Nanoxidil – Unpopular Hair Loss Solution Superior to Minoxidil?

Dermatologist Suneil Gandhi, MD Medically reviewed by dermatologist Dr. Suneil Gandhi, M.D., DDVL, D.N.B.

is nanoxidil effective?

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By the age of 50, approximately 50 % of women and 85 % of men experience some degree of hair loss, which, according to the U.S. population would translate into 84 million women and 137 million men. This is a reason to worry, as the statistics aren’t getting any better – the numbers will keep on increasing with each passing day.

Many of these people with hair loss would give anything, to the extent of spending their life savings, just so that they can restore a full head of hair.

The numbers are quite high, and so are the treatment options. This is why we are talking about one of the most novel medications for treating hair loss – nanoxidil.

What is nanoxidil?

nano formula illustration

In August 2011, a cosmeceutical company – Divine Skin Inc., released a new molecule to the market for treating hair loss.

The molecule was a drug called nanoxidil. As the story goes, it was developed to surpass the efficacy and tolerability of minoxidil.

Nanoxidil is a relatively new product in the field of medicine. Unfortunately, there are limited studies that elaborate on its use, efficacy and potential side effects.

It was initially tested on mice. According to a 2009 KoreMed study, topical nanoxidil (5 %) solution treatment, applied to the dorsal skin, showed significantly higher hair regrowth rate compared with other groups. However, more studies are required with a direct comparison to minoxidil to validate this.

However, patient use reports indicate that it is advantageous because it has a good absorptive potential and the side effects are minimal.

Nanoxidil vs. Minoxidil

Of all the medications for hair loss, minoxidil is perhaps the most well-known. It has been in use for close to 40 years now.

According to the brains behind the discovery of minoxidil, Kahn and Grant initially intended that their medication should be used in the management of hypertension. And that is exactly what the FDA approved it for in 1979 – hypertension.

Subsequently, Upjohn was granted the patent by the US Patent Office to use minoxidil as a remedy for hair loss.

With such a rich history, how does minoxidil compare to nanoxidil?

minoxidil compared to nanoxidil
Composed by Hairverse. The key difference is that nanoxidil has one carbon molecule less than minoxidil.

Well, it is true that minoxidil works well for hair loss. However, it also has some undesirable side effects. When you use it, you stand at risk of experiencing headaches, heart problems, local irritation at the site of application and possibly, the development of acne.

It has also been determined that women are more sensitive to minoxidil; hence the reason why it is recommended that women should only use a concentration of 5 % (once a day) on the maximum.

According to a recent articleNew Treatments for Hair Loss“, nanoxidil solution is a novelty in hair loss treatment – its structure is very similar to minoxidil but the molecular weight is lower. This should theoretically, lead to a better penetration and absorption rate. However, more robust scientific studies are required.

As a result, it may surpass the effectiveness of minoxidil in the stimulation of hair growth. Besides, market trials and patient data have revealed that nanoxidil has fewer-to-no side effects compared to minoxidil.

Besides their molecular differences, the lotions of nanoxidil also differ significantly from generic product brands like Rogaine®.

The Spectral DCN-N lotion for nanoxidil contains other ingredients apart from nanoxidil. These ingredients include:

  • Adenosine
  • Lysophosphatidic acid
  • Azelaic acid
  • Copper Tripeptide-1
  • Caffeine
  • Retinol
  • Piroctone olamine

These ingredients act in unison to promote the penetration of nanoxidil and improve the growth of hair. On the contrary, minoxidil lotion only contains minoxidil.


The main difference between minoxidil and nonoxidil is mollecular weight. Nanoxidil has it lower which theoretically should lead to a better penetration rate. Both solutions are proven to treat hair loss, however, only minoxidil is currently FDA approved.

Is nanoxidil effective? – What studies say…

Nanoxidil is a recent invention and most of the studies about it are still underway. For instance, phase II study from DS Healthcare Group Inc. evaluating the efficacy and safety of nanoxidil in the treatment of mild to moderate androgenic alopecia has yielded some impressive results.

Even though, it’s worth noticing that independent trials may be better as the manufacturer could have a conflict of interest.

Results of nanoxidil lotion (Spectral DNC-N) in 6 months:

spectral dnc-n results for women hair loss
Composed by Hairverse, based on Vincenzi, C., Marisaldi, B., Tosti, A., & Patel, B. (2019)

The study reveals that those who are using nanoxidil to treat hair loss can achieve up to 28.6% increase in hair growth in just three months after the onset of treatment. From the study, the researchers concluded that nanoxidil not only boosts the hair count and hair density but also reduce any inflammatory processes in the scalp.

The additional ingredients in nanoxidil lotion also ensure a multifocal approach in the management of hair loss.

One of the most common factors that promote androgenetic alopecia is perifollicular fibrosis. This refers to premature aging of the hair root due to the overproduction of collagen, loss of moisture, and/or scarring that occur near the hair shaft.

Copper peptides are also anti-inflammatory because they can block the actions of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin 1 and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta). This explains the anti-inflammatory effect of nanoxidil lotion.

Studies such as the 2009 study posted in KoreaMed journal explain how nanoxidil can be effective in the management of inflammatory processes in the scalp.

Unlike minoxidil which elicits an increased sensitivity among women, the 2019 study shows that nanoxidil is highly effective in the management of early female pattern hair loss without any worry of increased sensitivity.

According to the study, the majority of subjects experienced noticeably good results, and only 3 % of women in the study saw no change after a 6-month treatment period.

Change in Global Hair Density from Baseline After 6 Months of Spectral DNC-N Treatment

nanoxidil effectiveness for hair loss pie chart
Composed by Hairverse, based on Vincenzi, C., Marisaldi, B., Tosti, A., & Patel, B. (2019)

Studies about nanoxidil are limited. Nevertheless, preliminary studies conclude that this medication has fewer side effects compared to minoxidil. You could use nanoxidil if you are experiencing any adverse effects when you use minoxidil. However, if you are allergic to minoxidil, you could be allergic to nanoxidil too.

Studies are still underway, and they may reveal other side effects which are currently not yet identified.

Price of nanoxidil and where to buy it online

One fact about medications for human use is that the FDA will only approve them after extensive clinical trials. It, therefore, goes without saying that it will take some time before nanoxidil is approved by the FDA.

For this reason, this product is in limited supply, and the stock is also not that large in major online stores like

You can always make a purchase from one of the major drug stores, online stores or visit the DS Laboratories in 1601 Green Rd, Pompano Beach – Florida.

Besides, you may purchase nanoxidil from DS Laboratories using their online store. A three-month formula goes for about 98 dollars or 35 dollars a month on average, which is slightly more expensive than what minoxidil would cost you.

You can order SPECTRAL. DNC-N® (Nanoxidil® 5%) directly from the manufacturer by clicking on a button.

But, is it worth the cost?

Personally, I think it is worth it. Considering that you might be experiencing a better response to hair loss treatment with fewer side effects.

Final word

As much as nanoxidil appears to be very effective and a preferable choice to minoxidil, you should be wary about changing medications. If minoxidil is working well for you and you can tolerate the side effects, then there is no need to shift to nanoxidil.

However, if you are starting out on hair loss treatment, then nanoxidil is not a bad choice. You can also opt for nanoxidil, if minoxidil is giving you side effects that you can’t tolerate.

Finally, your safety is almost always guaranteed if you consult a qualified dermatologist or trichologist before you consider any of these medications for hair loss.

  • Park, D. H., Oh, C. H., & Chae, M. H. (2009). Correlationship between Hair Growth and IGF-1 and TGF-beta1 Levels. Journal of the Korean Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 15(1), 64-68.
  • Patel, Brijesh & Velasco, Maria & Tamez, Fernando. (2016). Phase II Study to Evaluate Efficacy and Safety of SPECTRAL.DNC-N Topical Solution For the Treatment of Mild to Moderate Androgenic Alopecia.
  • Vañó-Galván, S., & Camacho, F. (2017). New treatments for hair loss. Actas Dermo-Sifiliográficas (English Edition), 108(3), 221-228. DOI:
  • Vincenzi, C., Marisaldi, B., Tosti, A., & Patel, B. (2019). Effects of a New Topical Treatment Containing Several Hair Growth Promoters in Women with Early Female Pattern Hair Loss. Skin appendage disorders, 5(3), 146-151. DOI:

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