Best Hair-Thickening Shampoos

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

15 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
127 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best hair-thickening shampoos

Last Updated September 2020

If your hair goals include having a big, bouncy, voluminous mane, a hair-thickening shampoo can be a great way to help your hair appear fuller and thicker. Individuals with fine, thin, or aging hair often notice a dramatic difference in fullness with the right hair-thickening shampoo. 

Hair-thickening shampoos work by cleaning and plumping up each individual strand of hair to give you the appearance of thicker locks and more hair. Since your hair is 90% protein, hair-thickening shampoos are usually protein-based, but formulas differ in potency, scent, residue, and whether or not they moisturize or dry out hair. When choosing a hair-thickening shampoo, it’s important to consider your hair length, hair type, and hair treatments for optimal results. 

Keep reading our buying guide to learn more about what sets different hair-thickening shampoos apart and how to choose a great one for your hair type. If you’re ready to buy, check out some of our favorites in the matrix above.

For even more hair volume, use a skinny teasing comb to gently back-comb sections of your hair at the roots.

Key considerations

Your biggest considerations when choosing a hair-thickening shampoo should be potency, hair length, and hair type and treatments.

Potency

Hair-thickening shampoos vary widely in potency, with some delivering a minor boost in fullness and others earning rave reviews for noticeably thicker, fuller hair. Maximally potent formulas work in multiple ways to thicken your hair; for instance, by including polymers that coat and plump the hair shafts in addition to removing dirt and oil that weigh hair down. 

It’s important to understand that most thickening shampoos won’t actually help regrow your hair but rather work by plumping up existing hair follicles. If you have very thin hair or suffer from hair loss, there are a few expensive formulas that can help prevent shedding and promote regrowth. 

Hair length

As a rule of thumb, the longer (and heavier) your hair, the harder it is to achieve impressive volume with any method, including thickening shampoos. If you have long hair, it’s a good idea to choose a higher-end, sulfate-free thickening shampoo that will protect your strands from breakage over the long term while plumping up your follicles in the short term. 

If you find that a hair-thickening shampoo isn’t quite enough to give you the volume you desire, hair rollers or hair extensions can help add additional lift and bounce to your long hair.

Hair type and treatments

Whether or not a particular hair-thickening shampoo works for you will in large part depend on your hair’s unique type and treatments. 

Damaged: If your hair has been damaged from bleach or exposed to lots of heat from flat irons or blow dryers, choose a thickening shampoo with nourishing, replenishing ingredients like biotin, collagen, and coconut oil to help repair damage and protect vulnerable hair from breakage. 

Color-treated: Choose a color-safe formula if your hair has been color treated. Hair-thickening shampoos that aren’t color safe can wreak havoc on color-treated hair since they often work by removing oils and residue that can strip color. 

Fine: If you have fine or wispy hair, be sure to choose a formula of thickening shampoo that won’t inadvertently deflate your volume goals by weighing hair down with residue or drying your locks out so much that they become flyaway or staticky.  

Heavily styled: If you regularly use lots of other hair products to style your hair (like mousse, shine spritzers, and serums), choose a thickening shampoo that removes grease and buildup from your scalp and roots to give hair a bouncier, more volumized appearance.

Dry: Hair-thickening shampoos can be drying because, in addition to plumping up the hair shaft, they remove oils that may weigh hair down. If you’re already concerned about dry hair, choose a thickening shampoo that specifically advertises “moisturizing” or “nourishing” in the description and includes ingredients like coconut oil or hyaluronic acid. 

Mature hair: As hair ages, its diameter decreases and it breaks more easily. If you have aging hair, opt for a fortifying formula that includes ingredients like zinc, omegas, and biotin that can help improve the resiliency and strength of your hair over time in addition to plumping it up. 

EXPERT TIP

If you use thickening shampoo regularly, deep condition your hair once a month to maintain strong, moisture-rich hair.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Fragrance

As with any shampoo, fragrance can be an important feature that makes or breaks your decision. Some hair-thickening shampoos have a mild or nearly undetectable fragrance, while others are rich and pronounced. If you’re sensitive to fragrance, choose a formula that’s either fragrance-free or created using natural fragrances. 

Air-dry vs. blow-dry

If you prefer to air-dry rather than blow-dry your hair, choose a hair-thickening shampoo that garners great reviews from like-minded customers. Some formulas seem to work best when paired with a blowout but fall a bit flat when left to air-dry. 

Residue

Some thickening shampoos are hard to rinse out or leave a filmy residue on the hair. This can be especially noticeable for individuals with light-colored or blond hair. Choose a formula that leaves your hair feeling clean and fully washed. 

Hair regrowth

Some thickening shampoos actually do give you more hair by including ingredients that stimulate your body to produce more hair follicles or block production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which causes hair to fall out. These shampoos are typically incredibly expensive and may require several weeks of use for noticeable results.

Moisturizing

In general, volumizing shampoos will dry your hair out more than other shampoo options, since the goal is to help your hair achieve maximum lift (which can’t happen if it’s weighed down by lots of oils). This works if you have oily hair, but individuals who have hair that’s already dry or damaged should choose a moisturizing formula. 

Additive-free

Parabens help prevent mold and bacterial growth in beauty products to improve shelf life and safety. However, some studies have raised concerns that these chemicals may increase the risk of cancer and hormone disruption. While there’s no conclusive evidence at this point, some people choose to avoid parabens, and you’ll find a number of hair-thickening shampoo options that are paraben-free. 

Sulfates in shampoo help create a thick, foamy lather to remove grease and dirt from hair. While sulfates leave your hair feeling squeaky clean, they work a little too well in removing natural proteins and oils from your scalp. Prolonged use can lead to dry hair that’s more prone to breakage and shedding. More expensive hair-thickening shampoos are usually sulfate-free.

Eco-friendly

If protecting the planet is as important as your hair goals, choose a biodegradable formula with natural ingredients that isn’t tested on animals. Several hair-thickening shampoos that appeal to an environmentally conscious crowd are also free of synthetic fragrance, GMOs, and artificial colors. Some brands even have recyclable bottles to reduce landfill waste.

EXPERT TIP

Try keeping a photographic “hair diary” as you experiment with different washing schedules, products, and styling techniques to help you identify the best volumizing techniques for your hair.


Staff  | BestReviews

Hair-thickening shampoo prices

Inexpensive: You can find plenty of value-priced hair-thickening shampoos in the $4 to $8 range that help your hair feel thicker and fuller. Keep in mind that these budget options typically contain sulfates that can damage and dry out your hair over time. They may also add unwanted residue buildup, and they sometimes produce mediocre results compared to higher-end options. 

Mid-range: These thickening shampoos run from $9 to $20 and offer more sulfate- and paraben-free options that won’t damage hair with prolonged use. In this price tier, you’ll find several organic and biodegradable choices; added ingredients like biotin, hyaluronic acid, and collagen that moisturize hair and protect it from breakage; and formulas that are safer for color-treated hair. Mid-range hair-thickening shampoos usually help plump up hair in several ways to produce more dramatic results. 

Expensive: These thickening shampoos start at around $20 and can run upwards of $100 for bulk options that help regrow hair and prevent shedding. Expensive hair-thickening shampoos are made with the highest-quality ingredients and multiple thickening agents. Formulas that help regrow hair with DHT-blockers and follicle stimulants are the most expensive and usually provide several weeks’ worth of product (it may take this long to produce results). 

EXPERT TIP

Don’t let your conditioner undo your thickening shampoo’s work. Use a high-quality conditioner that won’t weigh hair down, add lots of oils, or leave a residue.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Less is more! Don’t use more than the recommended amount of thickening shampoo thinking that it will give your hair more volume. Too much product can have the opposite result and weigh hair down.

  • Use a complementary conditioner. Hair-thickening shampoos usually work best when paired with a hair-thickening conditioner. For best results, buy your thickening shampoo in a set with its matching conditioner.

  • Seal the hair with cold water. Before you exit the shower after using your thickening shampoo, hit your hair with a blast of cold water to seal the cuticle and lock in moisture for sleek, shiny volume. This practice can also help reduce frizziness and protect the cuticle from heat styling.

  • Don’t shampoo too frequently. Don’t make the mistake of washing your hair too often, particularly when using a thickening shampoo that can strip your hair of its natural oils. Shampoo your hair no more often than every other day. If you don’t notice oiliness, it’s just fine to go as long as a week without shampooing.

  • Use dry shampoo between washes. To keep your volume game strong between washes, spritz a little bit of dry shampoo at your roots to absorb oils from your scalp. 

If you love the look a thickening shampoo offers but notice your hair is drying out, try alternating every other wash with a hydrating shampoo.

FAQ

Q. How long will it take to see results from a hair-thickening shampoo? 
A. Hair-thickening shampoos give your tresses a temporary boost in volume by plumping up the follicles, which means that you should see results immediately. If you’re using a thickening shampoo that contains regrowth ingredients, it will take several weeks to see results.

 

Q. What kind of conditioner should I use with a thickening shampoo for best results?
A. The majority of thickening shampoos have a conditioning counterpart that’s sold separately and will give you the best results. However, some people fall in love with a particular thickening shampoo but are less enthusiastic about the accompanying conditioner. In that case, choose a different thickening conditioner that matches your hair type and needs.

 

Q. How can I find out whether a shampoo brand tests its products on animals? 
A. While there isn’t an official certification for products that aren’t tested on animals, look for “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals” labeling to verify that a hair-thickening shampoo has not been tested on animals. However, these claims can be misleading since they may indicate that the ingredients were tested on animals, but the final product was not. If the product displays the leaping bunny symbol of the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCCI), neither the ingredients nor the final product were tested on animals. 

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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