Is High Strength Minoxidil More Effective for Hair Loss?
Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter, topical medication that prevents hair loss and may help you to regrow hair.
If you’ve searched online for information about hair loss treatments, you’ve likely seen minoxidil recommended alongside other products and medications.
Minoxidil comes as a liquid solution or foam is available in several concentrations, ranging from the mildest 2% solution to high-strength 10% and 15% minoxidil(extra strength).
Although all forms of minoxidil are effective at treating and preventing hair loss, research shows that higher-strength forms of minoxidil are more effective at protecting your hair and stimulating new hair growth.
We’ve dug into the science behind this topic below and provided more information about which type of minoxidil is the best choice for treating, preventing and reversing hair loss.
High-Strength Minoxidil: The Basics
Minoxidil is one of the most popular treatments for hair loss. It’s been available since the late 1980s, originally under the brand name Rogaine®. Today, it’s available as a generic medication in liquid and foam form.
Most minoxidil products, including our topical minoxidil solution, use a 5% formulation of minoxidil. Studies show that this concentration is the most effective for treating hair loss and facilitating hair regrowth.
Minoxidil is also available in a lower-strength 2% formulation. This is often used to treat female pattern hair loss or in people who are prone to side effects from higher-strength minoxidil.
Research has looked at the effects of stronger minoxidil formulations containing 10% or 15% minoxidil, mostly with mixed results..
Studies show that you can improve the effects of minoxidil by using it at the same time as finasteride, a popular prescription hair loss medication. We offer these medications together in our Hair Power Pack
What Is High-Strength Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is a topical medication that stops hair loss and stimulates hair regrowth. It’s one of the most popular treatments on the market for conditions such as male pattern baldness.
Currently, researchers aren’t aware of minoxidil’s precise mechanism of action. However, most research suggests that it works by stimulating blood flow to your scalp and activating your hair follicles so that they enter the anagen, or growth, phase of the hair growth cycle.
Most minoxidil products use either a 5% minoxidil formula or a lower-strength formula that only contains 2% minoxidil.
Currently, these are the only minoxidil solutions that are approved by the FDA as treatments for hair loss.
Some research into hair loss has tested the effects of high-strength minoxidil products, some of which contain 10% or 15% minoxidil.
Although these products aren’t approved by the FDA as hair loss treatments, they’re sometimes promoted online as more powerful and effective solutions for preventing hair loss and regrowing hair.
Is High-Strength Minoxidil More Effective?
Since high-strength minoxidil solutions contain a larger amount of minoxidil per milliliter of liquid solution, it’s widely assumed that they must be more effective at treating hair loss.
However, studies into the comparative effectiveness of low-strength and high-strength minoxidil don’t really appear to back up this assumption, at least not consistently.
Research has shown that 5% minoxidil is more effective at treating hair loss than lower-strength formulas containing 2% minoxidil.
For example, a clinical trial published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, which involved almost 400 men, concluded that 5% minoxidil was “significantly superior” to the lower-strength 2% formula in terms of hair regrowth and scalp coverage.
In this study, the men who used the higher-strength 5% minoxidil solution grew back 45 percent more hair than the men who were treated using the low-strength formula.
However, studies of even stronger minoxidil formulas don’t show the same relationship between dosage and effectiveness.
For example, a recent study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment compared the effectiveness of 5% and 10% topical minoxidil as treatments for male pattern baldness.
After 36 weeks, the men who were treated using 5% minoxidil showed a greater increase in hair regrowth around the hairline and crown than the men who were treated with the higher-strength 10% minoxidil solution.
The men treated using the 5% minoxidil solution were also less likely to experience side effects, such as skin irritation.
Another study into the effects of high-strength minoxidil looked at the effects of a 15% minoxidil solution on hair regrowth.
Unlike the studies mentioned above, this study didn’t involve men with hair loss. Instead, it was conducted on women with female pattern hair loss -- a type of hair loss that’s caused by similar hormonal factors to male pattern baldness.
The women in this study didn’t respond to treatment using a 5% minoxidil foam. However, after 12 weeks of treatment with the high-strength 15% minoxidil solution, approximately 60 percent of the participants showed clinically significant hair growth.
Interestingly, despite this study involving a very high-strength minoxidil formula, the participants didn’t report any side effects.
Hims has helped thousands of men regrow their hair
Should You Use High-Strength Minoxidil?
Currently, high-strength treatments containing 10% and 15% minoxidil solutions have not been approved by the FDA as treatments for hair loss.
As such, we can’t recommend using these versions of minoxidil as hair loss treatments, even if you have significant hair loss and want the strongest, most effective treatment possible.
Beyond the potential side effect risk of using such high-strength minoxidil, there’s also the issue of results. As the research above shows, applying a stronger dosage of minoxidil doesn’t always seem to translate into improvements in hair growth.
Based on the research that’s currently available, the optimal type of minoxidil appears to be the 5% liquid solution or foam that’s already been approved by the FDA.
It’s worth noting that research into high-strength forms of minoxidil is quite limited right now. It’s possible that new research could come out in the future showing that a stronger or weaker type of minoxidil may be more effective at preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth.
However, the current research is largely mixed, with no clear benefits to using a stronger type of minoxidil than the 5% minoxidil that’s currently available over the counter.
How to Treat Hair Loss Effectively
If you currently use 5% minoxidil and want to enhance your results, you may be able to do this by adding other medications and products to your hair loss prevention routine.
Research shows that minoxidil and finasteride, a prescription medication for hair loss, are more effective when used together than separately.
In a randomized study published in Dermatologic Therapy, researchers compared the effects of 5% minoxidil, finasteride and a combination of both medications on more than 400 men affected by male pattern baldness.
After 12 months of treatment, 59 percent of the men treated with 5% minoxidil and 80.5 percent of the men treated with finasteride showed improvements.
In contrast, 94.1 percent of the men who were treated using both medications at the same time showed improvements.
This may be because minoxidil and finasteride target hair loss from different angles. Minoxidil is a topical medication that works on your scalp, whereas finasteride reduces your body’s levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the hormone that causes male pattern baldness.
We offer generic finasteride online, following a consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
In addition to finasteride, other hair loss products may help to enhance and improve your results from minoxidil. These include:
Hair loss prevention shampoo. Research suggests that some ingredients in hair loss shampoos, such as saw palmetto and ketoconazole, may help to slow down or prevent hair loss from male pattern baldness. We’ve discussed this topic in more detail in our guide to hair loss shampoos. If you’d like to add a hair loss prevention shampoo to your routine, our Thick Fix Shampoo is a great option.
Biotin. Biotin is a vitamin that plays an important role in the growth of your hair, skin and nails. While it doesn’t prevent hair loss, it’s an essential building block that your body can use to create thick, healthy hair. Our Biotin Gummy Vitamins contain biotin, niacin, folate and other important vitamins for healthy hair growth.
You may also be able to improve your hair’s growth and density naturally by making a few small changes to your habits and lifestyle.
Shop by treatment options
No matter the treatment plan, the best place to start is somewhere. Early action is the best hair loss prevention.
Currently, the FDA has only approved 2% and 5% minoxidil liquid and foam as treatments for hair loss. Research shows that of these two forms of minoxidil, the 5% concentration is more effective at treating hair loss and promoting hair regrowth.
While 10% and 15% minoxidil have been studied as options for treating hair loss, research on their effectiveness is mixed and neither are approved by the FDA. If you’re starting to lose your hair and want to take action, you can talk to a healthcare provider online to learn more about your options and access FDA-approved hair loss medication.