Topical Minoxidil is the only topical treatment option for male-pattern and female-pattern hair loss recognized by the FDA. It has shown effectiveness and a good safety profile in clinical trials.

Women who start applying Topical Minoxidil in the early stages of their baldness, and who have smaller areas of baldness, respond best to Topical Minoxidil.

In Singapore, Topical Minoxidil at a concentration of 5% is available over-the-counter, without a prescription in two formulations: Foam and Lotion. Both Foam and Lotion formulations of Minoxidil are marketed by Johnson & Johnson under the brand Regaine in Singapore.

Minoxidil: Foam vs Lotion

The Lotion formulation of Minoxidil was the first formulation developed. Studies found that the side effects from Topical Minoxidil are infrequent, with the most common side effect reported being scalp irritation. 

Women treated with a higher concentration of Minoxidil 5% compared with 2% Minoxidil reported more scalp irritation.

It was also found that propylene glycol; an inactive ingredient used in the Lotion formulation of Minoxidil, can potentially irritate the skin. Propylene glycol is used to allow Minoxidil to penetrate the surface of the skin. This allows Minoxidil to reach the hair follicles where it can do its magic.

The Foam formulation was developed nearly two decades after the Lotion formulation, as an alternative to circumvent side effects experienced with the use of the traditional Lotion formulation.  Unlike the Lotion formulation, the Foam formulation is free of propylene glycol.

Research has shown that both the Foam and Lotion formulation of Minoxidil are effective for treating female-pattern hair loss. There are currently no studies done to support that one formulation works better than the other at treating hair loss.

From an effectiveness standpoint, you should get similar results from either formulation of Minoxidil. Scalp treatment and hair loss products are often a matter of personal preference. Here at Dame, we’ve got you covered – read on as we discuss the differences between the Foam and Lotion formulations.

Side Effects

As mentioned earlier, the main difference between the Foam and Lotion formulation of Minoxidil is the presence of a single ingredient: propylene glycol.

If you are a Minoxidil Lotion user who experiences side effects like scalp irritation, dryness, itching, redness or scaling on the application area, there might be a good chance you are reacting to the propylene glycol in the product. If these side effects are occasional, it might not be a big deal. However, frequent recurrence could indicate scalp inflammation which would be bad for hair regrowth.

If you experience such unpleasant side effects regularly, you might consider switching to Minoxidil Foam and monitor if those effects go away. Scalp-related issues can still occur with Minoxidil Foam, but they are much less likely due to the absence of propylene glycol.

If you are a new user to Minoxidil and are prone to sensitivity around the scalp area, Minoxidil Foam might be a better product to start with.

Winner: Minoxidil Foam

Absorption

Generally, Foam formulations absorb more quickly into the skin compared to Lotion formulations. Minoxidil users may find that the Foam formulation absorbs into the skin faster than the Lotion formulation. This would leave a less oily residue on the scalp, reducing the appearance of “greasy hair”.

In our hot and humid Singapore, this might be an important factor to consider. If you are often out and about, taking in the full brunt of Singapore’s natural climate, Minoxidil Foam might be a more comfortable option.

Winner: Minoxidil Foam

Convenience

Both formulations of Minoxidil are convenient to use, it is simply a matter of habit. The process of applying either formulation of Minoxidil to your scalp and massaging it into your skin takes only a few minutes to complete.

Minoxidil Foam is absorbed quickly into the skin and is faster drying compared to Minoxidil Lotion, which makes it less likely to drip and less time consuming to apply. 

Consumer use studies have pointed out that Minoxidil Foam fits easier into the general consumer’s daily routines.

Winner: Minoxidil Foam

Ease of Application

Both formulations of Minoxidil are easy to apply. Minoxidil Lotion comes with a dropper that quickly and accurately measures the required amount of Minoxidil while Minoxidil Foam is dispensed from the can via a nozzle. It is a matter of personal preference.

Some Minoxidil users may find Minoxidil Lotion easier to apply to specific areas of the scalp using the dropper. This is especially the case if you have long hair near the application area which may catch some of the foam before it makes it to your scalp.

Some Minoxidil users may find Minoxidil Foam easier to apply to large areas of the scalp. Minoxidil Foam may be easier to apply if you have a significant area of balding or thinning hair.

Winner: Tie

Practicality in Singapore

Minoxidil Lotion is available over-the-counter at many pharmacies, while Minoxidil Foam is only available at specific retailers and  there’s only one brand of Minoxidil Foam.

The other consideration is our hot and humid weather. If you are always sweating, then Minoxidil Lotion can cause more discomfort. 

Winner: Tie

How to apply Minoxidil Foam vs Minoxidil Lotion

Minoxidil Foam

  • Wash your hands in cold water and dry them thoroughly before handling the product. Foam will melt on contact with warm skin or warm surfaces.
  • Part your hair to expose the hair loss area. Hair should be completely dry before application.
  • Holding the can vertically upside down, press the nozzle to dispense half a capful of foam onto cold hands or a cold surface (e.g. a clean dish). The product should be applied twice daily, in the morning and at night.
  • Using your fingertips, spread the foam over the hair loss area. Massage foam gently into the scalp, not hair. Repeat until all hair loss areas have been covered. Wash hands thoroughly after application.
  • The product should be allowed to dry completely before lying down (e.g. on the bed) or before application of other hair products (e.g. for styling or coloring). The product can stain clothing and bed linen if not fully dry.

Minoxidil Lotion

  • Ensure scalp and hair are clean and dry before application of the product.
  • Using the dropper, measure out 1 mL of the product. Rub about 1 mL of the product into the scalp of the hair loss area. Apply the product twice daily (morning and night).
  • Wash and dry hands after applying the product. If it gets into the eyes, mouth or nose, rinse these areas thoroughly immediately.
  • Do not double the dose if you miss an application.
  • Allow 2-4 hours for the medication to reach into the scalp. Avoid any activity that might wash away or dilute the product (e.g. bathing or swimming) for 2-4 hours after application.
  • At night, apply the product 2-4 hours before bedtime. The product can stain clothing and bed linen if not fully dry.
  • Do not dry the scalp with a hair dryer after applying the product. This action will reduce the effectiveness of the product.
  • If applicable, apply other hair products (e.g. for styling or colouring) only after the product has dried. These products generally do not affect the effectiveness of Minoxidil.

How to Get the Best Results from Minoxidil Foam/Lotion?

  1. Apply it correctly
    Topical Minoxidil found in hair products is to be used as a scalp treatment and not a hair treatment. It should be applied daily to the affected areas on a dry scalp, exactly as prescribed for maximum benefit. You can refer to our administration guidelines (adapted from Regaine) or your product information leaflet that would list step-by-step instructions that you can follow to apply Minoxidil Foam or Lotion properly.
  1. Be consistent. Topical Minoxidil works best when it is used twice a day. If you often forget to use Minoxidil, try setting a phone reminder, placing the product in a prominent place or simply using a sticky note in the bathroom to remind you.
  2. Be patient. It is important to understand that patience is required in hair regrowth. Hair shedding may occur at the initiation of treatment with Topical Minoxidil and usually decreases within two months. It has to be used daily for at least four months for potential visible results to be seen, and it would take a full year of dedicated treatment to determine the effectiveness of the product.

Conclusion

Both Minoxidil Foam and Minoxidil Lotion are effective treatments for female-pattern hair loss. Both formulations have their advantages and it comes down to personal preference. 

If you use Minoxidil regularly, consider trying both formulations to see which works best for you. 

If you are not too sure and need more advice from a licensed doctor in the comfort of your own home, get started here.

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