The 11 Best Shampoos for Hair Growth, According to Experts and Reviews
If you're noticing a lot of strands accumulating in your shower drain, don't panic—hair loss is more common than you may think. It's actually normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. And if you're wondering what's causing your shedding, thinning, or hair loss, just know that genetics, hormones, illness, medication, childbirth, stress, and even how you style your hair can all play a role.
Plus, with the extreme stress of the pandemic and recovery from Covid-19, more people than ever before are noticing their ponytails aren't as full as they once were. It's true: Stress or illness (currently, including COVID-19) can cause hair loss—it's a process known as telogen effluvium, or the excessive shedding of hair induced by stress, Michelle Henry, MD, a dermatologist based in New York, previously told Health.
Those experiencing extreme shedding or hair loss (more than 100 hairs a day) should see a medical professional—a dermatologist or a hair loss specialist like a trichologist—to pinpoint the root cause and the best treatment. "The earlier you start therapies, the more likely they are to be effective," says Sara Wesserbauer, MD, a hair restoration surgeon in California. A doctor can also use blood work to identify iron levels, thyroid disorders, hormone imbalances, and even autoimmune disorders that may be driving the hair loss, adds Adam Mamelak, MD, a dermatologist based in Austin. "Hair and tissue cultures and even more elaborate testing, including a scalp biopsy, may be indicated to help identify the cause of hair loss," he adds.
Taking a holistic approach to your hair is also important because hair is made up of a protein, and low protein intake is correlated with hair growth, says Dr. Wesserbauer. Animal protein intake seems to be correlated to better hair growth (although there are iron-rich foods, no meat required), so adding in meat a few times a week can give you the protein and iron you need, points out Dr. Wesserbauer. Iron is one of the most important vitamins for hair growth, along with B12, C, D, and E. The trick with vitamins is their absorption—iron is best absorbed in small doses and with vitamin C, while vitamin D is best taken with calcium, explains Dr. Wesserbauer. But if you adhere to a vegetarian diet or are iron-deficient, you doctor can help identify imbalances and figure out the best source and intake plan.
You should also look for topical products with ingredients that may stimulate and aid the hair growth process—and stay away from those that might hinder it. "You want to focus on how shampoos impact the scalp when you're trying to combat hair loss," says Fae Norris, a hairstylist at Rock Paper Salon in Los Angeles. "That's where hair loss is created and where it can be treated." For instance, formulas boasting biotin, minoxidil, keratin (a protein that can be found naturally in the body that's important for skin, hair, and nails), and ingredients that help inhibit the production of dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, a hormone that plays a role in hair loss, are a good start.
While biotin is popular for the treatment of hair loss, its usefulness has not been substantiated by clinical trials, Ava Shamban, MD, a dermatologist based in Beverly Hills and founder of SKINxFIVE, previously told Health. However, its believed that not having enough of the vitamin can negatively impact your strands and cause hair loss. On the other hand, formulas containing DMDM hydantoin have been seen to cause scalp irritation and hair loss—and the ingredient has the class-action lawsuits to prove it—so avoid products containing it.
Don't want to add another step into your hair care regimen? An easy swap to make is the shampoo you're using. Why? Cleansing the scalp, optimizing the scalp condition, and treating it with hair-building and hair-strengthening ingredients is crucial for hair growth, says Vinnie Ferrara, hairstylist and Nioxin Top Artist.
Ahead, 11 of the best shampoos for hair growth, according to stylists, dermatologists, and customer reviews.