Does Minoxidil work for Beards? The Science + Personal Progress

Medically reviewed by Dr. Steve Kim, MD

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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. 

wholesome scene from dexter's lab after he tries too hard to grow a beard
What a load of BS.

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 scalp baldness. Vasodilators, as we learned in the previous chapter, are a category of drugs which expand and dilate the blood vessels. 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).

To anyone in Advertising: hire me.

📝 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:

  1. Anagen is the growth stage that determines the length of the hair.
  2. Catagen is the growth stage where the hair follicles detach from the dermal papilla
  3. 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.
  4. Exogen is the process where new hair pushes through, body checks the old hair, and kicks it out TF out.
How does hair grow

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% mi