Let’s face it. As men who take pride in our beards, we’re always open to ideas that can make ours look better. The rapid new growth of our youth is in the rearview mirror, and the result sometimes is a beard that leaves us wanting more.
Most widely known as Rogaine, Minoxidil is approved for growing head hair that’s been lost to issues such as male pattern baldness. More specifically, it’s meant to increase hair growth on the crown of your head, but it’s been proven to work on the temples, as well.
So applying that logic rogaine for facial hair should work, right? Definitely, there are scores of men who’ve used it on their beard will attest. Some have even grown a beard from scratch. Now, let’s explain the minoxidil beard and how you can use it to increase your facial hair thickness.
What it is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil was originally used to treat high blood pressure. It’s considered an anti-hypersensitive vasodilator and was prescribed to patients who couldn’t lower their blood pressure through standard treatment and medication. But people who took the drug noticed an interesting – and not at all bad – side effect: the stuff caused hair growth.
Minoxidil is still used to treat high blood pressure. If you want to dig deeper into Minoxidil’s history, you’ll find that it was first intended to treat ulcers by the company that developed it (Upjohn). It was used in trials on dogs, which revealed that it didn’t do much for ulcers but had a positive effect on high blood pressure.
When the drug went through clinical trials to test its overall effectiveness on high blood pressure, scientists first noticed its effect on hair growth. By 1988, the FDA approved Minoxidil as a hair-growth product and allowed it to be marketed under the name of Rogaine.
What does Minoxidil do?
A common misconception about Minoxidil and facial hair is that it will revive hair growth on your face in the same as it does on your head. The concept isn’t the same: men who suffer a lack of facial hair are not “balding” on their face as they are on their head. But Minoxidil will stimulate the follicles that are already on your face.
Does Minoxidil work?
That’s the million-dollar question, and the answer is yes. Fact is, Minoxidil will stimulate hair growth no matter where you apply it – whether it’s your face, scalp, chest, arms, even eyebrows (if you want bushier eyebrows, that is).
Moreover, keep in mind that men have hair follicles all over their faces, but not all of them are active for everyone. That helps explain a “patchy” beard that is thick and growing like mad in some places but a bit thin in others. Minoxidil, when applied to those thinner areas, will help develop a more uniform, healthy-looking beard (that comes with its many benefits).
It’s important to note that, for many users, Minoxidil doesn’t represent a quick-fix. Rather, using it requires patience because you may not see results for weeks, or even months. For some men, major “milestones” may not be reached for even longer than that – but those milestones included a full-fledged beard at the end of the rainbow.
In other words, you need to stick with it to make sure that you’re getting the best possible results. Then again, you may be able to shorten the process by using various strategies, including choosing what type of Minoxidil you purchase.
How it works:
Surprisingly, scientists aren’t completely sure how Minoxidil works to promote hair growth. They know that it’s a potassium channel opener that stimulates blood circulation in the hair follicles, which brings more hormones and nutrients into the roots to make it grow thicker and faster.
Minoxidil is different from other hair-loss products in that it’s not hormonal but instead works topically to stimulate circulation.
We can even get more technical when we explore the mysteries of Minoxidil’s facial hair magic:
- Minoxidil, in its most fundamental sense, works by prolonging the Anagen phase of hair cells. The Anagen phase promotes actual hair growth. Hair cells go through three phases of growth: Anagen, Catagen and Telogen, and this cycle is repeated as new follicles replace existing ones. A shortened Anagen phase is the precursor to hair loss disorders such as the dreaded MBP.
- We’ve already mentioned Minoxidil and blood flow enhancement. Increased blood flow has been noted while using a 5% topical Minoxidil – but not at lesser doses.
- It has also been suggested that Minoxidil works via the immune system by the stimulation of the enzyme prostaglandin synthase-1. General hair loss appears to be involved with the immune system in some way.
Why aren’t we bombarded with Minoxidil facial hair growth publicity?
This is an important question because, despite the scores of testimonials from men who’ve developed a killer beard with the help of Minoxidil, you don’t hear much about it. At least when it comes to facial hair growth, that is.
Fact is, there haven’t been clinical trials done with using Rogaine on a man’s face, which is why it’s not approved by the FDA in the United States as a beard enhancer specifically. For scalp hair growth, yes, but … you get the picture.
However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid using Minoxidil – not by any means. There are some reported side effects, which we’ll touch on later, none of which are life-threatening (or damaging). Your best bet is to see your physician and get his thoughts on the subject while trusting your own judgment in the end.
Types of Minoxidil
We previously mentioned that choosing the type of Minoxidil to use is an important part of your facial hair growth strategy. But we’re talking type, not brand, and your choices in terms of type are liquid and foam. Let’s look at each and their differences.
Minoxidil liquid is the original form of application – which is the 5% version for men and can be applied twice a day. Rogaine also makes a slightly weaker 2% version for women that can also be applied twice a day (on their scalps, that is).
An upside of the liquid is that it’s generally cheaper than the foam version; its downside is that it takes much longer to dry. Some users have noted that it seems slightly greasier on hair.
How to apply liquid Minoxidil: After washing your face thoroughly, measure out the right amount of liquid (about 1ml) with the dropper included with the product. Use the applicator to put small drops in the beard area until it’s empty. Using two fingers or the dropper itself, gently rub the solution into your beard with a bit of pressure.
Foam is the most popular version of Minoxidil for the treatment of hair loss for both men and women. Rogaine makes a 5% foam version for men and women, and results have not only been good but seem to come more quickly. It also dries in half the time as the liquid. While it’s slightly more expensive, the time you save during the drying process has its own value.
How to apply foam Minoxidil: Again, start by washing your face thoroughly. Because the foam will dissolve if your hands are warm, rinse your fingers under cold water before starting. Next, dispense enough foam onto your fingers that would fill half of the container’s cap (like with the liquid, about 1 ml). Use your other hand to apply it to your beard area, repeating until the foam is used up. Repeat up to two times each day.
The amount of foam you apply is strictly a personal thing. Find the amount that produces the best results and go from there. Also, if you use it twice a day leave about 8 to 12 hours between applications.
Here are some other things to keep in mind when applying Minoxidil. First, there’s no doing it “wrong,” within reason, of course, but the main thing is to rub it deeply into your beard and leave it for four hours. After four hours, it’s up to you whether you want to wash it off before your next application. But you can also leave it in, if you choose, including at night before you go to sleep.
If you experience dryness, it’s important to establish a hydration routine. Make sure that you’re drinking plenty of water – even more than you normally do – and apply lotion or a quality beard oil to help ease the itchiness and flaky skin. Indeed, beard balm and oil become even more important as your beard blossoms into that beautiful, mature piece of manliness you always wanted.
What about trimming or shaving the beard while using Minoxidil?
Good question. The answer is that both are perfectly fine and that keeping your beard trimmed helps Minoxidil absorb into your skin better. But it’s not a must that you trim or shave. Many men opt to trim at the lowest setting until the beard is full enough to truly take flight.
Does Minoxidil help you grow a thicker beard?
OK, we’ve covered the (brief) history of Minoxidil, how it works, the two main types, and other information. But now it’s time for the real question: does the stuff help you grow a better beard? While there are a variety of methods you can use to grow a thicker beard, why not give this one a shot – if it works, that is.
Well, it does work. You can look at some of the evidence, but also the dozens – if not more – online posts and testimonials from users who’ve had success in using Minoxidil to enhance their beard growth. The truth is, the stuff seemingly can grow hair on just about any part of your body – head, face, chest, arms, eyebrows. Basically, any place on the skin where there are hair follicles is fair game for Minoxidil’s alchemy.
Remember, however; patience is a virtue, and it’s certainly a great one to apply if you’re taking the Minoxidil route to a better beard. While some users have reported seeing results in as little as two weeks, others say that you need approximately three months for a more definitive outcome, or to see if you’re getting the results you hoped for.
The important point to keep in mind is that no two beards are alike, which is more a matter of genetics than anything else. Some men just have more trouble growing beards than others.
Here’s the other thing: Minoxidil isn’t for the rest of your life. Experts suggest using it for at least six months, preferably for a year, to get true long-term results. Some people that have used Minoxidil for less than six months report that they’ve lost their gains once they stopped using it. Just don’t stop using it until your hair is fully mature.
Minoxidil for facial hair before and after
Here’s a video comparing facial hair thickness before and after using Minoxidil:
These were the submission to Jeff’s Beard Board Minoxidil thread, an awesome community for all things beard. There are also other great communities for discussing Minoxidil for facial hair like the Facebook Group The Minox Beard spot.
So, what’s the catch?
Nothing in this world is perfect – at least most of the time, right? Minoxidil isn’t perfect either although it will help a man grow a better beard in most cases. It has its cons, and let’s look at some of them:
Dry skin – This is more prevalent when using the liquid version. Other users have reported redness of skin, itching, and irritation. Nothing too serious, though.
Shedding – While shedding isn’t necessarily a side effect, it can be a bit alarming if it happens to you. But relax, it’s just the new hair pushing out the old. It will pass.
Fast or irregular heartbeat
Lower blood pressure – It was originally intended to be an antidote for high blood pressure, so this isn’t unusual. Just be careful that your blood pressure doesn’t dip too low and, no, this shouldn’t be used in place of regular blood pressure medicine prescribed by your physician.
Some weight gain – There’s not a strong correlation here, but some users have listed it as a possible side effect. And if you start using it now – as the treat-filled holidays beckon – any subsequent weight gain can be attributed to a variety of factors; no sense using Minoxidil as a scapegoat.
It takes discipline – Chances are, Minoxidil will help you grow a better beard. But you must stay the course while you wait for results to become evident. Staying the course means applying it twice every day and incorporating it into your daily routine.
Oh, and a word about vellus hair
You may notice thin white hairs in your beard as Minoxidil begins to work its magic. Those are called vellus hairs and grow over most of your body. As far as your beard goes, they’ll eventually become fully developed terminal hair that’s thicker, longer, coarser, and darker.
Are there different brands of Minoxidil?
The answer is, yes. There are several Minoxidil options out there, although Rogaine is clearly the most well-known brand. A general rule of thumb is that any brand that has 5% Minoxidil is fine, but just make sure that it doesn’t contain DHT inhibitors. Found in several hair-loss treatments, DHT is a by-product of testosterone and helps you grow facial hair.
Here’s a look at two popular brands and a brief synopsis of each.
Yes, Rogaine is considered the gold standard when it comes to Minoxidil products and certainly the most popular. If you’re the type of person who trusts well-known brand names, then you can’t go wrong with Rogaine.
If you like to buy in bulk, then Kirkland is going to be easier on your wallet. A six-month supply will cost you only about $25, and it’s a great option if you just want to buy enough Minoxidil for a true trial run. The liquid solution comes with a dropper that will help with the application process.
The evidence is there: Minoxidil is clinically proven to work on your scalp, and there’s just too many examples to deny that it can help you grow a thicker, better-looking beard, as well. But it’s not a magic elixir, either. You still need to take care of your beard in ways that we’ve talked about here many times before. There’s certainly no harm in trying. The results may surprise you.
Have you used Minoxidil or other products to promote your beard’s growth? If so, we’d love to hear about it. Send us your thoughts, comments, and questions, and we’ll be certain to respond.