Nioxin vs. Paul Mitchell Anti-Thinning System

Updated on October 31, 2019
Jill Townley profile image

Jill writes abstracts of academic and technical books for the Protoview database. She holds a bachelors degree in German.


I've been struggling with hair loss for over ten years due to hypothyroidism and menopause. It's a frustrating problem for many women over 40. In this article, I share what I've learned from using the major hair loss treatments on the market.

Nioxin System 4

In 2015, a hairdresser strongly recommended the Nioxin system so I purchased the System 4 starter kit, which is for noticeably thinning hair that has been chemically treated. I dye my hair at the salon twice a year to hide my gray and add a little thickness to my fine hair.

The Nioxin worked. As the months went on, my hair got thicker and thicker, I was thrilled. One problem though, my hair was suddenly frizzy. I thought it was due to the gray hair having a different texture, but it was actually the Nioxin system drying my hair as I've since learned from another hairdresser and online reviews.

Then something really weird happened. I ran out of Nioxin and ordered it through Amazon instead of driving to the salon. Be careful buying health and beauty products from third-party vendors on Amazon! After using the product for several months and watching my hair fall out again, I realized the product was counterfeit. I bought replacement Nioxin from my salon and immediately my hair stopped falling out. Very frustrating but lesson learned.

One odd thing about Nioxin starter kits: sometimes the shampoo is twice as big as the conditioner. The bottles should be the same size. I actually go through the conditioner faster than the shampoo because the minty-scented shampoo lathers up really well.

Paul Mitchell Anti-thinning Scalp Care

Around the beginning of 2017, my salon stopped carrying Nioxin and said the Paul Mitchell system was much better and had safer ingredients. I don't think the safer ingredient argument holds any weight, although I don't like that Nioxin has sulfates. When I ran low on Nioxin in July I bought the Paul Mitchell starter kit.

The Paul Mitchell line was working well for me and no more frizz. My hair went back to being soft. Great! The tonic that is applied twice daily runs out quickly and is a bit pricey. When I went in buy more, the manager told me I only needed to apply once daily. Well guess what, my hair starting falling out again. I've gone back to twice daily and am seeing some improvement but the front of my hair has become quite thin quickly.


The spray pump on the tonic stops functioning after a few uses. I switched to using an eyedropper. Paul Mitchell appears to be working on a new pump design.

No bueno!


Minoxidil (Rogaine)

Minoxidil is the only product clinically proven to slow hair loss and promote hair growth. My doctor recommended it when I pointed out my hair loss during an annual exam. Minoxidil worked well for me, it did stop my hair from falling out. So why am I currently not using it? Rogaine doesn't help add volume to the individual hairs whereas both the Nioxin and Paul Mitchell systems help thicken up existing hair.

And the main problem with Rogaine is it can promote facial hair growth. Hair is now growing on my temples where I never had hair previously, and I see more peach fuzz on my face overall.

The best price for Rogaine is the Costco version sold under the Kirkland brand. I've bought it reliably through Amazon many times with no quality issues. The suggested dose for women is 2% due to dermatitis and itching, which has never been a problem for me. I used the 5% dose but only applied once daily instead of twice.


I'm on the fence right now as to whether the Paul Mitchell line is actually as effective as Nioxin and would like to hear others' experiences. The good results with Paul Mitchell may have merely been the lingering benefits of the Nioxin. One solution moving forward may be to use a supplemental conditioner in conjunction with the Nioxin line. I'll update this article in a couple months, hopefully with thicker hair!

Price comparison

Shampoo 10oz.
Conditioner 10oz.
Tonic 3.4 oz.
Paul Mitchell
Larger bottles are available. JCPenney often puts the Nioxin on sale at 25% off.

Update July 2018

I decided to go back to using minoxidil in conjunction with the Paul Mitchell shampoo and conditioner, and my hair is looking better than it has in years. My hair has stopped shedding and new hairs continue to fill in my hairline. Plus my hair is smooth and silky. (The Paul Mitchell tonic definitely does not help with hair loss.) The Nioxin system did seem to help somewhat and would be a good option for someone wanting to thicken her hair but not experiencing true hair loss. However, Nioxin's supposedly color-safe products turned my medium brown hair red.

Next I'll be trying styling products for adding thickness and volume.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Jill Townley


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    • Jill Townley profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Townley 

      9 months ago from Portland, OR

      Yes, I am using the Paul Mitchell shampoo and conditioner in conjunction with minoxidil. I apply a half dose of minoxidil every evening and also a half dose in the morning when possible (it takes an hour to dry.) I press the the minoxidil into my scalp with an old rag to help prevent runs, meaning I gently press my hair where I have applied the liquid with the dropper.

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      you're using both -- paul mitchell and the minoxidil?

    • profile image


      11 months ago

      Thanks for this post... so you are saying to use the PM shampoo and conditioner but don’t bother with the tonic?


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