Reviewers consistently point to Men's Rogaine Extra Strength Hair Regrowth Treatment as the first line of defense against androgenetic alopecia (AGA), commonly referred to as male- and female-pattern baldness or genetic hair loss. It contains 5 percent minoxidil, which is also available generically. Rogaine must be applied twice a day, and any hair grown will be lost shortly after it is discontinued. It takes between four and nine months to see results. Possible side effects include excess hair growth on the face and body, but only a small percentage or users are affected (when treatments stops, so do any side effects).
Effective, over-the-counter option. Reviewers across the board 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). Experts say that Rogaine at least slows the progression of hair loss for most who use it at the first sign of hair loss, and minoxidil completely stops the progression for some and regrows hair for others. Rogaine doesn't require a prescription, and 2 percent minoxidil is FDA approved for women.
The effectiveness of topical minoxidil has been proven in numerous double-blind clinical studies. According to an article on Medscape.com, hair thickness and count usually peaks after 16 weeks among men with pattern hair loss: "The average increase in target area hair count is about 8 percent with minoxidil 2 percent lotion and 10 to 12 percent with the 5 percent formulation. About 60 percent of men demonstrated improvement with the 5 percent formulation and 40 percent with the 2 percent formulation compared with 23 percent of placebo."
Can cause unwanted hair growth. Several Rogaine users posting to 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. Men's Fitness magazine points out that another uncommon side effect is chest pain, as minoxidil also comes in a pill for treating high blood pressure.
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This informative article explains what causes hair loss and covers several topical solutions, including minoxidil, prostaglandins, fluridil, ketoconazole, spironolactone, melatonin and estrogen. The section about minoxidil is by far the most in-depth, and the authors cite multiple double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies that prove its efficacy in treating pattern hair loss.
Review: Topical Agents for Hair Growth Promotion, Omar S. Shamsaldeen, MD; Thamer Al Mubki, MD; and Jerry Shapiro, MD, FRCPC, 2013
2. Annals of Dermatology
This article focuses on a 1-year-old girl born with temporal triangular alopecia (TTA). Researchers treated the girl with 3 percent topical minoxidil, which proved effective in stimulating hair growth. However, each time the researchers discontinued treatment, her hair loss returned.
Review: Successful Treatment of Temporal Triangular Alopecia with Topical Minoxidil, Chan-Yi Bang et al., Aug. 13, 2013
3. 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 Versus Combined 5 Percent Minoxidil and 0.01 Percent Tretinoin for Male Pattern Hair Loss: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Comparative Clinical Trial, H.S. Shin et al., 2007
4. 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 Versus 2 Percent Topical Minoxidil and Placebo in the Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia in Men, E.A. Olsen et al., September 2002
5. International Journal 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: An Open, Randomized, Comparative Study of Oral Finasteride and 5 Percent Topical Minoxidil in Male Androgenetic Alopecia, E. Arca et al., 2004
6. Men's Fitness
For this slideshow about the most effective types of hair-loss treatments, Holly C. Corbett consults Frederick Joyce, M.D., founder of Rejuvenate! Med Spa and member of the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery. She places Rogaine last on the list, alongside Propecia, low-level laser light therapy, surgical implants, Nioxin shampoo and proper nutrition. Joyce points out that minoxidil is best for men who are trying to hang on to the hair they still have and that hair loss will resume if you discontinue use of the product.
Review: 6 Best Fixes for Hair Loss, Holly C. Corbett, Not Dated
Based on more than 100 customer reviews, Extra Strength Rogaine earns an average of 3.7 out of 5 stars. The majority of respondents enthusiastically praise the product and give it 5 stars, calling it a miracle drug that regrew their hair as advertised. A smaller number of owner-reviewers say the product had no effect on them.
Review: Rogaine for Men Hair Regrowth Treatment, Extra Strength Topical Solution, 2 Ounce, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2014
Men's Rogaine Extra Strength earns an average of 4 out of 5 stars based on about 33 reviews, with 81 percent of respondents saying they would recommend the product to a friend. The majority of the owner reviewers report that Rogaine works, although some complain that it leaves their scalps dry and itchy.
Review: Men's Rogaine Extra Strength Hair Regrowth Treatment, Unscented, Contributors to Drugstore.com, As of March 2014