Finasteride pill (brand name Propecia) is one of the only two FDA approved products for hair loss treatment. Topical finasteride has been explored by many users to lower side effects of finasteride pill. This blog will discuss (1) if the topical finasteride works, (2) whether it has fewer side effects, (3) the best way to avoid side effects, (4) how to compound topical finasteride yourself, and (5), how to maximize the effects of topical finasteride. Other commonly asked questions will also be discussed.
Does Topical Finasteride Work?
For topical finasteride to work, it needs to be able to lower the dihydrotestosterone (DHT) level in the scalp, meanwhile having minimal impact on the serum DHT level to avoid any side effects.
In the 7th World Congress on Hair Research, a Dutch research group reported the effect of topical and oral administration of finasteride on DHT levels in the scalp and serum. Results showed the topical finasteride not only decreased the DHT level in the scalp, but also in the serum. The good news is that topical finasteride decreases the scalp DHT level more than the oral version does, meanwhile it has far less impact on the serum DHT level than oral finasteride. Therefore, the data supports that topical finasteride works better than oral finasteride in two aspects: a) better hair growth; b) lower chance of side effects.
The results were confirmed by several clinical studies. In 2012, a Thailand group compared the efficacy and safety of the 24 weeks application of 3% minoxidil lotion (MNX) versus a combined 3% minoxidil and 0.1% finasteride lotion (MFX) in men with androgenetic alopecia (AGA). Results show the MFX group had significantly greater improvement than the MNX group in the amount of hair regrowth, and no side effect was reported (see the details of this study below, study 2).
In 2009, an Iranian group compared the therapeutic effects of topical finasteride gel and tablets in the treatment of male pattern hair loss, and found that the therapeutic effects of both finasteride gel and finasteride tablets were relatively similar to each other ( (see the details of this study below, study 3).
Topical Finasteride Side Effects:
The table below shows the drug-related adverse experiences for oral finasteride 1 mg (Propecia) after one year use in a large clinical study with nearly 2000 participants. This is the data submitted to and reviewed by FDA when Propecia was approved. As shown, the side effects of taking 1mg finasteride daily is slightly higher than the placebo group (read the more detailed finasteride side effects here)
|Ejaculation Disorder (Decreased Volume of Ejaculate)
|Discontinuation due to drug-related sexual adverse experiences
As the aforementioned data suggests the systemic effect of topical finasteride is less than that of oral finasteride. It does not decrease the serum DHT level as much as oral finasteride. DHT is an important sex hormone. Lowering the serum DHT level is believed to be the cause of sexual side effects by finasteride (such as decreased libido, erectile dysfunction) . A lot of people including some hair loss professionals believe topical finasteride has zero sexual side effects, which is most likely untrue. Keep in mind that even the placebo could cause side effects as shown in a large clinical study for oral finasteride. But there is little doubt that topical finasteride is safer than oral finasteride.
How to avoid finasteride side effects:
Topical finasteride helps reduce the chance of experiencing side effects. If someone still get unwanted side effects, one can potentially avoid or reduce them by reducing the dosage. A big convenience of topical finasteride is that you can easily change the dosage. There is exactly 1 mg of finasteride in every 1 ml of a 0.1% topical finasteride solution, which means you receive the same amount of finasteride in Propecia if you use 1.0 ml of 0.1% topical finasteride. If that is still too much, one can use 0.5ml (equal to 0.5 mg finasteride ) or even 0.25 ml (equals to 0.25mg finasteride). That can be easily done by measuring a smaller volume with a dropper that comes with the product. When using finasteride pill, one needs to cut the pills to adjust the dosage, which is far less convenient.
How to make topical finasteride 0.1% yourself
If you want to make your own topical finasteride at 0.1 percent to save money, you should be able to do that with the right tools and material. No need to be a scientist to do so. The only tool you need is a scale that is accurate to a 1mg level. All you need to do is to weigh 60 mg of pure finasteride power and pour it into a bottle of 60 ml minoxidil solution, close the bottle and shake it for ten (10) minutes.
The real challenge here is not how to make it, but how to obtain good quality of finasteride material. Some people choose to use 5 mg finasteride pills (Proscar). In this case, you will need to pulverize twelve (12) pills and then put the powder into a bottle of 60 ml minoxidil solution. Shake it very hard for ten (10) minutes. Let the bottle stand still for overnight and pour the clear solution to another bottle for use. The reason why it is recommended to dissolve the powder into a minoxidil solution is that it has right solvent that ensures good absorption of the topical finasteride. You can't use pure alcohol as the solvent, because it evaporates too fast and you will end up with flakes of finasteride on your scalp that will never be absorbed.
With the 0.1% topical solution, you receive 1 mg finasteride if you use the solution once a day. If you use the homemade solution above twice daily, your finasteride dosage is actually 2 mg a day.
How to make topical finasteride work better
To enhance its effectiveness, topical finasteride can be compounded with minoxidil (e.g. Essengen-6 Plus that has 6% minoxidil and 0.05% finasteride).
It can be compounded at a higher concentration of 0.2% (e.g. Essengen-F that has 0.2% finasteride).
It can also be compounded with both retinoic acid and minoxidil (e.g. Maxogen-X that has 7% minoxidil, 0.15% finasteride and 0.025% retinoic acid).
Where to buy topical finasteride?
You wish you could buy topical finasteride products from Amazon or eBay like you shop for any other products. Unfortunately, neither Amazon nor Ebay offers it. The good news is that you can get it from our store with an affordable price. Check it out here.
Can I stop taking the oral pill when a using topical solution?
Yes. You can stop taking the oral finasteride pill (1mg) after switching to 0.1% topical finasteride and you should be able to maintain your results very well.
Topical Finasteride before and after results:
You can view the topical finasteride results from our customers on the testimonial page. We have a lot of customers who enjoyed great success that they didn't experience before using topical finasteride. As one customer writes in his testimonial "I have tried numerous different hair regrowth products, Minoxidilmax's topical finasteride (Dualgen-15 NO PG plus) is the only product that did stop my hair loss and grew my hair back. Topical finasteride may not be for everyone. But if you have tried minoxidil and didn't receive good results, you should definitely try the topical finasteride. It is much more effective than minoxidil alone, and it is more cost effective than taking oral finasteride.". See the testimonial page here.
Can women use topical finasteride?
Women who are pregnant, breast-feeding or planning to conceiving soon should not use finasteride in any form, either oral or topical.
Should it be used once or twice a day?
It depends. It is recommended to use a 0.05% topical finasteride twice a day and use 0.1% or higher concentration only once a day.
Indian Journal of Dermatology Venereol Leprol. 2009 Jan-Feb;75(1):47-51.
Comparing the therapeutic effects of finasteride gel and tablet in treatment of the androgenetic alopecia.
Hajheydari Z et al.
Material: 0.1% topical finasteride vs 1 mg finasteride pill.
Subject and Study: 45 male patients with AGA divided into three groups, 15 in each group.
- Group I: 15 people were applied 0.1% topical finasteride once daily.
- Group II: 15 people took oral finasteride (1mg) once daily.
- Group III: 15 people on placebo.
The study was performed for 6 months. Hair growth and side effects were investigated.
Conclusion: The results of this study showed that the therapeutic effects of both finasteride gel and finasteride tablet were relatively similar to each other.
The International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2016 Jan;54(1):19-27
Pharmacodynamic of P-3074 (finasteride 0.25% topical solution) in subjects with androgenetic alopecia
M Caserini, et al, Switzerland and 2Cross Research S.A., Arzo, USA.
Material: 0.25% topical finasteride on hydroxypropyl-chitosan film, also called P-3074 solution. VS 1 mg finasteride pill
Subject and Study: 18 healthy people divided into three groups, six in each group.
- Group I: 6 people were applied P-3074 once in the morning.
- Group II: 6 people were applied P-3074 twice a day (morning and afternoon)
- Group III: 6 people took 1 mg finasteride pill once daily.
The study was performed for one week. The scalp and serum DHT levels were measured daily.
Conclusion: Findings show that DHT concentration in the scalp, after 7-day treatment topical finasteride was more reduced (about 40%) than after 1 mg oral finasteride administration for the same treatment period.
Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand. 2012 Oct;95(10):1312-6.
Efficacy and safety of 3% minoxidil versus combined 3% minoxidil / 0.1% finasteride in male pattern hair loss: a randomized, double-blind, comparative study.
Tanglertsampan C et al.
Materials: 3% minoxidil solution (MNX) vs 3% minoxidil with 0.1% finasteride solution (MFX)
Subjects and Study: 40 people with Androgenic alopecia (AGA), randomly divided into two groups (20 people in each group). One group was given MNX, and the other was given MFX solution.
The study lasted for 24 weeks. Hair growth and side effects were examined.
Conclusion: MFX had better hair growth than MNX. There was no increased side effects with MFX compared to MNX.