If you’re losing your hair, chances are you’ve heard of finasteride. Perhaps you’ve even taken it orally as a once-daily pill (often known as Propecia). After all, Finasteride is one of just two FDA-approved medicines to treat hair loss (the other is Minoxidil aka Rogaine). Both have worked for millions of men over the last few decades.
It’s understandable why many steer clear of finasteride, however, given the potential for scary long-term side effects like ED. Although rare, most men don’t want to take any chances. Luckily, studies have shown that topical versions applied directly to the site of thinning (i.e. your scalp) pose a much lower risk of adverse effects.
Today we’ll review the top five best TOPICAL finasteride products promising strong results with lower risk of long-term side-effects. Does spraying or spreading fin on your head work just as well to keep hair on your head? Which brand of topical finasteride is right for you? We’ll answer all of this and more, diving deep into the science of how topical finasteride works to stem hair loss, so you can make the right long-term decision.
As a bonus, I’ll tell you what made me switch from oral to topical finasteride after many years of taking 1mg pills daily. I’ve personally tried all the brands in the review, so I’ll share my first hand experience in addition to our research team’s in-depth and unbiased analysis of each.
Short on time? We’ll cut right to the chase and tell you where to get the best topical finasteride on the internet.
Tl;dr – What’s the Best Topical Finasteride Online?
Keeps offers the most bang for your buck with an incredibly affordable 2-in-1 topical starting at just $40 per month.
For anyone looking to use both finasteride AND minoxidil in a single solution, Keeps topical fin comes in an easy-to-apply gel. If you prefer a spray, Hims offers a similarly priced option, just with a different application method and slightly lower concentration of fin.
XYON’s topical finasteride is more expensive, but it’s worth it if ~$100/ month sounds doable. Their innovative SiloxysSystem helps deliver finasteride to follicles throughout the day, rather than all at once, leading to an impressive 10-17x more on the scalp 24 hours after application.
Compare it to Happy Head which offers a similarly priced custom compounded topical solution with more active ingredients, but no slow-release mechanism.
Comparing Topical Finasteride Brands: Which is Best for You?
Unlike finasteride pills which are all essentially indistinguishable 1mg generics, topical finasteride formulations are much more varied and personalized. The right formulation for you often comes down to your preferred concentration of finasteride, as well as the dose of any additional active ingredients (like minoxidil), your preferred application method (gel, spray, cream, etc.), and of course, price. Check out the comparison chart below to compare brands like XYON, Happy Head, Strut, and Keeps.
Best Topical Finasteride Online
(billed $297 quarterly)
|$40 - $60|
(billed $120 quarterly for first 3 months, then $180)
|$45 - 50|
(billed $150 quarterly or $270 bi-annually)
|Free Online Doctor's Visit?||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Active Ingredients||.25% Finasteride|
0.1% Retinoic Acid
|2.5% Finasteride||.25% Finasteride|
|Slow release of Finasteride on Scalp?||❌||✅ SiloxysSystem™ helps deliver finasteride to the scalp throughout the day to maximize its overall absorbtion and efficacy.||❌||❌||❌|
|Recommended Use||Twice Daily||Once Daily||Once Daily||Twice Daily||Once Daily|
|Where is it Available||All 50 US States||All 50 US States + Canda (minus Quebec)||All 50 US States||All 50 US States + UK||All 50 US States|
Now that you have a sense of how various options and how they compare, let’s cover the basics of men’s hair loss treatments in general. After all, topical finasteride is far from the only solution in town.
Two-thirds of men go bald.
Yup, you read that right. By the time they are thirty-five, over 65% of men will notice signs of thinning, either with a receding hairline, loss near the crown of the head, or diffuse thinning all around. Even scarier, sometimes all three occur at once! And some dermatologists say that most men lose up to half of their hair before they even notice.
The good news is that there are drugs that are proven to help most men. The bad news is that these are NOT miracle drugs. You won’t go from being as bald as a cue ball to looking like the caveman from the Geico commercial (image below for reference). Instead, they help save what you still have, can promote modest regrowth and may help thicken your hair follicles (which helps make your hair color look more intense and your head fuller).
Caveman from Geico commercials. To be clear: topical finasteride will NOT make you this hairy, fortunately or unfortunately.
What medicines are FDA-approved for alopecia?
The two medicines approved by the FDA to treat normal hair loss in men (aka Alopecia) are Finasteride and Minoxidil. We’ve reviewed dozens of clinical study abstracts, and these two medicines have been shown time and time again to help men keep their hair with a low instance of side effects. The table below lays out how these medicines are approved to be taken, and the percent of men who saw an improvement with each treatment. The percent improvement is from this clinical study, which we picked because its results are in line with many of the other studies we’ve seen.
FDA-Approved Hair Loss Drugs
|FDA Approved-dose||1 Mg pill 1x a day||1 ML topical liquid (usually 5% concentration)||0|
|% of Men Improved in Clinical Trials||~60%||~80%||~60%|
|Where to Get It Online|
How does Finasteride Work
And if you want to increase your odds to 94% from the percentages above, the same clinical study (and many others!) recommend combining oral Finasteride with topical Minoxidil. More on that later…
If you’re curious how Finasteride works to halt hair loss, here’s the super quick version. A hormone called DHT in all health men’s bodies interacts with hair follicles, causing them to shrink and eventually stop producing hair. Fin interferes with the DHT in your scalp, stopping it from shrinking your follicles, and thus helping you keep (and hopefully regrow some) hair.
Oral Finasteride vs Topical – Which should you choose?
So, why do we need a topical Finasteride when the oral one seems to work well? Great question. The downside to the traditional, tablet version of Finasteride is occasional side effects. These are rare, and well understood, but still scary for many men.
Lower Risk: Topical Finasteride may have a lower instance of side effects vs the oral version
These rare side effects include some sexual impotence such as erectile dysfunction, decrease of ejaculatory volume and loss of libido, but thankfully, these usually only occur for around 2.1% to 3.8% off men in most studies that we’ve seen.
When applied topically, finasteride is less likely to cause side effects than the pill, which is why some men think it may be better and want to switch to the topical. Unlike the pill, the formulation that you apply to your scalp has not been as studied as long, however, so there isn’t as much peer-reviewed research to dig into to learn about the possible side effects.
That said, the most common side effects are usually at the point of physical contact with the solution – i.e. your scalp – and include things like itching, a burning sensation, redness, flakey skin or irritation. These are generally mild, especially in comparison with sexual dysfunction or lebido loss.
Avoiding side effects may be the biggest reason for switch away from oral finasteride. But that also leads us to the biggest question…
Does topical Finasteride work better?
Several, small clinical studies indicate that topical Finasteride works, reversing hair loss and balding in otherwise healthy men – showing similar results to studies of the oral version of the medicine. For example, this small study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment showed positive results for all of the patients treated vs the placebo group.
Additional studies between the topical and oral versions of the medicine have shown similar decreases in DHT, the hormone that is a leading cause male pattern baldness. The researchers postulate that this means that the topical version will work as well as the pill.
An example of results from a real medical study published in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal is below – see the before and after images:
So if you are wondering if topical Finasteride is legit, the results from small, preliminary studies seem to indicate yes – it does reduce hair loss and promote hair growth. However, it is not approved in this formulation by the FDA (while it IS approved in the pill format), so if you use it you are going to need to get an “off label” prescription from a licensed physician.
Like oral Finasteride, if you stop using a Finasteride solution, you will likely see your hair loss resume. Once you stop taking the drug, your scalp DHT levels will likely creep back up, your hair follicles will likely begin to shrink and eventually, you’ll start going bald again.
Finoxidil: Does combining Minoxidil + Topical Finasteride Yield the Best Results?
Research indicates that a topical application of a combination of Minoxidil and Fin can perform better than one medicine alone. Some people call this combined solution “Finoxidil.”
While there are not very many studies that have looked at the combined treatment through this delivery method, it does appear that a treatment plan that applies both a Minoxidil and Finasteride solution to the scalp works better than either alone.
Medical literature generally pegs Minoxidil helping about 60% of men combat baldness (you can read more about it in our comparison of Keeps vs Rogaine). Since it’s a real medicine, there are some known side effects.
Thankfully, these are generally very minor, such as skin irritation at the application site, itchiness, dandruff. More serious (and rare) side effects are dizziness, acne, face swelling. But, this drug has been used by millions of men, and the medical community considers it quite safe. Unlike Fin, you can buy Minoxidil over the counter – right off of Amazon or in your local drugstore. No prescription required; that’s how safe it is considered.
One very important note is that our review is focused on male pattern hair loss. These medicines are not to be used by women who are pregnant or who are considering becoming pregnant. Women should consult with their doctor before starting using any of these products. If you’re curious to learn about women’s hair loss treatments, check out our review of hers.
The Verdict: What’s the best Topical Finasteride for you?
So, where can you get the best topical Finasteride to help stop hair loss? As we mentioned before, it often comes down to cost, application method, and active ingredient concentrations / dosages.
Keeps is the most affordable.
|Keeps Finasteride + Minoxidil Gel that you apply to your scalp once a day. You can also get a free telemedicine visit with one of their physicians to make sure this prescription is right for you.
Their unique formulation has a 5% Minoxidil with 0.25% Finasteride, and for just $40 per month for the first three months, it’s the most affordable topical finasteride on the market currently.
XYON is likely to yield the best results.
For guys who want to do everything they possibly can to fight hair loss, we recommend XYON or Happy Head. They offer the highest concentration of finasteride compared to others, and also include additional active ingredients to promote growth and greater absorption at the site of application. We acknowledge $80 – $100 isn’t affordable for all, but XYON’s slow release system is worth it, in our opinion.
Choose XYON if you prefer a cream you can apply just once per day, or Happy Head if you don’t mind using a dropper to apply solution twice daily. Another distinction: Currently XYON’s formulation only includes finasteride; Choose Happy Head if you want minoxidil, too).
Looking for topical dutasteride? Try Strut.
Of all the topical finasteride options we reviewed, only Strut contains Dutasteride — a cousin of Fin’s that’s often considered stronger. Thus if you’ve already given finasteride a try and are looking for something new, Strut offers a convenient way to get dutasteride custom compounded into a topical.
For budget-conscious shoppers seeking topical Finasteride, Hims or Keeps offer the most bang for your buck. They both have rock-solid, reliable telemedicine practices offering extremely affordable 2-in-1 finasteride + minoxidil (i.e. “Finoxidil”) for <$50 per month. Both offer a major step up, in our humble opinion, from just taking oral finasteride or minoxidil alone.
When deciding between Keeps topical finasteride vs Hims, choose Hims if you prefer a spray, or Keeps if you prefer a gel. We think Keeps is slightly better overall because it’s:
- Less expensive ($40-50 vs $59 per month)
- More potent (.25% vs .1% finasteride)
- Easier to apply (one application per day vs two)
What’s it like using Topical Fin? My personal experience.
Although everyone’s hair loss journey is different, I’m happy to share that my experience with topical finasteride has been amazing. Here’s my story from the very beginning: I first started noticing thinning on my crown at 16. I started with topical minoxidil, then graduated to prescription meds (i.e. oral finasteride) shortly thereafter. I swallowed 1mg pills diligently every morning for 13 years until the ripe age of 29 before switching to topical finasteride.
Why’d I do it? Although I’m lucky that I never experienced any of the negative side effects (ED, low sex drive, etc.) that so many fear, switching seemed like an easy way to de-risk by preventing unnatural chemicals from entering my blood stream, and I must say, it definitely brought me greater peace of mind.
Immediately upon switching, I noticed no significant difference to my hairline. Six months later, I had all the same hair on my head as before, exactly as hoped. As for side effects, the only ones I’ve felt were, just for the first few days, a subtle tingle on my scalp at the site of application. No pain nor discomfort. Just some extra blood flow… Perhaps a placebo? Who knows.
Since switching to topical fin, I’ve tried several different brands, mostly just to test different application methods: spray, gel, or cream. (It’s a personal preference at the end of the day, but if you’re curious, I prefer to rub in finasteride as a gel or a cream, rather than a liquid. It’s less messy and generally only needs to be done once daily vs twice via a dropper or spray.)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Still have questions? Here’s a list of answers for anyone before getting started with topical finasteride.
Before online telemedicine, Topical Fin was only available through dermatologists and custom compounding pharmacies. Today the price of topical finasteride online ranges between $40 – $100 per month. Here’s the breakdown for each brand we’ve reviewed:
- $40 – $50: Hims ($50 per month) and Keeps ($40 per month) are the most affordable, each offering a combined 2-in-1 finasteride + minoxidil topical treatment that’s likely to do the trick for most guys.
- $60: For a bit more oopmh, Strut ($59 per month) offers a custom compound that includes finasteride, minoxidil and a third active ingredient: tretinoin.
- $80-$100: for less price-sensitive users, Happy Head ($79 per month) offers a more highly concentrated custom compounded topical, while XYON ($100 per month) offers a patented SiloxysSystem gel that allows topical finasteride to be released more slowly onto your scalp for maximum absorption. In clinical trials, it’s shown some really promising results, and thus the results may justify the higher price tag.
Topical Finasteride is not FDA approved, unlike the oral formulation of this hair loss medicine. That being said, specialized men’s pharmacies like Hims, Keeps, Strut Health and Happy Head do offer online physician visits where you can get an “off label” prescription for the topical version of this hair loss medicine, then have it shipped regularly straight to your home.
Yes. Even though it’s an off label medicine, you still need a prescription from a licensed doctor. Thankfully, the companies we review in this article can get you an online physician’s visit right from your couch, where a legitimate doctor can determine if you are a good candidate for this hair loss drug.
Application of the drug is going to depend on the formulation – with a dropper, you apply the recommended dose, typically twice a day. With a spray formulation, you apply directly to the parts of your scalp where you are experiencing hair loss, usually twice a day. After application for either formulation you likely have to massage the medicine into your skin (and then carefully wash your hands).
Based on my personal experience, and the clinical trials we referenced, topical finasteride is similar in effect to oral fin, and significantly improves hair density compared to a placebo. Additionally, as it is applied to the skin instead of being “eaten,” overall DHT concentrations in the body are lower, which may lead to fewer side effects.
Overall, it comes down to personal preference – which application method can you stick to diligently? For us, we slightly prefer topical finasteride over oral because of the lower risk.
If you’re only looking for Minoxidil to apply to your scalp — that is, minoxidil only without any finasteride — there are many options to choose from. Having tested them all, we recommend Keeps’ topical aerosol.
Instead of a liquid solution applied via a dropper, Keeps offers potent minoxidil as a foam in aerosol can, which is easier to apply and rub in. Same active ingredient, just more convenient form factor.
Plus, you don’t need a prescription and can get 50% off today!
Finasteride is not the only medicine dermatologists have been prescribing for hair loss. As we mentioned, Minoxidil is FDA approved for topical use as well. Research shows that combining the two can improve the odds of successfully fighting hair loss, and is currently the best, scientifically known, way to prevent hair loss. So why not try combining them into a solution that you can apply directly to your scalp?
Companies like Keeps, Hims, and Happy Head offer 2-in-1 (finasteride + minoxidil — i.e. Finoxidil) topicals that are reasonably priced and likely to work better for hair loss than just finasteride alone.
Happy Head’s hair loss meds cost $79 per month, with shipping included. Since you need a prescription, you’ll have to complete their online doctor’s consultation, which is free. So all in, you’ll be spending $79 a month for the 60 ML bottle of Fin/ Minoxidil/ Retinoic Acid.
Strut’s topical hair loss product contains the two FDA approved hair loss medicines, Finasteride and Minoxidil, plus a vitamin-like compound, Tretinoin. The Finasteride, Minoxidil and Tretinoin concentrations in Strut’s formulations vary. That’s because they use a compounding pharmacy to mix different concentrations depending on what the physician recommends.
Unlike Hims or Happy Head, Strut’s medicine can be delivered in a gel formula, which you’ll apply directly to your scalp. If you prefer a dropper-like application, that’s available too. The choice is yours.
As we mentioned in our Happy Head review, Strut contains a third active ingredient, Tretinoin. To quickly recap, the Tretinoin in Strut’s compound may help promote blood flow to your follicles, making them healthier. However, this is prescribed off-label, it’s not technically approved by the FDA to treat baldness, but studies show it can help prepare your follicles for absorption of finasteride and minoxidil, the real stars of the show.
Something totally unique to Strut is that they can also prescribe Dutasteride for hair loss – either alone, or in combination with topical Finasteride. Dutasteride is a drug prescribed off label for hair loss – it works somewhat similarly to Fin in that it reduces DHT, which can help your follicles stay healthier. Strut’s Dutasteride either comes as a separate topical formulation, or packaged with biotin into a capsule you can swallow. Again, it’s up to you!
Some studies show that Dutasteride is more effective at blocking DHT than finasteride, bit it’s a less popular solution because it hasn’t been FDA approved specifically to treat hair loss, and thus may have a higher instance of side effects (specifically the scary sexual ones).
Strut’s Finasteride topical is different than the other formulations that we’ve reviewed, and you use it differently as well. One major advantage of Strut Health is that you only need to apply it once a day vs twice daily that’s recommended with Hims or Happy Head alternatives.
To apply Strut’s Finasteride gel or solution
- Start with dry hair and a “clean” scalp
- Apply to your skin in the areas where you want to prevent hair loss
- Wash any unintentional areas that the medicine accidentally touches, like your face
- Wash your hands well
- Let the gel thoroughly dry before going to bed
- Wash it off in the morning (leave it in your hair for at least four hours)
Happy Head is an online telemedicine provider that offers a single product – a custom, compounded Finoxidil combo. Happy Head’s Minoxidil concentration is high – 8%. We’ve never seen Minoxidil at this high of a concentration, and haven’t seen evidence that increasing the medicine to this level will improve results, nor have we seen anything written about if it will cause more side effects.
It’s available at the Happy Head website, and can be shipped everywhere in the US except Alaska and Washington, D.C. We’ll briefly cover Happy Head’s offering here, but for a more in-depth analysis, read our full review of happy head for hair loss.
Unlike Hims’ topical, the Happy Head version contains an additional ingredient: Retinoic Acid aka Retinol. It’s a similar ingredient to the Tretinoin that Strut often includes in their formulations discussed earlier, although there are a few differences between Retinol and Tretinoin that we won’t get into here.
It’s basically a form of Vitamin A, that can be used to promote the growth of skin cells and encourage collagen production. Many people use it to combat wrinkles and other skin issues that happen as you get older. Some dermatologists believe that it can increase blood flow to hair follicles, helping them be healthier. However, it can also irritate sensitive skin, and makes skin much more likely to become sunburned. So if you have a large bald spot and live in a sunny area, you’ll need to take extra precautions to avoid UV rays.
How to apply Happy Head topical Finasteride
Happy Head’s topical Finasteride is a liquid that you apply using a dropper. This is a very different formulation than the Hims and Strut medicines, and has its own unique way of being put onto your head.
Applying Happy Head is similar to how you’d apply Minoxidil or Rogaine to your scalp. Basically, you’ll:
- Begin with your hair dry, not wet or damp
- Expose some of the skin on your scalp by pushing aside your hair
- Use the dropper to take out 1 milliliter (1 ML) of the solution
- Apply drops to your balding spots – remember to get it on your skin, since that’s where it needs to go to work it’s magic!
- Rub it into your head
- Let your it dry before doing your do
- Remember to wash your hands! You don’t want hair growing anywhere but your scalp…
As I got my Happy Head prescription in the mail, their doctor emailed me and suggested that I also try using a 0.25mm dermaroller before I apply the medicine. I haven’t actually done that yet, but so far, applying their topical finasteride to my head has been exactly the same routine as applying Rogaine or standard old Minoxidil.
Hims‘ topical Finasteride focuses on the two, FDA approved medicines to treat hair loss – Finasteride and Minoxidil, while Happy Head and Strut Health add additional ingredients that they claim will help combat baldness. Strut, for instance, says the Tretinoin they include in some formulations helps increase the percutaneous absorption, better allowing the finasteride + minoxidil to penetrate through the layers of dead skin, build up, and oils on the scalp so the active ingredients can reach the hair follicles more effectively.
Another key difference to note is application method. Hims spray has Minoxidil at a 6% concentration, which is not only higher than standard Rogaine, but is also easier to apply and less messy than Strut and Happy Head (in our opinion).
Whether you prefer a spray vs a gel or dropper applicator is probably more of a personal preference – there is no clinical evidence to suggest one application method is better than another.
How to apply Hims Topical Finasteride
You apply the Hims’ spray twice a day, which is similar to how you’d use standard Minoxidil. We think it might take a day or so to get used to how to best apply the medicine if you haven’t used a spray scalp medicine before.
Hims is selling a real, compound drug that contains Finasteride and Minoxidil, the two drugs that have been shown to reduce hair loss and promote growth in around 90% of men. While the actual formulation, of the combined drugs that you apply to your scalp, hasn’t been rigorously studied, the clinical trials we reviewed above indicate that this formulation should have a high chance of working for most, otherwise healthy men. Visit Hims now to get a free doctor’s consultation and see if Topical Finasteride is right for you.
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