Hair Care

Finasteride vs Minoxidil: The Bottom Line

The causes of hair loss are plenty, and thanks to science and technology, there are now just as many solutions that help counter most hair-related conditions. Two of which are the most common are Finasteride and Minoxidil.

But you’re now wondering which one works best for your situation – finasteride vs minoxidil, and what implications are there? 

Yes, studies have been made that show their effectiveness, and yes, they are cheaper alternatives to lasers and surgeries. But are they utterly worth going for?

Each of them might come with a hefty price tag on your health.

Let’s hop into our Finasteride vs Minoxidil debate and let us help you break these two medications down.


  1. Safe alternatives to finasteride and minoxidil
  2. What is finasteride?
  3. What are the side effects of finasteride?
  4. Can finasteride cause cancer?
  5. What is minoxidil?
  6. What are the side effects of minoxidil?
  7. The verdict

Finasteride vs Minoxidil: Safer alternatives

If you really want to grow your hair back (and we know you do since you are reading this) without suffering from a multitude of side effects in exchange, adapt to a healthier lifestyle.

Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and reducing your stress work wonders towards achieving stronger and fuller hair in the long run.

As for products, there is a reason why we advocate going natural. To put it simply, it just works.

Click to view the top 4 alternatives to minoxidil and finasteride

What is finasteride?

Finasteride, also known by its brand names: Proscar and Propecia, is a popular non-surgical hair restoration oral medication for men to treat hair loss and enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia). It is also available as a generic drug. 

It works by decreasing the amount of a natural body hormone (DHT), which causes your prostate to grow larger. The effect also leads to increased hair growth and lessens the amount of hair loss on your head.

Women, especially when pregnant or breastfeeding, and children should not take this medication.

What are the side effects of finasteride?

Gents, what’s good in regaining your confidence if it comes at the cost of a decrease in sexual ability and desire? Finasteride can, in some men, decrease the amount of semen released during sex. While relatively harmless, the condition can go on even after treatment has been stopped.

Aside from the lack of sex drive, you may also experience trouble getting or keeping an erection, ejaculation disorder, and/or a skin rash.

Though unlikely, taking Finasteride can include more serious side effects like a lump in the breast, nipple discharge, breast enlargement/tenderness/pain, pain in the testicles, inability to urinate, and even depression and anxiety.

It could also trigger allergic reactions such as itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, and trouble breathing.

See the risk-free alternatives

Can finasteride cause cancer?

Finasteride is approved by the FDA and is a generally safe and well-tolerated medication. However, it is also a kind of drug that could increase your risk of a faster-growing or irregular form of prostate cancer. If your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels increase when taking Finasteride, it may indicate prostate cancer.

It is advised to discuss the risks with your physician before deciding to go through with this treatment.

What is minoxidil?

Also known as Rogaine, minoxidil is also another popular hair loss treatment approved by the FDA. It comes in the form of liquid or foam to treat male and female pattern baldness ( known as androgenetic alopecia). It is also used to help promote hair growth for those with a receding hairline, widow’s peakmature hairline, and V hairline.

You should keep in mind that you may not regain all the hair you have lost, and you may need to keep using it indefinitely to maintain most of the regrowth. It will take months before you see any results with proper minoxidil application.

Minoxidil belongs to a class of drugs known as vasodilators, and there is currently a lack of evidence to really determine if it does cause hair growth. It is also not a universal hair solution. The medication will not work for you if you are suffering from any of the following: 

  • You have unexplained hair loss (meaning you have no family history of hair loss)
  • Your hair loss comes sudden, or it falls out in patches
  • Your scalp is red, itchy, infected, or painful to touch
  • Your hair loss is caused by hair products, chemicals, hair grooming methods, or lifestyle (i.e. traction alopecia)
  • Your hair loss is caused by another condition (such as thyroid disease or autoimmune disease), post-pregnancy, nutritional deficiencies, scarring of the scalp, or medical treatments (like chemotherapy) 

What are the side effects of minoxidil?

One side effect you might see is hair shedding after using minoxidil, a phenomenon coined minoxidil shedding.

Aside from its selective use, there are several side effects you need to consider before giving minoxidil a shot. The most common include scalp irritation (like burning, stinging, or redness at the application site), hair growth in adjacent areas (such as your forehead), or changes in hair texture or color.

Since it is a topical medication, you need to be extra careful not to get into your eyes or be absorbed anywhere else on your skin. You should go to your doctor straight away if you experience any of these:

  • unwanted facial/body hair
  • dizziness
  • fast/irregular heartbeat
  • fainting
  • chest pain
  • swelling of hands/feet
  • unusual weight gain
  • tiredness
  • difficulty breathing, especially when lying down.

It is not advised to be taken by those who are 18 years old or younger.

Finasteride vs Minoxidil: the verdict

While Finasteride and Minoxidil have been known to help promote hair growth, with it comes side effects.

You should carefully take them into consideration.

As always, consult with your health providers before undergoing new medical treatments. 

Going for a healthier lifestyle and using all-natural products are your safest bet for preventing hair loss and regaining your lost strands. These are painless and go a long way to ensuring a healthier, better you with stronger, more voluminous hair to match.

Read more:

Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry M.D.
Dr. Ahmad Fayyaz Chaudhry earned his MBBS degree from Punjab Medical College, Faisalabad, in 2020. During graduation, he enrolled himself in the Dermatology Ward DHQ Hospital Faisalabad for all the necessary training required to pass the bachelor's exam and encounter dermatological diseases daily. Currently, he is posted as a House Physician in the Medical Unit 3 Allied Hospital Faisalabad, where he encounters all kinds of hepatic, cardiac, neurological, and dermatological diseases daily.

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