Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 5/13/2021
How much would you pay for a full head of hair? It’s a tough question to answer, especially as the hairline you grew up with begins to recede. Desperation can raise the budget in moments of panic.
If you’re just starting to see the early signs of hair loss, the good news is that the thousands of dollars you could one day spend on hair transplants may not have to end up in your future budgeting plans, especially if you use the right medications now — like finasteride or minoxidil.
Minoxidil is an effective, FDA-approved treatment for hair loss on the market today, with decades of research showing its efficacy in helping your body to stop and in some cases reverse the course of hair loss.
Like everything in life, it is of course not free. But minoxidil can be surprisingly affordable, particularly if you’re willing to shop.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably in a position to buy minoxidil and looking for the best rate.
Before we get into numbers, though, let’s talk a bit about how minoxidil works, starting with hair loss generally.
Hair loss is actually a normal thing within certain parameters. You experience hair loss every day — the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says that a normal dude can shed up to 100 strands of hair a day, from about 100,000 total hairs.
This accounts for what most men see in the shower, sink, on their pillows or in their collars.
This hair loss is part of the normal three-phase cycle of hair growth, which consists of the anagen phase, the catagen phase and the telogen phase.
These three phases represent the growth, death and regrowth of your hair. Ninety percent of your hair is typically in the anagen phase, where the actual growth happens.
It transitions to the catagen phase from there, which lasts a few weeks, and is sort of a resting phase for hair follicles — they’re not dead, but they’re not producing anymore.
In the telogen phase, hair follicles are dead, the hair is falling out (or already has) and the hair follicle is waiting to be reactivated into the anagen phase to start the whole process over.
So it’s normal to have some hair not currently growing — typically nine percent of your hair will be dormant if your scalp is functioning properly.
Hair loss in the sense that we worry about it, then, is when this cycle gets disrupted, and hair follicles gradually or suddenly remain locked in the final telogen phase for any number of reasons.
So you might assume from what we’ve told you that to regrow hair, all you have to do is “wake up” the follicles. Well, that’s not entirely true.
With diseases like androgenic alopecia, for instance, once the hair follicles have been dormant for a while, it’s not currently possible to “get them going” again.
Hair loss is reversible if treated quickly, before the damage is permanent.
This is why the proper medications are so important. Minoxidil, for instance, is a topical medicine used to stimulate that regrowth to occur.
You might know it as the generic version of Rogaine®. And it’s effective — studies have shown that over a 48-week period, minoxidil can increase your hair’s thickness and boost your total hair count by up to 18 percent.
Minoxidil’s two forms work a little differently. The topical is over-the-counter, but the oral option will need to be prescribed by a healthcare professional.
Topical minoxidil has been available since the ‘90s, and it’s regularly available in two strengths: a 2% concentration, and a 5% version, neither of which require prescriptions to use.
It’s also important for us to remind everyone that even though oral minoxidil has proven effective at treating hair loss, it’s not yet approved by the FDA for use as a hair loss treatment.
Minoxidil prices can vary significantly, and you’ll often see the same product advertised differently depending on where you’re looking.
For instance, Rogaine is advertised as high as $45 in some places, though their own website advertises the 5% options for slightly under $30 — much less than some competitors.
That tends to be the higher end of the price spectrum, with other websites advertising it for $20 or even less in some instances.
This is probably a good time to let you know that the Hims 5% Topical is an effective option for just $15 a month. It’s most effective when used as directed twice a day, as recommended.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association specifies a few products that are effective at regrowing hair, and minoxidil is just one of them. Another effective hair loss treatment is finasteride.
Finasteride is a hormone-blocking medication that targets DHT, which is one of the primary causes of male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia.
Taking finasteride daily can reduce DHT levels by as much as 70 percent according to research, which can help you slow, stop or reduce balding effects.
There are other compounds and supplements that may also help you regrow hair. Saw palmetto is effective at reducing DHT levels, particularly when combined with other medications like finasteride.
And in addition to oral and topical medications, your shampoo can be a tool for combatting hair loss, as it might contain saw palmetto or biotin.
Our What to Look For in a Men’s Hair Loss Shampoo guide can help you learn more.
Presented as a daily topical application, minoxidil is an effective way to combat hair loss, and it’s extremely affordable when compared with expensive surgeries or unproven technology (two words: laser combs).
But grabbing a bottle of minoxidil serum is not all you have to do if you’re trying to combat hair loss — in fact, it’s not even the first thing.
The first thing you should be doing is contacting a healthcare professional. You should speak with a professional before starting a new medication regardless, but if your hair loss symptoms are new or sudden (or even if they’re not) hair loss might be a sign of something more serious.
And because of that, treating the symptom might allow a more serious condition to go untreated, while doing you no benefits to your hair.
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