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.
So why don't more people recommend minoxidil?
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.
So, um, does it actually work? What are the downsides?
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.
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 usually kicks in around two weeks or a month after starting minoxidil). What's happening during shedding is that your head hair is being pushed out by new growth. 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.
Alright, I know the side effects. Where do I start?
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
How to apply Foam Minoxidil
*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!
How long will I have to use minoxidil?
The process is anywhere from 6 months to a year and a half. 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.
Where should I buy minox? Which brands are reputable?
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.
Sweet. That seems easy enough. Anything else I should know?
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. In the event that your queries are more personal, feel free to hit me up (@Cemmos) with a message!
Commonly Asked Questions
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.
The Minox Beard Spot
Basik Ali Coe, the founder of The Minox Beard Spot on Facebook, has a full video journey which shows his progression every two weeks, from day one until a full year has passed. Inspiring thousands of men to take this journey, I'd be hard pressed if not to mention him in this article. Be sure to subscribe to his channel and check out his progression videos — they consistently stay interesting and really show the power of minoxidil.
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.