Minoxidil and finasteride are two popular compounds that are used to combat hair loss. Studies have found that both compounds have been proven to effectively treat male pattern baldness. On top of that, minoxidil has been shown to treat female pattern baldness.
Below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about minoxidil and finasteride and discuss how effective each solution is in treating and preventing hair loss. We will also mention the pros and cons of each of these, including notable side effects and whether both can be used simultaneously to improve hair loss.
What are Finasteride and Minoxidil?
Finasteride and minoxidil are two compounds approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Therapeutic Goods Association in Australia (TGA) to treat hair loss.
Finasteride (known under the trade names Propecia and Proscar) is part of a class of medications called 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors. Finasteride was originally designed to treat enlargement of the prostate. It prevents hair loss by stopping men from converting testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT is a male sex hormone, which when produced, can negatively bind itself to hair follicles and effectively damage them, rendering hair unable to regrow itself effectively.
Minoxidil is an antihypertensive vasodilator medication, meaning that it widens blood vessels and facilitates the flow of blood to hair follicles in your scalp, encouraging thicker, and faster hair growth. It causes hairs in their resting (telogen) phase to shed and replaces them with new hairs, lengthening the growing (anagen) phase, or hair growth cycle. Minoxidil is the only drug approved by the FDA that can treat female pattern baldness. Originally minoxidil was used to help treat high blood pressure and is widely known under trade names Rogaine/Regaine, Vanarex or Loniten (oral).
Do Minoxidil and Finasteride work?
Yes, studies have found that both minoxidil and finasteride work effectively to combat hair loss. A meta-analysis done by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that both minoxidil and finasteride were effective in improving male pattern baldness, and minoxidil was also effective in treating female pattern baldness.
Finasteride works internally to stop hair loss by blocking DHT in men. There is also evidence to suggest that finasteride can encourage new hair growth.
Minoxidil encourages hair to grow faster and thicker, effectively lengthening the hair growth phase. This thickening of the hair follicles can help treat the appearance of bald patches in both men and women.
Although genetic hair loss can’t completely be cured, it can be slowed down substantially. Research has found that minoxidil and finasteride are the only two products to be consistently effective against hair loss.
Is Finasteride better than Minoxidil?
Finasteride works very differently than minoxidil, yet both of these compounds have been found to be effective hair loss solutions. The compound finasteride works internally to help stop hair loss and encourages new hair growth through a process of blocking excess DHT in men. In contrast, through increased blood flow, minoxidil encourages hair follicles to grow at a thicker, faster rate.
On the downside, women cannot use finasteride due to the male hormonal mechanism it utilises. However, minoxidil has been proven to be effective for treating female pattern baldness.
In Australia and the US, finasteride has the downside of being a prescription-only medication. However, it has the advantage of coming in pill form. It is taken orally, only once per day, and improvements are usually seen within a 3-4 month period.
In comparison, minoxidil is commonly a topical treatment that is available over the counter, usually in gel or foam form (and less commonly in oral form). Minoxidil has the disadvantage that it must be taken twice per day and often rubbed into the scalp. Improvements are usually seen over the course of several months and even up to a year. Because it causes an interruption to the hair growth cycle, this may mean that initially, certain people will shed more hairs in the first few months of use, which is a temporary downside. As minoxidil works slowly, it is advisable to integrate this solution with other hair loss treatments, such as laser hair therapy.
Can you use Minoxidil and Finasteride together?
Finasteride and minoxidil work by using very different mechanisms. Studies have shown that both compounds are safe when used together by men. In fact, data published from studies by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that minoxidil, when used in combination with finasteride, was an effective combined treatment for stopping and slowing down male pattern baldness.
Minoxidil can cause side effects, which is why it’s important to discuss taking it with your doctor and be sure to mention any current medications to avoid potential interactions. Your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce side effects. Minoxidil may cause itchiness and skin irritations in some people. Generally, topical treatments contain a solution of 5% minoxidil, with one millilitre, administered twice daily, as the recommended dosage. The oral version (Loniten) is recommended at an initial dosage of 2.5 mg, twice daily. Too much minoxidil can cause an increased risk of side effects, including dizziness, heart problems or chest pain.
Similarly, finasteride can also cause potential side effects in a small percentage of men. Finasteride (Propecia) has been found to be effective when administered at a dose of 1mg per day. A high strength version (Proscar) is available in a dosage of 5mg per tablet, but the potential for side effects logically increases at this dosage. Some of these include sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction, ejaculation disorder, and decreased libido. Less common side effects include depression, pain in the testicles, and changes to breast tissue.
How can Transitions Hair help?
At Transitions, we offer a wide range of proven, advanced hair loss solutions for both men and women. Our services allow you to feel a renewed sense of confidence in your everyday life. We often find that an integrated approach to hair loss works best. Regardless of your hair loss severity, we provide tailored solutions to meet your specific needs and budget!
Get in touch with Transitions Hair for your hair loss needs now!
Let us help you along your hair replacement journey. Our team is more than happy to discuss all the exciting ways that you can improve your hair. Reserve a free, personalised, private consultation with one of our Transitions Hair professionals today!