Minoxidil vs. ProCelinyl™: A Tale of Two Serums

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When it comes to treating hair loss, unexpected and repurposed ingredients constantly pop up with claims to regrow hair at a fraction of the cost. The reality is that if you want effective solutions, it won’t be something from left field like rosemary oil or ashwagandha, but one of the old standbys. Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, is one of the most familiar—we know it beats out ingredients from your herb garden, but how does it stack up against modern, scientifically crafted solutions like ProCelinyl™? 

Let’s state the obvious: Both minoxidil and ProCelinyl aim to solve the same issue: hair loss and thinning. That’s pretty much where the similarities end, however. The key differences start to emerge when you look at:

  • How minoxidil and ProCelinyl were developed.
  • How minoxidil and ProCelinyl work.
  • How long it takes and how it feels to follow a routine with each.

A brief history of hair regrowth using minoxidil

For starters, the compound that became minoxidil was first tested as a tablet-based anticholinergic agent in the gastrointestinal tract—in short, researchers hoped that the chemical might reduce gastric (stomach) ulcers. Originally developed in the 1960s by Upjohn, a pharmaceutical company currently under the Pfizer umbrella, minoxidil emerged from that exploratory campaign not as an anticholinergic compound, but instead proved to be an effective antihypertensive—this time, a medication that could help to lower blood pressure.

The chemical structure that came from that research campaign proved to carry some undesirable side effects including edema, tachycardia, and atrial lesions. Despite the risk of these side effects, however, the efficacy of oral minoxidil at treating refractory hypertension—high blood pressure that still proved problematic even after prescription of five or more different medications—led clinicians to defy the 1971 FDA guidance and keep their patients on minoxidil for longer than the recommended 2-week upper limit. It was then that excess, off-target hair growth, known as hypertrichosis, was observed, and the rest is history: Controlled studies of topical minoxidil were conducted, an ideal concentration of 1-2% was pinpointed, and minoxidil entered the public consciousness as the branded product Rogaine—and has spent the last 50 years as the go-to for hair loss.

The modern development of ProCelinyl™

In contrast, ProCelinyl was built differently. From the get-go, scientists at Revela weren’t aiming to target anything other than hair loss. Revela’s researchers also had the benefit of decades of modern technology and computational power on their side to aid in their discovery process. You might’ve heard of buzzwords like artificial intelligence or machine learning. What do those mean, and how are they connected to finding effective ingredients?

ai procelinyl discovery

Machine learning is a fancy term that really just means an algorithm, or equation, that looks for patterns and feeds the best results back into itself over and over, hoping to optimize the outcome with each passthrough. Why couldn’t this be done before, you might ask? It takes tons of computer processing power that hasn’t been available until the last decade or so—you might have heard the comparison that we landed rockets on the moon with less computational power than a scientific calculator! 

To get the algorithm rolling, it requires what’s known as a training dataset. Think of that training dataset as your best prediction of what might work, or how well the existing set of ingredients, known to the scientific community, work. Starting with the chemical structures of the ingredients currently known to treat hair loss, Revela found deeper patterns and connections between what worked, used the machine learning algorithm to make predictions, and narrowed down the list of candidate molecules from over 12,000 to a few hundred. Those hundreds of ingredients were tested first on individual cells in vitro, i.e. in test tubes and plates in the lab, before being tested ex vivo (in real hair cells). The top-performing ingredients were tested for off-target safety and efficacy when it came to stimulating hair growth, and then the best candidate, ProCelinyl, was tested topically in human clinical trials. Unlike minoxidil, ProCelinyl was focused on reinvigorating hair follicles, not looking at gastric ulcers or blood pressure.

Minoxidil & ProCelinyl™ have similar goals, but different ways of achieving them

Though it might seem like splitting hairs—pun fully intended—both minoxidil and ProCelinyl work differently. As we’ve reviewed in other articles, the hair follicle goes through three distinct phases during its lifetime that dictate the health, appearance, and amount of hair on our heads: anagen phase, catagen phase, and telogen phase. Anagen phase is the growth phase that more than 80% of our hair follicles exist in at a given time, and it tends to last 3-5 years for each follicle before advancing to the brief catagen phase. Catagen phase serves as a transition period between growth and rest, and telogen phase is where the hair follicle goes into a bit of hibernation over the course of a few weeks. At the end of telogen phase, the current hair shaft is pushed from the follicle by a newly formed hair shaft, and anagen phase begins anew. During the final phase, exogen, the “old” hair sheds. Usually, however, a new hair is being primed to grow in its place.

Minoxidil is thought to work by shortening the telogen phase and moving hairs back into the anagen phase more quickly. By syncing up more hair follicles in the longer anagen phase, over the course of 3-6 months, perceptible hair growth has been shown to occur. As we age, our follicles begin to shrink and contract—partly due to accumulated DHT in the scalp—and as a result, the hair shafts that emerge from the thinning follicles begin to thin, as well. Over enough time, these thinning hair follicles begin to yield hair shafts that are fine, thin, and more in line with the fragile baby hairs, known as vellus hairs, instead of the coarser, thicker terminal hairs that make up a full head of hair. Original studies showed that minoxidil can help to reverse some of the thinning of the hair follicle and allow more follicles—as long as they were dormant, not destroyed—to produce terminal hairs once again. The downside, though, was that discontinuation of minoxidil caused the hair follicles to revert to their thinner, “dormant” state once again, meaning that once you start using minoxidil, you can’t stop unless you want to sacrifice hard-won progress. Even worse, once you stop a regular minoxidil regimen, hair begins to shed and return to a pre-minoxidil state more rapidly than you may expect.

minoxidil initial hair shedding

ProCelinyl works a bit differently. By targeting the hair follicle directly, ProCelinyl helps bring follicles back into an active, vibrant state, like jumping a car battery: Like minoxidil, as long as that engine at the base of your hair follicle isn’t completely destroyed, ProCelinyl gets it up and running again. The difference is that ProCelinyl targets the follicles directly by design, while minoxidil appears to achieve its effect by increased blood circulation, as identified from earlier studies.

Minoxidil vs. ProCelinyl: Speed & Side Effects

By now you might be wondering why it matters how it works as long as it delivers any results at all. Good question!

The difference in how they work means that while minoxidil takes up to three months to get your hair follicles in sync and over six months to see sustained regrowth, ProCelinyl doesn’t suffer from the same delay. (Don’t forget that intense shedding with minoxidil that can occur up front, making any hair thinning appear worse!) With ProCelinyl, significant results were observed in clinical trials in six to eight weeks, not months, and no temporary shedding period took place on the way to improvement. That means no anxiety about any disastrous hair loss along the way to results like you might see with minoxidil, a phase commonly known as dread shed.

minoxidil side effects
Side effects of minoxidil

And when it comes to comfort, ProCelinyl contributes to our Hair Revival Serum, a solution that’s been formulated with soothing ingredients and shown in clinical trials to deliver results for 97% of women while also being recognized as hypoallergenic.

Conclusion

When it comes to hair regrowth, minoxidil represents a legacy product that’s stood the test of time. Incumbency doesn’t mean optimality, however, and that’s where a targeted approach that’s both intuitive and scientifically rigorous, like the one taken by Revela in the design and formulation of ProCelinyl, can really shake things up. The old adage if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it shouldn’t shield older products like minoxidil from innovative competition. Not every ingredient, like rosemary oil or ashwagandha, falls into the category of innovative competition—they might show some benefit, but like minoxidil, that benefit appears to be a happy accident. ProCelinyl was built from the ground up to be the right tool for the job.

Learn More About ProCelinyl

ProCelinyl has shown incredible results in both the lab and the clinic towards providing women and men the power to control their thinning hair. Take a look at clinical trial results, our white paper and pictures from customer pictures as they share their experiences with using it.

Click to see how ProCelinyl™ is changing how our customers view hair loss

Read the ProCelinyl™ White Paper

procelinyl white paper

If you are currently using minoxidil-based products and are looking to make the switch to ProCelinyl™, read this!

Stopping the use of minoxidil abruptly can and most likely will lead to shedding (regardless of what other products you are using)—as it is a vasodilator, think of it like going from being able to breathe normally to having to breathe through a small straw. We want you and your hair to always be moving in a positive direction, and therefore, if you are considering the switch to ProCelinyl, we recommend using our serum in conjunction with your current regimen until you start seeing visibly better results. We recommend application at opposite ends of the day (for instance, if you're using minoxidil at night, use our product during the day or vice versa, just so you don't overwhelm the follicles, ideally, but not required, with a shower in between to clean out your pores).

Once you begin to see those results (typically within 6-8 weeks), you can slowly begin to reduce the application frequency of the minoxidil-containing products and ultimately transition away from minoxidil use altogether. Initially (that is, after you start seeing results with our serum) begin reducing the application frequency of minoxidil (e.g. every week or two cut the application frequency by half) to minimize any negative effects of transition.

If you have any questions, we suggest reaching out and asking your doctor, dermatologist, or physician. Or, as always, feel free to reach out to our science team at info@getrevela.com!

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