Does Minoxidil Work for Beard Growth?
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter topical liquid or foam that stimulates hair growth and is FDA-approved to treat male-pattern and female-pattern hair loss. However, it is also used off-label to treat several other hair-loss disorders. Could it also work for beard growth?
Minoxidil is a safe and effective treatment for hair loss that works better for some people than others. Its most common side effects are local skin irritation and dryness, which may limit its use for people with sensitive skin. However, limited clinical studies suggest it is safe and effective for beard growth.1
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How Effective Is Minoxidil for Beard Growth?
There has not been much research on the safety and effectiveness of using minoxidil for beard growth except for this study:2
- A 16-week, randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled study comparing minoxidil 3% versus placebo
- Enrolled 48 men, aged 20 to 60, who desired beard enhancement
- Applied 0.5 ml of their assigned solution to their chin and jawline twice daily
- Photographs were taken every four weeks
- There was no statistically significant difference in hair diameter between the minoxidil and placebo group
- Hair count was statistically increased in the minoxidil group compared to the placebo group
- Adverse reactions were rated as mild and not statistically significant between the two groups
Facial hair has a shorter but faster growing cycle than scalp hair. As mentioned, there is not much research on minoxidil use for beard growth, but for scalp hair, it takes several weeks to four months for minoxidil to work. It is currently unclear whether minoxidil for beard growth would take longer than this. This would largely depend on how much beard hair you currently have. Online reports say that beard growth can take six to 12 months.
How to Apply Minoxidil for Facial Hair Growth
Before starting any medication, it is always best to talk to your healthcare provider to verify that it is safe for you and that you are not in any higher-risk categories that may increase your risk of side effects. With that said, the steps for applying minoxidil for beard growth include:
- Wash your face.
- Dry your face and hands completely. (Other sources say damp is best for absorption).3
- Apply either minoxidil liquid or foam to areas where you want your beard hair to grow. If using minoxidil liquid, pull 1 ml of minoxidil into the dropper (or as directed) and apply it to the areas you would like to see regrowth. For the foam, pump the dispenser as instructed to fill half the cap and smooth the foam over the places you want to see increased hair growth.
- Use the dropper or your fingers to ensure that minoxidil fully covers the hair-loss areas.
- Leave the minoxidil on your skin for two to four hours.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Avoid transferring wet minoxidil from your face to other parts of your body.
- After leaving minoxidil on your face for 4 hours, wash your face and apply a moisturizer.
These instructions are improvised and taken from minoxidil for scalp hair-loss treatment.
Minoxidil Foam vs. Minoxidil Liquid for Beard Growth: Which Is Better?
Minoxidil is available in a liquid and a foam option. For various reasons, one of the other may be the best option for you.
- Easy to measure into the dropper.
- Easier to treat small, isolated areas.
- Flows between hairs and in crevices more easily.
- Contains propylene glycol, which can cause skin irritation, dryness, and itching.
- Propylene glycol holds onto water, so it may be moisturizing and may look greasy.
- Does not contain propylene glycol, so it will probably be less irritating.
- Less likely to drip and spill.
- Easier to apply.
- Less likely to look and feel greasy.
What Are The Side Effects of Using Minoxidil for Beard Growth?
Minoxidil for beard growth side effects are expected to be similar to those for scalp treatment, except there may be more skin irritation and rash because facial skin is thinner than scalp skin.
The most common side effects of topical minoxidil are primarily skin-related and include:
- Scalp itching
- Scalp scaling
- Excessive hair growth
- Changes in hair color or texture
According to drugs.com, the following serious side effects may occur:
- Severe scalp irritation
- Unwanted excessive facial hair growth
- Chest pain
- Fast heartbeat
- Swelling in the hands and feet
- Rapid weight gain from fluid retention
- Vision changes
If you develop signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction, stop using minoxidil and contact your doctor.
Is Minoxidil Beard Growth Permanent?
With androgenetic alopecia, hair regrowth from using minoxidil is not permanent. However, there aren’t any research studies investigating the answer to this question for beard growth.
Who Should Avoid Using Minoxidil for Beard Growth?
Do not apply minoxidil to skin that is red or irritated. If you have a known allergy or hypersensitivity to minoxidil or any of its inactive ingredients, you should not use this product.
Minoxidil is a vasodilator. Check with your doctor if you have a history of low or high blood pressure, heart disease, or fainting. If you are taking other medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if they have any known drug interactions with minoxidil. Share your complete medical history with your doctor, including all prescription and nonprescription medications and supplements you may take as part of your age management plan.
- Suchonwanit P, Thammarucha S, Leerunyakul K. Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2019 Aug 9;13:2777-2786. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S214907. Erratum in: Drug Des Devel Ther. 2020 Feb 10;14:575. PMID: 31496654; PMCID: PMC6691938.
- Ingprasert S, Tanglertsampan C, Tangphianphan N, Reanmanee C. Efficacy and safety of minoxidil 3% lotion for beard enhancement: A randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled study. J Dermatol. 2016 Aug;43(8):968-9. doi: 10.1111/1346-8138.13312. Epub 2016 Feb 19. PMID: 26893270.
- Angelo T, Barbalho GN, Gelfuso GM, Gratieri T. Minoxidil topical treatment may be more efficient if applied on damp scalp in comparison with dry scalp. Dermatol Ther. 2016 Sep;29(5):330-333. doi: 10.1111/dth.12369. Epub 2016 Jun 30. PMID: 27356887.