I've been struggling with thinning hair and love to share what products work best for me.
Do Hair Loss Products Actually Work?
Does it seem like there’s more hair in your hairbrush, on your floor, on your pillowcase, or clogging your shower drain than on your head these days? This is a common problem that can affect men and women of all ages. It happens for many reasons: stress, hormones, poor diet, harsh hair treatments, medications, medical conditions, and a variety of other issues.
Finding out the reason behind the hair loss is the first step to treating it. If you’re not sure what’s causing your hair to become thin, a dermatologist can help give you an accurate diagnosis and suggest the most effective treatment options for your particular type of hair loss.
As someone who once struggled with hair loss, I’ve tried countless products and have done a great deal of research in my quest to find what works best for my hair. Though this type of hair can be a challenge to work with, using the best products can make a huge difference. While there’s still no miracle cure for thin hair, these products can help improve the look and feel of your hair and boost your confidence.
Products That Help Visually Thicken Hair
- Shampoo: The right shampoo can make thin hair appear lush and full.
- Conditioner: A good conditioner can provide necessary hydration without weighing hair down.
- Styling Products: Mousse, hair powder, or keratin fibers can help visually bulk up the thickness of hair.
- Nutritional Supplements and Topic Treatment: Certain supplements or medications can even help regrow hair for many people.
Shampoos for Thinning Hair
Using a good shampoo is the first step to improve the look and help thicken your hair.
Here Are Three Things to Look for in a Shampoo:
- Gentle and thoroughly cleanses
- Isn’t overly drying
- Doesn't leave behind residue or oils that weigh down fine hair
Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Scalp Care Anti-Thinning Shampoo
This gentle, sulfate-free shampoo helps remove impurities for hair that’s visibly thicker and healthier. This is the first step in a 3-part system that includes a conditioner and a tonic. I like how this shampoo lathers well and leaves my hair feeling very soft and light. It’s even safe for color-treated hair and is not tested on animals.
Where to Buy: Ulta, Amazon.com, Salons that sell Paul Mitchell Products, or Paulmitchell.com
Nioxin gets rave reviews online, and many hairstylists recommend it to clients. According to the bottle, “Nioxin Cleanser helps to remove follicle-clogging sebum, fatty acids and environmental residues from the scalp skin and hair. Cleanses to provide thicker-looking hair.”
This shampoo has a fresh, minty scent and leaves hair clean, full, and with much more volume than your average shampoo. It also helps remove oils and product build-up to prevent thin hair from looking flat and stringy.
Users on numerous product review sites claim Nioxin Cleansers have helped stop hair loss and regrow hair. Even those who didn’t see regrowth usually said they were pleased with how clean and full this shampoo left their hair.
I’m a fan of Nioxin Cleansers and use either #3 for Normal to Thin Looking or #4 for Noticeably Thinning Hair. People with extremely dry hair might find this shampoo too drying for everyday use, but there are other Nioxin formulas suited for every hair type.
On Nioxin’s website, there’s an online ‘Consultation Tool’ where you can see what products would work best for your hair type. They also offer a ‘Salon Finder’ at the top of the page so you can locate stores or salons near you that sell Nioxin products.
Where to Buy: Drugstores, Salons, Nioxin.com, Amazon.com, Walgreens.com, Ulta.com
Nizoral is an over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoo, but according to the American Hair Loss Association, it can help with some types of hair loss.
“It (Nizoral) also has anti-androgenic effects and can cause a reduction in the production of testosterone and other androgens by the adrenal glands and by the male and female reproductive organs (in women, the ovaries). Because of this action, it can be used to help treat hair loss.” (1)
The active ingredient in Nizoral is 1% Ketoconazole. This shampoo has a rich blue lather and leaves hair soft, clean, and full. It can be used every 3–4 days, so consider alternating Nizoral with your everyday shampoo.
Where to Buy: Most drugstores, Drugstore.com, Amazon.com, Nizoral.com
Nexxus VitaTress Biotin Shampoo
This highly-rated Nexxus shampoo is formulated for gentle cleansing of fine, fragile, or thinning hair. It’s infused with vitamins like Biotin, Inositol, and Choline, along with Jojoba Oil, Amino Acids, and DHT-inhibitors. All of these ingredients help encourage a healthy scalp, which can assist in hair regrowth.
Where to Buy: Amazon.com, eBay, Salons that sell Nexxus products.
Ultrax Labs Hair Surge Shampoo
Ultrax Labs Hair Surge is a caffeine-based shampoo that promotes hair follicle health to encourage growth. It also contains Ketoconazole for its anti-inflammatory/anti-fungal benefits and Saw Palmetto, an herb that can help with male and female pattern baldness.
“Research on the effectiveness of saw palmetto in treating hair loss is limited, but promising. An extract of saw palmetto berries may block 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. DHT is the molecule responsible for hair loss…” (2)
There’s also an Ultrax conditioner and thickening treatment to go along with the shampoo. The shampoo is on the pricey side, but Ultrax offers a 110% money-back guarantee (within 90 days) on their products. (3)
Where to Buy: Amazon.com, UltraxLabs.com
Conditioners for Thinning Hair
While it may seem counterintuitive, conditioners are vital for those with thinning hair because the hair can become dry, frizzy, and prone to breakage. Here are some conditioners that hydrate well without leaving behind oil and residue that can weigh hair down.
Paul Mitchell Lemon Sage Thickening Conditioner
This fresh-scented, lightweight conditioner adds much-needed shine to thinning hair, while reducing static and keeping snarls away. It’s also paraben-free, gluten-free, vegan, and safe for color-treated hair. Paul Mitchell Products aren’t tested on animals.
Where to Buy: Ulta.com, Amazon.com, Salons that sell Paul Mitchell Products, and Paulmitchell.com
ION Repair Solutions Effective Care Treatment
This intense conditioner is thick and very moisturizing but rinses out well to leave hair soft and full. It can be left on for 1–2 minutes for normal hair and 3–5 minutes for dry or damaged hair. Though it can be used as a daily conditioner, I find using it once or twice a week is enough to keep my hair soft. It’s also paraben-free and 100% vegan.
Where to Buy: SallyBeauty.com, Amazon.com, IonatHome.com
Alberto VO5 Hot Oil Therapy
This tried and true once-a-week hot oil treatment treats hair with vitamins, keratin, and aloe. Dry, thin hair drinks this up and becomes soft, shiny, and supple. It’s used before shampooing, so it rinses out nicely. I notice that breakage and frizziness is much less visible after using this oil.
Where to Buy: Many drugstores, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Drugstore.com
Organic Coconut Oil
Organic coconut oil is my secret weapon when my hair starts to look dry, frizzy, or lackluster. For those who prefer natural products, here's how easy it is to condition hair with coconut oil:
- Brush your hair thoroughly, making sure any snarls or knots are removed.
- Rub organic coconut oil generously through your hair, concentrating on the ends.
- Put on a disposable shower cap and leave this on for at least an hour.
- Rinse out the coconut oil in the shower.
- Shampoo and condition your hair as usual.
I'm always amazed by how soft and supple my hair looks afterward. I've heard some people say their hair can feel a bit greasy the day they use coconut oil, so try it on a day you're not going out so you can see how it works for your hair.
Where to Buy: Grocery stores and health food stores.
Styling Products for Thinning Hair
When styling hair, less is often more. No matter what styling products you use, use as little as possible to get the volume you want without weighing hair down.
Bumble & Bumble Thickening Hair Spray
This isn’t your typical hairspray. It’s meant to be sprayed onto damp hair prior to blowdrying to give hair loads of extra volume. Just don’t overdo it because thinning hair can easily get weighed down. It’s a bargain for the price because one bottle lasts a long time, even if you use it frequently.
Where to Buy: BumbleandBumble.com, Sephora.com, Amazon.com, Salons that sell Bumble & Bumble
Nexxus Mousse Plus Volumizing Foam
Mousse is one of the best ways to add volume to your hair, but many brands contain alcohol, which can leave fine hair stiff and dry.
This styling foam is an alcohol-free formula that gives hair plenty of natural volume and shine but avoids the dreaded product build-up that comes with using some mousses. It also has UV-protection for hair and is not tested on animals.
Where to Buy: Drugstore.com, Target, Wal-mart, Amazon.com, Pharmapacks.com, and Salons that sell Nexxus Products
Joan Rivers Great Hair Day Fill-In Powder
Joan Rivers Great Hair Day Fill-In Powder is one of the best, most natural-looking products I’ve found to disguise thin hair. It comes in pressed powder form in a mirrored compact and includes a brush for easy application. It’s perfect to use along the part, or anywhere your hair looks sparse and your scalp is starting to show through.
My hair instantly appears fuller and thicker whenever I use this. It stays on through rain or workouts, and one compact can last for years, even with frequent use. I’d recommend it for those with mild to moderate thinning.
It's available in light blonde, blonde, red, brunette, salt and pepper, and white.
Tips for Using This Powder:
- Choose the right shade for the best results.
- Wash the application brush once a week with a mild soap.
- Check the photos to make sure you buy the right shade, the light blonde and blonde shades might be darker than you'd expect.
Where to Buy: Walmart.com, Amazon.com, SoftSurroundings.com, and other online stores that sell beauty products.
Toppik Hair Building Fibers
Hair fibers are another great option to disguise thin areas of the hair. Toppik fibers are made with Keratin and can be used to fill in sections that look thin and give hair an overall fuller appearance. They’re available in black, medium brown, light brown, medium blonde, light blonde, auburn, gray, and white.
If you try these fibers, be sure to choose the right color so they blend with the rest of your hair. If your hair is between shades, it’s possible to mix two colors to create the perfect match.
Where to Buy: Toppik.com, Amazon.com, Ulta.com
How to Use Toppik Hair Fibers
Always tell your doctor before you start taking any dietary supplements as they may interact with certain prescription drugs.
Multivitamin Supplements and Topical Treatment
Since vitamins play a major role in hair health, high-quality multivitamin supplements can benefit just about everyone.
For those not sure what to look for in a multivitamin, I’ve listed a link for general guidelines for multivitamins in the references section at the end of this article. (4) There are also some topical treatments available to help stimulate hair growth.
Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin that may help slow hair loss and stimulate hair growth. While some medical experts claim there’s little scientific data to support this, it has been shown that biotin deficiency can cause hair loss. If you look around online, you’ll find plenty of people who take biotin supplements for hair loss and have varying degrees of positive results.
Biotin is generally safe, but be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist what dosage they recommend for you. Tell your doctor if you take biotin supplements because it can affect blood test results and may interact with other prescription medications.
If you don’t like taking supplements, you can get biotin in foods like liver, cauliflower, salmon, carrots, bananas, soy flour, cereals, yeast. (5)
Where to Buy: Most drugstores, health food and vitamin stores, Whole Foods, Amazon.com, Drugstore.com
Viviscal is a hair supplement that can help regrow and thicken hair. It contains 'AminoMar Marine Complex', which Viviscal claims will “nourish thinning hair and promotes existing hair growth from within.” It also contains Zinc, Biotin, Iron, and other vitamins and extracts known to improve hair health. It’s not an overnight solution. Viviscal recommends you take two tablets daily for a minimum of 3–6 months.
My personal experience with Viviscal Women’s Extra Strength Formula has been quite positive. I’ve taken it for a few months several different times in the last couple of years. Almost every time, my hair started to get thicker after about three weeks, and even my hair stylist noticed the improvement.
It doesn’t work for every type of hair loss, but if you read the reviews on different websites, you’ll find that most people have at least some improvement in their hair from Viviscal.
Where to Buy: Viviscal.com, Drugstore.com, Amazon.com, and at many drugstore chains.
Minoxidil Topical Treatment
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter topical medication that’s an option for those dealing with genetic hair loss (male and female pattern hair loss). It has pros and cons, and because of the possible side-effects, it’s something to ask your doctor about before trying on your own. For example, pregnant women should not use minoxidil.
“Minoxidil is an antihypertensive vasodilator medication. It also slows hair loss and promotes hair regrowth in some people. Now off-patent, it is available over the counter for treatment of androgenic alopecia.” (6) Androgenic alopecia is a genetic type of hair loss. (7)
Rogaine is a brand name of Minoxidil that’s available in a variety of formulas for men and women. Other companies have their own version, such as Kirkland Signature (sold through Costco), which tend to be more budget-friendly.
Minoxidil comes in liquid or foam formulas and is offered in either 2.5% or 5% strength. If you decide to try this to regrow your hair, consult with a doctor or pharmacist about what strength would work best for you.
Though not a quick fix, many people have excellent regrowth results from Minoxidil. Keep in mind that once you start this medication, you’ll need to continue it in order to keep up your hair regrowth.
Where to Buy: Most local drugstores and pharmacies, Amazon.com, Costco.com, Drugstore.com
Some Possible Causes of Hair Loss
- Heredity: Male or female pattern baldness
- Hormonal Changes or Imbalances (such as during pregnancy, after childbirth, or the onset of menopause)
- Thyroid Problems
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Scalp Irritation or Infections (like ringworm)
- Some Medications
- Physical or Emotional Shock
- Poor Nutrition or Certain Nutrient Deficiencies
- Tight Hairstyles
- Harsh Hair Treatments
Tips for Fine and Thin Hair
- Eat a healthy diet with enough protein, fresh fruits, vegetables, and good fats like nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil, eggs, beans, and foods with omega-3’s, such as flax seeds. (8)
- Don’t overdo it on styling products. A volumizing mousse or spray can help, but using more than one product can leave thin hair looking flat and lifeless.
- When trying a new product such as a supplement, hair regrowth shampoo or treatment, remember that some products take a little time to work. Regrowing hair takes patience, and it can take weeks and sometimes months before you notice a difference from a new product.
- Don’t give up if one product doesn't work for you. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find which products work best for your hair.
- Keep hair at an appropriate length. When hair is thin, letting it grow too long will just weigh it down and make it appear even more sparse.
- Keep layers to a minimum. A few long, loose layers can give hair volume and movement but too many can leave thin hair looking choppy or wispy.
- Change where you part your hair to hide any thin areas.
- Use the lowest heat setting possible when using a hairdryer or other heat styling tools. At the hair salon, ask your stylist to use cool or medium heat to avoid unnecessary heat damage.
- Be careful when using any chemical processes on your hair (like perms, relaxers, color, highlights, etc.). Hair that is already thinning is more fragile and prone to damage or even hair loss from these treatments.
- If your hair is prone to tangles after showering, brush or comb it thoroughly beforehand to avoid the hassle of pulling knots out. You can also comb through it with a wide-toothed comb in the shower while the conditioner is still in your hair.
- Wash all your hairbrushes, combs, and styling tools frequently. Using brushes and combs coated with product build-up can leave you with flat hair.
- Consider wearing a hairpiece, topper, or wig, even as a temporary solution if you are considerably bothered by your hair's appearance.
- See a doctor or dermatologist, who specializes in hair loss. Finding out the cause and treating it early is the best first step.
- Nizoral - American Hair Loss Association
Consumer hair loss information. Devoted to finding a cure for hair loss and increasing worldwide awareness and understanding of this disease.
- Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss: Myth or Miracle?
Research on the effectiveness of saw palmetto in treating hair loss is limited, but promising. Read more on this natural remedy’s uses and benefits.
- Ultrax Hair Products - Ultrax Labs 90-Day Satisfaction Guarantee
- General Guidelines For Vitamin Supplements
- Biotin (Oral Route) Description and Brand Names - Mayo Clinic
- Androgenetic Alopecia: Practice Essentials, Background, Pathophysiology
Androgenetic alopecia, or pattern alopecia, is an extremely common disorder affecting both men and women. The incidence of androgenetic alopecia is generally considered to be greater in males than females, although some evidence suggests that the app
- Healthy Fat' Foods for Your Diet in Pictures
From fish to avocados, nuts to beans, WebMD shows you what tasty foods have healthy fats. See the benefits of adding omega 3s and other good fats to your diet.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2013 carolynkaye
carolynkaye (author) from USA on April 05, 2018:
Hello Paulette, I'm so glad you've found this helpful. Even a few changes can make a big difference with hair. I hope things get better for you and you see some improvements soon. Thanks for your comments :)
Paulette on April 05, 2018:
This is my first time here and I need to thank you. I am going to try your suggestions. I have had a lot of stress from major downsizing and moving into a senior apartment. I love it! But the stress is unbelievable. I stopped taking my vitamins and stopped eating healthy food. I am so thankful I found you!
raju on April 05, 2014:
carolynkaye (author) from USA on October 22, 2013:
Thanks, loveofnight! Glad you found it helpful :)
loveofnight from Baltimore, Maryland on October 20, 2013:
Well done, thank you for a such a detailed review. It seems that thinning hair is becoming my best friend. Gone are the days when we thought that it was only men who lost their hair. You have given me a lot of food for thought, thanks.
carolynkaye (author) from USA on October 17, 2013:
Thanks much, passionate77 and FlourishAnyway! :)
FlourishAnyway from USA on October 17, 2013:
Although I don't have thinning hair myself, I notice there are so many people who do, and this hub provides excellent information as to reasons why they're encountering the issue, facts, and options for dealing and concealing. Well done! Voted up and more!
passionate77 on October 17, 2013:
very nice and informative post, thanks for sharing carolynkaye, i bookmarked the page, stay blessed dear!