Rogaine and Nioxin are established brands when it comes to hair loss treatments. If you’ve talked to your hairdresser about thinning hair woes, maybe they’ve recommended Nioxin. And if you’ve seen a dermatologist, maybe they’ve prescribed a topical minoxidil treatment (that’s Rogaine, by the way).
On Lady Alopecia, I’ve gushed about how Nioxin worked for my hair loss. I’ve also spoken about my previous experience with minoxidil and the bad side effects it brought me. Still, I know that Rogaine is effective for lots of people, especially to treat recent hair loss and smaller bald patches.
So I thought it only fair that I compare the two, in a full Rogaine vs Nioxin post. Helping you decide which might be better to reduce hair loss and even encourage hair growth – plus, some more natural alternatives you can try.
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.
Minoxidil is in plenty of hair loss treatments these days (even Nioxin has a scalp treatment containing 2% minoxidil for women, and a 5% minoxidil treatment for men).
But only Rogaine – the brand name of this medication – has been approved by the FDA as a hair growth treatment. Fun fact: it’s only one of two FDA-approved treatments: the other is Propecia, the brand name for finasteride, which is used to treat androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness. (Ok, maybe not that fun a fact, sorry!)
Originally developed in the 1980s for treating high blood pressure and ulcers, scientists quickly discovered that the solution showed signs of regrowing hair. This was a pivotal discovery: that topical minoxidil could help millions of people suffering with hereditary hair loss.
Rogaine is a vasodilator class of drug, which dilates blood vessels and allows blood to flow smoothly. Thanks to these properties, it increases circulation to the scalp and can deliver essential nutrients to penetrate deeper and support healthy hair.
The problem is, Rogaine doesn’t really contain other nutrients which can improve the quality and condition of your hair – which is why I’d choose a different product with minoxidil over pure Rogaine.
Rogaine is available as both a topical solution or a foam, for men and women. 5% is typically the concentration of minoxidil that’s recommended for men; 2% is better for women. Although you can get a more intensive 5% Rogaine Women’s foam, too.
Rogaine claims its treatments deliver a significant improvement in hair density and hair growth within 3 months. And customer reviews are largely positive that it does indeed reduce hair shedding and encourage hair regrowth.
However, although Rogaine might be effective in terms of hair growth, I wonder whether the potential side effects: like facial swelling, scalp acne, chest pains and weight gain are really worth it. In my case, a topical minoxidil treatment gave me migraines and dizzy spells, plus it thinned the skin of my scalp until I could see all the little veins. So I quit using it.
Note, this was a minoxidil solution that my dermatologist recommended, not the brand Rogaine. But it made me wary of using minoxidil at all so personally, I’d steer clear.
Nioxin’s a long-time favorite of mine. They make a range of hair thinning products, with systems for various hair types: including color treated hair or hair that’s chemically treated. These systems also target the types of hair loss; whether it’s light or progressive.
Within each “hair growth system” there’s a shampoo, a conditioner, and a leave-in scalp treatment. This is the minimum amount of products recommended to treat hair loss, but there are some other great options: see more in my full Nioxin post.
Unlike Rogaine, Nioxin contains plenty of nourishing, natural ingredients – like amino acids, peppermint essential oil and white tea extract – to gently cleanse the scalp and provide an optimal environment for regrowth.
I started using Nioxin back in 2013, to treat my widespread alopecia. I was pretty much bald at the time, but after using a few different products, I had complete regrowth within just 3 months. Now, it wasn’t exactly a long and lustrous mane – more like a soft cap of hair that was an inch long – but still, the results were pretty amazing!
And this was long after the 2008 takeover by P&G, who changed Nioxin’s formula and added sulfates: something previous customers complain about. These days, they say, Nioxin can dry out your hair and leave it feeling brittle.
I didn’t notice this, as I’d no hair to begin with, nor can I comment on any initial shedding, which Nioxin can also cause. But if this does concern you, check out my top sulfate free shampoos in this post.
Nioxin never actually claims to stop hair loss or promote hair growth. Rather, it positions itself as providing a healthier scalp environment, i.e., better conditions in which regrowth may take place. (In my case though, yes it did work!)
And it works for many happy customers, too. Many Nioxin reviewers (and the people who’ve written to me personally) have been loyal Nioxin customers for years and for them, it’s the best way to manage episodes of hair loss.
For others, Nioxin dries out their hair and causes scalp irritation. So they ask me about a more natural, sulfate-free option – in which case, I recommend Revita. (More on that soon.) Still, Nioxin has far fewer potential side effects than minoxidil and, in my opinion, is a safer hair loss treatment.
One of the main differences between Rogaine vs Nioxin is the choice of products available. Rogaine just has a foam and a topical solution for men and women, while Nioxin make a range of shampoos, conditioners, serums, scalp scrubs, night masks and more.
Nioxin does better in terms of Amazon reviews, with most of its products averaging 4.7 stars; Rogaine’s highest review score is 4.3.
Rogaine may appear cheaper than Nioxin at first: you can get a 3-month supply of Rogaine’s treatment for women for $59, while a Nioxin System 2 kit (which I think lasts a month) costs $52. But bear in mind, you’re getting 3 products instead of one so I believe that Nioxin is actually better value. Although you’ll probably be tempted to buy even more products, like I did!
With Nioxin, you’re also benefitting from extra nourishing ingredients – so if your scalp does have a reaction to changing up your haircare routine, which is common, it’s got calming anti-inflammatories to soothe it again. Rogaine is largely made up of alcohol-based ingredients, which can be harsher on the skin.
Recap time! Rogaine can be an effective ‘quick fix’ to stimulate hair growth in the short-term. And it can be useful for temporarily treating hair loss.
However, I’d prefer a longer approach to supporting a healthy scalp and hair, which is something Nioxin can offer. It may not be as fast in terms of hair growth results (although, thinking about it, it was for me!) but I think it’s a safer brand to use as part of your haircare regime.
Between the two hair loss treatments, I much prefer Nioxin. However, there are other options out there – with a more natural approach, that are just as effective for hair growth!
First up, there’s Nanoxidil, which is basically Minoxidil 2.0. It comes with all the hair growth potential of minoxidil – perhaps even more so, thanks to its smaller molecular weight, meaning it can penetrate the hair follicles more effectively. It’s only available as a topical treatment spray from DS Labs, the folks behind Revita, who created the innovative formula.
The best thing is: It has no reported negative side effects.
Nanoxidil is a relatively new hair loss treatment, but early studies are pretty exciting. It looks like it could be extremely effective for reducing shedding and promoting hair growth and is particularly useful for those with a thinning hairline. It has a much higher tolerability than minoxidil, too.
If you want an all-natural approach, with something that doesn’t contain either minoxidil or minoxidil but that can still improve your scalp and hair health, I’d highly recommend Revita.
Its paraben and sulfate free formula contains ketoconazole, caffeine and biotin to block DHT (the hormone linked to hair loss) and increase blood circulation to the scalp. After using it for a month, it replaced Nioxin as my favorite shampoo for thinning hair.
I noticed far less shedding, a huge improvement in the texture and quality of my existing hair and a boost in hair density and volume, too. While it didn’t bring miraculous regrowth, it did stop it falling out – and admittedly, I only used it for a month so not enough for the best results.
I’ll be stocking up again on Revita shampoo and conditioner soon – and adding the nanoxidil treatment to my shopping list!
You can buy both brands on Amazon, from the brands’ separate websites or perhaps from your local salon. You can also get Nioxin through the Wella online salon, where you can be sure it’s the real deal and not a knock-off. Use the code ladyalopecia at checkout for extra discounts!
Out of all the treatments I mention in this post, Revita’s spray with nanoxidil is best for a thinning or receding hairline.
I hope this comparison post has taught you a little more about two of the most popular treatments for hair loss. Maybe you’ll be curious to try them and I hope either one brings you great results!
Personally, I’d recommend Revita over either of these (although Nioxin is a close second). It may not be as effective as Nioxin in terms of hair growth results but doesn’t have any of the potential side effects either. Plus, you can boost your chances of hair growth by adding its nanoxidil treatment to your haircare regime!
If you do try Rogaine or Nioxin though, I’d love to hear about your experience below. Please share your thoughts in the comments and maybe they’ll help Lady Alopecia readers decide which to choose, too!
Love & hugs,
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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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