Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 6/3/2022
If you ever watched infomercials back in the day, it was common to see in the wee hours of the evening a commercial that claimed miraculous results for hair loss or a way to stop hair loss altogether. Nowadays, perhaps you scroll on your phone on Instagram and see similar claims.
Whatever age of marketing and ads we’re in, the question remains… What's best for hair loss? What’s best for hair growth? And what actually works?
In this article, we will walk you through two different hair products (although you’ll see how they are also quite similar), Nioxin® and Rogaine®, so you can learn the best use, effective treatment, potential side effects and efficacy of both.
Nioxin and Rogaine are both brands that sell hair care products.
Nioxin has products like shampoos, conditioners, deep conditioners and hair thinning kits. Their hair loss product is a 5% minoxidil treatment used in liquid and foam form at the top of the scalp.
Rogaine, on the other hand, just sells hair loss products. Rogaine was the first brand FDA-approved hair growth product to sell minoxidil as a topical hair loss product. Now, Rogaine sells two different hair loss products — a serum and a foam.
Minoxidil is an active ingredient that was discovered in the 1980s to be effective for treating hair loss. Originally, it was approved for androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness, in a 2% solution. However, over time, 5% solution options became available.
Now, however, Minoxidil is used to treat a variety of types of hair loss, including:
Androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness)
Alopecia areata (sudden hair loss)
Baldness induced by chemotherapy
Although minoxidil has been shown in numerous clinical studies to combat several different types of hair loss, it is only approved by the FDA for one type — male pattern baldness.
Though Minoxidil’s exact mechanism of action isn’t yet known, researchers believe it works by increasing blood flow to the scalp, encouraging hair follicles to activate and being a hair growth stimulator.
Minoxidil changes your hair growth cycle, extending the growth phase (anagen) and shortening the resting phase (telogen).
Numerous clinical trials have shown minoxidil to be effective for improving male pattern baldness.
For example, one 2004 study studied minoxidil treatment in almost 1,000 men. Researchers found that for most of the men in the study, minoxidil made the balding area smaller.
Another important find is that different concentrations of minoxidil have different effectiveness. For example, researchers in one study found that not only did minoxidil 5% solution perform better in men with androgenetic alopecia and patients had fuller hair, but they also saw quicker results.
That said, how effective minoxidil is varies on a case-by-case basis. Minoxidil efficacy may differ depending on how someone processes enzymes (sulfotransferase), and so the extent of how effective minoxidil will be for those with pattern hair loss may depend on this.
Nioxin and Rogaine both have 5% of minoxidil in their products, and Rogaine also offers a 2% product.
However, you may find other hair loss products on the market that have varying amounts of minoxidil. So just take a look and remember that 5% has been shown in some cases to be more effective than 2%.
“I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.”
“Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger!”
“When I show my barber my progress, he is always in disbelief. I have to recommend Hims to any guy who’s experiencing thinning.”
“Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.”
“I noticed a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.”
“Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!”
“I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!”
“In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.”
“4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.”
“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.”
Since Nioxin and Rogaine contain the same active ingredient (minoxidil), their side effects profiles are very similar.
Although minoxidil can work great as a hair loss treatment for different hair types, it can come with side effects. The most common side effects are skin irritation, including itchy scalp or scaliness.
Some people decide to use a lower dosage of minoxidil, like 2%, as it can still be effective but may cause less scalp irritation.
Allergies specific to minoxidil can occur, but it’s much less common. In this case, it’s recommended to discontinue any minoxidil hair loss treatment and look to a different solution for hair loss.
So, is there really any difference between these two products? Probably not much — both are minoxidil topical treatments.
Both Nioxin and Rogaine have two different types of minoxidil options — a foam and a solution. It’s unclear if the foam or solution works better than the other. However, both have been found to be effective.
Nioxin, on the other hand, also offers a variety of other products, including a line geared towards hair thinning. That being said, these products have a variety of ingredients that may have not been sufficiently researched individually or in combination with each other.
Given that these two products are quite similar, you may want to consider other hair loss products.
Although minoxidil is proven to be effective, other hair loss remedy options like finasteride are also effective.
Other options include herbs or hair products that do not have research to back them but are popular for some.
The FDA has approved finasteride for male pattern baldness. Finasteride is an oral medication that can significantly increase scalp coverage and male hair counts compared to those that do not take it.
It’s important to note, however, that finasteride is only available with a prescription, where Rogaine and Nioxin can be over-the-counter hair loss products.
Saw palmetto is a herbal remedy that some choose for hair loss — perhaps it’s because saw palmetto can help with the medical condition, benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate) without impacting testosterone, that people thought it might help hair loss.
There are limited studies that show saw palmetto may be beneficial, and while these studies look promising, more research is definitely needed.
Biotin is another popular remedy/ supplement to help stimulate hair growth (as well as nail and skin health).
This B vitamin is found in many foods like eggs, organ meats (liver, kidneys, etc.), nuts, soybeans and other legumes, bananas and more, but can also be found in supplement form.
However, typically, biotin has only proven effective to help hair loss in studies where patients were experiencing a biotin deficiency — which is rare.
Nioxin and Rogaine are both effective options for hair loss. Deciding between the two may simply depend on personal preference of brand.
Minoxidil is an effective option for hair loss and can help treat male pattern baldness, increasing hair count and coverage. However, the exact results will be on an individual to individual basis, as minoxidil effectiveness may vary based on how your body processes it.
If you have a specific medical condition causing hair loss, you may want to consider other options, or speak with a medical professional.