Minoxidil has been one of the most popular topics on this website, with our ultimate guide to minoxidil for beards post having 400,000+ views.
In that earlier article, we explained thoroughly how minoxidil works and showed with plenty of proof, how it can enhance beard growth.
The anecdotal reports, before after pictures, and of course, the scientific study; all come together to conclusively prove that if you religiously apply 1-2ml of 5% minoxidil solution on your face for 5-12 months you will grow significant amounts of new beard hairs.
With the obvious fact out of the way, let’s look at the 10 most frequently asked questions about minoxidil for facial hair.
Minoxidil & Beard Growth Frequently Asked Questions
If you buy 5% minoxidil solution, it doesn’t matter whether you buy the original Rogaine minoxidil, Kirkland brand minoxidil, or any other pure minoxidil solution.
They all have 5% of the active ingredient in their recipe, with carrier agents such as alcohol and propylene glycol. The only differences are packaging, price, and accessibility.
If you’re from the US, most likely Kirkland 5% minoxidil will be the best value choice for you. For European readers, Kirkland is unavailable so you might have to pay a bit more to get Rogaine, which is available pretty much anywhere.
The only important thing is that there are no other ingredients in the bottle. So be aware of brands that mix DHT blockers like azelaic acid with their minoxidil products. Those might be beneficial on the scalp, but they hurt the growth on your face.
Liquid minoxidil takes longer to dry but anecdotally results in better gains. The liquid is also harder to apply if you already have some beard growing on you.
Foam minoxidil dries up really fast (up to 5x faster than liquid) and is generally much easier to apply if you have facial hair already on your face. The drawback is that most users report it to be less effective.
If you have sensitive skin, you might want to opt for foam minoxidil anyway. The aerosol foam has no propylene glycol (which is the main ingredient behind the itchiness and dryness caused by the liquid).
In any case, if you go with the liquid solution; get Kirkland 5% liquid minoxidil. If you want to try the foam; get Kirkland 5% aerosol foam minoxidil.
In short; yes, but you need to use minoxidil for long enough so that the thin vellus hairs on your face will transition into thick dark terminal hairs.
When this happens, the sebaceous gland will connect to the facial hair follicle and supply it with testosterone and DHT, even if you quit using minoxidil.
I didn’t pull this out of thin air either. There have been tens of thousands of guys using minoxidil on their beards for over ten years now, with a large number of them currently sharing their experiences on Reddit’s r/minoxbeards and the Minoxidil Beard Spot group on Facebook.
Out of the thousands of guys who have started with very little beard growth – gained impressive full beards from minoxidil – and then stopped using it, almost all report that they kept most of the gains they made.
So if you do start losing beard hairs after you stop using minoxidil, it’s more than likely that the hairs you lost were in fact still vellus hairs or transitional vellus hair, but not yet terminal.
It’s almost impossible to say, as there are guys whom it took 3 months, while on someone it can take more than a year.
The rate-limiting factor seems to be your natural hormone production. Guys who have some facial hair growth and masculine features (higher testosterone) often get terminal beard gains faster than guys who have almost no beard growth in the beginning and boyish/feminine features (lower testosterone).
It makes sense if you think about it, as minoxidil itself just improves circulation and nutrient delivery to the follicle (basically forces more follicles to anagen growth phase), but you still need to have the androgenic hormones (testosterone and DHT) produced by your body to actually trigger the vellus-to-terminal conversion.
This is called “the minoxidil shedding phase” and is very common.
There’s no need to panic. In fact, you should actually want to shed since this means that the old vellus hairs are dropping as the new thicker terminal hairs are pushing out through the same facial hair shafts.
All hairs of the body follow the anagen-catagen-telogen-exogen cycle, and when using minoxidil, this cycle ramps up in speed and the weak and thin beard hairs will rush into exogen phase while the new terminal hairs are coming up as a darker, thicker, stronger anagen phase.
The worst thing you could do during the minoxidil shedding phase is to stop applying. Just weather it through and I can guarantee you it will be worth it.
You absolutely can shave your face. It will make applying the minoxidil much easier because you will have unobstructed access to the skin surface and less of the minoxidil will stick to the beard hairs.
The drawback is that the alcohol in the solution will probably burn your face a bit if you apply after a fresh shave. So ideally, you would be trimming your beard shorter, but not going completely clean-shaven.
Also, remember that you do not have to shave or trim. It’s one of the biggest beard growth myths that shaving would help with growth; it doesn’t. It has no impact whatsoever.
According to this study, 75% of the minoxidil will have absorbed into the hair follicle after 4-hours.
Considering that the study was done on scalp hair – and your the skin on your scalp is thicker than that of your face – it’s only reasonable to assume that almost all of the applied solution will have made its way to the beard follicles after four hours.
Hence, the most common recommendation is to keep minoxidil on your face for at least 4-hours and then you can either wash it off, or just leave it be, whichever you prefer.
Minoxidil is sold over-the-counter, and that’s because enough trials have shown it to be safe and effective when used as instructed.
That does not mean minoxidil would have no side effects. It’s still a drug and will cause side effects, especially when used too much and too often.
Most commonly these side effects are limited to dizziness, tiredness, increased heart rate, and dry skin.
But when people start using too much of the stuff or switch too quickly to 10% or 12% minoxidil solutions, they quickly run into more severe side effects.
What are those you ask? Well, heart palpitations (remember, minoxidil is a vasodilator), dark circles under eyes (caused by reduced collagen production), and reduced sex drive (minoxidil doesn’t affect the beard growth hormones, but high dosages can suppress androgen receptor activity).
I highly suggest that you always start from the lower end of the recommended dosage range. If that gives you good results, stay there and enjoy the gains. If not, you might slowly titer upwards.
If you want the best possible results, you will want to pair minoxidil with…
L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (which increases the energy delivery to the hair matrix and activates androgen receptors, both which enhance minoxidil’s effects).
Derma Roller or Beard Roller (which increases circulation and collagen production in the skin).
Collagen hydrolysate or gelatin powder (to provide some collagen to your diet, as minoxidil is known for slowing down collagen production in the skin).
Start by purchasing a bottle of 5% liquid minoxidil and pure L-Carnitine L-Tartrate powder. Then mix about 1g of the carnitine powder into your full bottle of minoxidil.
Use this solution two times per day, 1-2ml per application on your facial hair area. Let it absorb for 4-hours.
Also, purchase a Derma Roller with 0.25 to 0.75mm needles. Once per week roll through your beard area with it in every direction you can imagine. After using the Derma roller, make sure to not apply minoxidil again for ~24 hours (to avoid too much of it getting into the systemic circulation).
According to one trial, you can increase the absorption potential of liquid minoxidil if you apply it on a damp face right after a shower (to prevent crystallization of the solution).
Taking a shower every time before you apply is probably not realistic, but just know that liquid minoxidil is most effective on a towel damp face.
There you have it, all of your most burning minoxidil beard questions answered to the best of my abilities.
Not sure how or when to start your minoxidil beard journey yet?
The easiest way is to just start.
If your beard is lacking in thickness or you have multiple patchy spots on the beard, there’s nothing easier than getting some 5% Kirkland minoxidil and applying it there two times per day.
All you have to do is to stay consistent, wait for the hairs to turn terminal, and then quit. The gains will stay.