Side effects and concerns: Minoxidil is safe, but it can have unpleasant side effects even apart from the alcohol-related skin irritation. Sometimes the new hair differs in color and texture from surrounding hair. Another risk is hypertrichosis — excessive hair growth in the wrong places, such as the cheeks or forehead. (This problem is more likely with the stronger 5% solution.) Because the patent on Rogaine (the brand-name version of minoxidil) has expired, many generic products are available. They all contain the same amount of minoxidil, but some include additional ingredients, such as herbal extracts, which might trigger allergic reactions.
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Some treatments in development hold particular promise for women. Angela Christiano, a hair geneticist and Columbia University professor of dermatology, is hoping to begin clinical trials in a year or two on a procedure in which she dissects hair-follicle stem cells, grows them in the lab until she has several million, then injects them into the scalp, where, a very small study done with a human skin model has shown, they induce new hairs.
The main type of hair loss in both sexes — and the subject of this article — is androgenetic alopecia, or female (or male) pattern hair loss. In men, hair loss usually begins above the temples, and the receding hairline eventually forms a characteristic "M" shape; hair at the top of the head also thins, often progressing to baldness. In women, androgenetic alopecia begins with gradual thinning at the part line, followed by increasing diffuse hair loss radiating from the top of the head. A woman's hairline rarely recedes, and women rarely become bald.
Also new is the HairMax Laser Comb. It's a red light therapy hairbrush-like device that increases circulation and the biological march that makes hair. It's only approved in men (though some women are using it) and in my experience, is not as good as minoxidil. But in one study, 45% of users reported improvement after eight weeks, and 90% saw improvement after 16 weeks.
Thanks for the article with great info. I’ve been taking minoxidil 5% for the last 2 years. I’ve tried a generic minoxidil brand and also Kirkland to no effect. I’ve been hoping it’s maybe slowed the hair loss process. The hair around my crown just keeps getting thinner. Do you think changing to another “better quality” brand like Lipogaine or Rogaine could work? Or does it appear that any minoxidil brand is not going to work?