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 Viviscal: Which Over The Counter Hair Loss Treatment Is Best?

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

When you start to notice your hair thinning—as most men and some women do at some point—know that you have countless options ranging from topical ointments to prescription medication to daily supplements and even invasive procedures. One of the most popular and well-tested hair loss treatments for both genders is topical minoxidil (AKA Rogaine). 


In this article, we’ll compare Rogaine’s effectiveness to another popular topical treatment for hair loss called Viviscal to help you decide if either is worth trying before taking more drastic measures, and which is likely to work best to keep more hair on your head.


Topical minoxidil: How does Rogaine work to regrow hair?


When treating hair loss, one of the main solutions people turn to is Rogaine topical minoxidil. This makes sense given how effective it’s been as an FDA-approved hair loss treatment for millions of happy customers over multiple decades.


But what is topical minoxidil? Rogaine is an over-the-counter treatment that you apply directly to your scalp. It takes about three to six months of daily use to see results, after which you’ll need to keep using the product indefinitely to maintain results. If you stop, your hair loss will likely continue the course it was on before starting treatment, which is obviously no bueno. 


But how does it work, exactly? Rogaine’s active ingredient minoxidil improves blood circulation to your follicles and helps them get bigger to encourage your hair to keep growing. It’s worth noting that Rogaine works best to stop hair loss, but sadly isn’t as effective at regrowing hair you’ve already lost. That may seem like bad news, but look on the bright side: it’s not too late to keep your current head of hair, assuming you act fast and stay diligent with your treatment!



The second point is that you should not solely rely on Rogaine to stem hair loss by boosting blood circulation near the scalp. Other steps you can take is to take a cold shower every now and again, as it can also increase blood flow to your scalp. There are also other natural remedies such as fennel and biotin, which are believe to stimulate hair growth from within. 


Perhaps the most common hair loss treatment that doctors recommend — other than Rogaine —  is a prescription drug called Finasteride. It’s been shown to be even more effective when taken in combination with minoxidil, so definitely with considering, even if you’ve already started Rogaine. Long story short:  if you’re serious about stopping your hair from falling out, you should probably try multiple treatments until you see improvement. We’ve previously reviewed Happy Head, a company  that conveniently combines both finasteride and minoxidil into a single topical solution for optimal results. If you like the concept of using one medicine that works to stem hair loss in multiple ways, topical finasteride is ideal.


How do you apply Rogaine for hair loss?


Rogaine gives you the choice of two non-invasive application types:


  1. Minoxidil foam, which comes in a can with a nozzle that you spray onto your scalp and rub in.
  2. Liquid solution, which comes with a dropper which you drop onto your scalp and rub in.


Both include a 5% minoxidil solution, as well as:


  • botanical extracts
  • emollient
  • alpha hydroxy acid (AHA).


Sounds pretty straightforward? That’s because it is. Rogaine is not only popular because it works for most men, but also because it’s extremely easy to apply.


Supplements for hair loss: How does Viviscal work?


Source: Viviscal


We’ve discussed common topical treatments for hair loss that you apply directly to your head, and briefly mentioned prescription pill solutions such as Finasteride (AKA Propecia), as well as natural remedies. But are there any over the counter, more natural supplements that work well for hair loss? Viviscal is one of the most popular hair loss “vitamins” with a very different mechanism for regrowing hair than Rogaine. 


Instead of using a topical minoxidil formula, Viviscal’s supplements are taken orally, with natural active ingredients that include:


  • AminoMar: A marine complex with protein molecules used to encourage existing hair growth and nourish follicles
  • Vitamin C: A vitamin added to support the body’s iron absorption and help hair growth
  • Zinc: A mineral added to support cells in hair follicles
  • Horsetail stem extract: An herbal extract used to strengthen hair and encourage growth


If you want to avoid chemicals and prescription meds at all costs, Viviscal’s drug-free hair growth solution may be right for you. They’ve designed vitamins that you take twice per day to “reduce hair shedding and nourish thinning hair from within.” Like Rogaine / minoxidil, Viviscal says that if you stop taking it, your progress will only continue for a short period before eventually leading to hair loss once again.


One note: Be sure to read Viviscal’s label and check the additional ingredients before deciding whether to purchase. Among other ingredients, it contains a common food allergen: fish (shark). And of course, if you’re unsure at all, it’s always smart to consult your doctor before trying new medicines or supplements of any kind. And women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant or breast-feeding should consult their doctor before taking Rogaine or other medicines, as these can have serious side effects if pregnant.



Rogaine vs Viviscal: Which hair loss solution works better?


We decided to go a bit deeper and compare Rogaine vs Viviscal in a head-to-head comparison chart to help you decide which will work best for you. The answer has as much to do with your personal lifestyle preference as it does with clinical results. 


As we’ve noted earlier, the biggest difference between Viviscal and Rogaine is the form factor; the former is a vitamin taken orally, while Rogaine is a topical solution you apply to your scalp. But which is more effective? Use the  following chart to compare the two hair loss brands and their offerings head to head:

Rogaine vs Viviscal: Which is best?

Treatment methodLiquid solution or aerosol spray applied to your scalp dailyOral supplement (1 pill) taken 2 times per day
Active ingredients5% Minoxidil Solutionbotanical extracts & emollientalpha hydroxy acid (AHA)AminoMar marine complexvitamin CZinchorsetail stem extract
Product optionsFoam or solutionSupplements, shampoo, conditioner, elixir
Time to results3-6 months3-6 months
Pricing$44.59 for a 3-month supply of foam or solution That’s <$15 per month.$49.99 per month (60 tablets)$149.97 per 3 months (180)
Clinical trials2007: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2014: Applied Biology, Inc.2012: Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology 2014: Ablon Skin Institute Research Center
Works for both men and women?

Is one of these products better than the other? Both have shown exceptional results during clinical studies. The two brands work for most people suffering from hair loss, but they use different methods to get there. If you’re feeling flush with cash, you don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other, and instead apply Rogaine’s topical solution to your head while also taking Viviscal supplements by mouth.


Price: If you’re on a budget, however,  minoxidil foam is less expensive than the supplements. While both work for most patients, minoxidil is much more widely used, FDA-approved, and thus more reliable than Viviscal, with fewer potential side effects.


Application method: Another core consideration when choosing between Rogaine and Viviscal is of course the application method. Since application will become part of your daily routine, and efficacy depends on how diligent you stick to it, it’s important to choose the method that works best with your lifestyle. Would you rather apply foam or solution onto your scalp once per day or take a pull twice per day? Which can you commit to doing…for the rest of your life?


Scientific backing: Rogaine and it’s active ingredient, minoxidil, is FDA approved to treat hair loss. While Viviscal does have a clinical study to show that its ingredients can help prevent hair loss, the is not the same level of scientific backing as minoxidil. So if you want the product that the medical community and the FDA have aggressively researched and approved, you should consider some of the minoxidil providers we mention below. 


Additional products: One final difference is that Viviscal has additional product offerings for hair loss, while Rogaine only offers minoxidil. When ordering your supplements from Viviscal, for instance, you can add on shampoo, conditioner and elixir if you choose to do so. Rogaine’s selection is more limited, BUT it’s important to note that you don’t necessarily have to buy Rogaine to get highly effective minoxidil. Our favorite minoxidil provider is actually a company called Keeps, which offers many more treatment options than both Rogaine and Viviscal combined. More on that below!


Remember: you need not necessarily choose one product. Rogaine and Viviscal work in different ways, so another prudent option is to use both methods in conjunction to double-up your efforts. If you’re really torn, we recommend trying both hair growth products for a month or more to see which is better suited to your lifestyle and then adjust accordingly.


Is Viviscal Legit?

Unlike minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, Viviscal is not FDA approved to treat hair loss and balding. However, the company that makes the supplement does have clinical studies that support hair regrowth. For example, this study looks at women and showed that at the 90 and 180 mark, vs a placebo, the women taking the supplement had superior hair count. So there is some evidence that the supplement works, although it is not a rigorously studied as other hair loss medicines that we are about to review…


Is Rogaine really the best topical minoxidil?


Source: Rogaine


Once you decide you’d like to give minoxidil a try, it’s worth considering whether Rogaine is the best choice. While Rogaine is the best-known, it’s definitely not the only brand that offers this treatment — in fact we recently reviewed Costco’s generic version to see how it stacks up.


More recently, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands have made it a lot easier to get minoxidil delivered to your door. One of these brands we like is Keeps, which offers minoxidil (both liquid and foam formats) at a lower price than Rogaine. The one exception is women: Keeps currently doesn’t offer hair loss treatments for women, while Rogaine does.


What Keeps offers is really just generic Rogaine. You get the same active ingredient of 5% minoxidil, the same bottle sizes and the same application types with your choice of a foam or a solution with a dropper. Unlike Rogaine,  Keeps also sells additional men’s hair loss products, including:


  • Finasteride (1mg Rx hair loss pills)
  • Ketoconazole shampoo (2%)
  • Thickening shampoo
  • Thickening conditioner


The following chart shows you a direct comparison of Rogaine vs Keeps (generic Rogaine), and we’ve previously compared Rogaine vs minoxidil generics in general.

Comparing Rogaine to Keeps

Hair loss treatment(s) offered:5% minoxidil5% minoxidilFinasteride (prescription required)Thickening shampoo and conditioners
Application typeTopical onlyTopical and oral
Minoxidil optionsFoam or solution with a dropperFoam or solution with a dropper
Time to see results3-6 months3-4 months
Minoxidil dosageFoam: 60gDropper solution: 60mLFoam: 60gDropper solution: 60mL
Cost$15 for foam or solution (when you purchase a 3 month supply )$15/month for foam$10/month for dropper solution
Treatments for women
Prescribes Rx hair loss treatments?

You can see that Rogaine and Keeps are essentially identical in terms of their topical minoxidil formulas. With Keeps, you’re really just choosing the more affordable generic version of Rogaine. You can read more in our review of Hims vs Roman vs Keeps. And if you are interested ONLY in topical medicines, we have reviewed – and tried – the best topical finasteride solutions (hint: they worked great!).


You can see that Keeps offers a much better price for the same size bottle compared to Rogaine. The dropper solution is $10 compared to Rogaine’s $15, and the foam is $15 compared to Rogaine’s $28.99. Keeps also has many other products you can add to your arsenal in the fight against hair loss, whereas Rogaine limits you to topical minoxidil formulas only.


What works better for women’s hair loss: Rogaine vs Viviscal vs Keeps?


While Rogaine and Keeps both offer quality treatments that work to prevent hair loss for the vast majority of users, Rogaine or Viviscal are better options for women. Keeps only has products for men and recommends that women do not use its products. Rogaine and Viviscal have separate lines with hair loss products specifically designed for women — just an FYI in case you’re shopping for female hair loss treatments.


Rogaine vs Viviscal: What are customers saying?


Some customers favor both and are wondering whether they could use Rogaine and Viviscal together. The answer is yes, you can. In fact, it’s a solid plan if you’re really serious about stopping your hair loss. Here are a few screenshots of real customer reviews of both Rogaine and Viviscal that we found online:


Source: Web MD


Source: Trust Pilot



The Verdict: Rogaine vs Viviscal vs Keeps — Which is best for hair loss?


At the end of the day, we recommend Keeps over both Rogaine or Viviscal, unless you’re female, in which case we suggest you try BOTH Rogaine and Viviscal and see which works best for you over a 3 month trial. If you want to start with just one solution, Rogaine or Viviscal, we recommend Rogaine because it’s more widely used, FDA-approved, and much less expensive. That said, if you don’t like rubbing stuff into your hair every morning and would prefer taking a pill, Viviscal is certainly worth trying.


Why is Keeps our top pick for men? Keeps offers the same minoxidil method for combatting hair loss as Rogaine — i.e. minoxidil — but at a lower cost and more convenience. They also offer additional hair loss products like thickening shampoos and conditioners. We figure that if you choose the Rogaine minoxidil course, you might as well save some money and hassle and go with Keeps.


We hope that helps! Let us know in the comments below what you decide, or if you already use Rogaine, Viviscal, or Keeps, tell us about your experience below.


Discover more innovative hair loss startups

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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