s discuss this according to a different timeline.

What can you expect after one day?

Minoxidil does not have an immediate effect like other medications like paracetamol, whose results are very quick on pain control.

Dosing is done twice a day (1 ml each dosage). After usage, there is no need to massage your scalp.

After an hour, minoxidil absorption is around 50%, and it’s about 75% after four hours.

Some practitioners believe that combining micro-needling with topical Minoxidil would improve its effectiveness.

What can you expect after one week?

You can feel some changes in the hair loss, but that is very little and does not have any visible effect. Proper use of Minoxidil helps the hair to shed significantly less.

You might also experience some minoxidil shedding during this time. It's a normal response to a topical minoxidil solution.

What can you expect after one month?

If you can apply the Minoxidil properly, then you can see the effects of Minoxidil. The frequency of hair loss is significantly minimal, but you can see the results of Minoxidil.

What can you expect after three months?

Generally speaking, it takes about eight weeks of consistent use to start to see minoxidil results.

What can you expect after four months?

After four months of use, you should begin to see the end of hair loss and start to see new hair growth.

If it’s been four months and you still see hair shedding, it may not be related to Minoxidil.

It’s also possible that Minoxidil isn’t the right product for you. If you know a lot of your hair falling out after four months of use, speak with your doctor about alternative treatments.

What can you expect after one year?

After one year of consistent minoxidil use, most patients will see their full results.

Strong responders will experience a significant hair density increase all over the scalp compared to baseline. Some non-responders still see stabilization of androgenic alopecia or alopecia areata. While gradual improvements may continue, users have realized the majority of benefits from initial treatment at this point.

Long-term adherence is necessary, as gains fade upon stopping. Provided continued application, one-year successes generally maintain results.

Are there any side effects to minoxidil?

Yes, minoxidil comes with several side effects:

  • Scalp irritation
  • Beard growth
  • Increased shedding of existing hair
  • Dizziness
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Skin rash
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart palpitations
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, or lower legs
  • Chest pain
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Breast swelling or tenderness
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Headache
  • Sexual problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Breathing trouble during sleep

While rare, minoxidil treatment can affect your sexual health and mental health. It can also cause weight gain, which is unsuitable if you are on a weight loss plan.

If this occurs, stop using minoxidil immediately and contact a doctor.

You also do have an option to do a topical minoxidil response test, to know your reaction to minoxidil. It's recommended if you are wary of its effects.

What are alternatives to minoxidil?

There are many alternatives to minoxidil you can try if the timeline sounds too long or if the side effects are too much:

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Finasteride is another FDA-approved treatment, but only for male pattern baldness. Sometimes, doctors might use finasteride as an off-brand treatment for female hair loss. However, considering the mechanism of Finasteride, this is rare.

You can only get finasteride through a prescription, so a visit to your doctor is necessary.

Finasteride does come with side effects, as noted in our other articles here:

Hair transplant surgery

Hair transplant is an easy way to treat hereditary hair loss for both male hair loss and female hair loss. It's easy because you don't have to do a lot of work, it's mostly done by your surgeon.

However, there is considerable cost and off-time when it comes to hair transplantation, making it a less accessible option.

Less concentrated minoxidil

If you are currently using 5% minoxidil, you can try a lower concentration to minimize your response to the drug. While it might not be as effective in encouraging hair growth or treating your male pattern baldness, in some cases, you might respond better overall to 2% minoxidil.

Oral minoxidil

Some people choose to take minoxidil orally as an alternative to the topical version to treat androgenetic alopecia.

Oral minoxidil is available under the brand name Loniten and requires a prescription from your doctor. It has the advantage of potentially working faster than topical treatment since it is absorbed systemically.

However, oral minoxidil also carries an increased risk of side effects like dizziness or fluid retention compared to the topical formulation. Close medical monitoring is important if considering oral minoxidil for hair regrowth and androgenetic alopecia.


Can Minoxidil be used with other treatments?

Yes, Minoxidil can be combined with other treatments like Finasteride or natural supplements for enhanced effects. However, it's crucial to consult a healthcare provider before starting any combination therapy to understand potential interactions and ensure the safety and effectiveness of the treatment plan.

Does Minoxidil's effectiveness vary by hair type and color?

There's limited evidence suggesting Minoxidil's effectiveness varies significantly by hair type or color. Its primary action stimulates hair follicle growth universally. However, individuals may experience varied results due to genetic and environmental factors. Consultation with a dermatologist can offer tailored advice.

Is there an age limit for Minoxidil use?

No strict age limit exists for Minoxidil use. It's prescribed primarily for adults experiencing pattern hair loss and similar hair disorders. Its effectiveness or safety in individuals under 18 is less documented. Older individuals can use Minoxidil, but they should manage expectations regarding treatment potential and consult a healthcare provider.

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Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.