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Beards have become so popular, that at this point of our earthly existence being a proud owner of a thick luscious beard is a matter of life and death. As someone, (probably) somewhere said, “We live at the hairiest times!”.
Come to think about it, maybe no one said it after all…
But that’s not the point.
Well groomed, thick as a rope beard is guaranteed to attract everyone’s attention. Besides, how many times have you seen a nice, full beard and admired it? I know I did.
But what happens if the hairy Gods haven’t been that inclined to you?
What if your ancestors weren’t so generous to provide you with that, oh so needed, gene that would give you thick, long, masculine looking facial hair. And what if your face refuses to follow the current trends of hairiness, and is living in the early 2000’s when a clean-shaven face resembling baby’s bottom was that much accepted?
Is there any hope that you will ever get to have that distinguished facial hair, which you can groom, and comb, and shape, and sing to… (what?!?).
Well if you have exhausted all the natural options to no avail, your salvation lies in a failed ulcer medicine that goes by the name of Minoxidil.
Minoxidil is attracting a lot of attention the past few years when growing a beard became fashionable again. Not that it wasn’t popular before but it gained so much traction that every guy who has trouble with beard growth found a solution in minoxidil.
On today’s article, we’re going to find out what minoxidil is and what’s all the fuss about rogaine as well as why and how you should start using it too.
Without further ado, let’s see how minoxidil works and how it helps you grow a thicker and fuller beard.
What is Minoxidil?
In the 1950’s the Upjohn Company was set on developing a compound that would successfully treat ulcers. Their trials that included dogs were unsuccessful, however, the compound named Minoxidil has proven itself to be a powerful vasodilator.
You might wonder what vasodilators are. They’re medicines that relax your blood vessels, allowing them to open up more “dilate”, allowing the blood to flow more freely, thus lowering your blood pressure.
After some studies, in 1979 Minoxidil was approved by the FDA as a treatment for high blood pressure in tablet form under the name of “Loniten”. However, Minoxidil has still not reached it’s full potential. Further tests done on this successful vasodilator will reveal that some subjects experienced an unexpected hair-growth as a side effect of using Minoxidil.
Realizing the new potential of the drug, further research on topical minoxidil solution was conducted. Finally in 1988 2% Minoxidil was approved by the FDA for treating baldness in men with it’s carrier agent propylene glycol under the name of Rogaine.
Rogaine was(initially intended Regain, which was rejected by the FDA as a misleading brand name.
Typical ingredients in each minoxidil mix are as mentioned, propylene glycol, alcohol, and purified water.
What are different types of minoxidil?
As of now, there is only a handful of minoxidil types available on the market.
They vary in terms of concentration of the active ingredient, currently, only 2% and 5% minoxidil solution is available.
Depending on the manufacturer the composition might also be different, the way the product is applied on your skin, and of course the brand name.
How does minoxidil work?
It seems that fighting baldness and promoting facial hair growth is the top priority of either the medical or scientific community. Thus no extensive research or any conclusive evidence is provided on how minoxidil induces hair growth.
Some speculate that minoxidil widens blood vessels, while at the same time opening the potassium channels, which allows more oxygen, blood, and nutrients reach the hair follicle. This speeds up the process of shedding of the old follicle, while at the same time prolonging the growth phase of the hair (anagen phase). And this leads to a thicker hair follicle which contributes to longer and denser hair strands.
Others argue that minoxidil might contribute cytoprotective activity thus promoting the hair growth via the immune system.
At this moment the former theory which propagates prolongation of the anagen faze is more widely accepted however the mechanism behind the prolongation of the anagen phase is still unknown.
Can Minoxidil help you grow a beard or make it thicker?
If you have reached this far, the million dollar question is: “Can minoxidil really help you grow a beard?”
The short answer to this question would be that no one is able to guarantee that.
The long answer is that looking at all the facts, applying minoxidil on our skin should work.
As at any time most of your hair is in the anagen phase, waiting to grow or already growing, applying minoxidil should help significantly. Widening your blood vessels would increase the blood flow to the skin which in terms brings more nutrients to the follicles in the area where the drug is applied, which should help your new hair grow significantly.
In conclusion applying minoxidil to promote hair growth might not work for just everyone. However, the scientific evidence coupled with the numerous success stories online, make minoxidil well worth a try.
Is it safe to use?
So far minoxidil has excellent safety record, although, as with any medication, you might experience some side effects when using minoxidil as listed below.
What are the side effects of using minoxidil?
As we have mentioned earlier, minoxidil is considered to be a powerful vasodilator. The skin on your face is much better at absorbing than the skin on your scalp and this is also why I would strongly recommend that you consult your doctor before using minoxidil to grow a beard.
The below are side effects which occur if a large quantity of the medication is absorbed through your skin. Therefore, make sure you use minoxidil on your beard with moderation.
Blurred vision or other changes in vision, headache, lightheadedness, numbness in your face, hands, or feet, tingling in your face, hands, or feet, dizziness, fainting, flushing, heart palpitations. Moreover, parts of your body might swell up like your face, hands, feet or the lower parts of your legs and lastly, you might experience overeating which can eventually lead to unwanted weight gain.
Other side effects of using minoxidil can include: itching or skin rash, acne on the area where minoxidil is applied (although they usually disappear after couple of weeks), swelling of your face, redness, inflammation at the root of your hair, unwanted hair growth on other parts of your body, dry skin or hives.
Also, some people have reported that minoxidil use has contributed to premature aging of their skin, as a result of the drying effect that it has on your facial skin. However, this problem can be solved by regular and prolonged application of good moisturizer for men.
If any of the following side effects occur, I would strongly recommend that you check with your doctor and/or nurse before continuing to apply it.
Can Minoxidil be acquired without dermatologist’s prescription?
In fact, minoxidil is available for men since 1988, women were able to get it as well by 1991, and it went on sale over the counter in April of 1996.
What are the Minoxidil Brands out there?
There are several brands that do sell minoxidil topical and which have shown some good results with growing beard.
Although there are numerous minoxidil brands available on the market, purchasing one would only depend on your budget, preference and skin type.
Generic minoxidil solutions are also available, and are much cheaper, while the ingredients they contain are not much different that the more expensive minoxidil brands.
There are 3 brands that actually domain the market. More specifically:
When you even think about minoxidil, the first thing that pops into your head is most likely Rogaine.
It is the first FDA-approved formula that is thriving on the market today.
It is a 5% minoxidil solution which uses propylene glycol as a carrying agent which allows for uniform spreading of minoxidil on the area that is applied.
Other inactive ingredients in Rogaine are alcohol and purified water.
Another very popular, widely available and slightly cheaper minoxidil brand is Kirkland Minoxidil.
Kirkland’s minoxidil formula uses the same ingredients as Rogaine, but it is a slightly cheaper option. It contains 30% alcohol, 50% propylene glycol, 5% minoxidil, and the rest is purified water.
It claims that it can show substantial hair growth after only after two months if applied twice a day, and if your beard is extremely stubborn it can take up to four months for it to show any visible results. However if after four months you don’t notice any visible results you should stop using it.
Alcohol and propylene glycol are both used in most minoxidil formulas.
If your skin does not fare well with alcohol, or propylene glycol which is essentially alcohol as well, you should probably look into Spectral DNC.
It is a revolutionary minoxidil formula that has replaced the propylene glycol with nanosomes. These nanosomes are basically tiny capsules almost ten times smaller than the cells that deliver the active ingredients directly into the tissue.
It is built around biotin and mineral complex which is proven to accelerate the metabolism of hair follicles and give them an extra boost.
Beside the 5% minoxidil solution, the Spectral DNC includes a bunch of other goodies that help promote hair growth. Such examples include:
- Aminexil SP94, which has been clinically proven to slow down the stiffening of the hair root which prevents premature aging of the hair roots.
- Retinol, which improves absorption of minoxidil in your skin.
- Adenosine, which is a hair regrowth agent that works much in the same way as minoxidil, but without the side-effects.
- Procyanidin, another hair regrowth agent which combined with minoxidil delivers great results and vitamin complex which increases your hair metabolism.
Is it worth it?
Well the answer is “YES” if you are looking for fast results without any hassle.
However, it’s a resounding “NO” if you want to explore first all the healthy alternatives before resorting to minoxidil as a last option and you’re willing to deal with any potential disappointment.
My point is that Rome was not built in a day and it might have taken a couple of days for it to burn down completely. So when it comes to using medication to achieve a certain goal, in my opinion, I would recommend you first explore all the natural, or better put healthy ways to achieve it, and keep the drugs as a last resort to which you can turn to at any time.
Therefore, before you take your hard earned money, and run off to the pharmacy to acquire a magic potion which might or might not work, and for which potentially you might have to deal with possible consequences, I implore you to first consider the good old-fashioned hard alternatives, which are quite simple if I may add.
Natural alternatives to Minoxidil.
Two things that you can start doing today.
The first one being: “Start eating healthy!” and the second one “Start exercising!”.
In order to look good, you need to feel good, but in order to feel good, you need to start looking after yourself. And the most satisfying first step to looking after yourself is through good, healthy and delicious food.
The best news is that there are tons of foods out there that are proven to promote beard growth. Just no name a few of my personal favorite ones:
- Brazilian Nuts, they contain which contain high levels of selenium an important mineral for hair growth. The best thing is that only eating two or three (if you can stop at that many) of them per day is enough to satisfy your daily selenium needs.
- Eggs, as we all know they are an excellent source of proteins, biotin, mono-saturated fats, and other micronutrients that are essential for your hair growth.
- Potatoes, some studies have shown that carbohydrate-rich diet produces excellent results with growing hair.
- Raisins, besides being a perfect snack, these little dried grapes contain boron. Boron is a mineral that has a significant impact on growing hair as it is proven to boost synthesis of testosterone and DHT
- Beef, besides being delicious it is high in saturated fats which is fatty-acid that promotes healthy hair growth.
- Gelatin, it abounds in collagen proteins which are directly responsible for hair skin and nail production. In fact, some scientists claim that lack of glycine and prolyne in our diets is directly responsible for reduced hair growth.
- Fish offers a variety of micronutrients, vitamin B and omega-3. All these are proven to be essential for your hair and skin regeneration.
As you can notice, using food to promote your facial hair growth can be a pleasant and delicious experience.
Facial hair growth is directly connected to two male hormones, testosterone and DHT. So, as you can understand, increasing these two hormones, and your body’s utilization of them is the right way to stimulate your facial hair growth naturally.
And as the above foods stimulate the production of these two androgens, it would be best to incorporate a healthy exercise regime in order to make your body utilize the hormones more efficiently which would be rewarded with better results much faster.
How to maintain your beard while using minoxidil?
OK, so when you start using minoxidil, you will finally be able to notice hair getting thicker and denser on your face. But when you start growing a beard, and especially when you use minoxidil for that purpose you one of the first things you will most likely experience itch on your beard and possibly beard dandruff or beardruff.
As we already mentioned earlier on this article, dry skin under your beard is expected because of the use of minoxidil.
Don’t panic, this is normal and can be fixed if you are using the right beard care tools.
Things to avoid at this stage, especially if you are using minoxidil is regular bar soap -and I’m not talking about these awesome bar soaps that don’t dry your face. That being said, these regular soaps are a huge no, no.
If you experience beardruff, do not under any circumstance use anti dandruff shampoo which you normally use for your hair. Instead, what you should do is get a gentle beard wash which should typically be used once or twice a week. A good beard wash will help you keep your beard clean while at the same time keep your facial hair soft, healthy, energized, and it will reduce your beardruff.
But beard wash is only one part of the equation, in order to get rid of beardruff completely, you will need to utilize other products, such as beard oil.
Yes, beard oil is one of the must haves if you have decided to grow and maintain a healthy beard. It will not only help you fight beard itch and dandruff, but it will also help your beard stay healthy and strong.
A beard oil recipe normally contains carrier and essential oils.
Carrier oils are the ones that do most of the heavy lifting as most essential oils are used for fragrance. The percentage of carrier oils can be anything between 95 and 100%. It’s not unusual to see beard oils containing only carrier oils such as jojoba, argan, coconut and many others.
Some exceptions for essential oils that are used for something more than just scent is for example tea tree oil. The particular essential oil not only smells nice and woody but it also helps with skin conditions like dry skin, eczema and many others. In such case, it might be also good for maintaining a beard healthy while using minoxidil.
All these natural oils that your skin produces which will aid skin moisturizing and keep beardruff at bay.
Now, if minoxidil works for you already and your beard has started growing longer, you may also consider using beard oil’s cousin, a.k.a. beard balm.
A beard balm recipe contains the same ingredients with beard oil with the addition of (bees)wax -which explains the solid state of the balm, and natural butters.
A good beard balm is able to keep you beard soft and nourished which can also help against beard split ends. On top of that, it can also keep you beard well groomed as the beeswax is able to give a bit of shape to your beard.
With a natural bristle brush, you’re cleaning your facial hair, stimulate the skin that can increase blood flow which could lead to increased beard growth and making your beard softer.
Suggestion: Zeus beard brush
One last piece of advice
And last but not least, try not to stress out much.
This is pretty self-explanatory. It is well known that people who tend to stress out a lot, have bigger chances of losing their hair.
Also some studies have shown that stress is one of the major contributors to dandruff creation. As you can imagine, the same principle would apply to beardruff as well.
So just try to relax and let your beard take your course.
How to apply minoxidil?
When it comes to using minoxidil, there are usually two main types that are used to promote beard growth, minoxidil foam, or liquid minoxidil.
Below I will explain how to use them both step by step.
How to use minoxidil foam?
- Make sure your face is clean, again, under no circumstances use bar soap to wash your face, instead use soaps that are made especially for your face.
- Wash your hands, you can use bar soap for this, but make sure that you rinse your hands thoroughly afterward, as the chemicals from the soap can react with the minoxidil and decrease its effectiveness.
- Dispense half a cupful of the foam on your fingers, which is equivalent of 1mg minoxidil.
- Using your other hand, apply the foam to your face with your fingers while gently massaging it using circular motions.
- Wash your hands thoroughly again, you want to make sure that you don’t spread minoxidil on other parts of your body.
- Let the minoxidil foam air dry for one to two minutes.
How to use minoxidil liquid?
- See step 1 and 2 above.
- Fill the dropper to the line marked on it.
- using the dropper start slowly applying the liquid on your face, please be careful not to squeeze the dropper to hard as this will cause too much liquid to shoot out, and would prevent even application.
- Gently massage the solution into your skin.
- The liquid minoxidil takes a bit longer to dry, wait for up to 5 minutes for the liquid to completely dry from your face while massaging it with soft circular motions.
- Make sure you wash your hands afterward.
In conclusion, minoxidil is a great product to try if you want to grow a beard, however, it should never be your first choice.
Before you jump into use minoxidil, I would recommend that you explore other options, such as changing your habits, start eating healthy and exercise more.
And if all this fails, please first speak to your doctor or even better your dermatologist before you consider applying minoxidil. And who knows, maybe an expert would be able to provide you with a better solution and you won’t have to apply minoxidil on your beard after all.
Main image courtesy: Dmytro Sidelnikov/BigStock.com