Everyone knows that men lose their hair. But according to the Canadian Dermatology Association, female pattern baldness is also common, and it can start before you even turn 30. Wait... what?!
Now thankfully, that doesn't mean complete balding, which is rare in females. Also known as hereditary hair loss, the condition in women usually involves a gradual thinning of the hair on top of the scalp. This can start as early as your 20s, with a second peak during peri- or post-menopause. By age 50, a whopping 40 percent of women are affected.
It sounds bleak, but here's a bit of good news. The first and only once-a-day topical hair regrowth treatment—available over-the-counter and formulated especially for women—has JUST launched in Canada. Introducing Women's Rogaine:
You've heard of Rogaine, right? But maybe (like me) you didn't quite know what it was, or how it worked.
Since I'm not a candidate myself, I can't speak to any personal experience with Women's Rogaine or any other hair loss treatments.
However, I recently got to sit down with an R&D expert from Johnson & Johnson (the manufacturers of Rogaine), Toronto dermatologist and hair loss expert Dr. Charlene Linzon and Toronto hairstylist Bill Rowley for a seriously in-depth learning session about the treatment.
And now I want to pass all that info on to you! If you are suffering from hair loss or thinning, here's everything you need to know about Women's Rogaine:
What is Women's Rogaine?
Women's Rogaine is a topical hair regrowth treatment for hereditary female pattern hair loss or thinning. It prevents further hair loss and is clinically proven to regrow hair.
Do you need a prescription to get Women's Rogaine?
In most cases, no. Women's Rogaine is available without a prescription in pharmacies across Canada, with two exceptions: in Quebec, it is sold behind the counter, and in British Columbia, it is prescription-only. In the U.S., no prescription is required.
How does Women's Rogaine work?
The active ingredient in Women's Rogaine is minoxidil, a vasodilator that used to be prescribed for high blood pressure. Although its exact mechanism on the scalp is unknown, researchers think it extends the time hair spends in its active growth phase. It is also thought to increase the size of inactive hair follicles, allowing them to resume production of thicker, longer strands of hair.
Does Women's Rogaine contain hormones?
No. Minoxidil is a non-hormonal topical hair regrowth treatment. When applied to the scalp, it renews the hair's growth cycle and revitalizes shrunken hair follicles.
What's the difference between the original Rogaine and Women's Rogaine?
Unlike the Men's formulas, Women's Rogaine only needs to be applied once a day to be effective. This was specifically proven in clinical studies of the treatment on women experiencing female pattern hair loss. Also, it is only available in Canada in a 5 percent minoxidil foam for ease of application. (In the U.S., they also sell a 2.5 percent solution.) The foam is designed to break down with body heat to deposit the active ingredient on the scalp.
In contrast, Men's Rogaine must be used twice a day to get results. There are two Men's formulas: a 5 percent minoxidil foam (the same as Women's Rogaine), and a 2 percent minoxidil solution, which is administered to the scalp with a dropper. The foam is just less messy.
Who is a good candidate for Women's Rogaine?
You could be a candidate for Women's Rogaine if your hair loss or thinning resembles this pattern, on top of your scalp:
The thinning is the most noticeable around the part, or near the front of the scalp. It forms a pattern similar to the shape of an evergreen tree.
Some people use Rogaine as a preventive measure because members of their immediate or extended family have experienced hair loss.
You may respond better to Women's Rogaine if you have been losing your hair for a shorter period of time, i.e. less than 10 years.
If you have no family history of gradual thinning or gradual hair loss, or if your hair loss is patchy, don't use Women's Rogaine—see your doctor.
What results can you expect from Women's Rogaine?
Women's Rogaine is clinically proven to regrow hair in 80 percent of women who apply it once each day. (This is according to Johnson & Johnson's clinical studies and measured after six months of using the treatment.)
The new hair growth also comes in up to 48 percent thicker than before.
The amount of hair regrowth is different for each person. No one will be able to grow back ALL of her hair.
How long does it take to see results from Women's Rogaine?
Results from a once-daily application of Women's Rogaine may be seen in as little as three months. For some women, it may take at least six months to get visible results.
If you don't see any results in six months, stop using the treatment and see your doctor.
What are the ingredients in Women's Rogaine?
The active ingredient in Women's Rogaine is 5 percent minoxidil.
The inactive ingredients include:
Butylhydroxytoluene (BHT), Cetyl Alcohol, Citric Acid Anhydrous, Glycerol Anhydrous, Lactic Acid, Polysorbate 60, Propellant Aeropin 70 (propane, Butane, Isobutane), Purified Water, SD Alcohol 40B, Stearyl Alcohol.
Can Women's Rogaine be used on permed or colour-treated hair?
Johnson & Johnson can't say for sure whether these chemical processes will modify the effectiveness of Women's Rogaine. Because colour can increase irritation, wash all the Women's Rogaine off your scalp before colouring your hair, and wait a full 24 hours after colouring to resume treatment.
How do you apply Women's Rogaine?
Apply Women's Rogaine once a day in the morning or evening, following these steps:
1. Start with dry hair and scalp. (Shampooing is not required before applying Women's Rogaine.)
2. Part your hair in the middle of your head, then on each side of the part to maximize scalp exposure.
3. Rinse your hands with cold water, then dry. This will help keep the foam from dissolving on contact with your skin.
4. Dispense half a capful of Women’s Rogaine foam onto a non-porous surface, such as a small bowl or saucer. (Using more won't improve your results.)
5. Apply the foam directly to the scalp area where you are experiencing hair thinning. Use the pads of your fingers to gently and thoroughly massage the foam into your scalp, starting from the back and working forward. Remember, it needs to get on your scalp, not in your hair, to be effective.
6. Let it air-dry on your scalp. For Women's Rogaine to work, it must remain on your scalp for at least four hours. Avoid showering, swimming, excessive sweating or getting wet in the rain for four hours.
7. Wash your hands with soap and water, and rinse the bowl or saucer that held the foam.
Can you use Women's Rogaine on your eyebrows?
Yes! You won't find anything about this in the package directions, but Dr. Linzon mentioned that she often recommends this to her patients. Of course, you must be extra-careful to only get the product where you want the hair to grow. And discontinue eyebrow use immediately if you get any signs of irritation.
Can you use styling products with Women's Rogaine?
Yes. Hairsprays, mousses, conditioners and gels are all fine—just wait for the Women's Rogaine to dry first.
Why does hair seem to shed faster when first using Women's Rogaine?
You might notice a temporary increase in hair shedding during the first two to six weeks of using Women's Rogaine. This happens because a new hair growth cycle is starting—so the older hairs are being pushed out to make way for the newer, stronger ones. (Think of it like the process of losing baby teeth to make room for the adult ones.)
Shedding should subside with continued treatment. However, if it persists for more than two weeks, check with your doctor.
What happens if you stop using Women’s Rogaine?
Women's Rogaine must be used continually in order to maintain hair regrowth results. If you stop using the treatment, your hair loss will resume, and you'll likely lose the newly regrown hair within three to four months.
Can Women's Rogaine cause unwanted hair growth?
Possibly. Some people have reported hair growth on the face and other parts of the body, but this may be from the transfer of Women's Rogaine to areas other than the scalp. (It could also be caused by the absorption into the circulatory system of low levels of the active ingredient, or by an unrelated medical condition.)
If you experience unwanted hair, stop using the treatment and see your doctor. To decrease the chance of getting unwanted hair growth, make sure to apply Women's Rogaine only to your scalp; wash your hands thoroughly after application; and if you apply it at night, allow two to four hours of drying time before going to bed.
Does Women's Rogaine have any side effects?
The most common side effect is scalp irritation: dryness, itchiness, redness and flaky skin. This is usually only temporary, but if it persists, stop using Women's Rogaine and see your doctor.
Some people find that Women's Rogaine changes the colour or texture of their hair. If this happens, stop using the product.
If you experience one of these side effects, stop using Women's Rogaine immediately and see your doctor:
- Low or high blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Faintness or dizziness
- Sudden unexplained weight gain
- Unwanted facial hair growth
- Swollen hands or feet
- Long-lasting local redness or rash
- Muscle pain
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle pain
Is Women's Rogaine safe?
From a Health Canada perspective, yes—enough to be approved for over-the-counter use in most provinces.
Be aware that minoxidil increases the effects of nitric oxide, a pro-inflammatory free radical. This study found that nitric oxide activates processes that can lead to cell death. Other research has proposed that nitric acid is a major factor in causing the degenerative diseases of aging. There is a comprehensive summary of nitric acid research over here.
Who shouldn't use Women's Rogaine?
Avoid this treatment if:
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- You have treated or untreated high blood pressure.
- Your hair loss is sudden and/or patchy.
- You have no family history of hair loss.
- Your hair loss is associated with childbirth.
- You have temporary hair loss as a result of taking certain medications, stopping the birth control pill, hypothyroidism, serious nutritional problems or certain grooming methods.
- You are under 18 years of age.
- Your scalp is red, inflamed, infected, irritated or painful.
- You are using another medication on your scalp.
How much is Women's Rogaine?
Where can I buy Women's Rogaine?
Find Women's Rogaine at pharmacies across Canada and online at:
Hope this answered most of your questions about Women's Rogaine! For further information, see package insert or consult with your doctor.
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