Is It Best to Apply Minoxidil to a Damp or Dry Scalp?

A number of hair loss conditions have responded extremely well to minoxidil, a clinically-proven product which is applied topically, meaning it is applied where it is needed i.e. on the scalp. While not quite a “chicken and egg” conundrum, questions from users over whether it is better to apply minoxidil to a wet or a dry scalp continue to linger.

To try and find a definitive answer, scientists at the University of Brasilia set out to test the topical medication, which is one of the most popular treatment options for the genetic hair loss condition Male Pattern Baldness as well as Female Pattern Hair Loss, on in-vitro samples of rat and pig skin.

Applying-Minoxidil-Medium-No-Picture-on-WallDrug diffusion versus dilution


Before they began their tests they theorised that the use of minoxidil on a damp scalp may lead to higher drug penetration, because, they say: “the drug diffusion and consequent deposition into the hair follicle may be favoured when follicle cast is humid.” Secondly, penetration may be improved because “humidity may also prevent drug crystallisation and, therefore, maintain a higher thermodynamic activity for longer periods, which leads to increased penetration.”

The doctors say their in-vitro experiments confirmed their theories, and that this could lead to improved treatment effectiveness. Whilst it is an interesting study, there is slightly more to consider to ensure effective application and absorption - such as the obvious fact that having a wet scalp may dilute any minoxidil applied to it. At Belgravia we always recommend that the best way to apply minoxidil is to dot it on to a dry scalp and allow it to sink in for as long as possible - definitely no less than 30 minutes.

Says Belgravia Superintendent Pharmacist, Christina Chikaher: "We usually advise clients to apply minoxidil on a dry or towel dried scalp. I agree with the hypothesis that a damp scalp may lead to better drug penetration, however it may not always be convenient to have a damp scalp. The scalp should be dry or very slightly damp but not dripping wet as this may lead to drug dilution and less efficacy."

Leonora Doclis - senior hair loss specialist at Belgravia's flagship Central London clinic - also agrees and has some advice for those unsure about using this part of their treatment: “The best way to apply minoxidil is to just apply it in small drips dotted around the top of the scalp. Apply the minoxidil directly on to a dry scalp ideally. When applying after shampooing, this is fine as long as the hair is well towel dried and the scalp is only minimally damp," she explains. Adding: "However, if you are blow drying your hair anyway, it is better to blow dry the hair then apply the Minoxidil as advised after doing so. It is being applied to the scalp - not your hair - so should have no impact on your hairstyle and, by applying it this way, you allow it the best possible chance of effective absorption.”

minoxidil-dropper-emptyBackbone of hair loss treatment course


There are only two MHRA licensed and FDA approved genetic hair loss treatments - high strength minoxidil (unisex, comes in various topical formulations) and finasteride 1mg (oral tablet, men aged 18 and over, only).

These established medications can be used alongside supplementary hair growth supporting products as desired.

Facing up to losing your hair from any condition can be difficult, as the self-esteem that takes a knock at the first signs of hair loss can be slow to heal, and it can be hard knowing where to turn for advice. If this is the case, the best place to start is by consulting a hair loss specialist who can provide a diagnosis, appropriate treatment recommendations and answer any questions about the situation, so you can consider all of the information before making a decision.
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The Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.

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