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Nanoxidil Reviews: A new and better topical for hair loss?

This hair loss treatment could be safer and more effective than minoxidil alone. We'll weigh the pros and cons so you can make the call.

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2022
Nanoxidil Reviews

Minoxidil has been the king of topical hair loss solutions for decades. You may know it by its brand name, Rogaine, but minoxidil is the active ingredient. It’s available without a prescription and is effective for many men and women suffering from androgenetic alopecia (pattern hair loss).

But minoxidil isn’t perfect. According to one comprehensive study, its success rate is good but not great — approximately 65%. It also produces some side effects in a small number of users.

An alternative to minoxidil — nanoxidil — promises a superior efficacy to minoxidil with few to no known side effects. But is it the real deal? Our research team dives into the available studies and tries the product for ourselves to find out.

Review Summary

Pros

  • Effective at the hairline and crown/vertex
  • Minimal side effects present in clinical studies
  • Available without a prescription
  • Combines well with other hair growth treatments

Cons

  • More expensive than minoxidil
  • Only available from one company
  • Daily application can be tedious

Bottom line

If you don’t mind spending the extra money, nanoxidil presents a safe, reliable alternative to minoxidil. Many patients saw their hair loss stop, and nearly three quarters noticed regrowth. There are no documented side effects in clinical trials, and daily application is simple enough, even if it takes time and care. Anyone who’s had mixed results from minoxidil or wants to start their treatment with the most effective offering on the market would do well to consider it.

Our Top Choice

DS Laboratories Nanoxidil

Nanoxidil from DS Laboratories is an effective way to combat hair loss. Limited studies indicate nanoxidil is more effective than minoxidil.

Nanoxidil is a newer topical solution used to stop and even reverse hair loss, especially at the hairline and crown. No subscription or prescription is necessary at DS Laboratories.

Why you should trust us

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

We extensively test each health service or product we review. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health options, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate products and services based on their adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

What is nanoxidil?

Nanoxidil is a topical solution you apply to areas of hair loss. It works best when battling androgenetic alopecia, or pattern hair loss. That said, it could help accelerate regrowth after chemotherapy-induced hair loss or in cases of telogen effluvium but only once you’ve addressed the underlying causes of that hair loss.

Molecularly, it’s incredibly similar to minoxidil, commonly known by its brand name Rogaine. Unlike minoxidil, nanoxidil’s clinical research showed almost no adverse reactions, making it an ideal option for anyone who’s tried minoxidil and had to stop due to sensitivity.

Currently, there is only one company that offers nanoxidil: DS Laboratories. This company played an enormous role in nanoxidil’s development, and they offer several products containing it. They also sell plenty of products that rely on minoxidil. For in-depth information about the company and the full scope of offerings, check out our comprehensive DS Laboratories review.

Does nanoxidil work?

Nanoxidil appears to be effective. In a small-scale study, 49 patients participated in a 3-6 month administration period. By the end of the study, 75% of participants saw an increase in hair density. In another study sponsored by DS Labs, 89% reported some degree of hair regrowth.

Because of its similarity to minoxidil, it’s safe to assume that these small sample sizes would repeat themselves in more extensive studies. Of course, we would like to see more research done on the topic. Still, all signs point to nanoxidil being a safe and effective hair loss treatment.

Cost of nanoxidil

At the time of this writing, DS Labs is the only company selling a nanoxidil solution. They use nanoxidil in four available products, one of which you can buy as a multi-pack to save some money. Here’s how they all break down:

SPECTRAL.DNC-N 2 fl. oz.

This is DS Labs’ standard nanoxidil treatment. It’s a 5% solution that also contains an array of follicle-stimulating and scalp-nourishing ingredients:

  • Azelaic Acid
  • Caffeine
  • Adenosine
  • Pyrrolidinyl Diaminopyrimidine Oxide
  • Tricopper peptides
  • Menthol
  • Lecithin
  • Phospholipids
  • Piroctone Olamine
  • Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17
  • Lysophosphatidic Acid
  • Retinol

One bottle of SPECTRAL.DNC-N costs $40, but you can get a three-pack for $88.20. That brings the cost of each bottle down to $29.40. And you can save an extra 20% and unlock free shipping by setting up an automatic subscription.

SPECTRAL.CBD

This product also includes a 5% nanoxidil solution and a nearly identical set of complementary ingredients. The one big difference is that it also contains cannabidiol (CBD). One study published in Cannabis Journal saw some level of regrowth in 100% of participants. Men fared somewhat better than women. There needs to be more clinical research into CBD’s potential to treat hair loss, but DS Labs uses a broad-spectrum CBD. That means it contains no THC — the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. It’s also a relatively small dose, with 150 mg of CBD in the entire bottle.

One bottle of SPECTRAL.CBD costs $45. There’s no three-pack discount available, but you can subscribe to save 20%.

SPECTRAL.CSF

This formula is DS Labs’ nanoxidil solution geared toward women. It has the same 5% concentration of nanoxidil that you’ll find in the male-oriented product, but its supporting ingredients are significantly different. They include:

  • Glycolic Acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • Tricopper peptides
  • Adenosine
  • Lecithin
  • Aloe vera
  • Stem Cell Extract
  • Biotin
  • Tyrosine
  • Zinc Gluconate
  • Snapdragon
  • Arginine
  • Ginseng
  • Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
  • Niacinamide
  • Ornithine
  • Octapeptide-2

One of the ingredients that jumps out here is the stem cell extract. Using stem cells as part of a topical hair loss treatment is a relatively new phenomenon, but some research makes it look somewhat viable.

A single bottle of SPECTRAL.CSF costs $40, and you can get 20% off with a subscription.

SPECTRAL.BROW

While most nanoxidil and minoxidil solutions have applicators designed to work on your scalp, this product is specialized for use on eyebrows. Many men and women feel their eyebrows are too thin, and this gives them a chance to improve on their fullness. And because alopecia can affect more than just the scalp, it’s a good way for some potential users to keep their eyebrows in place or have them grow back.

A single bottle of SPECTRAL.BROW costs $69.99, and you can unlock free shipping and save 20% if you subscribe.

Nanoxidil vs. minoxidil

nanoxidil and minoxidil molecular differences

Nanoxidil and minoxidil are remarkably similar when you look at them on a molecular level. That’s largely because minoxidil served as the foundation on which nanoxidil was created. The minor changes to minoxidil’s formulation appear to have significant consequences on its use.

Nanoxidil outperforms minoxidil in two critical ways:

  1. Nanoxidil is more effective than minoxidil in clinical trials.

  2. Nanoxidil presents fewer side effects than minoxidil in clinical trials.

But one big edge that minoxidil has on nanoxidil is cost. Minoxidil has been around for a while, and doctors recommend it widely. You can get a month’s worth of minoxidil from online providers like Keeps or Hims for as little as $10/month. The money you save adds up, even if you get DS Labs’ subscription savings.

Another point minoxidil has over nanoxidil is available delivery methods. Nanoxidil is only available as a solution, but you can get minoxidil as a foam. That makes it a bit easier to apply, and the foam seems to present fewer side effects than the solution.

If you want to try out minoxidil first, we recommend starting with Keeps, a hair-loss-focused online service that can provide you with minoxidil as a foam or a solution.

Is nanoxidil safe?

Nanoxidil is remarkably safe, according to the research done to this point. Only one participant in a DS Labs’ sponsored study showed any adverse effects, and those cleared up quickly when they lowered their dosage a bit.

Still, you should not use nanoxidil if you have any known skin conditions or lesions on your scalp.

Alternatives to nanoxidil

There are plenty of hair loss treatments that have more clinical research and use in the population than nanoxidil. Despite its effectiveness and low side effect profile, nanoxidil might not be the first choice for many men. We’ve spoken a bit about minoxidil already – the most obvious alternative – but some of the alternative treatments to either of these topical solutions include:

  • Finasteride - A prescription drug with good results but some potentially unpleasant side effects
  • Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) - A cap, helmet, or comb that stimulates the scalp with lasers
  • Supplements - Botanicals, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that support hair growth
  • Haircare products - Shampoo, conditioner, and styling products with specialized ingredients
  • Hair replacement - High-tech hairpieces that match your hair and adhere with medical glue
  • Hair restoration surgery - Transplantation of hair follicles from healthy areas to thinner ones

If you’re curious about any of these methods or want to see which ones we recommend, be sure to read our guide to the best hair loss treatments.

How we evaluate healthcare products and services

At Innerbody Research, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service or product. But in general, for health products and services, we have five broad areas that we explore in our evaluations, including:

Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) to the customer? For testing services, does the company adhere to the latest and most advanced testing technologies and achieve a very high degree of accuracy? For non-testing telemedical or teletherapy services, is the quality of the service high enough that we would recommend it to loved ones without hesitation? If not, why not? For health products, does the product or device meet a high level of safety? Is it manufactured with high-quality standards? Has it – or have its ingredients – been subjected to studies that confirm effectiveness?

User-friendly: How intuitive and convenient is the service or product? Does the device, program, app, or website achieve a good degree of user-friendliness for its customers?

Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?

Privacy: If health data is stored, will your data be stored securely? Are payments secure? Does a company market your information?

Customer support: Particularly in situations where ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t make sense, how well does the company help make the service or product ideal for you or address your individual needs?

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