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Like finasteride, minoxidil is scientifically proven to improve hair growth and potentially help men with male pattern baldness regrow “lost” hair.
However, there’s some debate online about whether or not minoxidil works on the hairs around the hairline. In the tests used to secure FDA approval, minoxidil was primarily tested on the top of the scalp and crown, resulting in a common belief that it only works on these areas.
Despite this, there’s lots of evidence that minoxidil is effective at promoting hair growth on the entire scalp, including the hairline.
In this guide, we’ll look at the science behind minoxidil to give you a deeper understanding of how it works, why it’s effective and why it’s worth considering (along with finasteride) if you’ve noticed your hairline starting to thin and recede.
Minoxidil is a vasodilator, meaning it’s designed to dilate blood vessels and improve the flow of blood to certain areas of your body.
When applied topically in the form of a serum or foam, minoxidil increases blood flow to the parts of your scalp where hair grows. By increasing blood flow, more oxygen and nutrients are able to be transported into each hair follicle, promoting growth and hair health.
Unlike finasteride, which works by reducing the levels of DHT in your bloodstream, minoxidil has no known effect on your hormones. It’s best to think of minoxidil as a local solution that can help improve your hair growth, while finasteride is designed to shield your follicles from DHT.
One of the most common misconceptions about minoxidil is that it’s only effective on the scalp and crown. In short, many people are convinced that minoxidil isn’t effective for preventing hair loss around the hairline. This stems from a misunderstanding of studies on minoxidil.
In its early days, before it became a mainstream hair loss treatment, minoxidil was developed as a treatment for hypertension.
Noticing that minoxidil produced hair growth as a noticeable side effect, researchers at Upjohn (the company originally developing the medication) repurposed it as a topical hair loss treatment for men suffering from androgenic alopecia.
For new medications to go onto the market, they need to pass through a rigorous test process to show that they’re not only safe, but also effective.
Upjohn launched large-scale clinical tests of minoxidil throughout the US in the late 1970s, with testing continuing throughout the 80s and 90s. The efficacy side of this testing mostly focused on minoxidil’s effects on hair growth around the scalp and crown.
For example, one study from 1986 focused on the effects of minoxidil on the balding crown. In the study, 53% of participants experienced significant hair growth. In short, Upjohn realized that minoxidil worked very effectively, but focused most of its testing on the crown and scalp.
Most other studies of minoxidil have assessed hair growth on the scalp. For example, another study from 2002 tested 5% minoxidil against 2% minoxidil, again by counting hairs around the scalp rather than near the hairline.
For the most part, the claim that minoxidil only works on the scalp and crown of the head comes from this research. It’s not that minoxidil isn’t effective around the hairline (logically, it is) but that there so far hasn’t been extensive research conducted on minoxidil and hairline restoration.
Minoxidil works by improving blood flow to the area in which it’s applied. Apply it to your scalp and it can potentially improve the supply of blood and nutrients to hair follicles, improving hair density and increasing the rate of growth.
As such, there’s no reason minoxidil shouldn’t work for a receding hairline. The hair follicles in your hairline aren’t significantly different from the others on your scalp or crown, meaning that you should still experience the benefits of minoxidil when you apply it to your hairline.
There are also countless anecdotal cases of people with receding hairlines improving growth and increasing thickness by using minoxidil.
However, right now there isn’t any detailed scientific research on the effects of minoxidil on the hairline. As such, it’s best to view minoxidil as something with potential benefits, instead of as a guaranteed way to regrow your hairline.
It’s also worth considering minoxidil in combination with a DHT blocker like finasteride. Studies show that minoxidil and finasteride can have a synergistic effect in preventing hair loss, making the two medications a popular combo for protecting your hairline and scalp from baldness.
Finasteride is for use by MEN ONLY and should NOT be used by women or children.
Read this Patient Information before you start taking Finasteride and each time you get a refill. There may be new information. This information does not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider about your medical condition or treatment.
What is Finasteride?
Finasteride is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of male pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia).
It is not known if Finasteride works for a receding hairline on either side of and above your forehead (temporal area).
Finasteride is not for use by women and children.
Who should not take Finasteride?
Do not take Finasteride if you:
are allergic to any of the ingredients in Finasteride. See the end of this leaflet for a complete list of ingredients in Finasteride.
What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking Finasteride? Before taking Finasteride, tell your healthcare provider if you:
have any other medical conditions, including problems with your prostate or liver
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of them to show your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine.
How should I take Finasteride?
If you forget to take Finasteride, do not take an extra tablet. Just take the next tablet as usual.
Finasteride will not work faster or better if you take it more than once a day.
What are the possible side effects of Finasteride?
decrease in your blood Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels. Finasteride can affect a blood test called PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) for the screening of prostate cancer. If you have a PSA test done you should tell your healthcare provider that you are taking Finasteride because Finasteride decreases PSA levels. Changes in PSA levels will need to be evaluated by your healthcare provider. Any increase in follow-up PSA levels from their lowest point may signal the presence of prostate cancer and should be evaluated, even if the test results are still within the normal range for men not taking Finasteride. You should also tell your healthcare provider if you have not been taking Finasteride as prescribed because this may affect the PSA test results. For more information, talk to your healthcare provider.
There may be an increased risk of a more serious form of prostate cancer in men taking finasteride at 5 times the dose of Finasteride.
The most common side effects of Finasteride include:
a decrease in the amount of semen
The following have been reported in general use with Finasteride:
in rare cases, male breast cancer.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.
These are not all the possible side effects of Finasteride. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA1088.
How should I store Finasteride?
Keep Finasteride in a closed container and keep Finasteride tablets dry (protect from moisture).
Keep Finasteride and all medicines out of the reach of children.
General information about the safe and effective use of Finasteride.
Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in this Patient Information. Do not use Finasteride for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not give Finasteride to other people, even if they have the same symptoms you have. It may harm them.