Which Minoxidil is Safe for Hair Growth?
If you’ve seen a dermatologist about your thinning hair, it’s likely they’ve recommended minoxidil. After all, it’s one of only two FDA-approved hair growth treatments.
Although you’ll find minoxidil in lots of scalp treatments these days, only Rogaine has been approved by the FDA (alongside Propecia, which consists of finastride, and is only for men). This may come as a shock, considering how many hair loss treatments are out there, all making claims of miraculous regrowth.
BUT that doesn’t mean they don’t work…or that they aren’t safer to use! I’ve only tried non FDA-approved treatments – shampoos like Nioxin and Revita, Vegamour serums, peppermint essential oil and natural remedies like ginger and aloe vera. All of these helped reduce my hair thinning and boost regrowth.
The only time I used topical minoxidil, I got bad headaches, dizzy spells and a painful, irritated scalp. I didn’t see enough regrowth to stick with it, and the headaches weren’t worth it!
Of course, many people swear by minoxidil. And it can be effective in the short-term, especially if you’ve got smaller bald patches or a thinning hairline rather than extensive hair loss. So in this post, I’ll cover 2 popular brands – Keranique and Rogaine – and weigh up which might be the best option to encourage hair growth.
Emma’s ‘not a doctor’ disclaimer
Hi there, I’m an alopecian, I’m not a doctor! Any advice I give is based on my own research and personal experiences. This site is, however, reader-supported. When you buy through external links, I may earn a tiny affiliate commission. Learn more here.
Rogaine is a highly popular treatment, available as a topical solution and a topical foam, for thinning hair and particularly, female and male pattern baldness. It’s a vasodilator class of drug, which dilates blood vessels to help grow new hair. Rogaine claims a noticeable improvement in hair density and hair growth (based on the number or new hairs) within 3 months.
Although Rogaine ads used to target men, nowadays Rogaine has separate products for men and women, though the percentages of minoxidil differs between products. Many dermatologists and doctors will recommend Rogaine before trying anything else – and some will argue it’s the ONLY effective treatment to help hair grow back.
I have my doubts about this, having done extensive research into lifestyle factors and hair loss – for instance, healing our gut can make a huge difference, and it did in my case. So there are other options to manage hair shedding than this quite toxic treatment, which can hold pretty bad side effects.
Personally I prefer a holistic approach but I totally get that, if you’ve started seeing a bald patch get bigger and bigger, you’re likely panicking. And you’ll want the most effective way to get hair growing back…fast.
It works, for many people. Especially for those with a thinning hairline due to age or hormonal factors, Rogaine can be an effective ‘quick fix’ to revive hair follicles and stimulate hair growth in the short-term. However, these effects only last for as long as you continue using it.
While I’m more in favour of getting to the root cause of the problem – working out and treating whatever’s causing your thinning hair in the first place – Rogaine can be a good option for temporarily treating the side effect of hair loss.
It’s also reasonable value. For instance, a 4 month-supply of the Women’s Foam costs $47 – which is FAR cheaper than more high-end hair loss brands like Vegamour. Customer reviews are quite positive and report big improvements after 3–4 months (although many do mention those side effects, too).
The side effects can be pretty severe. Like: migraines, chest pains, weight gain, burning of the scalp, dizziness, facial swelling, acne on the scalp, plus the risk of either more hair loss or increased hair facial hair growth.
You could also end up making your scalp more immune to either other treatments, or continued use of minoxidil. That’s what happened when I used both corticosteroid injections and minoxidil for my own hair loss, back when I was 16 and just went with whatever my dermatologist said before doing proper research.
The treatments thinned the skin of my scalp so much, it became highly sensitive, tight and easily irritated. I could see veins through it I never had before.
Plus, after using these for a while and upping my dose, the dermatologist eventually acknowledged I’d become immune to them and it probably would take longer, and a stronger solution, for any effects. Did I want to continue? No, no I did not.
Not everyone will have these side effects – and Rogaine must be popular for a reason! Plus, I haven’t actually tried Rogaine before, only whatever minoxidil solution my dermatologist recommended. But I wanted to flag these concerns with you, so you know what you might be getting into.
Like Rogaine, Keranique are a fan of the infomercial, cheesy and gimmicky advertising approach to hair care. They make a range of “As Seen On TV” products for thinning hair and renewed hair growth: including shampoo, conditioner, scalp sprays, serums and a leave-in scalp treatment, plus supplements.
Although all Keranique products target male and female pattern baldness, only one of them – the leave-in scalp treatment – contains 2% minoxidil, which is the recommended dosage for women. That’s what I’ll focus on here for a fair Rogaine vs Keranique comparison, but you can read my full reviews post for more about Keranique.
They’re a salon favorite – and hairdressers have been around enough forms of hair loss to know what can really help! They may be more experts in this field than say, a dermatologist, who specializes in all skin conditions. Hair stylists know their hair: and that sometimes, natural, nourishing ingredients that are kind to the scalp can be just as effective as more potent chemicals – without the dodgy side effects.
I’ve used Keranique’s shampoo and conditioner in the past, which definitely improved the condition of my hair. Afterwards, my previously dry and brittle strands felt soft and silky, with more volume, too. And the treatments achieve this without the use of sulfates or parabens.
I didn’t use Kernaique’s leave-in scalp treatment with 2% minoxidil, so I can’t give feedback on that – but customer reviews say it helped their fine, thin hair become fuller and healthier, with less breakage. They saw increased hair growth fairly quickly, plus its applicator nozzle makes it easier to apply than Rogaine, which customers complained can get messy (and even lead to unwanted facial hair growth!)
Cheesy ads and grandiose claims aside, I also don’t have a huge amount of faith in this brand due to numerous complaints around their autoship policy. Basically, people sign up for a subscription program to avail of discounts and then they can’t cancel it. They keep trying and yet, their card keeps getting charged (sometimes when they don’t receive any more products).
This seems too regular an occurrence for it to just be a mix-up. So I’d recommend buying Keranique though Amazon, or from your local salon, instead.
One of the main differences is that Rogaine is for both men and women, treating their hair thinning with different doses of minoxidil, while Keranique only make their minoxidil treatment for women. And although Keranique offers other non-minoxidil-based products, they’re still aimed at women – the brand proudly markets itself as “the number one-selling hair regrowth system for women in the US”.
Rogaine gets a higher trust rating than Keranique on TrustPilot (2.6 vs 1.4) and on Amazon, Rogaine 2% topical treatment for women gets 4.3 stars out of over 4,655 reviews, while Keranique’s minoxidil treatment gets 4.1 out of 7,027. So Rogaine gets slightly higher, but from less reviews.
Rogaine is also cheaper than Keranique: a one-month supply of Keranique’s 2% minoxidil hair regrowth treatment costs $29, while you can get a 3-month supply of Rogaine’s equivalent for $59.
However, I like that Keranique uses a 4-part system to treat hair loss. You can benefit from the nourishing, moisturizing ingredients of its shampoo, conditioner and lift and repair spray to soothe and hydrate your scalp, then apply the minoxidil treatment to revitalize those hair follicles and improve your chances of regrowth. Perhaps it holds fewer side effects, too.
With Rogaine, you only get a standalone product that could be quite harsh on your scalp if it’s not used in conjuction with gentler treatments.
Are you leaning towards any brand in particular? It’s a close call…so let’s look at the pros and cons of each!
In my opinion, you’re looking at the better of two evils when deciding between minoxidil treatments! That’s obviously your call to make and if I had to choose, it’d probably be Rogaine, simply because they seem more trustworthy and they’re better value.
But like I said, I favor a natural approach – which is why I’d recommend using a natural shampoo that cleanses and nourishes the scalp, then perhaps taking a supplement to address any nutritional deficiencies or hormone imbalances that could be triggering your hair loss in the first place.
I love Revita shampoo because it has plenty of great ingredients: like ketoconazole, caffeine and biotin to gently block DHT (the hormone linked to hair loss) and increase blood circulation to the scalp to revive dormant hair follicles.
It’s vegan, sulfate and paraben-free and in my experience, not only helps hair growth but makes the existing hair you have thicker, shinier and healthier. Plus, I didn’t get any initial shedding when I started using Revita, which you probably will when you try a treatment containing minoxidil.
In terms of supplements, Folexin is the brand I’d recommend most. With biotin, a full Vitamin B complex and saw palmetto, Folexin can help reduce hormone-related hair loss, boost metabolic function (including hair growth) and support your immune system.
Since many of us are deficient in the kind of key minerals and vitamins needed for healthy hair, Folexin is a simple, effective and affordable way to get it back.
You can buy both brands, and their range of minoxidil and non-minoxidil treatments on Amazon or on their separate websites. If you choose Keranique though, I’d definitely buy from Amazon to avoid the brand’s autoship program.
Personally, I think Keranique – because they use the same amount of minoxidil as Rogaine for women (2%) but you can get their additional treatments for further support. As minoxidil can dry out and irritate the scalp, Keranique’s 4-part system (with shampoo, conditioner, repair spray and minoxidil treatment) can prevent this from happening.
I can’t keep ignoring minoxidil on a website dedicated to hair loss – because it is one of the most popular treatments out there, it’s what dermatologists recommend and it’s FDA-approved. No use hiding my head in the sand any longer – especially if you’re curious about trying it, I wanted to give you the information you need.
I hope this comparison post has been helpful; not only in helping you decide between Keranique and Rogaine, but whether you should use minoxidil at all. If you do, please watch out and montior those side effects I mentioned and discontinue use if they verge on the severe side!
Speak to your doctor about a gentler option, or perhaps try the shampoo and supplement I mentioned (there are plenty more on this site to choose from, too!)
In the meantime, take care, and thanks for reading!
Love & hugs,
Alopecian. Yoga Teacher. Copywriter. Here to share information, offer support and show people the adventures that can lie in hair loss. I’m proud to have alopecia and I want to help others embrace their baldness, too!
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