The 9 Best Shampoos for Thinning Hair, According to Experts
If you finish every hair wash day by cleaning up an alarming number of fallen strands from your shower drain, you're not alone. Hair loss is a common issue that can be caused by chronic illness, pregnancy, menopause, genetics, stress, and a number of other factors. By seeing a medical professional—whether it's a dermatologist or a hair loss specialist like a trichologist—you can get to the (literal) root of your hair loss and then determine the best way to treat it.
There are many methods that can help thicken your strands, from using hair growth serums (including clinically proven topical treatments like minoxidil, aka Rogaine) to taking vitamins for hair growth to getting in-office treatments. Shampoo is just one part of the equation, but when you use the right product for the issues you're facing, you're more likely to get the results you want. We tapped dermatologists, as well as a physician and a trichologist, to learn which shampoos they recommend most for thinning strands and hair loss.
These are the 9 best shampoos for thinning hair in 2021, according to experts:
- Best Overall: Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Most Nourishing: Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Clinical Densifying Shampoo
- Best Budget Option: Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Shampoo
- Best Clarifying: Ouai Detox Shampoo
- Best Strengthening: Isdin Lambdapil Hair Loss Shampoo
- Best for Scalp Health: Advanced Trichology HairStem Shampoo
- Most Customizable: Nioxin Cleanser Shampoo
- Best Volumizing: Biolage Advanced Full Density Thickening Shampoo
- Best for Damaged Hair: Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo
What shampoo you use is just as important as how often you use it. "Proper daily shampooing can help stimulate the scalp as well as unclog hair follicles and clear accumulated oil, sebum, and dry skin," physician Azza Halim, MD, tells Health. "One should shampoo at least every three days to stimulate and keep the scalp clean."
The best technique also involves keeping the product on longer than you may be used to. When using a shampoo specifically formulated to prevent hair loss, hair restoration surgeon Sara Wasserbauer, MD, recommends lathering and leaving the product on the scalp for five minutes before rinsing. "That can sound like forever, so an alternative is to apply it on your scalp dry or damp first thing in the morning, then go get a cup of coffee, check your email, and then rinse it off," she says.
As with any hair care product, it will take some time to see results, so when you're trying a new treatment, plan to stick with it for at least a few weeks before making any decisions. If you're still not seeing results, or if your hair loss gets worse, then it's best to speak with a professional.
With so many thickening shampoos on the market, it can be intimidating looking for the one that's just right for you, but some expert guidance can help. These are the best shampoos for thinning hair, according to the pros.
Best Overall: Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
One hardworking ingredient to look out for is ketoconazole, which is recommended for thinning hair by both Dr. Wasserbauer and dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. “This is a shampoo typically prescribed to treat dandruff, but there is anecdotal evidence that has been published to support that it helps boost hair density,” Dr. Engelman tells Health. “I recommend using it every one to two days in order to get maximum effects.”
Most Nourishing: Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Clinical Densifying Shampoo
Dr. Halim recommends this shampoo from Alterna because it reduces buildup of DHT (an androgen hormone that contributes to hair loss), she says, and has a thickening formula that “helps make hair feel more supple and healthier.” It’s made with caviar extract, a fancy-sounding ingredient that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids to nourish the scalp and hair.
Best Budget Option: Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Shampoo
Recommended by several experts, this densifying shampoo contains enriching ingredients, like zinc and keratin, that encourage hair growth and keep existing strands nice and strong. “It has been clinically proven to promote the growth of existing hair and is suitable for everyday use and all hair types,” Dr. Halim says.
Best Clarifying: Ouai Detox Shampoo
Dr. Halim is a fan of this detox shampoo from Ouai. “Just as we detox our skin and body, we need to do the same for our hair and scalp.” The clarifying formula uses apple cider vinegar and keratin to remove buildup from the scalp and roots, and to strengthen hair. The shampoo is meant to be used once or twice a week, so you can rotate it with your go-to shampoo.
Best Strengthening: Isdin Lambdapil Hair Loss Shampoo
“There are so many shampoos for thinning hair that it is sometimes difficult to narrow down,” says dermatologist Anna H. Chacon, MD. “In principle, shampoos to help volumize the hair should not be overly thickened and should feel airy and light, much like a clarifying shampoo.” She recommends this option from Isdin, which contains both biotin and zinc to fortify hair. According to data from the brand, after eight weeks of use, 72 percent of users said their hair felt stronger.
Best for Scalp Health: Advanced Trichology HairStem Shampoo
Trichologist William Gaunitz recommends this shampoo, which includes saw palmetto—a natural DHT-blocker—and tea tree oil, which has an antifungal effect to keep the scalp healthy. “Shampoo is at the low man on the totem pole as far as efficacy when it comes to treating hair loss,” he adds. “However, if you do have a scalp condition or inflammation, the appropriate shampoo can be helpful in your fight against hair loss.”
Most Customizable: Nioxin Cleanser Shampoo
Dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD, is a fan of Nioxin’s line of shampoos because they offer different formulas to address a number of hair issues. Depending on whether your hair is colored or natural, and in the beginning stages of thinning or more advanced, you can pick the best one for you. Each option deeply cleans the scalp and removes buildup to make hair look thicker in both the short- and long-term. This shampoo uses biotin to strengthen undyed, thinned hair.
Best Volumizing: Biolage Advanced Full Density Thickening Shampoo
Dermatologist Jeannette Graf, MD, recommends this thickening shampoo, which she says is “designed to reduce hair loss and help stimulate luscious, thicker-feeling locks.” It’s formulated with biotin and zinc to make hair both look and feel healthier—and it even has an anti-frizz effect thanks to the nourishing Gluco-Omega blend in the formula.
Best for Damaged Hair: Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo
If you’re dealing with shedding, your hair is likely more prone to damage. In that case, Olaplex may be the right option for you. “It’s really great for protecting against hair breakage, which can be an issue behind thinner hair,” Dr. Henry says. The rosemary-scented formula also restores moisture and strength to lackluster hair.
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