Minoxidil is used by thousands of men as they try to grow more facial hair. Using minox on your face for more beard growth isn’t without potential side effects, much in the same way there’s a potential for those using it to combat balding.
Before using this or any drug to achieve your goals, it’s always best to educate yourself on the pros and cons, the ins and outs. Do note that there have not been any reports of things as extreme as death, and this article isn’t here to scare you away. Instead, it’s here to help you understand what may lie ahead and what you can do to combat anything that might happen on your journey.
Additionally, side effects are not guaranteed to happen. Some people seem to have the belief that if they are not experiencing side effects, the minoxidil is not working. This is simply untrue. You should be glad to have no side effects, not anxious.
Common and uncommon side effects of minoxidil
Bear in mind that side effects between foam and liquid overlap, as the active ingredient is minoxidil. In most cases this will be 5%, but the same side effects apply to all percentages. The higher you go, the more you risk getting side effects.
- Dry skin
- Body hair, apart from area of application*
- Synchronized hair shedding*
- Skin rash
- Inflammation of follicles
- Red skin
- Swelling (of either face or limbs, such as feet)*
- Heart palpitations
- Weight gain (via water retention)*
* Excess body hair
*Excess body hair also includes more vellus up near the eyes, on the forehead, and near the ends of the eyebrows, leading toward the hair line. Excess body hair does not stick around. Much of the time it even goes away during the minoxidil beard journey.
* Synchronized hair shedding
Minoxidil causes the hair cycles of individual follicles to become synchronized. This leads to the appearance of hair loss, but it is simply normal shedding. Hair that sheds grows back. Follicles have their own cycles, so with synchronization it makes much more hair fall out than you may be use to. This generally happens in cycles of shedding and little shedding, and sometimes is not noticeable at all, depending on the individual.
There is nothing you can do to prevent hair cycles from synchronizing, but it always passed. There is no time frame for how long the shedding persists, but give it roughly 3 months to start seeing a full “recovery” from shedding.
*Acne normally does not happen, but when it does it’s due to the body producing more sebum (oil) as a reaction to the alcohol and/or propylene glycol in the minoxidil solution. Generally, people see less acne because it dries the skin out and the body doesn’t produce enough sebum to continue clogging its own pores.
* Weight gain/Swelling
Weight gain is due to subcutaneous water retention, which means water stays beneath the skin. Minoxidil does not cause you to gain more fat. This water retention can also lead to swelling. To combat this issue, should it happen, you should try to limit your intake of sodium. Along with cutting down on salt, stay active and drink plenty of water. Within a couple of weeks or so it should go away.
As well, lowering your dose temporarily may be beneficial, as this article covers later on.
If the swelling is severe and seen in places such as your lips and face, it may be an allergic reaction. Stop use of minoxidil and consult your doctor if you are worried and displaying other symptoms along with the swelling, such as a rapid heartbeat and dizziness.
Fatigue happens rarely, but when it starts, it will generally last a couple of weeks. There’s not much you can do to get rid of it immediately, but a few things to do below are helpful:
- Stay active, despite feeling tired. Expending energy gives the body back energy.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is helpful, and being dehydrated can exacerbate the fatigue.
- Have caffeine. It’s your choice in which form to take, but black coffee would be the healthiest option with known health benefits. And you can tailor the amount of caffeine you get by using more or less coffee beans.
Foam minoxidil may produce less side effects than liquid
The majority of foam solutions don’t contain propylene glycol, which is the vehicle in liquid that gets minoxidil past the skin barrier. Because of the lack of PG, less minoxidil enters the blood, so minoxidil is less likely to go systemic. This means less side effects like excess body hair, heart palpitations, and dryness at the application site.
Also see: Foam or Liquid Minoxidil; Which is Better?
If you get side effects from minoxidil and want to get rid of them
A good idea to stop or reduce side effects is to lower your dosage of minoxidil. When you’re in the first few weeks of usage, your body has not yet adapted to the minox. Lowering your dose by about half should help to reduce the things you’re feeling while still allowing your body to continue to adapt. Keep the dosage lower than recommended for a few weeks, then increase it over time.
Even if you’re at the later stages and getting side effects, it’s likely because your body is absorbing too much. This happens in different ways and can happen even when you’re applying the same exact amount you have always been applying. Lower the dosage for a few weeks, then increase it back to normal after a while.
Side effects are temporary
Side effects of minoxidil are temporary, so if you start to get them, they should dissipate in time. Generally, side effects will happen sooner during your journey rather than later, but they can happen at random later on too (particularly the very-temporary heart palpitations. This happens when too much enters your blood).
There are no known permanent health complications from long term minoxidil usage
You may hear from people that are anti-minoxidil attempt to fear-monger by saying it can give you permanent health problems, and to “be a man” and accept what you currently have.
First, when you hear someone speak in that manner, stop listening to them altogether. Second, minoxidil has been around in oral form since the early 1980s, with topical coming not too much later (as a result of seeing the side effects of body hair… and you guessed it, facial hair).
Because minox has been around for such a long time, there are numerous short- and long-term studies and none have shown permanent health complications.
Side effects are variable, in that they may affect one person and not another. Plenty of guys have had no side effects from applying minoxidil, as I’ve witnessed now for many years of actively talking about and researching the drug.
All side effects that happen are temporary, but as with anything, you may want to consult your doctor before using minoxidil.