This article was originally written on Beard Profile, which is merging with the Beard Wiki. It is written by the same author and founder of both websites, but uses a different voice from what the Beard Wiki traditionally uses. Some of these transferred articles may or may not have sources included.
It’s time to grow the beard you never thought you could! This is the guide to fixing up a patchy beard or growing from bare-faced to beardsman within a year.
For years now, men have been using minoxidil (widely known as Rogaine) on their faces to help promote beard growth. Minoxidil is an anti-hypertensive vasodilator, which was originally used as a blood-pressure medication for those with high blood pressure. It was taken orally, however, and not topically. The topical solution came after the noted side effects of taking minoxidil: hair growth. Pretty much everywhere, too.
Used today to help regrow hair from those that suffer from balding in the vertex area, minoxidil stimulates the follicles and revives them. Once treatment is stopped, the hair once again dies and the individual starts balding again. What does this mean for beard hair? Nothing, really. Men that suffer a lack of facial hair, whether it’s patchy or not there at all — are not balding on their faces. Minoxidil will not revive the hair on your face like it would for those that are balding on their heads. What it will do is stimulate the follicles that are there. Over time and with the right conditions, the beard grows in just as any other.
At the moment, a lot of it comes down to fearing the unknown. There have been no clinical trials done with using Rogaine on a man’s face. This is why in the United States it’s not FDA approved. Something that is not FDA approved doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more harmful, rather that it’s been untested and isn’t recommended. Most people will use this as a scare tactic to convince men not to try minoxidil on their face. Our advice? See an actual doctor and ask his opinion. Keep in mind that there are doctors that may profit from providing beard transplants, thus affecting their objectivity, so always use your own judgement in the end.
Update: there has been a study done in Thailand using 3% minoxidil: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02275832
The biggest perpetrators will be the ones that profit outside of minoxidil: by selling you oils, balms, or other products that promote beard growth. While these products are recommended here at Beard Profile and can indeed help with stimulating growth, they will most certainly not bring your bare face from zero to full like minoxidil will. They will help minimally. In fact, many beard oils actually hinder progress.
Yes! It most certainly does work. There are downsides to using this drug on your face; let’s face it, it is a drug and we’re not here to coddle anyone about it and its side effects. Some men have reported these side effects after using it topically on their face. Nobody has experienced all of them, rather this is a compilation of what you might be able to expect.
- Water retention (bloated)
- Dry/flaky skin
- Trouble sleeping
- Heart palpitations
- Temporary hair shedding
- Extra hair growth (no, really?)
I’ve marked the most common two in bold. Temporary shedding means just that — it’s temporary and should not persist for more than about 1-2 months (it can kick in around two weeks or a month after starting minoxidil, and really anytime thereafter). What’s happening during shedding is that your head hair is being pushed out by new growth. During minoxidil usage, the hair follicles tend to take on the same cycle as other follicles, causing them to shed and regrow within the same time frame. Without minoxidil, the follicles are more independent, and thus the shedding is not nearly as noticeable.
Shedding is not balding, and the belief of that is a common misconception. The shedding should not persist long enough that it would be noticeable to anyone other than yourself. Extra hair growth is dependent on the individual, much like most of the minox journey. Common growth includes extra arm hair, leg hair, hair around the eyebrows, and tiny hairs elsewhere. This is usually only noticeable to yourself, but it is something that has caused men to drop off of minoxidil.
Try not to stress out too much about possible side effects. The mind is a powerful thing, so stay positive and you’ll be fine. Many men mistake unrelated symptoms with a side effect of minoxidil, so keep that in mind if you feel under the weather.
First, you’ll want to learn how to use the stuff. We’ll get to where to buy it in a bit. It’s better to learn before spending your hard earned money! It’s not difficult, but requires consistency and patience. Here’s a method on how to apply minoxidil.
How to apply Liquid Minoxidil
- Wash face thoroughly. Use a soap meant for your face or simply use plain water.
- Measure out 1ml* with the included dropper, to the line.
- Start putting small drops onto your face, only in the beard area until the applicator is empty. If your face is already very wet and you still have solution left, proceed to step 4 and then do this step again.
- Using two fingers or the dropper itself, rub the solution in gently with a little bit of pressure.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap.
How to apply Foam Minoxidil
- Wash face thoroughly. Use a soap meant for your face or simply use plain water.
- Rinse your fingers with cold water. The foam will dissolve quickly if your hands are warm, so get them nice and cool.
- Tip the can upside down so that the head is facing directly toward the ground. Dispense the foam onto your fingers until it looks about the amount that can fit into half of the cap. This is equivalent to 1ml.
- Using your other (cold) hand, take some of the foam and start applying it to the beard area. Repeat until all of the foam is used up.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap.
*You do not need to use a full 1ml. In fact, many guys get great results using 0.5ml once per day. Everybody is different, so you’ll need to find the appropriate amount for yourself. Repeat this up to two times daily, keeping the applications about 8-12 hours apart.
It’s not difficult to apply, so don’t begin to worry that you’re “doing it wrong.” You’re really not. As long as it gets onto your skin and you rub it in a little and leave for 4 hours, you’re good to go. After four hours, you can rinse or wash your face and apply some face lotion if needed. Some people choose not to rinse the minoxidil off until the next application, and that’s fine. You can even apply it at night, let it dry up a bit, then get some sleep.
As dryness is a side effect that everyone eventually gets, you’ll want to ready yourself a hydration routine. Make sure you drink more water than you normally do and grab a face lotion or oil. Some people may experience better skin for the first couple of weeks of using minoxidil, but just about everyone succumbs to the dryness at some point.
Now that you know what to expect and how to use minoxidil, you’ll need to remember patience. This is huge when it comes to guys being skeptical about the progress of their minox journey.
Everybody is different and will see different progress, regardless of lifestyle or routine.
I can’t stress that enough. Out of the hundreds of guys I’ve seen on the minox journey, each one is unique in how fast or slow the beard comes in; even two brothers can have drastically different results — but they all have one thing in common: the beard does come in eventually. You might start to see tiny vellus hair within the first two weeks, or you might see it happen after two months. Stay patient, stay persistent, and it will come!
The process is anywhere from 6 months to two years. The faster you see results, the sooner you can expect to stop using minoxidil. Your personal journey is going to dictate when you should stop using minoxidil, and that’s generally when you’re happy with the growth of your beard.
Once your beard is where you want it, that’s when you can stop using it. It will not fall out over time, but you may experience some minor shedding for a short period. Many choose to “wean” themselves off by applying sporadically for the last few weeks of their journey (in other words, using less each day or week in comparison to the normal daily amount used).
The safest bet is to continue using minox until the beard hair has gone terminal. Once it’s coarse and thick, that’s when you should start slowly coming off it. If you have a beard goal that’s quite large, try to get to your beard goal first, then start the weaning process.
The most commonly used brand is Kirkland Signature because of its price of about 25 USD for a 6-month supply. That’s double the amount of product for half the cost, literally, compared to its competitors like Rogaine, Regaine in Europe, CVS Pharmacy, and so on. It’s made in Israel (previously Canada). In the United States and Canada, you can pick up Kirkland from your local Costco, or online.
Other alternatives from around the world include brands such as Mintop, Alopexy, Tru Gain, Foligain P5, and more. As long as the solution is 5% minoxidil, it will do the job. You don’t need to purchase the same brand as the next guy to see results. With that in mind, always purchase from reputable websites and sellers on eBay. Our recommendation is to use Amazon as it’s generally the cheapest and a trusted source. If you buy something using the links around this article, it’ll even support the site without any cost to you. If the articles on the site help you whatsoever, it’s a great way to give back! I’ll only ever link things that either I or Beard Profile members truly recommend and have tried ourselves.
Note: stay away from minoxidil with DHT blockers. This will usually be advertised, so it’s easy enough to spot. As we discuss in a forum topic, inhibiting 5-alpha reductase is not good for androgenic hair.
That’s pretty much it! If you have any questions about the process or want to know how to stimulate growth in other ways (whether in conjunction with minox or without it altogether), we have a plethora of beard articles and the entire site is essentially one huge, bearded community of awesome guys. We have specific topics about minoxidil on the forum, a private group for encouragement and progression, and a lot more.
We also have a Minoxidil Beard FAQ on the forum that goes over some of the things in this article, as well as other common questions. If you have a question that hasn’t been answered by reading this article (and the below portion), check that FAQ as it has a few extra things in it.
We couldn’t have a real guide without having the most frequently asked questions about growing a beard using minoxidil! Some of these questions will have been covered in the article above, but this may be easier to reference back to in the future.
- How many times per day should I apply minoxidil and how often?
We generally recommend no more than 2ml per day, but consider using less for the first week or two, such as 1ml per day. Each application of minoxidil should be 1ml or less, with the second application being at least 8-12 hours from the first.
- Will the beard fall out if I stop using minoxidil?
Nope! So long as you use it long enough that the hair goes terminal (mature), it will stick around. People that have stopped using minoxidil have mentioned minor shedding, but with growth even stronger after letting time do its thing.
- Where should I apply minoxidil?
All over the “beard” area where you want hair to grow from. That means the neck (just above the Adam’s apple), under the chin, your sideburns, cheeks, mustache, and soul patch area. Some choose to apply just to their weaker spots, for those with patches, and that’s fine as well.
- How long should I leave minoxidil on my face?
For about 4 hours is what’s recommended. After that, feel free to rinse or wash your face and apply a moisturizer.
- What kind of moisturizer should I use?
Anything meant to be used on your face will be fine. My personal favorite is Nivea Soft, which has both jojoba and Vitamin E oils, which are fantastic for hair and skin. As the beard grows larger, consider picking up some beard balm or oil to help tame it and get additional hydration for your face.
- When do results starts showing up?
Seeing as how every person is different, it may be the first two weeks when you notice new vellus hair coming in, or it may be after the first two or three months. Remain patient and keep applying.
- Should I trim or shave while using Minoxidil?
Either is perfectly fine and keeping your hair trimmed helps the minoxidil absorb into your skin better (rather than the hair). With that said, you don’t need to trim or shave at all if you don’t want to. It will not help or hinder the process to have a beard while on minoxidil. Most men opt to trim at the lowest setting until they feel the beard is full enough to start growing out.
- The hair on my head seems to be falling out. What gives?
That’s shedding and it’s perfectly normal while using minoxidil. New hair growth is pushing out the old, giving the appearance that you’re “losing” hair. Remain calm, you’re likely not. This should only persist for a few weeks at the most, and the hair that falls out won’t be noticeable from looking at your head.
- My face is naturally oily. Will minoxidil still dry out my skin?
Eventually! Some guys actually get clear, healthy skin for the first few weeks of using minox. But eventually, everyone succumbs to the dryness.
- Does minoxidil cause acne?
Not particularly. Some guys break out for the first couple of weeks (a pimple or three), but a lot of men mention clearer skin as a result. Which makes sense, since pimples rarely form on dry skin. Since minoxidil uses alcohol as its carrier, it’s sure to dry out those pimples.
- I’m X years old. Should I even try minoxidil?
Some men have mentioned a correlation to younger adults having better results, but that’s purely based off of observation. There are men in their 40s and 50s seeing facial hair gains, as well as those in their 20s. I would not recommend anyone younger than about 21 try this stuff. If you’re still developing, take into account that your beard will get fuller with age. Don’t take the risk at such a young age, but ultimately the decision is in your hands.
Without minoxidil, I wouldn’t have the beard I have today. The first picture, marked “Pre”, is the product of two months of beard growth — I could only grow the mustache and chin hair, with a small soul patch that didn’t connect to the goatee. The rest of the pictures, marked with weeks, are the amount of weeks I had been on minoxidil, not how many weeks the beard had been growing. All of the minoxidil pictures are from May 25, 2015 until January, 2016. Minoxidil works; thousands of us are today proof of that.
The article above is now over a year old (but of course, is timeless and still relevant today). Here’s an update of my own progress if you’d like to see more pictures other than the ones just above.
For quicker reference back to the products we’ve listed in this article, you can find them easily below.