It feels like every season is Beard SZN. Now for the guys that are naturally hairy, that’s great news. You can hide skin blemishes and have a five o’clock shadow before lunchtime. But for guys (like myself) who struggle to grow a beard, life is pain.
I’m not gonna pretend that I remember what happened in the episode of Dexter’s Lab that the screenshot up there came from. But if I were to guess, I’d say he was feeling self-conscious about his lack of facial hair and spent the whole 30 minute episode doing some science stuff to grow one. In the end, though, a kind, wholesome man assured Dexter that he actually had a beard the whole time – on the inside. A beard in his heart.
Pretty cute, right? It’s important that we never let insecurities get the best of us, because it really is who we are on the inside that’s important.
But also, fuck that. If there’s even a slight chance that science can grow us a damn beard, you better believe we’re gonna go for it. And when I say “we,” I mean the 24% of men who can’t grow a beard. So that’s why we’re here today: because I had a shower thought that if minoxidil works for baldness, then maybe – just maybe – it’ll help me grow some actual facial hair so I can sleep at night.
This article is the product of all my research: digging into the academic studies, watching videos, reading through others’ reviews, and buying some for myself. I’ll also talk about why Keeps is my favorite choice when it comes to minoxidil.
Table of Contents
What is minoxidil, and how does it work?
Minoxidil has been around longer than I have. More commonly known by the brand name Rogaine, minoxidil has been used since the 80s to clinically treat male pattern baldness (and high blood pressure, but that’s not why we’re here). It works by stimulating hair follicles under your skin to grow quicker and stronger. These are what’s responsible for hair growth.
You know when you get that nasty, thin, and patchy hair? Well it’s not that you don’t have hair follicles in those spots… because you do. They’re just dormant. And when too many of your hair follicles are inactive, it results in those ugly patches in your hair. Minoxidil wakes ’em up by stimulating the inactive regions: leading to fuller, thicker growth.
Technically, minoxidil is FDA-approved for treating baldness. But the same principles that make it an effective treatment for male pattern baldness seem to apply to other areas of body hair, like eyebrows and beards.
Again, that’s what we’re here to find out. Unfortunately, scientific studies that specifically aim to find a correlation between minoxidil treatment and beard growth are a bit harder to come by (but we do have them, dw!). No surprise though, right? Baldness has traditionally been the bigger concern in society (and in the market), so the most rigorous and well-funded studies tend to focus on that type of hair loss.
We’ll take a look at some of the key studies shortly here, because they’re important to look at. And honestly pretty refreshing. But first… get out a pen and paper (not rlly).
📝 Hair Growth 101
To understand how minoxidil works for beards, we first have to look at how hair grows. The overall process is broken down into four separate stages: from the day it starts growing to the day it starts falling out.
The four stages of hair growth are anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen:
- Anagen is the growth stage that determines the length of the hair.
- Catagen is the growth stage where the hair follicles detach from the dermal papilla
- Telogen, also called the “resting stage,” is where your existing hair sticks around while the new hair is grown in the anagen and catagen stages.
- Exogen is the process where new hair pushes through, body checks the old hair, and kicks it out TF out.
Boring and technical science stuff – I know – but this will be on the final exam to keep paying attention. Okay turn your pages and we’ll talk about how Minoxidil affects the overall process of hair growth.
Remember when I said that minoxidil is often used to treat high blood pressure? Well that’s actually because it’s a vasodilator, meaning that it works to open your blood vessels, increasing their volume and therefore decreasing the pressure at which blood needs to travel throughout your body. Stay with me here.
Okay, back to hair.
Like everything else in your body, hair needs nutrients to grow. And it gets those nutrients from the blood vessels located around your hair follicles. So that first the anagen stage of hair growth is actually limited by the amount of nutrients that your hair follicles are able to get.
Oh shit everybody look out, here comes minoxidil! By opening up your blood vessels, minoxidil is able to clear the way for more nutrients to transport to your hair follicles, thereby leading to better growth and speeding up the anagen stage.
But minoxidil ain’t done yet. Scientists also suggest that minoxidil shortens the amount of time between the telogen and anagen stages. Basically, it’s believed that the rate at which your hair sheds is reduced, while the rate of hair growth is increased. When this happens, the end result is thicker, fuller hair.
So all those minoxidil before and after pictures you see (and are lowkey skeptical of) online may actually be more legit than we thought… 🤔
🤓 Research studies on minoxidil for beards
Science time. If you wanna just skip over it to the recommendations, click here.
Efficacy and safety of minoxidil 3% lotion for beard enhancement: a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled study
This one‘s special, because (from what I can tell) it’s the first proper study done specifically to observe the efficacy of minoxidil on beard growth.
In it, 48 men participated in a 4 month study, whereby researchers were aiming to measure the safety and efficacy of minoxidil solution against a placebo. Here are the highlights:
- Participants in the study used 3% minoxidil solution (not foam),
- They applied minoxidil twice a day.
And the findings:
So not only did the study show that minoxidil was beneficial to beard growth, but it was also considered safe, AND my favorite part: the results were statistically significant (meaning the findings are strong enough to say that a positive correlation does exist!)
Hell yeah. Moving on to our next study.
A randomized clinical trial of 5% topical minoxidil versus 2% topical minoxidil and placebo in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men
While this study didn’t specifically aim to see minoxidil’s effects on beard growth, it is a textbook example of researchers studying how minoxidil can safely treat AGA (androgenic alopecia). At the time, researchers already knew it worked. But over the course of a whopping 48 weeks, 393 men aged 18-49 participated in this study that compared both 2% and 5% minoxidil solutions against a placebo.
The findings? By the end of the 48 weeks, researchers found that:
- 5% topical minoxidil was more effective than 2% and placebo at increasing hair regrowth,
- 5% minoxidil resulted in 45% more hair regrowth than 2% minoxidil,
- men who used 5% minoxidil saw effects earlier than the others,
- psychosocial perceptions of hair loss in men with AGA improved,
- both 5% and 2% minoxidil solutions were well-tolerated without adverse effects
Is minoxidil safe?
“Minoxidil” and “vasodilator” aren’t just long words that’ll win you a game of Scrabble. They’re also two things that affect the way your body functions, and should therefore be treated with the respect they deserve. So let’s touch on that real quick.
Vasodilators, as we learned in the previous chapter, are a type of drug that opens / dilates the blood vessels. By loosening up the muscles in your veins and arties, blood is able to flow more easily and, in turn, put less stress on your heart.
Generally, minoxidil is used as a topical medicine (traditionally via brand name Rogaine but more lately through more affordable brands like Keeps and Hims). It’s been approved for use on hair by the FDA and has been subject to multiple long-term studies, which we’ll touch on in a sec.
Through these studies, it’s evident that minoxidil can have side effects for some people. Fortunately, they’re mild in severity and are relatively rare. Specifically, the most common side effect of using minoxidil for your beard is skin irritation. It’s localized to the area where minoxidil solution is applied, so… your beard area. For this reason, it’s generally advised to moisturize your face first, and then apply the minoxidil once it’s had a chance to set in. Oh and btw, side effects subside pretty soon after you stop taking minoxidil.
“Twice daily application of topical minoxidil shows no systemic side effects such as hypotension, abnormal heart rate, and weight gain. It is considered safe and provides positive outcomes in various hair disorders.”
So in summary: yea, it’s safe. Like, “widely seen as one of the safest ways to treat hair loss out there” safe.
What's the best minoxidil for beards?
Minoxidil is minoxidil. The reign of Rogaine’s price gauging is over, thanks to the courage and bravery of brands like Keeps and Roman serving up generic drugs with a side of convenience at low-low prices. May the Beard Gods bless them with thick facial hair and endless booty.
You get it. Don’t be a dummy; don’t pay crazy prices for the same product. And don’t think that Amazon will be the cheapest place, either. Keeps offers minoxidil for the cheapest I’ve seen, and their branding makes me feel like I’m making the cool, trendy choice. You also won’t need a Costco membership or commit to 6+ bottles of the stuff.
In terms of options, you really only have to decide between using minoxidil solution (a liquid) or minoxidil foam. I’ll compare ’em real quick, in case anyone cares. But it’s a pretty low-effort purchase lol.
Minoxidil solution (5%)
The OG Minoxidil, Minoxidil Solution, is available in 3% and 5% strengths. Along with minoxidil and water, it also contains ethanol and propylene glycol (PG), which help transport minoxidil to the hair follicles.
You can either apply it once or twice a day. Personally, I’ve seen solid results from just sticking with once a day. The jury’s out on if doubling up everyday makes a difference or not.
Application is pretty straightforward. It comes in a bottle with a dropper. Just “paint” the beard region of your face and then rub it in.
Keeps warns that when you first start using it, you might have some initial shedding as the new, more nutrient-rich hairs push out the older ones.
Finally, they suggest that users can expect to see results in as little as three to four months. That’s pretty freakin legit tbh.
Cost: about $10 per month
Minoxidil Foam (5%)
Same active ingredient, but in a considerably more convenient product: Minoxidil Foam (5%). One primary difference here. is that minoxidil foam does not contain propylene glycol, which is the main culprit behind skin irritation. So if you’re even slightly worried about getting skin irritation on your face, get the foam version.
Just pump the foam into your hands and rub into any of your problem areas (aka my entire face).
Again, you might see some initial shedding in the early days but you can can expect to see results after about three to four months.
Personally, I think that foam is way easier to apply. Liquid tends to want to drip into your mouth and down your chin; it’s an unpleasant experience. Others online agree with me.
Is that benefit and convenience enough to justify a $5/mo increase in cost? Probably (because this is all so cheap anyway) but that’s up to you.
Cost: about $15 per month
Liquid vs. Foam Minoxidil for beards
Convenience is one thing, but how ’bout efficacy?
There have been limited amounts of studies comparing the effectiveness of each. However, what research has been done suggests both forms are similarly effective. One comparative study did indicate that Minoxidil absorbs slightly better into the skin in its liquid form. Personally, though, I’m of the mindset that I’d rather use the foam out of sheer convenience, even if it means I have to use it for slightly longer than I would have used the solution. It’s like having old school braces vs clear aligners.
One of the most significant differences between the two is that the liquid is more likely to dry out your skin. It contains propylene glycerol, which is said to cause this dryness. Foam minoxidil does not contain propylene glycerol, which makes it more suitable for those with drier skin.
Another point that may be worth noting is that it’s easier to add certain enhancers to liquid minoxidil. I haven’t personally tried it, but some guys online swear by LCLT (L-carnitine L-tartrate) to speed up beard growth. They’ll open up capsules of the stuff and pour it into liquid minoxidil. You see it all over those Minox beard communities. Supposedly, LCLT works by increasing the number and sensitivity of androgen receptors (AR). I can’t be bothered with it, but if you’re curious about trying it, you can find LCLT at a lot of fitness and health stores.
How often should you use minoxidil to grow your beard?
It’s advised that to maximize results from minoxidil, users need to use it regularly and consistently. The jury’s out on whether once a twice a day is better, but if you can get in the habit of just doing it when you brush your teeth, go for it. It’s cheap. Just remember that you have to keep it on for at least four hours, which makes the whole morning + night thing perfect.
As with any product that goes on your skin, though, if you have sensitive or easily irritated skin, just cut it down to one application per day. It’s not worth ruining your skin for a marginal chance at speeding things up.
Are the Beard #Gains from Minoxidil permanent?
Anecdotally, yes, they are.
There are no formal studies that prove it, per sé, but secondhand evidence strongly suggests that beard growth is permanent. And it seems to align with the science itself. Remember that we’re not painting hairs on our face; we’re stimulating the regrowth of hairs.
As a general rule, once you’ve grown your beard as full and thick as you’d like, you can stop using minoxidil.
Does Dermarolling work for beard growth?
Dermarolling is a weird tool that supposedly helps with beard growth. It’s basically a handle with a spiky wheel on the end of it that you roll across your face after applying your minoxidil. In theory, it follows the same concept as microneedling. Realistically, though, home rollers like this barely penetrate the skin at all.
Nevertheless, the tiny needles on the dermaroller work to penetrate into the dermis layer of the skin, hence the name.
Think of it as “wounding” the layer under the skin, prompting the body to increase blood circulation and speed up healthy cell regeneration.
Dermarolling has a growing body of research behind it. One study suggests it’s effective for helping drug absorption by the skin, making it a good process while using minoxidil solution. There’s also this study that shows dermarolling’s effectiveness at stimulating hair growth.
Sooo the jury’s out on this one. I personally find that it irritates my skin and it feels gimmicky, but if you want to drop $10 to give it a shot, you can find them on Amazon.
Minoxidil for Beard Reviews: What are guys on Reddit, Youtube, and Facebook saying?
Let me start off by saying that I ignored all those beard sites for my research.
I mean I read through multiple articles, but as a skeptic, I took everything they said with a grain of salt. Instead, I like to try and find the most genuine chatter out there: which usually involves a lot of time on Reddit. (Did I just justify spending too much time on Reddit? Yes – yes I did)
🧔♂️ tldr; Does Minoxidil work for beards?
Overall, minoxidil seems like a promising catalyst for beard growth. Like, it actually lowkey surprised me. Not only do the studies point to minoxidil being effective on beards, but as far as scientific studies go, they were conducted very well and their results are statistically significant.
Sure there haven’t been dozens of studies just yet, but we wouldn’t expect there to be. At the end of the day, baldness is a larger societal factor and therefore commands the academic attention. On the bright side, the studies that have been done do point to minoxidil being surprisingly effective for speeding up beard growth.
In my eyes, it’s sort of like the whole vitamin argument that floats around on the internet: Some argue that taking multivitamins may be a waste of time, citing your body’s inability to actually absorb everything in them. But as long as it’s a low-cost, easy thing to do that doesn’t harm your body, it seems like something you may as well try. I think that same approach applies to trying minoxidil out for beard growth – at least early on. Based on the evidence, you’ll start seeing results in around two months. For something as simple and inexpensive as minoxidil: why not try?
With so many brands, like Keeps, offering minoxidil solution and foam for around $10 per month, this is arguably the easiest, lowest-risk, and highest-reward thing you can do to speed up your beard growth.