Topical Finasteride Delivery Systems

Update: November 2022 — An interesting new paper titled “Biomaterials for treatment of baldness” just got published. They used finasteride-loaded poly D,L-lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) naoparticles to deliver finasteride locally to the scalp. The drug can penetrate more easily and remain in the acting site for a longer duration of 5-6 weeks.

Update: October 2022 — Chinese researchers have bioengineered polyester nanoparticles for the synergistic treatment of androgenic alopecia. They do this via the 1) Supression of 5α-reductase (via Dutasteride in this case); and 2) Knockdown of the androgen receptor. The delivery technology utilized is called PLGA-DUT/siAR@DPCM nanoparticles. Dutasteride and siAR are both delivered topically to dermal papilla cells.

Update: July 2021 — Sustained release of topical finasteride via novel tip-loaded dissolving and implantable microneedle array patches.

I have covered topical finasteride for hair loss at regular intervals on this blog. Many of us are eagerly awaiting the final results from Polichem’s P-3074 Phase 3 clinical trials. Those trials ended in March 2018 and involved a sizable 459 male participants.

Topical Finasteride
Topical finasteride for hair loss treatment.

More importantly, a number of hair transplant surgeons and pharmacies have in recent years started compounding their own version of topical finasteride.

In rare instances, they are even making the stronger topical dutasteride. Almost all local compounding pharmacies in the USA are able to make their own in-house topical finasteride.

From what I have read online and after calling several local pharmacies, it seems like gel-based topical finasteride is the most popular current topical option. Finasteride gel and finasteride tablets showed similar hair growth success rates per this 2009 study from Iran.

You can also get topical finasteride in various liquid solutions; creams; lotions; ointments; pastes; aerosol sprays; microsponges; and more.

Topical Finasteride Drug Delivery

It seems like there are numerous ever increasing potential ways in which to deliver topical finasteride to the scalp. Each drug delivery mechanism not only impacts final hair growth results, but also side effects. The ultimate aim in creating both topical finasteride and topical dutasteride is to drastically reduce potential side effects from the oral versions.

Update: New article summarizing novel topical hair loss drug delivery systems. Mechanisms of delivery include via:

  • Microneedling.
  • Laser.
  • Radio-Frequency.
  • Ultrasound Sonophoresis.
  • Iontophoresis.
  • Nanoparticle Delivery.

“What I foresee for the future is a delivery system that allows not only selective targeting, but also very prolonged delivery.”

Nanoparticle Delivery of Finasteride

2013 (South Korea): Enhanced topical delivery of finasteride using Glyceryl Monooleate-Based Liquid Crystalline Nanoparticles.

2014 (Brazil): Nanotechnology in Dermatology.

2017 (UK): Preparation and characterization of dutasteride-loaded nanostructured lipid carriers.

2018 (Brazil): Nanotechnology advances for hair loss.

2020 (Brazil): Novel iron oxide nanocarriers loading finasteride or dutasteride.


2008 (EU): Original Polichem patent on a chitosan-based delivery system for topical fin.

2020 (Brazil): Nanocapsules with chitosan-coating and dutasteride hair follicle targeting.


2007 (India): Development of liposomal systems of finasteride for topical applications.


2018 (Brazil): Fractional non-ablative laser-assisted delivery.

Iontophoresis delivery of finasteride is also being researched. Some of the above methods can overlap with each other or be used in combination. I have not tried to put too much effort into the science for the time being, and will probably expand this post in the future.

If you have tried using topical dutasteride or finasteride, do comment on how you obtained the product. And if possible, the format (gel, solution, cream) and carrier vehicle. Did you see reasonable results? Any side effects?

57 thoughts on “Topical Finasteride Delivery Systems”

  1. Do you know when Polichem will report results? The Phase 3 ended a year ago and still Nothing? Was there already an expected market release date?

    1. I don’t know when we’ll see detail, but Almirall acquired polichem in 2016 and their market update in July 2018 included the following:

      “Top-line results of phase III of P3074 (androgenic alopecia) were also encouraging and showed a statistical significance of the primary end-point change of TAHC (target area hair count) at week 24.”

      The same was repeated in their November update, which in addition said:

      “and positive phase III results of KX2-391 for actinic keratosis and P3074 for androgenic alopecia”

      The main other question is how well it mitigated change in systemic DHT following encouraging, but very short term and small scale studies a few years ago.

      1. Thanks Greg! I think we cannot expect a “cure” soon but will have more and more different Treatments to take together in the next months already. Like combination of Trinov, P3074, Winlevi, Setipiprant, Bimatoprost, NGF-574H, ENERGI-F701, SM04554, Rivertown, Histogen, RAIN… aso and more. … and then Breezula, RIKEN, Follicum and Aclaris. … Its all expected within the next 48 months! :-) *happy*

        1. True, so one day most millionaires will be able to keep their hair if they start early enough. Probably will come out to be 500+ a month or maybe more so GL to any person struggling financially. You can add MPB onto your list of problems since most MPB treatments whether they work or not are very very highly priced to cash in on desperation

  2. If we are talking about reporting results not sure if this will mean anything but we should get Aclaris results (if any) within the next few months. They stated by Summer 2019. And if there are results they will include official photos. I still have my hopes up.

    1. Nasa_rs. You’ve been saying this since the dawn of time. Change the record mush, everyone is bored of you on this forum.

      1. Really re: greasiness? Did he give you the option of not adding propylene glycol? I know that Physician’s Formula Promox is not greasy at all. You can leave out the prop glycol and add the active ingredient in Latisse. Now I’m going to ask Dr. Cole what’s going on because greasiness in non-negotiable.

        1. 2 different types.
          I keep my place about 63 and the solvent wasn’t dissolving. I got the one with propylene glycol. Maybe in the summer I’ll switch back. Best to talk to the compounding pharmacy.

    2. FDA has granted fast track designation to Aclaris for the treatment of AA. If JAK inhibitor works for AGA, do you think what time we could get Jak?

  3. I’ll be ordering bottles of topical finasteride from Dr. John Cole in Alpharetta, GA next week. He uses a compounding pharmacy in Alabama. He does say that his business partner in Rome, Italy has a better version, but she can’t ship to the States yet. I’ll keep you posted after a few months of usage.

    1. I’ve been using Dr. Coles topical for 6-8 months. I’ve been on oral for 6 years and slowly leaned off oral. I had a hell of a shed. I’m not 100% happy, the topical is a bit greasy. Yes, his Italian compound sounds amazing.

      1. Hi, I’m going to start using Dr. Cole’s topical. Have you continued to use it? What is your opinion of it? Is it now possible to get the Italian formula?

  4. I have been using a compound topical fin with minox 5% with retinoid. It worked great for 4 months. Filled in density all over. After 4 months it stopped growing hair and now I’m below baseline. Been using it for a few years. It still slows my shedding by a lot since adding it with Rogaine foam. Never stopped foam because I am afraid of a shed. I just think my hairs are just way too sensitive to dht. I need something that can block 100% androgens attacking my follicles to be effective. Everything else is just a mini success story til the treatment becomes ineffective.

    Nasa- I wouldn’t get my hopes up for aclaris. We wouldn’t have heard something by now if it got great results. Sorry drugs messing with our immune systems is very serious, more so than drugs messing with dht. If jak goes systematic I think it could cause serious issues. Just my thoughts.

    1. Absolutely agree @Mjones. Even if the Aclaris trial grew one hair on one patient visible only by microscope it would have set the Internet into a storm. Remember PRP and laser caps?

      I think Shiseido will have the cure. Some don’t like that because it will mean trips to Japan. Personally, even if the cure came out in Syria, or some other country the US military like to use for target practice, I will go there!

    2. MJones – I do have my hopes up, Very High. I will wait for their results that are expected within the next few months. Good Point about if it worked we would know by now but we will not really know until we know.

      If JAK does not work then I do not think any drug will Ever work. The solution will have to be something like Tszui (sp?) where they go in and physcially add hair cells. That may turn out to be the only possible treatment to get back a full set of hair. All just my opinion.

  5. FINASTERIDE and dutasteride are both not suitable for topical use because they have significant side effects, according to studies; even after stopping treatment, the hair will fall again.
    We want real treatment!!

    1. history has already proven its a tough nut to crack. I dont see anything significantly better than fin/dut for a long long time. Be thankful for what you have, and a topical might really reduce side effects while still having great results local to the scalp. Its worth pursuing although in 3 years if CB comes out many might not need it anymore.
      Most of this crap we needed it like 10 years ago not now. The last 20 years since propecia has not been kind to men. You would think after propecia released there would be a MPB treatment frenzy for new stuff. Not a single thing

  6. Empower pharmacy texas ships with prescription. Got a 12 months refill script there. Havent noticed anything though unfortunately…. Follica tsuji is about my only hope now. Hah

  7. “which often arise from oral versions of these medications” Admin, what does often mean? More often than not? If you take out the fear mongers, conspiracy theorists and hypochondriacs on the internet clinical data shows it’s not often or at the very least not very often to arise.

    1. Good catch, although for Dutasteride I have seen studies showing at least 20-30 percent get some usually transient side effects. Let me think about this a bit more. Fyi I still take half frequency Dutasteride, but pretty sure I have mild side effects.

      1. Thanks for keeping an open mind admin. You know I was on fin for over 20 years, now switched to dut close to three years ago and added RU over a year ago. No appreciable sides, this along with the data drives me bananas when people who report sides come out of the woodwork. Many who that report them after a only few hours or just by looking at the meds. :-) I still love the guy who accused me of being a shill for big pharma…yeah I’m sure that monthly generic fin costs $9 and the fact I didn’t mention a brand or place to buy was a dead give away for that rocket scientist! While I get riled up by those who make claims that everyone will get sides, one’s with fragile minds almost certainly will…sad.

        1. I just tried fin about a month ago. Im telling you for a fact that it does have side effects. I had many headaches, and still do and I know its the drug causing them.
          This stuff has effects on you even if you dont notice them. Bottom line is we use it out of desperation, but long term its not a good thing to be on.

          1. Fine…just some corrections to your “blanket statement”. It CAN have side effects not does and you supposedly had side effects, not everyone will as the way your post is written. The statement ” This stuff has effects on you even if you dont notice them” is one of the most idiotic things I’ve read, maybe that’s a side effect too! Sorry you aren’t able to tolerate Fin for whatever reason, I didn’t and it helped save my hair. BTW, are headaches even a reported side??

        2. Oh, that would be me. Must’ve really got under your skin to be so fondly remembered? Btw; I couldn’t help noticing your ‘Stop The Fear Mongering’ mantra was noticeably absent re: Admin’s above comment of having mild sides from Dut. Puzzling?

          1. A limited number of people can have sides sunny boy, your posts are written to portray that everyone will get sides. No, you didn’t get under my skin, just being so moronic really stood out in my mind. A shill for big pharma…really?? It’s like a car wreck, you just have to look when I wish I wouldn’t . Admin is rational and you my boy are…riddled with sides and loosing ground fast, I guess!

            1. Still got a full head of hair old man. Never once portrayed that ‘everyone’ will get sides. (where did you get that from?) However, you throw shade at anybody who suggests they do. Shill was an extreme scenario in response to your closed mind. Obviously went over your little green head.

              1. You remembered I’m old, that’s precious, are you the one with a bro-crush? Right, a shill for Fin, Dut and big pharma would be on RU…can you say rocket scientist? Go back and re-read your posts, they infer if you take fin you will get sides. Possibly memory loss is one of your sides?
                I’d love to see pics of your full head, you quit fin cuz of sides, nobody will maintain on minox alone for any period of time…you must have the cure sunny boy, please share it with the with the hair loss community. Let me guess, natural treatments, ha!

  8. I have tried the Indian (?) Morr-F (5%) solution for about a year. Noticed some gains at first as after a couple of weeks it felt like buzzed hair on my scalp under my longer hair. Maybe it has gotten a little bit better since then cause it feels a bit like my hair has become thicker but the bald spot is still there so it is not a ‘cure’ from a cosmetic point of view, at least for me. Took some photos before I started and will take some new when my current batch ends and then evaluate. Right now it feels like I probably won’t place another order.

  9. I have a script for topical fin. Maybe I should use it. I have had mono for 3 months now and have lost a lot of weight and my hair has shed so badly. I cant wait for this mono to go away and hopefully the hair will grow back. I’ve been using oral fin, topical minoxidil and vitamins the whole time. I had great success with the big 3 for 6 years before this. Very upsetting.

  10. Hi. I have a question. What about replicel rch-01 phase II trial results? From what I understand the trials itself are long gone now and the results were scheduled to be released in September last year but then they offset it to February 2019. It’s almost March and I still cannot find anything?

  11. Harold Bishop, for the record, you are wrong in your assertion that people on this forum are bored of Nasa_rs. I became a regular lurker here mainly because I was interested to read about developments with Aclaris, and not wishing to take anything away from other posters, I do tend to scan unrelated threads for any comments by Nasa. I think much of what he says is cogent.

  12. Coincidentally a Brazilian friend of mine came with the following doctor’s prescription a couple weeks ago for a topical gel (it’s a bomb):
    Minoxidil 8.5%
    Finasteride 2.5%
    Dutasteride 0.05%
    Clobetasol propionate 0.04%
    Mucobrox 1% (not sure if this is correct, the doctor’s handwriting is bad)
    Auxina Tricogena 5%
    Kopexyl 5%
    Redensyl 2%
    Capilla Longa 1.5%
    Anagain 1%

    There is one more component which I can’t find out the name, can’t read it. Only pharmacists will understand, I can confirm later. In Brazil, doctors can prescribe whatever to be manipulated in pharmacies, as you can tell by the prescription above. I heard it is extremely effective from anecdotal evidence. Wouldn’t be surprised given the ingredients concentrations. But I have no idea about how risky this is.

  13. I agree with a scott. Compound everything. What I find odd is that topical fin has been around for a few years now yet polichem had to run trials ? Why did they do that? Will polichem work better? Will work if oral stopped working ? I’m hoping it can boost regrowth and effectiveness. Man we need new treatments…this is getting really annoying..

  14. I have been using topical finasteride combined with minoxidil for about a year. I’ve experienced moderately significant thickening on the crown, but it’s still no miracle cure. My guess is that my results would have been the same if I were on oral finasteride and minoxidil. I switched to it after I got the usual side effects from oral finasteride and since then have had absolutely no problems.

    True & Dorin wrote me the prescription. It’s manufactured by MasterPharm Compounding Pharmacy and costs $185 all inclusive for 8 little bottles (one bottle = ~1 week of 2x a day applications). Photo of the bottle and label attached. Ingredients are finasteride, minoxidil, fluocinolone acetonide (anti-irritant), and tretinoin (rhetnoid that supposedly increase scalp penetration).

    1. Hey Dan, did you get a HT and then true and dorin wrote you a script or can I just go to any local doctor and ask them to give me one?

      1. I have not gotten a HT but I want to. I’m still in my early 20s so True & Dorin won’t transplant me unless I can demonstrate that I’m managing my hair loss. As of my last checkup in October, I’m on track.

        I imagine a local doctor would be able to give you the script. MasterPharm Compounding Pharmacy may be able to tell you more. The number that I use when I need a refill is (866) 630-5600.

  15. Pietro the dutasteride part sounds risky :D. I’m intrigued with the kopexyl 5%. If i’m not mistaken it was this miracle hairloss Loreal particle that probably didn’t do much. The product was called Dercos Aminexil somebody remembers that? I think they stopped manufacturing the male anti hairloss version of this product so it was probably not very effective.

    1. Hey Bodzio, I didn’t know about this being from Loreal. This is not the first Brazilian prescription I see with Kopexyl in it. I myself have a lotion from my dermatologist with 2.5%. My doctor is a bit more conservative, she has never put any finasteride or dutasteride in it. But I am very inclined to start using this lotion with everything. Maybe I will even document the progress if I do. It is super expensive though.

  16. I am a 29 yo male from India suffering from diffuse thinning since 18 years. I have been using Topical minoxidil 5%+ finasteride from last 8 years and in hindsight the results aren’t any different than when i was only on minoxidil. I am still losing my hair and the barren real estate on my head is fairly visible now. So sorry to disappoint you folks.

  17. I’ve been using a topical fin/minox/caffeine developed by Dr.Carlos Wesley NYC – Although I still have some hope in it, i have had no results at all so far and been a year. Im sure it works well for other patients, as each is different.

  18. I used the Hasson & Wong new topical finasteride at the ~1% concentration (lower than their advertised version). I used it once a day for about 3-4 months a year ago. I had side effects from the oral – loss of libido, and erections – those started about 4 weeks into oral treatment and it took me about 3 months off the treatment before I recovered completely. Since neither are particularly objective symptoms, I decided instead to use my symptom of watery ejaculation to look for whether or not the topical was going systemic. Sure enough around week 14 I noticed that my semen had become increasingly watery.

    Essentially I believe it takes longer and is more gradual but over time the topical built up enough in my system to cause systemic effects. I stopped taking it as soon as I noticed the symptom. I’m not sure what would happen if I took 0.5% for example, or 0.25%. The problem was the cost was very expensive – I don’t remember the exact amount but it was something like 80-100 bucks a month. Also I’m a diffuse thinner so I require more product across the head which increases systemic exposure. Lastly even if I went with such a low concentration, what guarantee is there for benefit?

    I wonder if most of the purported side effect benefit is just from deceasing the nocebo response in people. Over time I think the drug may simply require systemic effects to even be useful for hair loss, people are just tricking themselves into thinking it’s not systemic and so they have less side effects.

  19. If you look at the Government Trials website for Polichem P-3074 Topical Finasteride it has been updated, results of the trial were submitted on Feb 27th, nothing publicly available yet but hopefully any day now we will know if it works.

  20. Ok I have a dumb question. I have a prescription for fin and tried making my own topical without much success. Can I just go to any local compounding pharmacy and bring them my prescription and they will make a topical solution for me? Is it that simple? Or do I need an additional prescription or something?

  21. I don’t think any compounding pharmacy can make an effective topical fin, you should find one with a lot of experience. Like a guy once said to me ” it’s not just the ingredients you put into a souffle, it’s how you bake it”. Check out Murray ave RX pharmacy or the company that’s selling Dr. Klein’s stuff, I think it’s I’m not saying they are the holy grail but at least many years experience.

  22. The results are available now.

    It seems like the topical finestride had an effect on stopping the shedding but did not significantly increase the hair growth of patients. But the satisfaction of patients who took Fin orally was almost the same as people who applied it on the scalp.

    After 24 weeks, seems like there are not a lot of side effects.
    Also, the people who also took Fin orally had a similar satisfaction with their sexual desires as the people who put it on their scalp. So maybe Fin does not affect most people’s sexual desires at least in the first 24 weeks no matter how you take it.

    There are other interesting results too which you should check out.

    Overall, it seems like most people’s satisfaction was neutral for both Fin orally and topical. So not completely satisfied or dissatisfied. Which makes me confused about the patients’ experiences in this study.

  23. Hi everyone,
    I haven’t posted on here for about 2/3 years so my apologies if this question has been answered already.
    I was wondering if anyone has acquired topical Fin with a concentration of 0.025% as I am worried about amount of Fin getting into the blood causing unwanted sides. I believe the reduction of DHT serum in the blood is a crucial factor when determining likelihood of side effects. I used to take avodart for my HL for about 16 years until I experienced bad side effects (I experienced symptoms of low T) so I switched to 1% Fin topical with 15% minoxidil, my symptoms have improved somewhat but still not really happy ( I also think I may be suffering from anxiety performance) BTW i’ve had my blood work done several times to check total and free testosterone inc SHBG and it has come back fine, not even a hint of it being low . I have found a 0.5% Fin topical product but just wondering if there are other options out there? Also, is it possible to get topical Fin gel (with liposomal) it sounds like a promising and safer bet than oral/topical finasteride , any information or direction here would be gladly appreciated.

    1. Polichem product may come out this year from what I read briefly. May try to write a post on that soon.

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