Hair Loss in men: Minoxidil foam or liquid?

Which is better for hair loss in men?

bearded middle aged man holding hairbrush, hair loss concept

Hair Loss in Men

Hair loss in men comes in various patterns and severity. This condition negatively affects one’s physical appearance and self-esteem. Because of this, various medications for hair loss are now available on the market. Among these, minoxidil stands out for being proven as an effective topical medication for slowing down hair loss and even stimulating the regrowth of hair.

Topical minoxidil is available in two main formulations: a liquid formulation and a foam formulation. The respective formulations are subcategorized based on their minoxidil content. The regular strength form is available as 2% minoxidil and a stronger form is available as 5% minoxidil. In terms of effectiveness, it is proven that 5% minoxidil is the more effective concentration for producing desired results for hair loss. Men who used 5% minoxidil had 45% more hair regrowth compared to those who used 2% minoxidil concentration.

Between the two forms, the main difference is the presence of propylene glycol in the liquid formulation. Propylene glycol is an alcohol needed to serve as a vehicle for minoxidil. However, there are reported cases of hypersensitivity to this substance. This led to the development of a propylene glycol-free formulation, the topical minoxidil foam. Each formulation has its advantages and disadvantages. Let us analyze them more in-depth with various parameters presented below and let us assess which is better for hair loss in men.

Hair Loss Treatment Price

Price is an important factor to consider since the use of minoxidil needs to be continuous and maintained. Generally, liquid minoxidil than the foam formulation. Some users stated that foam requires the user to dispense more product so that the foam can cover their entire scalp. Also, the foam version’s packaging does not come with a dropper, making dispensing an appropriate amount very difficult. So, using more of the product will pile up as an additional expense.

Ease of use

When it comes to its ease of use, the density of the foam formulation and the precision of the liquid formulation has their own pros and cons. If you have large bald spots or thin areas of hair, the foam is easier to apply. On the other hand, if you have long hair in the area of application, the liquid form is easier to apply to the scalp. In terms of application, the foam is a lot less messy and is easier to use overall. Hence, the ease of use with foam can help you follow your minoxidil prescription.

Convenience and aesthetics

Choosing a convenient formulation is important so that you can easily squeeze in using minoxidil into your daily routine. In terms of convenience, foam is said to be better than the liquid formulation. Since the foam is thicker in consistency, it is more convenient since it will not inadvertently drip to your face or clothes upon application.

A common complaint from liquid minoxidil users is the greasy feel that it has after application. This makes your hair look very greasy and oily and it could be a problem especially if you are going out after application. Because of this, the foam formulation is more recommended since this type is absorbed by the skin faster. So, it dries faster and the greasy look is eliminated faster. If you like styling your hair, a lot of minoxidil users will tell you that they prefer the foam formulation.

Side effects and allergic reactions

Propylene glycol is a component of the liquid formulation of minoxidil. This substance acts as a vehicle of the active minoxidil to be incorporated into the mixture. Some men experience an allergic reaction with liquid minoxidil because of the propylene glycol content. It sometimes causes skin issues such as redness and contact dermatitis.

Fortunately, the foam minoxidil does not have propylene glycol. However, the absence of it does not necessarily mean the absence of allergic reactions. You may be allergic to other ingredients of foam or minoxidil itself.

Your doctor will be able to help you with possible allergic reactions. But note that both foam and liquid formulations are generally well-tolerated and that only a small population have reported experiencing such side effects.


One of the most important questions to be answered is: which of the two is more effective? There are varied answers to this. Some experts argue that liquid is more effective due to the better delivery from its propylene glycol content and that foam can get tangled up in your hair. The claims which state that liquid had better absorption, hence more effective than foam, is still insignificant and requires further research to confirm this claim. Another theory with the effectiveness of liquid states that propylene glycol can increase blood flow to the area and hair regrowth can be stimulated better, but this theory still needs further studies.

Better arguments were given by experts which say that liquid minoxidil is more effective. Also, the Indian Journal of Dermatology published an article stating that liquid minoxidil is more effective for stimulating the regrowth of hair.

The final verdict

Of the factors mentioned above, it is clear that the foam formulation of minoxidil is superior to the liquid formulation. In conclusion, topical minoxidil in its foam formulation is more effective and better from a cosmetic point of view. This verdict is also based on the fact that the liquid’s formulation still needs more data in its theories of being better than the foam.

The foam formulation is a better option for highly sensitive skin and will help in avoiding possible contact dermatitis. Foam is also more comfortable for the user and generally more aesthetic to use compared to the liquid formulation. In the end, it will all boil down to preference. Some doctors would prefer to prescribe the liquid formulation first, since it is cheaper, and then move to another formulation and concentration depending on the response of the patient. Therefore, medical consultation is very important to ensure that the correct formulation and concentration are given to you.

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