Beards are like makeup for men. Want a stronger jaw, better gonial angle, more masculine look? Get a beard.
But what if you can’t? What if your beard is too patchy or just won’t come in at all in the first place? Luckily there’s minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, which is a medication used for the treatment of hair loss. It’s an “antihypertensive vasodilator” medication, which means it helps bring more blood flow to the area of application. The exact way it works for hair loss, however, is still unknown. But we know that it creates an ideal environment for the hair follicle to work and that it might affect gene expression in the target area.
Minoxidil is purchased in a liquid or foam solution, and then applied to the target area. For more information about how it can be used to restore your hairline, check out our hair loss article.
To use minoxidil for your beard you have to:
- Load up a dropper of minoxidil to the 1 ml. mark.
- Use the dropper or the foam on the target area where you want beard hair to come in.
- Spread it out evenly.
- Wash your hands with soap.
- Repeat again later. Two times per day application is optimal.
Just keep in mind the golden rule that minoxidil requires 4 hours for maximum absorption. This means that you can’t put it on after any skincare products and wait at least an hour before applying skincare products over it. It’s important to wash your hands to minimize systemic absorption to minimize any potential side effects. While minoxidil itself is relatively harmless, you don’t want the alcohol and other ingredients absorbing into your system.
Can you really use minoxidil to boost your facial hair though? Yes. Even though it’s only approved for use on the scalp, your hair follicles on your beard respond to it just as well. There are plenty of before/after photos showing beard growth from minoxidil.
Minoxidil Beard Before/After Photos
Here are just a few before/after photos of minoxidil beards, after several months of usage:
Source: Bearded Ali (The Father of the Minoxbeard)
Source: YouTuber Jammidodger
How does minoxidil work for beards?
Minoxidil is only approved by the FDA for use on the vertex of the scalp. Other uses such as on the beard, hairline, or eyebrows are considered off-label. However, the basic premise remains the same, and many people have used minoxidil successfully not just on the vertex of the scalp.
There are four phases to the growth of a hair follicle:
Anagen (2-7 years): The growing phase. Your hair is alive and active. Hair shaved in this phase will just grow back.
Catagen (2-3 weeks): The follicle begins to die and detaches from your skin. It is still attached however and doesn’t fall out until later.
Telogen (3-5 months): The hair is resting in this phase while the old hair follicle remains detached and may or may not fall out. During times of stress, more hairs fall out.
Exogen: The hair follicle falls out and new hair is growing, going back into the anagen phase. Dozens of hairs are falling out every day, which is why you find loose hairs when you use a comb.
Minoxidil causes hairs to go into an early (and prolonged) anagen phase, which causes more hairs to prematurely fall out because the other phases are being skipped.
Timeline of Gains
At first, you will notice small baby hairs called velus hairs. The goal is to get these tiny hairs to fully mature. But how long does minoxidil take to work for your beard? Well, it’s not much different than for the scalp.
You should start seeing some gains at around 6 months. The full results will be visible within a year. Unlike on the scalp, the follicles on your beard aren’t dead, they’re just dormant. So if you can cause those hairs to fully mature with minoxidil, they will become permanent. Once the hairs become terminal, add another 3-6 months to make sure your gains are permanent.
Where to get minoxidil
You can get minoxidil at stores (as Rogaine) or just buy some cheap minoxidil online. They’re all the same, minoxidil is just the active ingredient. I’d just go for the cheapest, which at the moment is the Kirkland brand (liquid). Or you can just buy Rogaine foam which is easier to apply. There is zero difference in effectiveness. The liquid is just a bit harder to put on because it drips.
The most common side effect of minoxidil is itching and irritation at the site. Minoxidil itself is diluted in alcohol, so it’s usually not pleasant on the skin. If you happen to get this, try to find a way to get your skin used to it and/or find some way to build up to it.
Other common side effects include skin dryness and increased body hair (which makes sense considering what drug you’re using).
Some other rare side effects are:
- Chest pain
- Abnormal Heart Beat
- Facial swelling
- Dry skin
- Blurred vision
Keep in mind that initial hair loss is normal. Don’t freak out when your hairline starts to recede even further. This is the shedding phase and the hairs will regrow much thicker and more numerous.
Speeding Up Progress
If you want your gains to come in faster, there are several things you can use.
Increasing the concentration of minoxidil has diminishing returns. However, a study has proven that a higher dose (5 vs 2%) gets you results faster, at least on the scalp (Olsen et. al). This means that minoxidil is dose-dependent, and indeed users have reported better results with 10%.
However, I don’t recommend going beyond that. People get results with 5%, so if you can’t get it with 10%, then it probably just won’t work for you.
L-Carnitine L-Tartrate is a supplement you can buy which will increase how fast you start to see gains. Anecdotally, it causes more vellus hair growth and helps maturation of hair follicles.
Two studies in 2007 showed that it helps increase hair growth on the scalp (Foitzik et al. 2007 (In vivo), Foitzik et al. 2007 (in vitro). It also makes your androgen receptors more sensitive to testosterone and DHT (Kraemer et al. 2003). This is what you want for your beard since beard follicles are augmented by DHT.
Carnitine is also used to aid in weight loss. There’s no reason not to take this supplement. It will keep you hairy and lean.
Microneedling, sometimes called collagen induction therapy, creates tiny puncture wounds in the skin that cause a micro-injury with inflammation that brings more blood flow to the skin. This brings more nutrients and stem cells that help your hair to grow, and it promotes the production of collagen. Collagen is important because it’s in the same layer of skin as your hair follicle, and it literally frames the hair follicle, keeping it healthy. It serves as a sort of scaffold for your hair.
A study on mice showed that those with more collagen had more hair density. A study by Dhurat et al. showed that “(82%) patients reported more than 50% improvement” over a span of 12 weeks with microneedling.
However, I don’t really suggest going this route. When you puncture deep enough to cause collagen induction, you have to wait 24 hours for the punctures to heal before applying minoxidil. Otherwise the minoxidil will go into your system and cause side effects. In addition, you’ll be walking around with a red blotch on your beard until it heals.
However, if you still want to dermaroll, I suggest dermarolling every day or every other day with a needle length of 0.25-.50 mm, and apply minoxidil as usual. This won’t increase collagen production, but will still bring some blood to the site and increase minoxidil absorption without it going into your bloodstream as much. Instead of the cheap dermarollers which actually damage your skin and leave subtle scar tissue, I suggest using an actual microneedling device.
Retinol is the gold standard by dermatologists for clear skin. It works by increasing the production of collagen. This is similar to the effect you get with dermarolling, only you don’t have to stab yourself.
Collagen is key for hair growth because, again, the hair follicle is in the same layer as collagen, which serves as a scaffold for the follicle and keeps the hair healthy. I suggest using retinol instead of dermarolling, as you should be on it anyway for amazing skin as well as the fact that you won’t have to stab yourself.
Get a prescription for Tretinoin cream 0.025%. It will leave your skin flakey and irritated, so you have to accustom your skin to it. Your skin will burn and be dry, just expect it.
Start off by applying it once a day 3 days per week, then every other day, then every day, and then build up to stronger concentrations. Otherwise, you can start with a weaker retinoid cream. However, you’ll still want to get a prescription for the real stuff and build your way up to 0.1% Tretinoin cream.
Minoxidil Beard FAQ:
Is a minoxidil beard permanent?
Yes, a minoxidil beard is permanent, but only if you don’t quit using minoxidil too early. This is because your beard follicles aren’t dead like they are on your scalp, they simply have not matured. Once you get them to fully mature, you’re good to go.
How much minoxidil should I use on my beard?
Use just enough to barely cover the target area. Don’t drench it. And try not to go above 1 ml. per application.
Can I use minoxidil once a day?
Plenty of people have seen results using minoxidil just once a day. However, two times per day is optimal and what is recommended in the instructions for Rogaine. You don’t know how well you will respond, so don’t delay your gains by using it just once per day.
Is it possible minoxidil won’t work for my beard?
Yes, there are some people that are non-responders to minoxidil. Try to use the product for at least 1 year before lumping yourself into this category though.
Does minoxidil age your face?
Minoxidil brings more blood flow, so it’s not really aging your skin. Minoxidil has been known to cause skin dryness however, which could result in an aged appearance. If you find this to be a problem, simply apply a moisturizer.
What happens if you stop using minoxidil on your beard?
If you stop using minoxidil, your hairs simply will not come in. Any hairs that might have become terminal will shed.
Is Rogaine foam better than liquid?
No, it’s just easier to apply. All brands of rogaine/minoxidil are essentially the same.
Is Minoxidil 5 or 10% better?
Minoxidil 10% is better but has a higher risk of side effects.
What is the best brand of minoxidil?
All brands are the same, as they all have the same active ingredient. I recommend the Amazon Basics brand. It’s cheaper than Kirkland.
Does Minoxidil ruin your skin?
Minoxidil can dry out your skin but it by no means ruins it. If you’re worried about the effect it is having on your skin, you can simply apply a moisturizer.
Is Rogaine better than minoxidil?
No. Minoxidil is the active ingredient in Rogaine. They are the same. If anything, minoxidil is better because you can usually get it for cheaper.
Will minoxidil thicken my beard hairs?
Yes, minoxidil increases both the density and thickness of hair.