Home Hair Loss Finasteride vs. Minoxidil: Which men’s hair loss treatment is best?

Finasteride vs. Minoxidil: Which men’s hair loss treatment is best?

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If you’ve started to notice a receding hairline or a thinning crown, you may be one of the millions of Americans with male pattern baldness, which is also known as androgenetic alopecia.

Most guys will experience hair loss at some point, but cheap treatment options may help regrow hair or slow the balding process.

Two cheap hair loss treatment options for men that really work 

Money expert Clark Howard got a call from Chuck, 43, who began researching various products and needed some advice to make sure he wasn’t going to be scammed by a so-called “hair loss cure.”

Here’s a transcript of what Chuck had to say on the radio show:

“I’m 43 years old and my hair has started to thin out a little bit. I started looking into a lot of these different products on the market that claim they can slow down balding in men and some of them even claim they can regrow your actual hair. As I went on the internet and started looking around, I kind of went down a rabbit hole into these different reviews and all sorts of different products from vitamins to topical solutions. Do any of these things do what they claim they can do?”

Listen to Clark discuss hair loss treatments on The Clark Howard Show Podcast

Clark told Chuck that Propecia (finasteride) and Rogaine (minoxidil) are two FDA-approved medications that have been proven over the years to be “enormously successful” in helping men stop hair loss and even regrow some hair.

So what exactly causes male pattern baldness in the first place? You can blame genetics — but not just your mother’s father.

“We’ve all heard the old wives’ tale that a guy’s hair is based on their mother’s father. That’s sort of true, but it’s not,” said primary care physician Dr. John Hong. “It’s really the total number of guys in your family that have male pattern baldness that will affect your risk, particularly your dad. If your dad is bald, you’re more likely to be bald.”

Heredity, hormones and age all play a role in male pattern baldness, which generally progresses slowly over a number of years.

I have a personal story about how I addressed my hair loss problem, but I want to first provide a basic overview of what many doctors consider to be the best hair loss treatments for men:

Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) 

  • What is it?: Finasteride, the generic alternative to Propecia and Proscar, is an oral prescription medication used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and male pattern baldness. The recommended dose for hair loss is one tablet (1 mg) per day.
  • How quickly does it work?: Daily use for three months or more is necessary before you will see results and it requires continued use.
  • What are the side effects?: Sexual side effects like decreased libido and erectile dysfunction have been reported with finasteride and may continue for some people after they stop taking it. (Source: Northwestern University)
  • How much does it cost?:  We searched GoodRx and found a 30-day supply of finasteride for $12.74, no insurance required.

Dr. Hong says: “It can help hair follicles regrow or help slow down the process of it falling out. It is a lifelong medicine to take for someone’s hair. About 9% increase in hair follicle count after a year and 24% in four years.”

GoodRx finasteride

Minoxidil (Rogaine) 

  • What is it?: Minoxidil, the generic alternative to Rogaine, is an over the counter medication used to treat male pattern baldness. It comes in a topical solution and foam. The product is applied to the scalp twice a day.
  • How quickly does it work?: It may take at least four months to see results and continued use is necessary.
  • What are the side effects?: Some people may experience a dry, itchy scalp and irritation when using the product. There may be an increase in hair shedding during the first few weeks of use.
  • How much does it cost? A 6-month supply of Costco’s Kirkland Signature Hair Regrowth Treatment Minoxidil Foam for Men is $44.99.

Dr. Hong says: “The 5% foam has been shown to be about 30% effective, and the foam is less irritating than the solution.” 


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