Can You Use Minoxidil for Beard Growth? We Asked the Experts

Minoxidil bottle and dropper

Byrdie / Liz DeSousa

Everywhere you look, beards seem to be en vogue—and there is an ever-growing bevy of products available to support the trend, from beard conditioners to lotions to oils.

There’s no denying that celebrities have influenced the trend, including Brad Pitt, Idris Elba, and Bad Bunny. Aside from it being in style, there are myriad reasons someone might choose to grow a beard versus going the clean-shaven route. Some may like how it visually reshapes their face. Others may choose to grow a beard simply because they find daily shaving burdensome and irritating to their skin.

Regardless of the reasons, not everyone is able to grow a full, even beard, so some have considered options to turn face fuzz into a bushy shrub. Enter minoxidil, an ingredient long used by those experiencing balding. According to experts, minoxidil works by stimulating hair follicles, so it would make sense that those benefits could extend to facial hair.

But do they? We asked dermatologists Dendy Engelman, MD, and Jason Emer, MD; plastic surgeon Lara Devgan, MD; and trichologist Precious Rutlin for their viewpoints. Read on for what they had to say.

Meet the Expert

  • Precious Rutlin, BCHHP, HWC, CAHP, is a trichologist and hair loss expert.
  • Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, is a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at New York City’s Shafer Clinic.
  • Jason Emer, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Los Angeles.
  • Lara Devgan, MD, is a plastic surgeon with a private practice on New York City’s Park Avenue.

What Is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil entered the market in 1987, available by prescription under the Rogaine brand. Now an over-the-counter treatment, this topical product is FDA-approved to treat hair loss and help regrow hair in both men and women and comes in either a foam or serum. While minoxidil can help treat thinning hair and balding on the scalp, an off-label but growing use for the product is to enhance beard growth.

According to trichologist Rutlin, “clinical studies have shown that, when used consistently, minoxidil [has] enabled some people to effectively grow their hair back." She cautions that “results will vary per person.”

How Does Minoxidil Work?

Engelman tells us that “minoxidil is an effective way to improve hair growth… [it] promotes oxygen, blood, and nutrient flow to the hair follicle, making the follicle stronger and encouraging hair growth. It is most commonly used to stimulate hair growth and slow down the balding process.”

What is the science behind the formulation? Emer tells us “minoxidil, when used as a vasodilator, acts by opening adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-sensitive potassium channels in vascular smooth muscle cells. This vasodilation may also improve the viability of hair cells or hair follicles.”

Can You Use Minoxidil For Beard Growth?

Can the same properties used to stimulate hair growth on your scalp work on your face? Emer says yes, with some caveats. “It doesn’t work as well in this area, but can be used. We have patients combine it with micro rolling and Latisse. The Latisse seems to be more enhanced with the use of minoxidil, although studies haven’t been performed. It works even better for eyebrows in this combination.”

Engelman, in contrast, does not recommend the use of minoxidil for beard growth. “I recommend using a different method for beard growth than minoxidil, as it is not known to be an effective treatment for beard hair,” she explains. Instead, she recommends castor oil.

Devgan is even more skeptical. “The hair on your head and the face have different skin quality and hair follicle quality. In addition, facial hair is much more dependent on DHT, a stronger form of testosterone that becomes present in higher quantities after puberty,” she notes. “There is very little evidence that suggests minoxidil benefits beard growth, with only one study in 2016 showing that it slightly outperformed the placebo for beard growth... This falls short of the level of scientific rigor we normally look for.” As an alternative to potentially foster beard growth, Devgan suggests PRP, biotin, and folate supplements such as her brand's Beauty Bears ($85).

Who Should Avoid Minoxidil?

If you do decide to try minoxidil for beard growth, note that our experts warn that people with sensitive skin or chronic skin conditions should tread carefully. “Those with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema or psoriasis should use caution,” says Engelman. “I recommend doing a patch test before starting treatment, watching your skin carefully while using minoxidil, and stopping use if you notice any problems developing.”

What about using minoxidil with your other skincare steps? “It is safe to exfoliate and cleanse your skin before applying minoxidil, but be aware that exfoliating may make your skin more sensitive to the minoxidil, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you have sensitive skin,” Engelman adds. Rutlin is more cautious in her assessment, however. “I do not suggest using toner or serums when using minoxidil. Most minoxidil formulations contain propylene glycol and alcohol, which can cause unnecessary irritation.”  

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  2. Suchonwanit P, Thammarucha S, Leerunyakul K. Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a reviewDrug Des Devel Ther. 2019;13:2777-2786.

  3. Chen X, Liu B, Li Y, et al. Dihydrotestosterone regulates hair growth through the wnt/β-catenin pathway in c57bl/6 mice and in vitro organ cultureFront Pharmacol. 2020;10:1528.

  4. Ingprasert S, Tanglertsampan C, Tangphianphan N, Reanmanee C. Efficacy and safety of minoxidil 3% lotion for beard enhancement: A randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled studyJ Dermatol. 2016;43(8):968-969.

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