How Does Rogaine Work?

How Does Rogaine Work?
How Does Rogaine Work? (Image: ClickArt by Broderbund)

About Rogaine

Rogaine is a topical solution used for hereditary hair loss. It was originally introduced as a drug for high blood pressure, but clinical studies showed hair growth was a side effect. Because it was not effective as a blood pressure medication, it was released as an FDA-approved treatment for hair loss. Rogaine is the brand name for minoxidil. Originally it could be purchased only by prescription, but soon became an over-the-counter topical solution available in two strengths: regular, which is 2 percent minoxidil, and extra-strength, which is 5 percent minoxidil. Rogaine is now available for men and women.

How It Works

Rogaine is believed to revitalize shrunken hair follicles so they increase in size, but how it exactly works is unproven. When it is used twice a day, the follicles may increase in size and the growing phase for the hair becomes longer. It is also believed that Rogaine increases the blood flow to the areas near the balding section, stimulating hair growth.

A 16-week study on men showed that 85 percent of patients experienced hair growth. A 48-week study on women showed that 60 percent of the women experienced hair growth after 32 weeks into the program (see Resources below). Research suggests side effects are mild: In 6 percent of the study group, there was mild scalp itching and irritation.

How To Use Rogaine

Rogaine is a topical solution that is applied to the balding area in the morning and at night. Men apply 1 mL of the medication with a dropper directly to the balding area and massage into the scalp. Rogaine for men also comes in a foam that is first applied to the fingers and then rubbed into the scalp. Women should apply the 2 percent strength with a dropper, one mL in the morning and another at night.


Rogaine is for hereditary hair loss. Diseases, hair care practices, medications, and even stress can cause hair to thin. If you are experiencing patches of hair loss, see a doctor to diagnose the causes. Hereditary hair loss is a gradual process, so rapid hair loss warrants immediate medical attention.

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