Best Products for Thinning Hair
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?
Thinning hair is a common problem that can affect men and women of all ages.
It can happen for many reasons: stress, hormones, poor diet, harsh hair treatments, from certain 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 thinning.
Though thin hair can be a challenge to work with, using the best products for thinning hair can make a huge difference.
For example, the right shampoo can make thin hair appear lush and full. A good conditioner can provide necessary hydration without weigh-down. Hair powder or keratin fibers can help disguise the appearance of thinning hair and certain supplements or medications can even help re-grow hair for many people.
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 thinning hair.
While there’s still no miracle cure for thin hair, these products can help improve the look and feel of thinning hair and boost your confidence.
Shampoos for Thinning Hair
Using a good shampoo is the first step to improve the look of thinning hair.
Here are three things to look for in a shampoo:
- Cleans well, but gently
- Isn’t overly drying or stripping
- Doesn't leave behind residue or oils to weigh fine hair down
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.
It’s the first step in a 3-part system that includes a Scalp Care Anti-Thinning Conditioner and a Scalp Care Anti-Thinning Tonic.
I like how this shampoo lathers well and leaves my hair feeling very soft and light.
It’s safe for color-treated hair and is not tested on animals.
Where to Buy: Ulta (In-Store only), Amazon.com, Salons that sell Paul Mitchell Products
Nioxin gets rave reviews online and many hairstylists recommend it to clients with thinning hair. 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 re-grow hair. Even those who didn’t see re-growth 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 (www.Nioxin.com), 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: Some drugstores, some beauty 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 to 4 days, so consider alternating Nizoral with your everyday shampoo.
You can find complete information and customer reviews of Nizoral Shampoo at www.Nizoral.com.
Where to Buy: Most drugstores, Drugstore.com, Amazon.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 help encourage a healthy scalp, which can assist in hair re-growth.
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 re-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
Hair Loss Fact*
“The average adult head has about 100,000 to 150,000 hairs and loses up to 100 of them a day; finding a few stray hairs on your hairbrush is not necessarily a cause for alarm.”
Conditioners for Thinning Hair
Conditioners are vital for those with thinning hair because thin hair can become dry, frizzy and prone to breakage.
Here are some conditioners for thinning hair 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
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 to 2 minutes for normal hair and 3 to 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 well, 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, followed by your regular shampoo and conditioner.
I'm always amazed how soft and supple my hair looks afterwards. I've heard some people say their hair can feel a bit coated 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 thinning 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 blow-drying 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 thinning hair, but many brands contain alcohol, which can leave fine hair stiff and dry.
Nexxus Mousse Plus Volumizing 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
This is one of the best, most natural-looking products I’ve found to disguise thinning 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 hair thinning.
It's available in Light Blonde, Blonde, Red, Brunette, Salt & Pepper and White.
Tips for using this powder:
- Be sure to choose the right shade for the best results.
- Wash the application brush at least once a week with a mild soap.
- The Light Blonde and Blonde shades might be darker than you'd expect, so check the photos to make sure you buy the right shade.
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
See how Toppik Hair Fibers work...
Since vitamins play a major role in hair health, a high-quality multi-vitamin supplement can benefit anyone with thinning hair.
For those not sure what to look for in a multi-vitamin, I’ve listed a link for general guidelines for multi-vitamins in the references section at the end of this article. (4)
Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin that may help slow hair loss and re-grow hair. While some medical experts claim there’s little scientific date to support that, 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 supplement 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.
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 re-grow 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 2 tablets daily for a minimum of 3 to 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 3 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 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% strengths. If you decide to try this to re-grow 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 re-growth results from Minoxidil. Keep in mind that once you start this medication, you’ll need to continue it in order of keep up your hair re-growth.
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 emotion shock
- Poor nutrition or lacking certain nutrients
- Hairstyles that pull or tug the hair
- Harsh hair treatments
*Source: Mayo Clinic
Tips for Thinning 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 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 re-growth shampoo or treatment, remember that some products take a little time to work. Re-growing hair takes patience and it can take weeks and sometimes months before you notice a difference from a new product.
- If one product doesn’t work for you, don’t give up. 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 thinner.
- 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.
- Try changing where you part your hair to hide any thin areas.
- When using a hair dryer or other heat styling tools, use the lowest heat setting possible. At the hair salon, ask your stylist to use low or medium heat and you’ll avoid unnecessary heat damage.
- Be careful when using any chemical processes on your hair (like perms, relaxers, color, highlights, etc.). Thinning hair 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.
- Wash all your hairbrushes, combs and styling tools frequently. Using brushes and combs coated with product build-up can leave you with flat hair.
- If your hair thinning is extensive and it bothers you, consider a hair piece, topper or wig, even as a temporary solution.
- If you haven’t already, see a doctor or dermatologist who specializes in hair loss. Finding out the cause of hair loss/thinning and treating it early is the best first step.
(1) Re: Nizoral - American Hair Loss Association
(2) Re: Saw Palmetto - HealthLine.com Article "Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss: Myth or Miracle?" by Mary Ellen Ellis, Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on 4/10/14
(3) Re: Ultrax Hair Products - Ultrax Labs 90-Day Satisfaction Guarantee
(4) Re: General Guidelines for Vitamin Supplements - MedicineNet.com
(5) Re: Biotin - Biotin (Oral Route) - MayoClinic.org
(6) Re: Minoxidil - Wikipedia
(7) Re: Medscape - Article about Androgenic Alopecia by Robert P. Feinstein, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP
(8) Re: Healthy Fats – WebMD Slideshow: Healthy-Fat Foods
Questions & Answers
© 2013 carolynkaye