2023 Most Powerful Minoxidil Alternatives: A Dermatologist Guide
Once hailed as a breakthrough solution for high blood pressure, minoxidil found a surprising second life as a champion for hair regrowth. This accidental discovery transformed it into an FDA-approved drug for both men and women grappling with androgenic alopecia.
But how does it work? Quite simply, it opens up your blood vessels to increase blood flow. This delivers a feast of nutrients to the hair, extending its growth phase and resulting in more hair density.
However, the throne of Minoxidil is now under siege. A new generation of contenders is emerging, promising not just to rival but potentially surpass Minoxidil’s reign.
Unlike minoxidil, these potential alternatives promise not just better results, but also improved safety profiles.
Why do you need minoxidil alternatives?
Minoxidil is undoubtedly effective to treat hair loss for both male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss, especially in the early stages. A lot of users have reported success from using minoxidil for hair loss in men and women.
With that being said, there’s a growing need for alternatives to minoxidil. Minoxidil, while being one of the most well-studied hair loss drugs, comes with its set of problems:
Topical minoxidil potential side effects include but are not limited to scalp irritation, skin irritation, unwanted hair growth on adjacent areas like the forehead and face, and in rare cases, heart palpitations, chest pain, weight gain, and swelling in hands or feet.
Oral minoxidil, on the other hand, works throughout your entire body. This means that you might experience unwanted facial and body hair growth.
It’s understandable that for some, these side effects are not worth the hair loss treatment.
Minoxidil solution is not a one-size-fits-all treatment for androgenic alopecia. It works for most, but there are still cases where minoxidil does not work. This can make minoxidil users switch to alternatives that can work better for them.
For some individuals, the idea of using a medication like minoxidil, which is a synthetic compound, may feel unnatural. They may prefer more natural treatments for hair loss, seeking natural minoxidil alternatives that utilize organic ingredients or holistic methods. These natural alternatives often appeal to those looking for a more gentle and sustainable approach to hair care.
One of the challenges with topical minoxidil is the inconvenience associated with its application. It typically requires consistent and frequent application, often twice daily, which can be burdensome for individuals with busy lifestyles or those who struggle with adhering to a strict routine. Results usually take 3 months to a year to show.
Minoxidil may not be compatible with certain individuals due to various factors such as allergies, sensitivity to the product, or underlying medical conditions. In such cases, seeking alternative options becomes necessary to address hair loss effectively.
The long-term cost of using minoxidil can be a concern for many individuals. Continuous and prolonged use of the product may translate to ongoing expenses, which may not be feasible for those on a tight budget. Exploring alternative treatments that offer cost-effective options becomes essential for such individuals.
How did we rank?
Our dermatologist has first-hand experience with minoxidil and these alternatives to minoxidil. These minoxidil alternatives are ranked using these criteria:
- How effective is it for hair growth?
- How much scientific evidence does it have?
- What are the reviews for each of these?
- Does it manage to solve minoxidil’s drawbacks?
- Does it have potentially troublesome side effects?
- How much does it cost?
- How accessible is it?
For each “yes”, we’ll give it one point. The list below might contain a tie between many minoxidil alternatives.
14 best alternatives to minoxidil for safe hair growth
Here is our ranking of the best minoxidil alternatives:
- Natural supplements
- Essential oils
- Microchanneling (also known as microneedling)
- Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
- Caffeine shampoo
- Onion juice
- Hair transplant
Bio-Pilixin is a biotechnologically developed hair growth formula that employs a unique combination of peptides, amino acid complex, and other active ingredients to promote hair growth.
This formula aims to stimulate the hair follicles, encouraging the anagen phase of the hair cycle, while also decreasing the telogen phase. It works by rebalancing your hair growth cycle, creating suitable scalp conditions to regrow hair. Its anti-inflammatory properties also help improve hair health.
- Bio-Pilixin can help stimulate hair growth without the need for a prescription, making it easily accessible for most people.
- It’s a non-invasive, easy-to-use solution with very few side effects reported.
- It’s convenient to integrate into your daily routine
- Their 150-day money-back guarantee is especially appealing to those who don’t want to pay for alternatives that don’t work.
- Clinical trial results are impressive: 93% of users had a clinically proven reduction in hair loss.
- It might take time for the effects of Bio-Pilixin to become visible.
- It may not work well for advanced stages of hair loss.
- Given its biotechnological formulation, it can also be a pricier option compared to other treatments.
Best For: Individuals whose condition involves hair thinning or are in the early stages of hair loss, and those looking for a non-prescription solution to counteract it.
Finasteride, also known as Propecia, is a prescription oral medication that fights hair loss by inhibiting the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that causes shrinkage of susceptible hair follicles. By reducing DHT levels, oral finasteride helps to maintain existing hair and slow down hair loss.
- Clinical studies show that finasteride is effective in slowing down and even reversing hair loss in men.
- It’s an FDA-approved treatment for male pattern baldness, with effects usually seen after several months of use.
- The potential side effects of finasteride include sexual dysfunction, decreased libido, and erectile dysfunction, as well as mood changes such as depression. These side effects are relatively rare but can be severe.
- Finasteride is not suitable for women, especially those who are pregnant, as it can cause birth defects.
Best For: Men with receding hairline or moderate to severe hair loss, particularly those with male pattern baldness.
Dutasteride, like finasteride, is a DHT inhibitor, but it’s often seen as a second-line treatment for male pattern baldness. Research shows that it can increase hair count and hair width.
While not specifically approved for hair loss treatment by the FDA, it is often prescribed off-label due to its ability to inhibit both types I and II 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, more effectively than finasteride.
- Some studies suggest dutasteride may be more effective than finasteride at growing hair in areas of the scalp that have become completely bald.
- Similar to finasteride, dutasteride may cause side effects including sexual dysfunction, depression, and an increased risk of certain types of prostate cancer.
- Its effectiveness for hair regrowth is also not as well-studied as finasteride.
Best For: Men for whom finasteride hasn’t been effective and who are willing to potentially take on more risk for a potential increase in effectiveness.
Spironolactone is an aldosterone antagonist primarily used to treat fluid build-up due to heart failure, liver disease, or kidney disease. However, it also has anti-androgenic properties, meaning it can block the effects of male hormones like testosterone. This makes it a potential treatment for women experiencing hair loss due to hormonal imbalances, such as those seen in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Spironolactone is a prescription medication with a long history of use for various conditions.
- It can be effective as a female pattern hair loss treatment due to its anti-androgenic properties.
- Side effects can include frequent urination, menstrual irregularities, and lightheadedness.
- It’s not generally recommended for men due to potential feminizing effects.
- It’s not suitable for pregnant women due to potential harm to the fetus.
Best For: Women experiencing hair loss due to hormonal imbalances.
Corticosteroids are a class of drugs designed to mimic the anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects of hormones produced by your adrenal glands. They can be used to treat autoimmune-related hair loss, such as alopecia areata, where the immune system attacks hair follicles. Treatment can involve a topical application, oral medication, or even injections directly into the scalp.
- Corticosteroids can be highly effective for specific types of hair loss, particularly those involving the immune system, such as alopecia areata.
- Corticosteroids can have numerous side effects if used long-term, including skin thinning, weight gain, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.
- They are typically only used for short periods and are not suitable for all types of hair loss.
Best For: Individuals experiencing hair loss due to autoimmune conditions.
Antifungal medications, such as ketoconazole, are used to treat fungal infections of the scalp that can cause hair loss, such as tinea capitis. They work by damaging the fungal cell wall, causing the fungus to die or stop growing.
- They are highly effective at treating hair loss caused by fungal infections.
- Antifungal medications are not effective for treating other types of hair loss, such as genetic or hormonal hair loss.
- Overuse can lead to resistance, reducing their effectiveness over time.
Best For: Individuals suffering from hair loss due to fungal infections.
7. Natural Supplements
Natural supplements for hair health include a variety of vitamins, minerals, and herbs that are believed to promote hair regrowth for men and women.
These may include vitamins like B-complex vitamins (biotin) and Vitamin E, minerals like zinc and iron, as well as herbs such as saw palmetto, pumpkin seed, and horsetail. These supplements work by replenishing nutrient deficiencies in the body that could be affecting hair growth.
- Natural supplements can be an easy and accessible way to support healthy hair.
- They may also address underlying nutritional deficiencies that can contribute to hair loss.
- They are typically easy to ingest and can be incorporated into your daily routine.
- Effectiveness can vary greatly from person to person, and these supplements may not address all underlying causes of hair loss.
- It’s important to remember that while these supplements are ‘natural’, they can still cause side effects and interact with other medications.
Best For: Individuals with hair loss related to nutritional deficiencies or those looking for a natural approach to support overall hair health.
8. Essential Oils
Essential oils have become popular recently as natural treatments for a wide variety of conditions. When it comes to natural alternatives to minoxidil, these stand out with more anecdotal and scientific evidence:
- Rosemary oil
- Peppermint oil
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Castor oil
Essential oil might potentially be one of many effective natural hair loss treatments, but only in the early stages of hair loss. While there is some evidence that it helps regrow hair, more research is warranted to fully understand its effects (and side effects) in treating hair loss.
- Essential oils are natural, easy to use, and widely accessible.
- They can also improve scalp health and create a calming, therapeutic experience during application.
- The effectiveness of these oils isn’t universally recognized in modern scientific literature, and results can vary greatly.
- They can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, so patch tests are recommended.
Best For: Those looking for holistic and natural remedies to hair thinning and hair growth.
Microchanneling, also known as microneedling, is a minimally invasive procedure that creates tiny punctures in the skin to stimulate the body’s natural wound healing process, resulting in increased production of collagen and other healing factors. When applied to the scalp, this process can rejuvenate the hair follicles and promote hair growth.
- Microchanneling can help revitalize dormant hair follicles and promote new hair growth.
- It’s a non-surgical approach to hair restoration.
- It can be uncomfortable and may cause temporary redness, swelling, or irritation.
- It also requires multiple sessions for the best results.
Best For: Individuals with thinning hair or moderate hair loss who want a non-surgical solution.
10. Low-Level Laser Therapy
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is a non-invasive treatment option that uses specific light wavelengths to stimulate hair follicle growth and slow hair loss. It can be administered via handheld devices, combs, or even helmets.
- LLLT is a painless, non-invasive therapy that can be done at home.
- Some studies show that it can help stimulate hair growth.
- Results can take several months to become noticeable, and the effectiveness varies from person to person.
- The device or procedure can also be expensive.
Best For: Those looking for a non-invasive, at-home treatment for hair loss.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine technique that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate blood flow and promote healing. When used for hair loss, the needles are inserted into the scalp to promote hair growth.
- Acupuncture can improve blood circulation in the scalp, which may stimulate hair follicles.
- It’s a natural and holistic treatment.
- The effectiveness of acupuncture for hair loss isn’t well-studied, and results can vary greatly.
- Some people may find the procedure uncomfortable.
Best For: Those looking for a holistic, alternative approach to hair loss treatment.
12. Caffeine Shampoo
Caffeine shampoo contains caffeine, which, is thought to penetrate the scalp and stimulate hair follicles, promoting hair growth.
- It’s easy to use and can be incorporated into your daily routine.
- Some studies suggest that it can stimulate hair growth.
- Results can vary greatly between individuals, and more research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness.
- Some people may experience scalp irritation.
Best For: Individuals looking for a convenient, easy-to-use treatment that can be incorporated into their daily hair care routine.
13. Onion Juice
Onion juice is a home remedy for hair loss that involves applying freshly squeezed juice to the scalp. It’s believed to stimulate hair growth due to its high sulfur content, which is known to improve blood circulation and provide the hair follicles with nourishment.
- A natural, inexpensive home remedy.
- Some studies suggest it can stimulate hair growth.
- The smell of onion can be off-putting for many people, and it may cause skin irritation in some individuals.
- Its effectiveness is not as well-studied as other treatments.
Best For: Those looking for a natural and budget-friendly home remedy for hair loss.
14. Hair Transplant
Hair transplant surgery is a procedure that moves hair from an area of dense growth to an area with thinning or no hair.
The two most common types of hair transplant procedures are Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). This procedure is typically performed by a specialist under local anesthesia.
- Hair transplants can offer a permanent solution to hair loss and provide a natural-looking result.
- The transplanted hair grows, can be cut and styled, and is resistant to the hormones that cause hair loss.
- There are potential risks, including infection, scarring, and the possibility of the transplanted hair not “taking.”
- It can also be quite costly and require significant recovery time.
Best For: Individuals with significant hair loss who are looking for a long-term, potentially permanent solution, and are willing to undergo a surgical procedure.
Alternatives to minoxidil comparison table
|Bio-Pilixin||Biotechnologically developed hair growth formula.||Non-invasive, No prescription needed, Clinically tested.||Takes time, May not work for advanced hair loss, Pricey.||Early stages of hair loss, Non-prescription seekers.|
|Finasteride||Prescription oral medication reducing DHT levels.||Effective for men, FDA-approved.||Potential severe side effects, Not suitable for women.||Men with receding hairline or severe hair loss.|
|Dutasteride||DHT inhibitor.||Potentially more effective than finasteride.||Potential severe side effects, Less well-studied.||Men for whom finasteride hasn’t been effective.|
|Spironolactone||Anti-androgenic medication.||Effective for hormonal hair loss in women.||Potential side effects, Not suitable for men or pregnant women.||Women experiencing hormonal hair loss.|
|Corticosteroids||Mimic anti-inflammatory hormones.||Effective for autoimmune-related hair loss.||Numerous side effects, Not suitable for all types of hair loss.||Autoimmune-related hair loss.|
|Antifungals||Treat fungal infections.||Effective for fungal-caused hair loss.||Not effective for genetic or hormonal hair loss, Overuse can lead to resistance.||Fungal-caused hair loss.|
|Natural Supplement||Vitamins, minerals, and herbs supporting hair health.||Easy, Accessible, May address nutritional deficiencies.||Effectiveness varies, Potential side effects and medication interactions.||Hair loss related to nutritional deficiencies, Natural solution seekers.|
|Essential Oils||Natural treatments for hair loss.||Natural, Easy, Accessible.||Effectiveness varies, Potential allergic reactions.||Early hair loss stages, Holistic treatment seekers.|
|Microchanneling||Minimally invasive procedure.||Revitalizes dormant hair follicles, Non-surgical.||Uncomfortable, Requires multiple sessions.||Thinning hair or moderate hair loss, Non-surgical solution seekers.|
|Low-Level Laser Therapy||Non-invasive treatment stimulating hair follicles.||Painless, Can be done at home.||Results can take time, Expensive.||At-home treatment seekers.|
|Acupuncture||Chinese medicine technique promoting healing.||Improves blood circulation, Natural and holistic.||Effectiveness varies, Some find it uncomfortable.||Holistic treatment seekers.|
|Caffeine Shampoo||Contains caffeine that stimulates hair follicles.||Easy to use, Some studies suggest effectiveness.||Results vary, Potential scalp irritation.||Easy-to-use treatment seekers.|
|Onion Juice||Home remedy for hair loss.||Natural, Inexpensive.||Smell, Potential skin irritation, Effectiveness less well-studied.||Natural, Budget-friendly treatment seekers.|
|Hair Transplant||Surgical procedure moving hair.||Permanent solution, Natural-looking result.||Potential risks, Costly, Requires recovery time.||Significant hair loss, Permanent solution seekers.|
Which minoxidil alternative is best for you?
The best alternative for you depends on the cause of your hair loss, your medical history, your lifestyle, and your personal preferences. Each alternative has its unique characteristics and is most suitable for different types of hair loss:
- Bio-Pilixin is a new and innovative treatment that could be suitable for the early stages of hair thinning or loss.
- Finasteride is FDA-approved to treat male pattern baldness.
- Dutasteride is a stronger version usually recommended for men experiencing hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia
- Spironolactone is more suitable for women with hair loss from hormonal imbalances.
- Essential oils like rosemary oil and pumpkin seed oil, or even onion juice, might be your go-to natural minoxidil alternatives.
- Acupuncture is another holistic approach that could work for some individuals.
- Microchanneling and low-level laser therapy are non-surgical methods for stimulating hair growth that can be beneficial for individuals with thinning hair or moderate hair loss.
Before making a decision, it’s essential to seek professional medical advice to understand the underlying cause of your hair loss and to choose the most effective treatment accordingly.
How to switch from minoxidil to alternatives?
Switching from minoxidil to alternatives should be done gradually and under the supervision of a healthcare provider to prevent a sudden increase in hair loss. The new treatment can be introduced while slowly reducing the usage of minoxidil over a few weeks to months.
How to boost alternatives to minoxidil effectiveness?
To boost the effectiveness of minoxidil alternatives, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals essential for hair health, regular exercise, and stress management. These, along with professional help, promote a healthy hair environment.
You might also consider scalp massage as a way to improve your hair thickness. It increases blood circulation to the hair follicles. This brings more nutrients and oxygen, which can promote hair growth and strengthen the hair roots.
How to use essential oil for hair loss?
To use essential oils such as rosemary oil or pumpkin seed oil for hair loss, it’s recommended to dilute it in a carrier oil like coconut or castor oil. Applying pumpkin seed or rosemary oil directly can cause scalp irritation.
It’s important to seek professional medical advice when you are considering stopping minoxidil to switch to alternative options. Like minoxidil, alternatives to minoxidil take time and consistency to show visible results.
MyHealthGuide uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.