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Modern medicine has given us a variety of oral and topical products to help fight hair loss, and many different ways to purchase them.
|Basics||brand name for topical minoxidil, developed in 1950s by Upjohn and purchased in 1996 by Johnson & Johnson||subscription service for a variety of hair loss medications, offering access to licensed doctors via messaging or phone|
|Product options||minoxidil topical liquid and foam, with separate versions of each for men and women||finasteride pill, minoxidil topical liquid and foam (unisex), ketoconazole dandruff shampoo, thickening shampoo, conditioner, and pomade|
|Availability||online and in pharmacies nationwide; all products available without a prescription||online at Keeps and Amazon; medications available nationwide but doctor access limited to certain states; some products require a prescription|
Upjohn scientists in the 1950s were working on a treatment for ulcers when they stumbled upon a formula that lowered blood pressure and stimulated hair growth. From their work came Rogaine, the brand name for topical minoxidil solution. Rogaine hit U.S. markets in 1988.
A version for women was introduced 4 years later. In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized over-the-counter sales, making Rogaine more easily available across the nation.
Rogaine can help regrow and thicken hair by stimulating follicles that aren’t producing as well as their neighbors. It is still the only topical hair loss treatment with FDA approval.
Founded in 2018, Keeps is a subscription service offering a variety of FDA-approved hair loss treatments, along with cosmetic products intended to boost their effects. The service offers consultations with a doctor and a supply of medication shipped to your door every 3 months.
Keeps sells a generic version of Rogaine, plus two additional medicinal and three cosmetic products. Finasteride supports hair growth by suppressing dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a hormone that can inhibit hair growth.
Ketoconazole is an effective antifungal shampoo that can be used to treat dandruff and itchy scalp. Keeps also sells thickening shampoo, conditioner, and pomade that can help make your existing hair look fuller and healthier.
Rogaine offers two products each for men and women in a standard size and at the same price.
- Price: $28.99 for 1 month supply or $51.99 for 3 month supply
This is the original minoxidil solution that Rogaine introduced in 1988. It’s intended for loss of hair on the top of the head, not for receding hairlines. Each 60-milliliter can comes with an applicator and contains 5 percent active minoxidil dissolved in alcohol, propylene glycol, and purified water.
It is a vasodilator, meaning it opens up blood vessels around hair follicles and can increase their production. A single can lasts 1 month and costs $28.99. Discounts are available if you purchase more than one at a time.
- Price: $28.99 for 1 month supply
Since 2011, Rogaine has been available in a 60-gram foam can. You can apply the foam to a cold surface and then massage it into your scalp.
The foam contains 5 percent minoxidil in a solution primarily made of butane, citric acid, lactic acid, an assortment of alcohols, glycerin, and purified water. It is priced the same as the topical solution.
Minoxidil in all forms has been found to be most effective in people less than 40 years old.
- Price: $28.99 for 1 month supply or $51.99 for 3 month supply
In 1992, Rogaine began offering a 2 percent solution for women. It is formulated, packaged, and priced identically to the men’s version, except for its lower concentration of minoxidil.
- Price: $28.99
After introducing the men’s foam mousse product 3 years earlier, Rogaine followed up with an identical 5 percent foam for women. It’s also sold in 60-gram cans for $28.99.
Keeps offers a variety of different solutions for hair loss through their subscription service.
- Price: $75 for 3 month supply
Originally approved in 1992 to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, finasteride has been used to treat hair loss since 1997.
It can help promote hair growth in any of the areas of the head where hair loss typically happens: the forehead, the crown, and the space in between. Finasteride works by preventing the body from converting testosterone into the hormone DHT, which can cause pattern baldness.
Finasteride is prescription-only and comes in a 1-milligram tablet. You’ll take the tablet at the same time once each day. A 90-day supply comes as 3 bottles of 30 tablets each and costs $75.
- Price: $35
Keeps offers a generic 5 percent minoxidil solution. It has the same amount of active medication as Rogaine in a similar solution of alcohol, propylene glycol, and purified water.
This Keeps offering also comes in a 60-milliliter bottle. One bottle is intended to last 30 days, but you get 3 for your $30 investment.
- Price: $45
Keeps also sells a generic minoxidil foam.
It also contains a 5 percent concentration of minoxidil, but in a slightly different mix of inert ingredients than its brand-name counterpart. Three 60-gram bottles of the foam last 3 months and will set you back $45.
Finasteride and minoxidil combination
- Price: $105 or $120
Keeps will bundle finasteride with either the minoxidil solution or foam for you. A 3-month supply with the solution costs $105 and the foam option is $120, both of which are often displayed knocked down to a lower price. These products are packaged identically to the individually sold ones.
- Price: $10 per month
Keeps also offers an antifungal shampoo, which is sold in a 4-ounce bottle for $15. It’s the generic version of the prescription brand Nizoral and contains 2 percent active ketoconazole.
The rest is an assortment of chemicals found in many other medicated and cosmetic shampoos, including sodium laureth sulfate and tetrasodium EDTA.
It works by killing infections caused by fungi or yeast, including those that cause dandruff, athlete’s foot, and ringworm.
- Price: $22
The thickening shampoo from Keeps comes in an 8-ounce bottle. It’s a water-based formula with saw palmetto, biotin, green tea, shea butter, keratin, spirulina, and sea kelp. It also contains coconut, castor, argan, and peppermint oils.
It’s not a medical product, but its natural ingredients are meant to make your existing hair look fuller and healthier. An 8-ounce bottle costs $22.
- Price: $22
Keeps offers a conditioner to pair with their thickening shampoo. Its ingredients are very similar to the shampoo’s ingredients, minus the shea butter, keratin, and spirulina, and with the addition of sodium laureth sulfate and vitamin E.
Like the shampoo, its sole intent is to make your existing hair look better, not help grow new hair. It is also priced at $22 for an 8-ounce bottle.
- Price: $25
Keeps also sells a water-based styling pomade with beeswax, saw palmetto extract, biotin, and green tea extract in a 3-ounce container for $25. It contains no sulfates, gluten, ethanol, or propylene glycol. Like the thickening shampoo and conditioner, it’s meant to improve the health of the hair you already have.
Both Rogaine and the generic minoxidil offerings from Keeps work by dilating blood vessels. This gives hair follicles a longer and more robust growth period. Extensive studies have proven their effectiveness in both men and women.
Finasteride blocks the production of the hormone DHT, which can cause male and female pattern baldness.
The Keeps ketoconazole shampoo is an antifungal that is effective against dandruff, athlete’s foot, jock itch, and sweat rash.
The natural ingredients in Keeps thickening shampoo, conditioner, and pomade are designed to work together and — along with medical offerings from Keeps — help promote the overall health of your hair and scalp.
The four Rogaine products are available on their website at $28.99 for a 60-gram can of foam or 60-milliliter can of solution. Both are intended to last 1 month.
A 3-month supply is $51.99, a discount of nearly 40 percent. Rogaine also offers a 20 percent discount for enrolling in their “subscribe and save” plan. Rogaine is also available at pharmacies nationwide.
Keeps products are all sold on their online store but are only available in a 3-month supply. They are currently offering 50 percent off on your first order.
You can also buy the entire Keeps product line on Amazon and get a small discount with “subscribe and save.”
Generic minoxidil products from Keeps are much less expensive than Rogaine’s offerings. You can get a 3-month supply of Keeps minoxidil solution for $30. That’s just $1.01 more than the cost of 1 month’s worth of the name brand, and more than $20 less than Rogaine’s 3-month cost.
Rogaine is available without a prescription and is sold over the counter at many pharmacies.
You can find Keeps products on Amazon, but buying through their website offers you the chance to chat with a doctor free on the first visit and via messaging for the first year. You can reach out through their form or phone, text, email, or live chat via their website.
If you know what products you want, simply provide a copy of your ID and pay via credit, debit, or prepaid card. Most times, your order will be filled within 24 hours. Sometimes a doctor will contact you, and in some states, you will need to provide your own prescription.
If you need help deciding which Keeps offerings are best for you, use their online form. Keeps will assign you a doctor — you can’t choose your own. Once you have established a treatment plan, Keeps will follow up after 30 days.
Their doctors are always available for consultations and to make adjustments to your plan, and Keeps will ship you a fresh supply every 3 months.
Rogaine customer service
Both the topical solution and foam are fairly well reviewed on Google, with 4.3 and 3.9 stars for the men’s products and 4.1 and 4.4 stars for the women’s products.
Rogaine offers a money-back guarantee if you try their product daily for at least 4 months and aren’t satisfied. Customer service is available by phone or email. Rogaine’s customer service phone lines are staffed from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m Eastern time, 7 days per week.
Keeps customer service
Though Keeps products all have ratings hovering near the 4-star mark on Amazon, their Trustpilot score is just 3.2, and the Better Business Bureau lists 39 customer complaints and a rating of 2.32 out of 5.
Keeps is legally prevented from offering returns on prescription products, but will replace over-the-counter items that are damaged or defective. They do not offer a satisfaction guarantee, but customer service is available from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. 7 days per week via text, chat, and email. You can reach them by phone Monday through Friday during the same hours.
All three minoxidil solutions are applied directly with a dropper and massaged into the scalp. They work by boosting the time window that follicles have to actively grow hair, but you must be careful to avoid wetting your hair for at least 4 hours after applying minoxidil.
The three foam products should be applied to a cold, clean surface like a counter or mirror before being massaged into the scalp. They can be effective as soon as 8 weeks after starting treatment but can take as long as 4 to 6 months for some people.
Take finasteride pills once daily, ideally at the same time each day. It blocks the production of the hormone responsible for pattern baldness, but it can also take as long as 4 months before you see results.
You can apply Keeps ketoconazole shampoo just like regular shampoo, but leave it on your scalp for 5 minutes before rinsing. Use it 3 days per week for treatment and once every 1 to 2 weeks for prevention. It can take 2 to 3 weeks to begin working.
Hair thickening products
Keeps recommends using their thickening shampoo and conditioner no more than 3 times per week to preserve your hair’s natural oils.
The thickening pomade has the same healthy, growth-promoting ingredients as the shampoo and conditioner. But because it contains no ethanol or propylene glycol, it is gentle enough to use every day.
Rogaine has been around for decades, so look for their signature blue box if you want to go with the most well established and widely available choice.
Rogaine costs a little more than generic or discount brand options like Kirkland or Equate, but you get the comfort of knowing you are using a tried and true product with a long track record of success.
Keeps provides doctors to help customize a plan for you. So if minoxidil alone hasn’t worked or you’re new to hair loss, that could be the better option.
Keeps also offers a wider range of products than Rogaine does and better prices on the overlapping ones. If cost is your main concern, Keeps is definitely your best bet.
Pros of Rogaine products
- Rogaine offers the most time-tested and well reviewed minoxidil option, plus a solid guarantee.
- They also offer savings when purchasing more than a month’s supply.
- All Rogaine products are FDA-approved.
Cons of Rogaine products
- Their offerings are more expensive, though the Rogaine website does offer a 20 percent “subscribe and save” discount.
- There isn’t much variety, with only four products.
Pros of Keeps options
- Keeps provides a convenient buying experience at prices close to generic and discount brands, and doctors are available to guide you with your purchases.
- Keeps offers generic versions of all Rogaine products, plus two more with the FDA’s green light, on top of a few cosmetic offerings intended to boost their effectiveness.
Cons of Keeps options
- Some unsatisfied customers report poor support and service experiences with Keeps.
- Their subscription model may still be more expensive than buying the same generic prescription medications via other pharmacies.
Topical minoxidil side effects
All minoxidil products share the same side effects. Keeps and Rogaine both recommend stopping minoxidil and contacting your doctor if you experience:
- chest pains
- serious skin irritation
- sudden weight gain
- swelling in your hands and feet
Side effects that are less serious but more common include:
- minor skin irritation
- atypical hair growth
Some people report actually losing hair when they first start using minoxidil.
Rogaine’s foam for men instructs women not to use it. But none of the other minoxidil products offered by either company have a similar warning.
Women and anyone with liver issues, kidney issues, or prostate cancer shouldn’t take finasteride. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t handle broken pills because of the risk of serious developmental issues for the fetus.
Oral finasteride side effects
Typical side effects from regularly taking oral finasteride can include:
- allergic reactions
- swelling and tenderness of the breasts or testicles
- nipple discharge
- problems with erections and ejaculation
Ketoconazole shampoo side effects
Ketoconazole shampoo can cause an allergic reaction with itching, swelling, rash, dizziness, or shortness of breath. It has not been carefully studied for use in children or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Keeps hair thickening products
The thickening shampoo, conditioner, and pomade from Keeps are cosmetic products and may cause allergic reactions in some people. They have not been studied for their potential side effects.
More treatments for hair loss are available now than ever before, both with and without a prescription. Rogaine and Keeps offer two different approaches, each with its own pluses and minuses. Which one you choose will depend on how important price is to you and how much guidance you need.