Minoxidil for Beard Growth (2018): EVERYTHING You Need To Know
Can’t grow a beard? This is THE ONLY GUIDE you’ll ever need to change that! 😀 Why do I say that? Because today we will be going over all the science on how to grow a beard using minoxidil (the active ingredient inside rogaine).
You’re probably thinking, “what?? Minoxidil beards? Is that even possible?!?” O_o
Yes! Yes it is. And we now have empirical evidence / scholarly research to support this claim (more about that in a bit). Let’s get right into it! Here’s a list of everything we will be discussing.
Note: if you just came here for the before and after pictures, click here.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Minoxidil (Rogaine)?
- 2 How Does Minoxidil Work?
- 3 Minoxidil for Beard Growth.
- 4 Minoxidil Side Effects.
- 5 How to Use Minoxidil for Beard Growth.
- 6 What Can I Expect? When Will I See Results?
- 7 How to Enhance The Results of Minoxidil.
- 8 Minoxidil Beard Before and Afters.
- 9 Where to Buy Minoxidil.
What Is Minoxidil (Rogaine)?
Minoxidil is an antihypertensive vasodilator medication, or uh…. more simply put, a blood pressure medication. However, as blind luck would have it, two clinical studies in the early 70s discovered it had the unwanted side effect of excess hair growth. (1, 2)
And viola! A new awesome medication for balding people sprang into existence. Naturally, when the FDA saw how much money was involved, they approved it as a hair loss treatment, it hit the market in 1988, and the rest was history. (3)
How Does Minoxidil Work?
Interestingly enough, its mechanisms of action aren’t fully understood yet. Taken orally it widens small arteries to increase blood flow, and applied topically it seemingly widens hair follicles and prolongs the anagen stage of hair growth.
As a quick refresher, there are three different stages of human hair growth — the anagen, catagen, and telogen phase. (6)
- The anagen phase is known as the “growth stage.” The longer the hair stays in this phase, the more new hair fibers are created.
- The catagen phase is known as the “transitional phase.” In other words, when the baby hairs that are not yet permanent get pushed out to make way for stronger and more dense hair. These baby hairs as known as “vellus hair,” and the permanent hair that replaces them is known as “terminal hair.”
- The telogen phase is known as the “resting phase.” That is, the period of time when any given hair follicle is just chillin’. About 10-15% of all hair is in this phase. (7)
Minoxidil for Beard Growth.
Alrighty, now for the fun stuff. As you may know, minoxidil isn’t intended for face use (at least as of right now). However, that hasn’t stopped hundreds of thousands of men around the world from using it to grow some seriously killer beards! Click here for some before and afters.
For years, it was simply word of mouth and internet strangers talking about their anecdotal experiences over at the jefffsbeardboard forum. Growing facial with minoxidil even became colloquially known as the “Rogaine Experiment.” However, we now have our first scientific study that proves it works! (8)
To quickly summarize it for everybody:
48 men, between the ages of 20 to 60 were told to either apply a placebo or 3% minoxidil cream for beard growth twice daily for 16 weeks (four months). By the end of the study the minoxidil group saw statistically significant results, and patients were reportedly very satisfied with their progress. The side effects were super mild and weren’t considered statistically different from the group that did not apply minoxidil.
Interestingly enough, the researchers also found it was an effective treatment for eyebrow hypotrichosis (thin or receding eyebrows). So ladies, if you’re reading this — yes, you can use minoxidil or rogaine to get them brows on fleek!
As for how it works to promote facial hair, your guess is as good as mine. The exact mechanism is still unclear, but minoxidil is undoubtedly an effective and safe treatment for beard enhancement.
Minoxidil Side Effects.
Like most medications out there nowadays there is a slew of “potential” side effects. Ever see those crazy commercials advertising some new drug that has a dozen side effects? Well, this is no exception. The most likely side effects are dry or flakey skin and minor temporary hair shedding. Less common side effects include:
- Increased Appetite
- Sleep Disturbances (Trouble Sleeping)
- Heart Palpitations
- Bloating (Water Retention)
And last but not least — extra hair growth! HA. It may seem funny, but if minoxidil goes systemic it’s not uncommon to grow more hair in the arms, legs, and around the eyebrows.
If you do end up experiencing any adverse effects from using minoxidil STOP using it!
But all in all, these are some pretty innocuous side effects so you shouldn’t be worrying about it too much. However, here’s a big FAT DISCLAIMER:
I am not a medical professional. You should consult with your doctor first before trying minoxidil as a beard growth supplement. I am not liable for any adverse side effects you may experience, or what you choose to do with your personal life. I am simply relaying this information to everyone for educational purposes.
How to Use Minoxidil for Beard Growth.
Time for the meaty part of this post! Follow these steps precisely to mitigate any unwanted side effects and grow a glorious beard. Do all the following steps once or twice daily.
Cleanse your face with a gentle pH balanced cleanser.
The reason we use pH balanced cleansers instead of generic bar soap is to reduce irritation. Minoxidil contains 50% propylene glycol and 30% alcohol (ethanol), both of which are irritating to the skin. (9)
We want to ensure we’re maintaining the integrity of our moisture barrier, acid mantle, and skin microbiome — all of which play an important role in overall skin health and preventing the onset of diseases like acne, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis etc.
pH balanced cleansers will go a long way in preventing any further irritation that minoxidil might cause by keeping the skin’s pH at a healthy equilibrium.
Related reading: Why the pH of Skin and Products Are Crucially Important.
Apply 1 mL of liquid minoxidil to the beard area.
Luckily, there is a meniscus line on the dropper dispenser to help you apply the right amount.
Some people like to apply minoxidil using the dropper, others simply use their fingers to spread it across the face. Either way is fine. Just make sure you’re using 1 mL.
If you’re using minoxidil foam, use half a capful for the whole beard area.
Leave the minoxidil on your face for 4 hours.
Research has shown it takes approximately 4 hours to achieve 75% absorption or higher. (10) So if you want the full beardifying effects of minoxidil, you’re gonna have to leave it on your face for this long.
The absolute minimum amount of time you can leave it on and still get results is 1 hour. However, this will only result in approximately 50% absorption or less, so keep that in mind.
As an aside, some people leave minoxidil on overnight. This is fine too. It’s completely up to you what to do. Just keep the golden 4 hour rule in mind.
After 4 hours, wash your face or rinse with water.
Again, this may not apply to you depending on whether you decide to leave it on overnight. But if you’re applying it twice daily, you’ll want to rinse or wash your face after 4 hours to prevent any further drying of the skin.
Moisturize! Yes, this is important.
Like I mentioned earlier, the propylene glycol and alcohol content in minoxidil is inherently irritating and could disrupt the moisture barrier. You want to be replenishing the damage minoxidil does with a high quality moisturizer. Make sure to apply moisturizer AFTER minoxidil has dried (approximately 4 hours).
You should be looking for a moisturizer that has skin identical ingredients like ceramides, cholesterol, or hyaluronic acid. These ingredients all aid in skin recovery, strengthen barrier function, and provide a lot of hydration.
In my humble opinion, the CeraVe moisturizers are the best for this purpose.
My favorite is CeraVe Cream. It’s good for all skin types, has a cosmetically elegant and isn’t noticeable on the skin at all. If you’re the kind of person that hates the feeling of lotions, you’ll love this stuff! My full review can be found here.
Related reading: Cerave Moisturizer Buyer’s Guide: Top 4 Picks.
- Wash your face. Preferably with a pH balanced cleanser.
- Apply 1 mL of liquid minoxidil to the beard area. If you’re using minoxidil foam, use a half a capful.
- Leave it on for 4 hours.
- Wash or rinse your face again.
Do all these steps one to two times daily! If you skin is easily irritated, use it only once. Don’t worry, you can use minoxidil once a day and still get good results (example included in the minoxidil before and after section). Some have even had success applying it once every other day. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
What Can I Expect? When Will I See Results?
This isn’t an overnight kind of thing. You can realistically expect to see results within 3 to 6 months. However, continued use delivers better results.
The recommended minimum treatment period is 6 months, but most people generally aim for the one year mark. By then, significant progress is made and usually all the hairs have gone terminal.
Of course, not everyone is the same. Some people see results very quickly (e.g. 2 weeks), while others require several months. Just be patient and persistent and the beard will come in. By the 3 month mark, it should be pretty clear whether it’s working for you or not. ⠀⠀⠀
And yes, the results are permanent. Just make sure all the hairs have gone terminal first, or you risk losing a lot of gains.
How to Enhance The Results of Minoxidil.
You need to do two things: avoid potent DHT inhibitors, and increase collagen production.
In case you don’t know, DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is the hormone that causes androgeneic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness). However, this same hormone is what actually causes beard growth!
Why is this important? Because more often than not, people use products designated for the scalp on their beards thinking it will have similar benefits.
Example: “Hey, this shampoo says it’s good for hair loss! I bet if I use it on my beard I’ll turn into a werewolf! :D”
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
To simply things, think of it like this:
- DHT = bad for hair on the head (scalp).
- DHT = good for hair on the face (beards)
Make sense? Good.
So make sure you’re avoiding anything that will negatively effect facial hair growth. Here are some examples of common and potent DHT blockers you should stay away from.
- Azelaic Acid
- Coconut Oil
As an aside, MCT oil a.k.a caprylic/capric triglycerides is fine because it doesn’t contain lauric acid. Note: this is NOT the same as fractionated coconut oil!
- Copper Peptides
- Emu Oil
- Lavender Oil
- Pumpkin Seed Oil
- Rosemary Oil
- Saw Palmetto
- Tea Tree Oil
And here are two things that promote DHT meaning they are good for beard growth.
In addition to that, many many people on their minoxidil beard journeys swear by using Jamaican Black Castor Oil (read the reviews to see what I mean).
Alternatively, you can try a Jojoba oil and peppermint oil mix. The type of peppermint oil you use is important! You need “mentha piperita” — this is the kind that studies have shown promotes hair growth. (13) The one I linked above is the right kind.
The way you make this oil mixture is extremely important. Peppermint oil, like many other essential oils, are caustic and may burn the skin. To learn how to make a peppermint/jojoba oil mixture the right way, watch this video. (Click the photo)
By the way, you should consider subscribing to this guy’s channel. He regularly puts out AWESOME and informative videos about the whole minoxidil beard topic. In my humble opinion, the value and insight he provides is unmatched on this subject.
Related reading: Beard Growth Products: The Ones That Work According to SCIENCE
Increasing Collagen Production
The idea that increasing collagen production helps with beard growth comes from this study.
To summarize it, researchers wanted to see whether the addition of a 0.5 mm derma roller enhances the results of minoxidil. They found that it helps produce hair significantly faster than using minoxidil by itself.
If you don’t know what a dermaroller is, check out my guide about microneedling. I go into depth about the science, what it is, the benefits, how to use it properly, include before and afters etc.
Just make sure that if you’re going to use a dermaroller to enhance the effects of minoxidil that it’s one with 0.25 to 0.5 mm needles like this one.
You can use it up to three times a week (start slowly), and DO NOT apply minoxidil for at least 24 hours AFTER rolling.
Other topical ingredients that increase collagen production include niacinamide, vitamin c (ascorbic acid), and epidermal growth factors. Here’s a list of products that include these.
|Niacinamide||CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion PM (Full Review Here); Mad Hippie Face Cream with Anti Wrinkle Peptide Complex; EltaMD AM Therapy Moisturizer|
|Epidermal Growth Factor (Human Ogliopeptide-1)||Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence (My Holy Grail). Full review here.|
|Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)||Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum; Timeless Vitamin C Serum; Skinceuticals C E Ferulic; Nufountain C20 + Ferulic Serum|
L-carnitine L-tartrate (LCLT)
LCLT is dietary supplement commonly used to reduce oxidative stress in the body. There’s some preliminary science showing it’s good for aging, blood vessel health, increasing insulin sensitivity, as well as reducing neurological decline and chronic fatigue. (14)
More importantly, 3 studies have found it promotes hair growth by increasing androgenic receptor sensitivity! (15, 16, 17) This is particularly good for facial hair growth because it means DHT can be utilized more effectively in the body.
There have been many anecdotal reports of people mixing LCLT powder with liquid minoxidil and having increased gains vs using minoxidil alone.
Note: the in vivo study above used a 2% application of LCLT. To mimic this, simply add 1/4 teaspoon of 100% LCLT powder into your liquid minoxidil solution (60 ml) and shake it until it dissolves!
Minoxidil Beard Before and Afters.
You gotta give credit where credit is due.
Without the courage of this guy, many people today wouldn’t even know you can use minoxidil for facial hair growth. His name is Basik Ali. He’s the founder of the minoxidil beard spot on Facebook, which has since turned into a website that can be found here: http://www.theminoxbeardspot.com/
He has a series of videos documenting his journey throughout a year of applying minoxidil on his face once a day.
And to help keep you even more motivated, here’s a video compilation someone made of 100 guys who all grew beards using minoxidil! Most of these guys are actually from the minox beard spot facebook group.
EDIT: the original video was deleted, but here is a version someone re-uploaded.
Where to Buy Minoxidil.
You can get a 6 month supply of minoxidil on amazon for pretty cheap. As a side note, you don’t have to opt out for the more expensive brands like Rogain.
All 5% minoxidil products contain the same ingredients (50% propylene glycol, 30% alcohol, water, and 5% minoxidil). The kirkland brand will do just fine, and is what most people use because of its cost effectiveness.
However, if you’re skin is particularly dry or irritated easily then you might want to opt out for the Minoxidil Foam (see price on amazon). This is far more gentler on the skin and doesn’t cause nearly as much dryness — the only cavet being that it’s slightly more expensive.
Some people even like to use the foam during the day because it dries more quickly (meaning you won’t have a wet face at work or school), and the liquid at night. Either way, foam or liquid is fine. Both will do the job and provide the same results.
Welp, that does it for this guide. Hope you’ve enjoyed it! With daily application and a little patience you’ll be enjoying your new minoxidil beard in no time! 😉
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