2 vs 5% minoxidil effectiveness

Both 2% and 5% topical minoxidil solutions exist. And thus, naturally, questions arise regarding the 2 vs 5% minoxidil effectiveness.

That’s why I compiled a list of the current research in order to note the differences between 2% and 5% minoxidil and to answer the question, “is 5 minoxidil better than 2”.

Firstly, let us explain the difference between two and five percent minoxidil.


Difference between 2 and 5% minoxidil

The main difference between 2 and 5% minoxidil is the strength. The 2 and 5% minoxidil formula are solutions of a different strength.

Generally, 2% minoxidil is the recommended dose for women, while the 5% solution is generally used by men. Just like there are different minoxidil strengths, there are some key differences between minoxidil foam and liquid as well.


Minoxidil studies: 2 vs 5% solution

A bottle of minoxidil spray of the brand Foligain.

Since we now know the differences between the two, let us review what the literature has to say about minoxidil 2 percent vs 5 percent to end the debate about minoxidil 5 percent vs 2 percent in order to conclude which one is better

2 vs 5% minoxidil


Studies have shown that 5% minoxidil is more effective than 2% minoxidil in treating alopecia. [1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/[2]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15034503/[3]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12196747/

Clinical response to minoxidil is more pronounced if the onset of alopecia is within five years (mainly in young adults), and the hair follicles are not deeply miniaturized.”[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/

In the following 48-week double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, the objective was to compare the 2% topical minoxidil with the 5% topical minoxidil in men with androgenetic alopecia (AGA).[5]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12196747/

3 groups were made. 1 group received the 5% topical minoxidil, the second group received the 2% minoxidil and the last group was the placebo group. A total of 393 men participated. 157 men with AGA applied 5% topical minoxidil solution, 158 men applied 2% topical minoxidil and finally, 78 men applied the placebo solution. All groups applied twice daily. The effectiveness was measured by hair counts on the scalp area and investigator assessments of change in scalp coverage and benefit of treatment.

They concluded the following:

In men with AGA, 5% topical minoxidil was clearly superior to 2% topical minoxidil and placebo in increasing hair regrowth, and the magnitude of its effect was marked (45% more hair regrowth than 2% topical minoxidil at week 48).

Men who used 5% topical minoxidil also had an earlier response to treatment than those who used 2% topical minoxidil.

Psychosocial perceptions of hair loss in men with AGA were also improved. Topical minoxidil (5% and 2%) was well tolerated by the men in this trial without evidence of systemic effects[6]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12196747/

In this study, a 48 week, double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial was performed in order to compare the safety and effectiveness of 2% topical minoxidil and 5% topical minoxidil. Important to note is that it was in the treatment of female pattern hair loss and, thus, not on males or specifically for beard growth.[7]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15034503/

3 groups were made. 1 group of women got the 5% solution, another group the 2% solution and the last group was the placebo group. 153 women between the age of 18-49 with female pattern hair loss applied the 5% topical minoxidil, while 154 women applied 2% topical minoxidil. One group was a placebo group of 74 women. All groups applied topical minoxidil twice daily. Changes in nonvellus hairs were counted at week 48. Furthermore, patient and investigator assessment of change in scalp coverage was also measured at week 48

This is what they concluded.

5% topical minoxidil was superior to placebo on each of the 3 primary efficacy end points: promoting hair growth as measured by change in nonvellus hair count and patient/investigator assessments of hair growth and scalp coverage.

Application of 2% topical minoxidil was superior to placebo for assessments of nonvellus hair counts and investigator assessment of hair growth/scalp coverage at week 48; differences in patient assessment of hair growth at week 48 were not significantly different from placebo.

At week 48, the 5% topical minoxidil group demonstrated statistical superiority over the 2% topical minoxidil group in the patient assessment of treatment benefit. Both concentrations of topical minoxidil were well tolerated by the women in this trial without evidence of systemic adverse effects.

An increased occurrence of pruritus, local irritation, and hypertrichosis was observed with 5% topical minoxidil versus 2% topical minoxidil and placebo.[8]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15034503/

In the last study, a comparison was made between applying minoxidil topical solution 2% twice daily and 5% minoxidil topical foam once a day in women with androgenetic alopecia.

This is what they found out:

Once-daily 5% MTF is noninferior and as effective for stimulating hair growth as twice-daily 2% MTS in women with androgenetic alopecia and is associated with several aesthetic and practical advantages.


With regard to the minoxidil 5 percent vs 2 percent debate, research seems to indicate that minoxidil 2 percent vs 5 percent are both effective, but that minoxidil 5% seems to be more efficient than the 2% version.


Minoxidil 2 percent vs 5 percent which one is better?

With the current research in mind, we can conclude that 5% minoxidil is superior to 2% minoxidil in regard to hair growth or regrowth and thus, also beard growth.

Although both the 2 percent and the 5 percent solution are effective at promoting hair growth/regrowth. It’s just that the 5% topical solution is superior to the 2% solution if you care about effectiveness and the most “bang for your buck”.




Minoxidil 2% vs 5% for beard growth

Clip art of a full bearded man in side view.

It’s hard to say whether minoxidil 2% is more effective than 5% for beard growth since minoxidil is only approved by the FDA for usage on the scalp, and not anywhere else on the body, which includes the face.

But if we extrapolate the 2 vs. 5 % minoxidil effectiveness debate about promoting hair growth on the scalp for hair growth, then we can presume that the 5% product will probably be more efficient at promoting the growth of facial hair.



1, 4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
2, 7, 8 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15034503/
3, 5, 6 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12196747/