Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s) and published for informational purposes only. We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to hair loss treatment.
Rogaine is one of the most popular hair loss treatments in the world. It’s typically used by and marketed to men. But because of its efficacy, many women suffering from baldness are often curious about whether Rogaine is equally effective for women. Rogaine does sell a line of women’s hair loss products with the same active ingredient as the men’s formulation.
In this article we’ll review medical research on Rogaine for women to determine if we believe it’s likely to be safe and effective for treating female pattern baldness. We’ll also explain whether the treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. to treat female pattern baldness.
Is Rogaine FDA Approved for Use by Women?
Rogaine’s products for women are FDA approved and available over-the-counter (FDA). The FDA is the regulatory agency in the U.S. which clears medical devices and products for use after a thorough review of efficacy and safety, so this is a good sign for the legitimacy of the brand.
We typically only recommend that consumers use hair loss medications which are FDA approved, because this makes it less likely that the product will be harmful or unsafe in any way.
The active ingredient in Women’s Rogaine is actually the only FDA-approved topical treatment for female pattern hair loss at the time of writing this article.
It’s important to note that dietary supplements and most cosmetics are not subject to approval by the FDA; only drugs are. Since Rogaine contains a pharmaceutical ingredient, it’s subject to approval.
Rogaine for Women Formulation Review
The active ingredient in Women’s Rogaine is minoxidil at a concentration of 5% or 2%. This is one of the most well-studied compounds for treating hair loss, but most of the medical research involves male subjects. There are some studies testing the efficacy of minoxidil for women.
A medical review published in the Skin Therapy Letter journal in 2014 evaluated whether minoxidil at the exact same concentrations as that in Women’s Rogaine was effective for treating female pattern hair loss.
Both concentrations of minoxidil were found to be similarly effective at improving symptoms of hair loss. Target area hair count increased by around 20 new hairs per square centimeter, which is an impressive result.
A clinical trial comparing 5% and 2% minoxidil for androgenic alopecia in women found both treatments effective, but 5% applied once-daily was superior to 2% applied twice-daily both in regard to side effects and efficacy.
Women using 5% minoxidil experienced increases in target hair count and target hair width, and subjective improvements in perceived hair quality.
A more recent clinical trial published in 2020 found that topical minoxidil was just as effective as oral minoxidil for treating female pattern hair loss. This is an important result because oral drugs typically have more side effects than topical drugs, as less of the compound tends to be absorbed into the bloodstream with topical drugs. We would definitely recommend that patients speak with their doctor about topical minoxidil over oral minoxidil.
We can conclude from the available research that Rogaine for Women is likely to be effective on average at treating female pattern hair loss.
One benefit of both Women’s Rogaine formulations is that their inactive ingredients are safe and non-toxic. This is not always the case with pharmaceutical products. Both products are unscented and free of potentially harmful excipient ingredients such as fragrance or artificial dye.
How Does Rogaine for Women Work?
The active ingredient in Women’s Rogaine causes a number of biological changes to the body which inhibit hair loss and increase hair growth.
According to an extensive medical review of minoxidil published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, topical minoxidil is both a vasodilator and an anti-inflammatory agent. Since pattern baldness is aggravated by local inflammation, this may halt or even reverse the process. Vasodilation refers to blood vessels widening, which may allow more nutrients to reach the hair follicles.
The study authors also note that minoxidil may be an “antiandrogen.” This means that the compound blocks androgenic activity locally, which can halt hair loss. In both male and female pattern baldness, androgens (which refer to hormones such as testosterone) either cause or exacerbate hair loss.
Minoxidil also increases the duration of the anagen phase, which is the phase of the hair cycle where new hair follicles grow.
All of these biological changes seem to have a synergistic effect which is demonstrated in the research proving how effective minoxidil is at increasing hair growth.
Researchers haven’t yet determined exactly how or why the same ingredient is so effective in women, because female pattern hair loss isn’t considered as hormonally-driven as male pattern hair loss, so we hope that more research on minoxidil for female pattern hair loss emerges in the future to specifically determine mechanisms of action.
Rogaine for Women Side Effects
The side effects of the active ingredient in Rogaine for Women are well documented. A review of the side effects is published by StatPearls, one of the largest free medical databases maintained by the U.S. government.
One of the most important side effects to note is that minoxidil may cause fetal malformation, even when applied topically, so pregnant women (and potentially breastfeeding women – but speak with your doctor) should likely avoid all Rogaine products.
The remaining side effects are relatively minor: redness, irritation and excessive hair growth. The final side effect is noted because this excessive hair growth may occur in places other than the scalp. Many women would prefer not to have hair growth in other areas of their face, so this side effect should be discussed with a doctor prior to Rogaine use.
Can Rogaine for Women Degrade Skin Quality?
One of the theoretical, and unlikely, side effects of Rogaine for Women is a decrease in skin quality. This side effect has not been proven in human trials but in vitro (test tube) which is a weaker standard of evidence.
As we referenced in our review of hair loss brand Keeps, which uses the same active ingredient as Rogaine, in our does Keeps work article, there was a published medical study which found minoxidil to significantly reduce collagen synthesis (by around 50%).
Collagen is the core structural protein in skin, and its degradation with age is one of the primary reasons that elderly people have degraded skin compared to younger people. Here is the link to the study for those curious.
We don’t believe this is nearly enough medical evidence to conclusively say that reduced skin quality is a possible side effect of Rogaine, but we do hope to see more research testing this effect in the future. This study may be worthwhile for patients who are concerned about their skin quality to discuss with their doctor prior to starting Rogaine for Women.
Can Women Use Men’s Rogaine?
The ingredients in both Men’s Rogaine and Women’s Rogaine are exactly the same. Even the inactive ingredients are exactly the same. This suggests that women can use Men’s Rogaine and should see the same effects.
The only difference between the two products is branding. We don’t believe this is a negative thing, since the active ingredient in both formulations is the only FDA-approved pharmaceutical ingredient to treat hair loss in both women and men, as discussed earlier in the article.
Rogaine for Women User Reviews
Rogaine for Women is sold on Amazon, which allows for a more impartial analysis of user reviews in our opinion than a manufacturer website.
Women’s Rogaine has been rated an impressive 13,364 times at the time of writing this article, and the average rating is 4.2 out of 5 stars. This is a relatively mediocre rating.
One good sign about the transparency of the brand is that FakeSpot gives the product an A grade. FakeSpot is an algorithm which detects potentially manipulated Amazon reviews, so this suggests that Rogaine hasn’t falsified any reviews at all.
The most popular positive review of Women’s Rogaine comes from a user named “Regan D. Sinclair” who claims the product has improved hair growth in her widow’s peaks:
“Glad i waited because I can really see my widow’s peaks filling in! Supposedly the hair continues to fill in and thicken up for months to come. I’m keeping it up for sure.”
The most popular negative review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “Carrie Stewart” who claims the product had no effect on her hair. Her review was refreshingly balanced:
“I was one of the unlucky few for whom Rogaine has no effect. I kept using it every day for 6 months, but nothing happened. It doesn't mean Rogaine is no good -- it means it doesn't grow hair for everyone.”
Dermatologist Opinion on Rogaine for Women
One of the most popular YouTube reviews of Rogaine for Women is published by a dermatologist whose channel is called “Dr. Dray.”
She provides an overview of the treatment and answers user questions: