Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 3/29/2023
Remember when you noticed your first chin hair? You likely felt as if you’d grown from child to man overnight.
But when that chin hair fails to materialize into an actual beard, it can be discouraging. We all know how much a full, thick beard screams “masculinity!”
Beards are like a built-in accessory for your face. Pair it with a flannel and jeans or a well-tailored suit, and you easily have an entire look.
So, for those whose facial hair is lacking, minoxidil for beard growth can be game-changing.
You probably know minoxidil can help grow the hair on your head, so read on to learn how it can help you sport a full, healthy beard.
Minoxidil is an FDA-approved hair growth medication. It was first introduced in the 1970s as a medication for hypertension (high blood pressure), but doctors noticed patients experienced “abnormal” hair growth while using it.
As the tech bros would say, this bug became a feature and, as you might suspect, this is where the path to Rogaine® began.
A topical formula was created in 1987, and minoxidil began changing lives as a topical hair growth formula. Now you can find minoxidil “over the counter” (without a prescription in 2% and 5% strength solutions.
Minoxidil is one of only two medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. (The other medication is finasteride.)
So how does it work? Here’s the short and sweet explanation:
When minoxidil is applied to the skin, the enzyme sulfotransferase works to create minoxidil sulfate.
This metabolite minoxidil sulfate is believed to be the key to minoxidil’s effectiveness in revving up your hair follicles. There are two different sulfotransferases responsible for this conversation, and people with higher activity of this enzyme experience better results than others.
Topical minoxidil is applied twice daily — how often you apply it, the concentration of the formula you use, and your attention to skincare can all play a role in absorption.
While it’s not fully understood how minoxidil works, the medical community generally believes that it helps improve blood flow to the scalp — and with it, the nutrients hairs need to grow.
It’s important to note that minoxidil stops working if you stop taking it.
On average, across multiple studies, minoxidil increases hair density better than placebos, though the total volume of new hairs varies.
On the beard-specific question, there are limited data (more on that in a moment), but the little we have does seem to point to the same general findings about minoxidil: it’s effective.
Androgenic alopecia isn’t the only hair disorder minoxidil is used for. It’s also used off-label to treat other conditions like alopecia areata, chemotherapy-induced hair loss, telogen effluvium and eyebrow enhancement.
Research has also indicated more pronounced results with the 5% concentration over the 2% formula. After 48 weeks in one study, men using the 5% concentration had 45% more hair regrowth than those who used the lower concentration.
So, can minoxidil help you grow that face warmer you’re after? The answer is a resounding: probably. We mean, people use this stuff on their eyebrows, so like…?
There isn’t a ton of research on the use of minoxidil for facial hair growth, but there was one study published as a letter to the editor in a 2016 volume of The Journal of Dermatology.
In it, researchers detailed their observations in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of a 3% minoxidil formula among 48 men over a period of 16 weeks.
Throughout the study, patients applied 0.5 ml of the formula (or a placebo) on the chin and jawline twice daily. The men’s results were then analyzed using photographs and hair counts every four weeks.
After 16 weeks, the photograph scores were significantly different for the men using minoxidil, as were the changes in average hair count. Hair diameter was unchanged.
That data is in keeping with what we’ve seen from other topical minoxidil studies — just a little lower on the head than the others.
You might be wondering whether braving these less-tested waters could lead to some weird side effects. Rest assured, using minoxidil on your beard instead of your scalp isn’t going to make you sprout a new arm or anything like that.
According to the above-mentioned study on minoxidil and beard growth, side effects among participants were “mild” and not considered significantly different from those experienced by the placebo group.
The most common side effect of minoxidil use is skin irritation — including itching and scaling. You may also experience allergic reactions, as well as hair growth in areas where you didn't apply minoxidil.
Applying a small amount of minoxidil to your skin as a patch test before going all-in is a good way to check whether you’ll experience an adverse reaction.
It’s worth noting: Side effects are generally more common with the 5% formula compared to the 2% version (and we’d guess that the side effects of 3%, which was the formulation used in the beard study above, were somewhere in between).
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“I’m a 34-year-old father of two and have been using Hims for over a year now. My hair is back to what it was in my mid-twenties.”
If you’re trying to get your beard to wooly-mammoth-slash-lumberjack status, you may want to pull out every stop, and we get that.
There are a number of ways to promote better hair growth on your head, from biotin and other supplements to medications like finasteride. But just because something works on the hair of your head doesn’t mean it’ll work on your face.
The best advice, it turns out, is preventative maintenance. After all, all of the following can lead to hair loss on your face or the rest of your body:
What we recommend is that you keep your beard clean and the skin beneath it washed. Consume a healthy, balanced diet with the correct nutritional balance and prioritize your rest each night. Make sure things like stress and illness don’t get out of hand (or beard).
And if you’re seeing problems like patchy hair loss, sudden beard thinning or other unexplained issues, contact a healthcare provider.
Minoxidil is a topical solution used to treat a variety of hair loss disorders, and there is evidence it could encourage beard growth, too. If you’re trying to chart a path to a bushier beard, know this:
Yes, studies show that minoxidil can indeed improve beard growth.
In fact, one study found positive results among a small group of men using minoxidil on their face, twice daily for a period of 16 weeks.
Careful though — side effects like skin irritation may be something to watch for if you have sensitive skin.
Remember: good health and a skincare routine can also support beard growth. This guide on "what does aftershave do" is a helpful start.
One final thing to remember about minoxidil and beard growth: it’s important to note that stopping treatment will likely result in a return to the baby face (or patchy beard hair) you had before treatment, so once you begin using minoxidil treatment, you’ll want to keep consistent.
If you’re ready to bring the patchwork together, though, consider talking to our healthcare support team today.