We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

If you’re losing your hair, you may have already heard of minoxidil, also known as Rogaine.

This popular hair loss treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s available over the counter as a liquid or foam to treat male and female pattern baldness.

Rogaine works only for certain types of baldness and only if you keep up with its application. But it doesn’t work for everyone.

If it does work, you probably won’t grow back all of the hair you’ve lost, and it can take up to 4 months to see results. You’ll have to use Rogaine indefinitely to maintain any regrowth.

Read on to learn more about Rogaine’s effectiveness and to find out if you’re a good candidate.

Rogaine is considered a vasodilator. While the exact mechanism of action for minoxidil (the active ingredient) isn’t actually clear, it’s believed to work by partially enlarging hair follicles and elongating the growth phase of hair. With more follicles in the growth phase, you’ll see more hair coverage on your scalp.

Rogaine is applied to the scalp to help grow hair and prevent hair loss caused by male or female pattern baldness. This is the most common type of hair loss, and it runs in families.

Rogaine works best in people with hereditary hair loss at the vertex of the scalp (the area at the back of the head, just under the crown) or for women with general thinning of hair on the top of the scalp. Rogaine isn’t meant for a receding hairline or baldness at the front of your scalp.

Rogaine is most effective in people under 40 years old and for those who start using it at the first signs of hair loss. It won’t help people who’ve already gone completely bald.

Rogaine for women

Rogaine can also be effective for women. An older 2004 study showed that 5 percent topical minoxidil was superior compared to 2 percent topical minoxidil.

The study was conducted over the course of 48 weeks, and both the 5 percent and 2 percent versions helped to improve psychological perceptions of hair loss in women who had female pattern hair loss.

Rogaine is not recommended for people who are breastfeeding or pregnant.

Who should not use Rogaine

You should not use Rogaine if:

  • You don’t have a family history of hair loss.
  • Your hair loss comes on suddenly and falls out in patches.
  • You’re under the age of 18.
  • Your scalp is discolored, itchy, infected, or painful to touch.
  • Your hair loss is caused by hair products, chemicals, or hair grooming methods like cornrowing.
  • Your hair loss is caused by another condition, like a thyroid disease or alopecia areata, nutritional deficiencies, scarring of the scalp, or medications, like chemotherapy.

If you have heart disease, see your doctor before trying Rogaine.

Rogaine vs. Propecia

Propecia, also known as finasteride, is a DHT blocker used to treat male pattern baldness. DHT is one of the main causes of baldness in men because it binds to hair follicles and miniaturizes them. Propecia works to prevent hair loss and baldness by stopping testosterone from converting to DHT.

Compared to Rogaine, Propecia stops hair loss while Rogaine triggers new hair growth. Both are effective in treating male pattern baldness. In fact, a 2015 study showed that the two medications can even be used together for the ultimate efficacy.

Rogaine vs. minoxidil

Minoxidil is the generic form of Rogaine, so the active ingredient in the generic or name brand of Rogaine is the same. The only main differences would be found on various brands’ inactive ingredients lists.

According to an older 2003 study, Rogaine is considered safe, and its side effects are usually not serious. The most common include:

  • scalp irritation
  • hair growth in adjacent areas, like your forehead
  • changes in hair texture or color

When applying Rogaine, be careful not to get any in your eyes. If you do, rinse your eyes with lots of cool tap water.

Rogaine can lead to more serious side effects, but this is rare. Talk with your doctor right away if you experience any of the following:

  • sudden, unexplained weight gain
  • faintness or dizziness
  • swelling of your hands or feet
  • chest pain

When you first start using Rogaine, you might notice an increase in hair shedding for the first couple of weeks as your hair follicles push old hair out to make room for new growth.

Here are some commonly asked questions about Rogaine and how it works.

Does Rogaine really work? Will I get all my hair back?

Rogaine does work to some extent, as evidenced by clinical studies. But this is only for certain types of baldness (and only if it’s used continuously). That said, it won’t work for everyone. For those it does benefit, Rogaine will not help recover all hair lost.

When will I see results from Rogaine?

It could take as long as 4 months.

Does Rogaine only work for men?

No, Rogaine is also available and effective for some women.

Is Rogaine safe?

Yes, Rogaine is FDA-approved. But people who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not recommended to use it.

How often should I use Rogaine?

If you see results from Rogaine, it’s recommended to adhere to it indefinitely, as results aren’t permanent without continued use.

Where can I get it?

You can get Rogaine at your local pharmacy or online at their site. You can also purchase the generic form, minoxidil, through online services like Roman, Hims, and Keeps.

While Rogaine has been proven to be effective in regrowing hair, there is a catch. Rogaine only works in people with a hereditary form of hair loss at the top and back of the scalp. There’s a chance it may not work for you at all.

If it does work for you, you likely won’t grow all of your hair back. You also have to use it continuously if you want to maintain your results. To make it easier, you can subscribe to a Rogaine delivery program through the product website. Less expensive generics are also available.

Talk with your doctor if you don’t see any results after 4 months of twice-daily treatment.