Several Rogaine users posting at Drugstore.com complain of scalp irritation but some say that switching to the original strength or another brand alleviates that problem. A few users complain of the odor associated with Rogaine while others claim that the smell disappears when the product dries. Experts say that some women may have unwanted hair growth, namely on the face, as a result of minoxidil usage, though it is a rare side effect and may be more likely to occur in women with a history of excess facial and body hair.
The best minoxidil research comes from medical journals, such as the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology and the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, where clinical trials and studies of minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine) are reported. Paula Begoun uses scientific studies and research as the basis of her opinions of Rogaine and other hair-loss products in her book "Don't Go Shopping for Hair-Care Products Without Me." The American Hair Loss Association provides an in-depth look at minoxidil -- and balding in general -- on its website. User reviews are minimal but seem to confirm experts' opinions of efficacy.
Reviewers say that Men's Rogaine Extra Strength Hair Regrowth Treatment is an excellent starting place for both men and women experiencing genetic hair loss (known as androgenetic alopecia, or AGA), but reviews suggest that generic versions of 5 percent minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine) may be just as effective. Experts say that Rogaine at least slows the progression of hair loss for most that use it, and minoxidil completely stops the progression for some and actually regrows hair for others. Experts add that the best results usually occur when users begin the regimen at the first sign of hair loss. Studies show that Rogaine is not as effective as doctor-prescribed Propecia. Rogaine doesn't require a prescription and is safe for women, although only the original strength (2 percent minoxidil) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use by women. Experts suggest that men use both treatments for the best results.
1. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology
This report covers a study that compares the efficacy of 5 percent minoxidil to a combination of 5 percent minoxidil and 0.01 percent tretinoin. Results show that one daily application of the combination therapy yields similar results to those of 5 percent minoxidil applied twice daily.
Review: Efficacy of 5 Percent Minoxidil vs. Combined 5 Percent Minoxidil and 0.01 Percent Tretinoin for Male Pattern Hair Loss, H.S. Shin, et al, 2007
2. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Results of this study show that 5 percent minoxidil is superior to 2 percent minoxidil in producing more hair. The study also shows that the 5 percent strength yields an earlier response.
Review: A Randomized Clinical Trial of 5 Percent Topical Minoxidil and Placebo, E.A. Olsen, et al, Sept. 2002
3. International Journal of Dermatology
This study compares the efficacy of 5 percent minoxidil topical solution to that of 1mg oral finasteride in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. Finasteride is found to be more effective over a 12-month period.
Review: An Open, Randomized, Comparative Study of Oral Finasteride and 5 Percent Topical Minoxidil in Male Androgenetic Alopecia, E. Arca, et al, 2004
4. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Results of this study show that women treated with 5 percent minoxidil have statistically superior results in regrowing hair compared to those using 2 percent minoxidil.
Review: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of 5 Percent and 2 Percent Minoxidil Solutions in the Treatment of Female Pattern Hair Lo, A.W. Lucky, et al, Apr. 2004
Paula Begoun suggests that Men's Rogaine Extra Strength Hair Regrowth Treatment is worth a try for thinning hair but warns that it may not work for everyone. She also says that this formulation can cause scalp dryness and itching. She recommends store-brand generic versions as a viable, more affordable option.
Review: Untitled, Paula Begoun, Sept. 2004
The majority of the dozen consumers posting to Drugstore.com report that Rogaine works, although some complain that it leaves their scalp dry and itchy.
Review: Men's Rogaine Extra Strength Hair Regrowth Treatment, Unscented, Contributors to Drugstore.com