Beards and mustaches may be trendy, but not everyone who tries to grow facial hair is totally satisfied with the results.

That’s why some consider using Rogaine, a brand name of minoxidil, to help with beard growth.

Rogaine is well known as an affordable over-the-counter hair regrowth remedy for the scalp. Rather than restore hair, Rogaine primarily works by helping you keep the hair you still have.

However, it’s only been tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of a specific part of your scalp called the vertex, which is at the top of your head.

And while beard hair just naturally gets sparser as you age, there can be other causes, such as fungal infections or autoimmune disorders, that can make growing your desired beard difficult.

Rogaine isn’t known to help with (or FDA approved for) beard hair loss, but some people assert it’s worth a shot. Here’s what the research says about Rogaine for beard treatment.

To understand how Rogaine is supposed to work, it helps to know how the hair growth cycle works:

  1. Protein-based cells in your hair follicles start developing into a hair. Follicles are the capsules in your skin that contain your hair. This is the first part of the anagen phase.
  2. Blood vessels around the follicle fuel the protein cells and help the hair grow progressively longer. This is the second part of the anagen phase.
  3. As the hair grows, it comes up and out of the skin, and gets lubricated by an oil gland in your skin. This is the beginning of the catagen phase, when the hair stops growing.
  4. Over time, the hair falls out of the follicle, and the growth cycle begins anew. This is called the telogen phase.

For scalp hair, this cycle takes years. For beard hair and other hair around your body, such as your eyebrows, this cycle only lasts a couple months at most.

Rogaine’s main function is vasodilation. This means it expands blood vessels and makes the follicles bigger to feed the growth of the hair during the anagen phase. The hair then falls out at a much slower pace, making hair growth on your face look more thick and filled out.

And because the blood vessels in your face are larger than those in your scalp, people claim it works even better and faster.

Minoxidil for mustache growth

If you decide to use minoxidil on your mustache hair, use with caution.

Both beard and mustache hair form after puberty. Their growth is more influenced by hormones like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) than scalp hair is.

Minoxidil may have the same impact on mustache hair as it will on beard hair.

But there isn’t any research on this. It’s difficult to say whether the results after a similar trial would be exactly the same.

Rogaine is safe to use for most people. You may want to talk to your doctor if you have any of the following concerns or conditions:

  • You take medication to manage high blood pressure.
  • You have organ damage.
  • You have a type of tumor called a pheochromocytoma.
  • You have a heart condition like tachycardia or have ever experienced heart failure.

There’s very little evidence that minoxidil works for beard growth. Only a single study tested minoxidil for the beard.

This 2016 study, published in the Journal of Dermatology, found that a 3 percent minoxidil lotion performed just a little bit better than a placebo. That’s promising, but scientifically speaking, a single study isn’t reliable enough to prove without a doubt it works every single time.

The only other study suggesting some efficacy for Rogaine beyond the scalp looked into minoxidil for eyebrow hair growth. This 2014 study found much more success in minoxidil against a placebo.

However, eyebrow hair is much different than facial hair, so results may not apply to the beard.

As with Rogaine’s use on your scalp, side effects of Rogaine on your beard aren’t common or typically serious.

Some possible side effects include:

  • redness or irritation of your facial skin scalp irritation
  • hair growing in areas that you didn’t expect, such as further down your neck or back
  • new hair colors or textures

Rogaine can also be irritating if it gets in your eyes. Rinse them immediately if this happens.

In rare cases, Rogaine can have more severe side effects due to its interaction with your blood vessels. This may be more likely if you use it for a long period of time.

Some of these side effects include:

  • low sexual desire
  • abnormal weight loss with no other obvious cause
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • swollen feet or hands
  • pain in your chest

So, according to the research, to have success with Rogaine, follow these steps:

  1. Get Rogaine or a generic equivalent with at least a 3 percent minoxidil concentration.
  2. Apply a small amount of the minoxidil solution to your beard.
  3. Repeat this twice a day for at least 16 weeks.

Consider taking before and after photos. It can help you verify whether there’s been any noticeable growth, especially since it may not be easy to see the incremental changes day by day.

Remember, results may vary.

Rogaine works for vertex scalp hair treatment. There’s very little evidence that it works quite as effectively for beards as it does for the scalp.

Its possible side effects make it worth discussing the use of Rogaine for your beard with your doctor before you try it out.