Minoxidil prevents scalp hair loss but can it do the same for your beard?

The lowdown of using minoxidil for beard growth.

Written by
Bailey Petts
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
June 27, 2022
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A factor of getting older is losing your hair. Yeah, we know. It can suck.

There's nothing wrong with feeling upset about losing your hair and there's no shame in talking about it either. Although, we understand that it can be a tricky topic to discuss with friends.

The reality is that hair loss is incredibly common and the good news is that there are ways to both slow it down and nurture your hair follicles to encourage new growth. While receding hairlines, thinning hair and hair loss on the head is something we're aware of, some people also experience facial hair loss.

And, if you're a longtime fan of the beard and are experiencing loss in this area, you might be wondering if you can minoxidil for beard growth. Well, here's what you need to know.

What is minoxidil?

Minoxidil was first used as an antihypertensive medication in the 1970s to treat high blood pressure. When used, though, it led to the discovery that it worked well to promote hair growth.

You can purchase minoxidil as a medication by prescription in a few forms:

  • Liquid minoxidil
  • Foam minoxidil
  • Oral tablet minoxidil

How does minoxidil encourage hair growth?

Minoxidil works by affecting your follicular cells and enhancing hair growth. It does this by:

  • Reversing the miniaturisation of follicles. When your hair follicle tightens, it makes it harder for new hair to grow through. Thinner hairs are produced and they're fragile, falling out easily — this treatment helps to reduce this from happening.
  • Increases blood flow to the follicles.
  • Stimulates hair follicles.
  • Increases the growth phase of hair follicles.

Minoxidil reduces hair loss and helps you keep the hair that you do have, so if you're noticing any initial shedding or if you're wanting to counteract male pattern baldness, it's recommended to start the medication as soon as possible. If you treat hair loss as soon as you notice it, you'll also feel more in control of it.

How common is hair loss in your beard?

It's pretty common to notice patches in your facial hair alongside more common areas like the hairline or on the crown of your head. Alopecia barbae is an autoimmune disorder that causes the loss of hair in your beard. You'll typically notice small circle-shaped patches of hair loss, which typically manifest around the jawline.

It can be caused by a few things:

  • Genes
  • Hormones
  • Diet
  • Stress

There isn't a cure for alopecia barbae but with treatment, you can manage the symptoms. In theory, using minoxidil can improve hair growth in your beard — but just remember that currently the only evidence that it works on the face is anecdotal and more clinical studies are needed to confirm its effectiveness.

Is minoxidil safe for the face?

If you're noticing a lower hair count in your beard hair, you can consider taking oral minoxidil for beard growth although, as we mentioned above, the results aren't confirmed by research as yet.

If you're using topical minoxidil, please be aware that there may be certain side effects such as:

  • Itchiness
  • Skin irritation
  • Dry skin

Keep in mind that topical minoxidil is generally only recommended to use on the scalp and using it on your face could be too strong for those with sensitive skin. It's best to seek professional guidance from a doctor before trying this yourself.

Can minoxidil help facial hair grow?

The texture of facial hair is different to the hair that grows on your head, with the former far thicker and wirier. The skin underneath is also different, with the scalp often able to withstand more than the sensitive skin of the face. This means that beard growth may not work the same way as the growth on your head or respond to minoxidil as effectively.

And currently, there is very little research on this topic. A study from 2016 found that a minoxidil lotion worked slightly better than a placebo lotion given to participants. While there is some promise in these results, it doesn't shed much light on the effectiveness of minoxidil and beard growth.

A 2014 study found slightly better results when using minoxidil for eyebrow growth. The participants who used a minoxidil formula to their eyebrows over a 16-week period achieved better growth results compared to those who used a placebo product.

At this stage, it's best to approach using minoxidil for beard growth with caution and keep in mind that what works for others may not always translate into facial hair growth for you.

Is there any other way to stimulate facial hair growth?

Minoxidil works to stimulate hair growth but the research around its beard enhancement qualities is still yet to be seen. With this in mind, you might want to consider other ways to stimulate beard growth.

You can try:

  • Combing your beard hair to stimulate active hair follicles
  • Using a PH balanced cleanser
  • Including more nutrients in your diet
  • Massaging and moisturising your facial hair to ensure it's in great condition.

Whether you're looking for a five o'clock shadow or a fuller beard, the above remedies might work for you.

Is minoxidil beard growth permanent?

In general, minoxidil needs to be used every day on a long-term basis to keep hair loss at bay. While it might seem like a bit of a commitment, it is a worthwhile treatment. If you notice that minoxidil has encouraged beard growth for you (remembering that it hasn't received much scientific evidence to support this), that's great!

The medication slows balding and stimulates hair follicles, but it cannot cure baldness — on your scalp or your beard. As soon as you stop taking the medication, your new hair will be lost.

What are the side effects of using minoxidil?

As with all new medication, you should consult with your doctor about the potential side effects. The side effects of minoxidil can include:

  • Hypertrichosis, where excessive hair grows on parts of the body that you might not have planned for
  • Skin irritation
  • Itchy eyes

When you use minoxidil, just take note of any changes you notice and stop usage and consult a doctor if you notice any of the above.

When is the best time to use minoxidil?

If you're using topical minoxidil, you can apply the treatment twice a day. Many people use it once when they wake up, and again before they go to bed. Remember to give it time to dry on the scalp and always apply it to dry hair and skin.

If you are noticing hair loss in your beard and have been given the go-ahead by a doctor to try a minoxidil beard growth treatment, it's best to start it as soon as possible because minoxidil beard doesn't always regrow lost hair but it will help you keep the remaining hair.

When will I see results?

If you're consistent with using minoxidil, and you're using it twice daily, you should see results relatively quickly and you might notice a difference within a couple of months of starting the treatment. The best results are usually visible within four to six months. For more information, it's best to consult a healthcare professional.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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