How to Apply Minoxidil Foam

Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Rachel Sacks

Updated 17/08/2023

With many men facing hair loss — 30 to 50 percent of men experience male pattern baldness by age 50 — it’s almost inevitable to see your hairline recede further back. And although topical hair loss treatments are a dime a dozen, few have decades of scientific research behind them like minoxidil.

Originally developed for high blood pressure, minoxidil is one of two FDA-approved medications to treat male pattern hair loss.

This topical treatment comes in several forms, from a topical solution in liquid form to minoxidil foam. There’s a good chance you’ve seen minoxidil solution sold as a foam under the brand name Rogaine®. We compared the two in this article on minoxidil versus Rogaine.

As with any medication, it’s important to know how to use minoxidil foam correctly and in the proper dosage to achieve the desired effect. 

Below, we’ll explain how to apply minoxidil foam to treat male pattern baldness. We’ll also cover the basics about choosing between minoxidil liquid or foam and how to properly dose and store the medication.

How to Apply Minoxidil Foam

A guide on how to apply Rogaine foam might seem unnecessary, but we promise there’s helpful information here to ensure you’re correctly using minoxidil for a receding hairline or thinning hair. Besides, you wouldn’t want to waste your time and money to not get results, right?

To understand why the application method is important, let’s go through a quick explanation of how minoxidil works.

Male pattern baldness (or androgenetic alopecia) is caused by a combination of two factors: the production of certain male hormones and the sensitivity of your hair follicles to these hormones.

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a male hormone and byproduct of testosterone that may play a role in triggering male pattern baldness. DHT binds to the hair follicles and causes them to shrink, which can slow hair growth and may stop hair growth entirely over time. 

Experts aren’t completely sure how minoxidil works to improve hair growth. But current research suggests it acts as a vasodilator to improve blood flow to the scalp, encouraging hair follicles to move into the anagen or growth phase of the hair growth cycle.

When used daily over the course of several months, minoxidil has been shown to boost blood flow to the scalp and improve hair growth.

There are two minoxidil dosages available: 2% and 5% concentrations. Both minoxidil solutions are applied twice a day, either using half a capful of the foam or 1 milliliter of the liquid solution.

How to use minoxidil foam is simple, although it may take a few applications to get the hang of it. 

Minoxidil foam has more substance to it than the topical solution, which may make it easier for some men to apply. Here’s how to apply generic minoxidil or brand-name Rogaine foam: 

  1. Make sure your hair is completely dry. If you’ve just showered, dry your hair completely before applying minoxidil foam.

  2. Gently part your hair in sections so you can easily access your scalp.

  3. Hold the minoxidil can upside down and press the nozzle to dispense about half a capful of the foam into your hand.

  4. Apply the foam to the areas of the scalp affected by hair loss. Using your fingertips, gently massage the foam into your scalp.

  5. When you’re finished, wash your hands thoroughly to remove any remaining foam from your skin.

  6. Let the medication dry for at least four hours before washing your hair, using a hair dryer or putting on a hat.

If you find the foam awkward or difficult to apply, you can use a dropper to apply the minoxidil solution. We’ve also written up a guide on the pros and cons of minoxidil foam versus liquid.

Here’s how to apply minoxidil liquid solution:

  1. Make sure your hair is completely dry. If you’ve just taken a shower, dry your hair completely before applying the liquid minoxidil solution.

  2. Insert the dropper provided with your medication into the solution and fill it to the 1-milliliter mark. (There should be a black line on the dropper at 1 milliliter.)

  3. Apply the minoxidil drop by drop to areas of the scalp affected by hair loss. You may find it helpful to part your hair in several places to improve penetration into the scalp.

  4. Once you’re finished applying the liquid, put the cap back on the bottle and rub the solution into your scalp using the tips of your fingers.

  5. Wash your hands thoroughly to remove any remaining solution from your skin.

  6. Give the medication at least four hours to dry before washing your hair, using a blow dryer or wearing a hat.

Other Tips for Using Minoxidil Foam

Now you know not only how to use Rogaine foam (as well as liquid minoxidil) but how this medication works to improve hair regrowth.

Here’s some other useful information to keep in mind:

  • While you may be tempted to use minoxidil for beard growth, this treatment is only intended for use on the scalp. If you accidentally get some of the foam or liquid solution on your face or other parts of the body, rinse it away with cool water. Talk to your healthcare provider or dermatologist if you notice irritation or redness developing after skin contact.

  • If you miss a dose of minoxidil, there’s no need to worry. This treatment is intended for twice-daily application, so apply it as soon as you can after a missed dose. If it’s already close to time for your next dose, just apply the medication as intended and skip the missed dose.

  • Store your minoxidil in a visible location at room temperature, away from heat, moisture and direct light, like in your bedside table drawer or bathroom cabinet. If you have children living in your household, store it out of reach. 

Want to know more about the other form of minoxidil? Our guide on how to apply minoxidil for hair growth includes more information and tips on the liquid minoxidil solution.

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Side Effects of Using Minoxidil Foam

Minoxidil is generally considered safe when used properly, but all medications come with a risk of side effects.

The most common minoxidil side effects include:

  • Irritation at the application site

  • Mild burning or itching

  • Dryness

  • Flaking or scaling

You should also be aware of the potential for increased hair loss. 

Since minoxidil works by moving your hair follicles into the growth phase, the medication restarts the hair growth cycle. This means that when you first start treatment, the hair follicles may rapidly move through the current growth phase into the shedding phase. 

It’s completely normal to experience a significant amount of hair shedding when you first start minoxidil treatment. Over the next few weeks and months, the hair follicles will start new growth.

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How to Apply Minoxidil Foam for Hair Loss

If you’ve started noticing thinner hair or larger bald spots coming in, you’ve probably reached for several different topical hair loss solutions. Minoxidil, one of the most effective treatments for hair loss, is available in a foam solution.

Here’s a rundown of what we covered:

  • Male pattern baldness is caused by genetics and the hormone DHT that slows down or completely stops new hair growth.

  • Minoxidil works by increasing blood flow to the scalp, thereby encouraging hair regrowth and balding to slow down.

  • How to apply minoxidil foam is done in a few steps: Use half a capful on dry hair. Using your fingertips, gently massage the foam into the affected areas of the scalp. Let the medication fully dry before washing your hair or wearing a hat.

If you’ve just started using this treatment, you can find out how long minoxidil takes to work to know when to expect results.

There are also other hair loss treatments to consider. Another FDA-approved hair loss medication called finasteride is available as an oral tablet or combined with minoxidil in a topical finasteride-minoxidil spray.

It never hurts to explore your options.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.

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