Alex Goldberg

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About the Author

Alex Goldberg

Alex worked at three early-stage startups before starting Fin vs Fin. Covering the rise of direct-to-consumer health, his mission is to help patients access better treatments online. He's also a husband, father, and UC Berkeley grad who enjoys golf, podcasts, live music, cooking, and home improvement.

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Rogaine vs Minoxidil: What’s the Difference Between Branded and Generic?

In this Article

In this Article

Medically reviewed by:
Dr. Steve Kim, MD

About Dr. Steve Kim, MD

Physician Advisor

Dr. Kim received his BA in Human Biology at Stanford University, before receiving his M.D. degree (Primary Care Track) from UC Davis School of Medicine. He completed his Internship & Residency in Family Practice from Glendale Adventist Hospital and is Board-Certified in Family Medicine via the American Board of Family Medicine.

Alex Goldberg

What’s the difference between Rogaine® and Minoxidil hair loss treatments? Is generic Rogaine the same as generic Minoxidil? Does any of this stuff even stop hair loss? Well, we’ve done the research for you — and tried a lot of different topical hair loss brands in the process. Read on to learn what we found out!

Rogaine vs Minoxidil: The TL;DR

Short on time?  Let’s cut to the chase. For men, Rogaine’s hair loss drug contains either 2% or 5% topical Minoxidil. That means the main, active ingredient in Rogaine IS Minoxidil — an FDA approved drug to treat normal, male pattern hair loss. So, assuming you are getting your generic Minoxidil from a reputable source, you are getting the same active ingredient as you’d get from Rogaine.


Right now, our favorite generic Minoxidil is offered through Keeps which sells a 3 months for $30  — one of the best prices we’ve seen. And thanks to our supreme negotiation skills, our exclusive Fin vs Fin discount link gives you an extra 50% off your first order (i.e. $5/month for the first 3 months).


Another reason we recommend Keeps’ minoxidil over Rogaine and other generic alternatives is that they give you access to a real doctor via a virtual visit who can also prescribe other, potentially more potent hair loss medicines that will increase your chances of keeping your hair. More on that later…


OK, now let’s get into the details and explain  how we came to this conclusion. Drumroll please…

Does Rogaine and Minoxidil actually fight hair loss?

Yes, for many men experiencing normal “alopecia,” (that’s the scientific for male pattern balding) the active ingredient in Rogaine, Minoxidil, works. It is currently the only “over the counter” drug approved by the FDA in the USA to prevent hair loss. And since about two thirds of men eventually experience alopecia, it’s a pretty important medicine. The active ingredient is one of the few medicines that actually works, and there are numerous clinical studies showing its effectiveness. There is another approved medicine for alopecia – Finasteride – but it requires a prescription (which you can easily get from our preferred vendor, Keeps, through a simple, online telemedicine visit).

A few clinical studies

We like the idea of using real medicine, backed by science. Since you probably don’t have time to do a ton of research on pubmed looking for clinical studies, here are a few that we think are well done:


“A one-year observational study with minoxidil 5% solution in Germany: results of independent efficacy evaluation by physicians and patients,” published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. We like this study because it’s pretty big – 948 male patients. And, unlike many studies, the success is judged both by the physicians and the men in the study. Here is what the abstract says about how it worked:


At the end of the study, physicians reported that the affected area had become smaller in 561 of the 904 eligible subjects (62.0%), was unchanged in 317 subjects (35.1%), and had become larger in 26 subjects (2.9%). Regarding hair regrowth, the topical solution was rated as very effective in 143 of the 902 eligible patients (15.9%), effective in 431 patients (47.8%), moderately effective in 186 patients (20.6%) and ineffective in 142 patients (15.7%)… In conclusion, physician and patient evaluations of hair regrowth and decrease of hair shedding clearly demonstrated the efficacy of the 5% minoxidil topical solution…



“A randomized clinical trial of 5% topical minoxidil versus 2% topical minoxidil and placebo in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men,” published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. This study is well done, because men were given a 5% solution, a weaker 2% formulation or a placebo.


A placebo is fake medicine, usually a sugar pill; researchers use a “fake” to see if everyone who thinks they are getting treated sees results – if people using the fake placebo see the same results as the actual medicine, then it shows that the medicine probably doesn’t do anything. In this study, everything worked as you would expect – the men getting the strongest solution saw the biggest results, and the men who got the placebo didn’t see any improvement. From the conclusion:


In men with AGA, 5% topical minoxidil was clearly superior to 2% topical minoxidil and placebo in increasing hair regrowth, and the magnitude of its effect was marked (45% more hair regrowth than 2% topical minoxidil at week 48). 


We can go on and on listing well-designed studies showing that it works. But the summary is that this medicine, both the branded Rogaine and other quality generics, works to prevent further hair loss for about 40% to 60% of otherwise healthy men.



How do Rogaine and Minoxidil work?

This is a good question – and it’s one that the androgenetic alopecia scientists have been battling with for a while. The current thinking is the the drug acts as a vasodilator that increases blood flow, so that the hair follicles in your bald spot get more nutrients. 


how rogaine and minoxidil work

Are there differences in how you use the generic vs Rogaine brand?


No – it’s pretty easy to use these medicines, and you use the generic and branded Rogaine in the same way. Rogaine used to be the only provider who offered both a liquid and a foam formulation, but now Keeps has a quality foam formulation that we like. The basic summary of how to use it is that two times a day you’ll apply it to your scalp. That’s it.


We go into more details on our Keeps vs Rogaine comparison, but really, it’s dead simple to apply. Two times a day – for as long as you want to keep your hair.

Rogaine vs Minoxidil: Hair Loss Treatment Comparison

Ok, let’s get down to brass tacks and compare branded Rogaine against our favorite generic Minoxidil brands. We’ll look at what you pay, what the formulations are comprised  of, and see which offers both topical and foam solutions. Take a peak:

Pricing for Rogaine and Generic Minoxidil SOLUTION

Rogaine and Generic Minoxidil Prices

Topical Solution5% Minoxidil Drops5% Minoxidil Drops5% Minoxidil Drops
Price$44.99 for a 3 month package$15 per month$30 for 3 months
Price per day$.47 cents / day$.50 cents / day$.33 / day
Introductory OfferNoneNone$15 for 3 months
ShippingIncluded with PrimeIncludedIncluded

Pricing for Rogaine and Generic Minoxidil FOAM

Rogaine and Generic Minoxidil Prices

Foam Formulation5% Minoxidil FoamN/A5% Minoxidil Foam
Price$44.99 for a 3 month packageN/A$35 for 3 months
Price per day$.47 cents / dayN/A$.39 / day
Introductory OfferNoneNone$17.50 for 3 months
ShippingIncluded with PrimeN/AIncluded

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You can probably see why we really like Keeps; especially with the exclusive 50% off discount we’ve negotiated,  it’s a great way to see if this medicine is effective for you. And since it usually takes about 2 to 3 months to see results, the three-month introductory trial is an ideal test period.

Another reason to get your Minoxidil online...

We mentioned this at the beginning of the article – Minoxidil is not the only drug approved by the FDA to treat male pattern baldness. Another drug, Finasteride (also known as Propecia), is also shown to work quite well. It requires a prescription, which up until recently made it more of a pain to get.


However, both Hims and Keeps now offer low cost, online doctor visits where you can get a prescription for low cost Finasteride (some people call it “Fin”)  in addition to Minoxidil.


Why double up on the medications? Because using Fin plus generic Rogaine drastically increases the chances that you’ll see improvement. You might be tired of us citing clinical studies, so I’ll just link to our “how to get low cost Finasteride” page where we list a bunch of drug trials showing how the two drugs work well together. If  you’re  serious about keeping your hair,  it’s worth trying  both.


OK, I’ll tell you about one study (because I like science). The medical journal Dermatologic Therapy has a study where men either got Finasteride-only, Minoxidil-only, or both a  Finasteride and Minoxidil treatment. A whopping 94% of the men who received the two drugs together showed significant hairline improvement. I’ll take those odds any day!


If you want to get started, that 50% off discount that we mentioned earlier works for the Fin and Minoxidil bundle as well, so it’s just $52.50 for the first three months.

Does Minoxidil or Rogaine have any side effects?

Since these are drugs, it is important to talk about the side effects. The most common with Minoxidil is skin irritation. That’s basically and itchy scalp. Sometimes this happens to me in the winter, so I just use an anti-dandruff shampoo like Head and Shoulders and that clears it up for me.


Like any other medicine, there are a bunch of other listed side effects like acne, facial swelling, hair growth, dizziness, headache, etc. Thankfully these are very rare, and since the drug is so widely used there is pretty good science showing that Minoxidil and Rogaine are very safe. So there is unlikely to be any difference here if you go with Rogaine or a generic version.

One critical point on side effects is that this is a drug for men, not women. Women, especially anyone who is or who is trying to become pregnant, shouldn’t use it. You probably don’t want your female companion to be exposed to it on your pillow either — or anywhere else for that matter — if she is actively trying to get pregnant.


Since we mentioned fin, we ought to also mention that it does have side effects as well. It’s a 1 mg pill that you take once a day. Finasteride’s side effects are a bit more serious sounding, but thankfully are also exceedingly rare. The most discussed side effect, at least on reddit forums, are sexual difficulties  such as lowered sex drive, ED, and ejaculatory disorders.


Thankfully, long term studies (like this one) show that these happen in less than 2% of men. Again, we are talking about Finasteride, not Minoxidil; Minoxidil doesn’t have sexual side effects, at least that I’ve seen in any of the drug inserts or studies! Other side effects of Fin include dizziness, weakness, and swelling in hands, feet or breasts — but  again, all very rare,  and shouldn’t necessarily discourage you from trying them. If you are worried, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor.


And get exclusive discounts!

Pros and Cons of Getting Generic vs Rogaine

The biggest pro of getting branded Rogaine is that you get the original medicine. It’s also available anywhere: in local drug stores, on Amazon, pretty much anywhere you see a decent selection of over the counter, non-prescription medicine you can find it.


The biggest con of going with the brand is the cost. The generics we mention in this article offer Minoxidil for 20% to 30% less than what you’ll get when you get it on Amazon, and a lot less than what you’ll pay IRL at your neighborhood pharmacy.

A huge pro of getting a subscription from an online provider like Keeps is that it’s a subscription, meaning you’ll get your medicine in your mailbox every few months without having to think about it. Plus in addition to hair, you’ll save quite a bit of cash as we’ve already made abundantly clear.


Finally, we suggest you get one of their online doctor visits to see if Fin is right for you in addition to Minoxidil. For just pennies more than the cost of Rogaine at Walgreens, you can get two FDA-approved medicines shipped to your house. Seems like a no-brainer if you’re actually serious about preventing hair loss.


Personal Anecdote: I started to notice rapid thinning in my twenties. In particular, my forehead seemed to be getting a bit “taller” as my hairline started to recede. I also started to notice that I’d find quite a few lingering strands in my palm after shampooing. One of my family members is a doctor, and she recommended I try Minoxidil. I basically sprinted to the store and bought liquid Rogaine. For me it worked really well, so I used it religiously for quite a few years.


I experienced the “shedding” that’s normal as you start treatment with Minoxidil, then my hair got a bit denser and my hairline stopped going back and back. Sometimes I’d get some minor skin irritation on my scalp, usually in the winter when it was dry. This wasn’t a big deal to me, and when I used dandruff shampoo it usually went away really quickly. When my wife and I were planning on having kids, I stopped using it to avoid unintended exposure during pregnancy.


A few years later I noticed that in brightly lit photos it looked like I was really balding. From what I’ve read,  I believe this is called a lack of “density;” you really don’t notice that your hair is really thin until you’ve lost more than half of it! So I started up Minoxidil again – this time generic – and I’m paring it with Fin.


So far so good, it’s thicker (my wife has noticed) and I think that my hairline actually “unreceded” a skosh. I’m happy with the results, but it’s by no means a miracle cure. I don’t have the flowing locks I had in my twenties. And I don’t think it would work had I started after going cueball bald. Probably too late at that point…


So my recommendation is to start taking the combo of both medicines as soon as you notice that you are balding so you can slow down or stop the thinning. And if you are lucky like me, you may even be able to slightly reverse it. But these medicines are going to disappoint you if all of your follicles are already dead. Don’t wait too long to get started!


How to get generic foaming Minoxidil


Rogaine offers two 5% options – foaming and a liquid. The two should work the same, but the way you apply them is slightly different. With the liquid version, you use a dropper to apply drops to your scalp, then rub it into your skin. With a foam version, you spray about a capful of the foam into your hand and then rub it into your hair/scalp (ok, you are targeting the skin so that it can get to your hair follicles!) So pretty similar, but the foaming is usually a bit more expensive. The best generic foaming Minoxidil that we’ve tried is by Keeps – check it out now

What is the best generic Rogaine?


Assuming you want to save your hair – and some money, going with a generic is a smart way to go. Major generic Rogaine with the active ingredient Minoxidil include Kirkland (which you can get at Costco), Hims, Roman, CVS brand, etc. But right now, the one we like best is the Keeps brand. They ship it directly to your house, you can bundle Finasteride with it – and you can get it for 50% off.

Which do we recommend, Rogaine or generic Minoxidil?

Which should you choose, branded Rogaine or one of the generic Minoxidil alternatives? You’ve got the same active ingredient in both. But you can get started right from your couch for a really good introductory price with Keeps. Plus you can easily get a prescription to add low cost Finasteride, which really increases the changes that you’ll see improvement. So we recommend you take advantage of our special introductory offer by clicking here or on the image below.

Discover more men's hair loss reviews

About the Author

Alex Goldberg

Alex worked at three early-stage startups before starting Fin vs Fin. Covering the rise of direct-to-consumer health, his mission is to help patients access better treatments online. He's also a husband, father, and UC Berkeley grad who enjoys golf, podcasts, live music, cooking, and home improvement.

Learn more
Alex Goldberg

Alex Goldberg

Alex worked at three early-stage startups before starting Fin vs Fin. Covering the rise of direct-to-consumer health, his mission is to help patients access better treatments online. He's also a husband, father, and UC Berkeley grad who enjoys golf, podcasts, live music, cooking, and home improvement.

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