15% minoxidil || All you need to know
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It is not quite clear if Dr. Richard Lee, a Los Angeles based dermatologist,
was the first person who compounded 15% minoxidil hair loss growth product. He
was for sure the one who made
this formulation popular. It is the highest concentration of minoxidil solution
that has ever been made. There was 20% or 30% minoxidil cream mentioned
somewhere, but I haven’t seen such high concentration in solution yet, although
technically 20% and 30% minoxidil in solution can be compounded. In the 15%
minoxidil solution, 15% weight of the solution is minoxidil. In another word, if
you have one milliliter of the solution and dry it out, you should get roughly
150 milligram of minoxidil. In comparison, if you do the same with 1 milliliter
5% Kirkland minoxidil, you will get roughly 50 milligram minoxidil.
There are two main reasons why azelaic acid is added 15% minoxidil solution: 1). It has shown in vitro study that azelaic acid is a strong a DHT blocker. It reduces the DHT concentration in scalp to reverse genetic hair loss (male pattern baldness) that is currently believed to be caused by the excessive DHT in scalp. 2). the other reason that is not well known to general public is that it actually helps the solubility of minoxidil. Without azelaic acid and other additives, you can only get up to 6 to 7% minoxidil in a solution consisting of propylene glycol, water and alcohol. Can you get minoxidil up to 15% minoxidil by using 5% azelaic acid? The answer is no. See question 4 below.
A lot of people ask why big companies don't offer 15% minoxidil if it really works better than 5%. There are three main reasons why big companies are not interested in offering 15% minoxidil. (1). They need to go through FDA approval process to allow them to market the solution. The approval process can easily cost hundreds of million dollars, let alone it takes many years to complete the clinical trials.
(2). They don't have a patent for the use of higher than 5% minoxidil solutions to treat male pattern baldness, which means any company can make and sell it. For something to be patentable, one of the requirements is that it has to be something new that was never disclosed to public (meaning no prior art). So even if a big pharmaceutical company decides to invest in 15% minoxidil and successfully get FDA approval, it won't be able to patent it since this formula has long been used. Yes, if they can make a 15% minoxidil foam, they could patent the 15% minoxidil foam because no one has ever made such a product to our best knowledge. Without a patent, a big company won’t invest in it to get FDA approval because its profits cannot be guaranteed. Keep in mind when big companies make decisions on investment, the first thing they consider is how much profit it can make not how good a product is. If selling sugar water or junk food can bring them big profit, they will not hesitate to do so.
(3). The last but not least reason is due to manufacturing and logistic consideration. For this formula to be absorbed in a reasonable timeframe, you will need use a lot of alcohol, higher than 50%, which is much more flammable than 30% alcohol. As a result, it completely changes the scope of requirement for manufacturing process and shipping, resulting in much higher cost.
A lot of people ask why there is no a big company that is smart enough to come with a
fast dry 5% liquid minoxidil similar to EssenGen-5 Fast Dry. Why would they stick with a formula like Rogaine
or Kirkland 5% liquid minoxidil that has only 30% alcohol and 50% propylene
glycol which takes ages to dry, not switching to a 50% alcohol and 30% propylene
glycol formula? We believe this is part of the reason.
One of the reasons why 15% minoxidil is offered by only a few suppliers
is that it is technically challenging to compound 15% minoxidil. With minoxidil
and 5% azelaic acid, you can get up to ~10% minoxidil. How to make 15%
minoxidil is a trade secret. So don’t expect any
supplier to disclose that information to you. It is certain not all the
suppliers are using the same method to get up to 15%. Furthermore, different
suppliers use different solvent, such as glycerin versus propylene glycol, or
use different amount of propylene glycol, water, and ethanol. All of these
contribute to the difference in stability, stickiness, greasiness, and
effectiveness among different brands.
No. Part of the reason is mentioned in question 4. In addition, different
brands of 15% minoxidil add different auxiliary effective ingredients such as azelaic acid, retinol, and/or caffeine to the solution, which further
differentiates one from another. Some people think the addition of retinol is just
a sales gimmick, because retinol is useless and only retin-A works. That is not
true. Although most studies were done with retin-A and demonstrated that it
enhanced minoxidil penetration and therefore its effectiveness. There are
reputable studies published in peer reviewed journals that have showed retinol
enhanced minoxidil effectiveness as well. One advantage of using retinol instead
of retin-A is that it is a much milder ingredient than retin-A and does not
cause skin irritation as the latter does.
The simple answer is: it works. As far as we know no single 15% minoxidil
supplier has ever made any unrealistic false promises as what other hair loss
products (literally hundreds of them on the market) typically do. Nonetheless,
more and more people are turning to 15% minoxidil despite its much higher price
than generic 5% minoxidil. Based on the feedbacks from people
who have used it, there is no doubt that
15% minoxidil works and works better than 5%. You can Google "15% minoxidil
review" to see what people say about 15% minoxidil if you are not convinced.
The stability of 15% minoxidil varies depending on how it is compounded. If
properly compounded, it has pretty descent stability. According to the completed accelerated
stability study, it shows that minoxidil and azelaic acid are stable for at least
2 years in a typical 15% minoxidil plus 5% azelaic acid formula.
Experienced users would very confidently tell you it should be yellowish.
That is actually only partially correct. When you have very pure minoxidil and azelaic
acid and compound them together, it is almost colorless when it is just
compounded. Even with retinol at 0.1% concentration, there is tiny bit yellow color
barely noticeable when the solution is just compounded. The yellow color slowly develops when the solution ages. The yellow color will be very noticeable
when it is 1 to 2 months old if the solution has both azelaic acid and retinol,
particularly if the solution is in a natural color plastic bottle or transparent glass
When Dr. Lee compounded his 15% minoxidil (namely Xandrox-15) for almost 10
years, he always used
glycerin. Later on when a few other suppliers offered 15% minoxidil,
propylene glycol was introduced. So which is a better vehicle for compounding
15% minoxidil solution? Here is our experience. The glycerin based
15% minoxidil is milder than propylene glycol based one. It eliminates any scalp
irritation caused by propylene glycol. Therefore, if you are known to be allergic
to propylene glycol, a glycerin based version (or minoxidil without propylene
glycol) is recommended. The down side of the glycerin based 15% minoxidil is
that it takes slightly longer than the propylene glycol based version to
dry. Is the glycerin one stickier than the other one? The answer is no.
Actually, the opposite is true. Glycerin based one is somewhat greasier than
propylene glycol based one. Nonetheless, the former is less sticky than the
latter after it is dry. When the two types of solutions are properly compounded
and used properly, they should be equally effective.
Because of minoxidil used in this formula, 15% minoxidil solution is expected to have the same potential side effects as generic 5% minoxidil, which are listed below. People are strongly recommended to be vigilant on all the listed side effects when using 15% minoxidil. I haven’t seen any customer who developed side effects with the use of azelaic acid in this formula yet.
Unfortunately, if you are in USA, there is no easy way to get 15% minoxidil. You can not find anything with >5% minoxidil on Amazon.com; you can't find it from Ebay either. We have done very extensive search and couldn't find legitimate US online site that offers any product with greater than 5% minoxidil, let alone 15% minoxidil. If you are outside USA, you should be able to find a few sites that offer authentic 15% minoxidil. You can find these sites by a simple Google search.
So, if you are in USA, one way to get 15% minoxidil is to have your local
pharmacy to compound it for you. If your pharmacist has any technical
difficulty in compounding the solution, please let me know and I may help.
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