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

Buying guide for best shampoos for thinning hair

Last Updated July 2020

It’s common knowledge that men lose hair as they age. In fact, about 85% of men have noticeable hair loss by age 50. But thinning hair isn’t just a male problem. More than a third of women — possibly up to 40% — experience visible thinning by the time they reach 50. 

Hair can thin for a number of reasons. In some cases, it may fill back in over time. In others, thinning may be permanent. In either case, a shampoo designed for thinning hair can help keep the locks you do have in top condition. These formulas are designed to clean effectively and efficiently, so they won’t weigh hair down with residue. Many also add volume, giving your style a thicker, fuller look. Some may even help to stimulate follicles and spur hair growth. 

Specialized shampoos deliver results, but it’s usually at a higher cost than standard shampoo. It’s important to choose a formula that meets your specific needs and challenges. Keep reading to learn more and see a few products we think stand out from the rest. 

Make sure you’re gentle on your locks when you brush and wash. Grooming wet hair with a wide-toothed comb can keep you from yanking out strands.

Key considerations

When choosing a shampoo for thinning hair, it’s important to try to understand why your hair started to thin in the first place. This knowledge can help you choose the best shampoo for your specific style.

Why hair thins

Genetics: This is the most common reason for hair loss. This hereditary hair loss, known as male-pattern and female-pattern baldness, is gradual and hormonal in nature. Over time,  hormones cause follicles to shrink, growing finer, thinner strands, and eventually stop producing hair. Women usually experience all-over thinning, while men have a visibly receding hairline. Hair loss due to genetics is not usually reversible, but shampoo and other products can help keep your hair in the best condition possible. 

Hormones: Hormonal fluctuations affect hair growth during pregnancy and after childbirth in women, although locks often fill back in once the hormone levels return to normal. For many women, hair starts thinning in conjunction with menopause. Menopausal hair shedding may slow as hormones stabilize, and proper care can help prevent extra loss during this period.

Stress: Major bouts of stress can also wreak havoc on your tresses. Some individuals shed significantly — even losing clumps of hair  — six weeks to three months after the stressful event. Stress-related hair loss is not usually permanent.

Medication: Medications for conditions like cancer, heart problems, high blood pressure, arthritis, and depression can cause hair thinning in both genders. Oral contraceptives can also cause hair-thinning hormonal changes in women. In many cases, hair will start to grow back within six months of discontinuing the medication. 

Medical conditions: Other medical conditions, such as lupus, scalp infections, ringworm, thyroid imbalances, and other diagnoses can cause patchy hair loss. Talk to your doctor if you suspect a problem.

Hairstyle: Hairstyles that place high levels of stress on the hair and scalp can also cause hair loss. Hair extensions, extremely tight ponytails, braids, and cornrows can all be culprits. Hair loss from this type of localized trauma is reversible if discovered early. 

Shampoo types

 Once you determine the reason your hair is thinning, it’s easier to choose a shampoo that will give you the results you desire. 

Cleansing: All shampoos are intended to clean hair, but cleansing shampoos remove product buildup, dirt, and other residue from your hair and scalp in a way that gives hair a fighting chance to grow back. Cleansing shampoos effectively remove product residue, which can easily weigh down and dull fine, thinning hair. They also remove excess sebum — scalp oil — and other secretions that can block follicles and limit hair growth. This makes them a good choice for those with hereditary and hormonal hair loss. Most formulas add moisture in ways that won’t block follicles, but people with dry or damaged hair should use with caution.

Thickening: These shampoos plump up thin strands so they take up more space, giving the appearance of a fuller mane. Effective thickening shampoos include both protein and moisturizing vitamin B5, usually listed as panthenol or pantothenic acid. In these formulas, the protein strengthens the outside of the hair, while the vitamins infuse each strand with moisture via the scalp. Thickening shampoos can help anyone with thinning hair get the most out of each strand, but they’re most effective when used on damaged hair, 

Volumizing: These shampoos are slightly different from thickening formulas. Rather than expanding the hair, these lightweight formulas help improve your hair’s texture in a way that creates lift, bounce, and body.  

Hair regrowth: Over-the-counter hair regrowth shampoos help repair and rebuild damaged hair using antioxidants and amino acids. These formulas may also help to reduce inflammation, which can block hair follicles as well as growth. Prescription hair regrowth shampoos disrupt the hormonal processes that cause thinning at the scalp level, and their use requires a doctor’s approval. 

Turns up the volume

This budget-friendly shampoo is renown for creating volume for all, from ultra-fine to ultra-curly hair. Even the finest strands look bouncy and natural thanks to its gentle cleansing, thickening, formula. While it’s not as moisturizing as other shampoos, Kenra’s versatility makes it a safe pick for most, at a great price point. 

 

Features

Once you narrow down the type of shampoo you need, look for the features that will mean the most for your hair.

Ingredients

Avoid these: You can’t afford to take risks with hair that’s thinning or damaged. Avoid harsh ingredients like parabens, which can mimic hormones and disrupt hair growth cycles. Skip the sulfates, too — they’re known to negatively impact proteins —  one of the main building blocks of healthy hair. Many also choose formulas that are free from artificial fragrances, which may irritate and dry sensitive scalps and skin. 

Look for these: While you’re reading labels, look for gentle ingredients that promote hair health. Many shampoos use natural oils and botanical extracts to moisturize your mane. Additionally, ingredients like vitamin C, B3 (niacin), biotin, zinc, iron, and rich gluco-omega blends nourish both your hair and your scalp. 

Multiproduct systems

Some shampoos for thinning hair are effective on their own; others are intended to work with a conditioner or other products as part of a hair care system. These multiproduct systems may be more effective than a single shampoo, but they can come with a high price tag. If a hair care system pledges specific results, it’s important to use all the products, since clinical results are measured using the products in conjunction. So, make sure you’re prepared to pay the price — and keep on paying it. 

CAUTION

Harsh styling tools like flat irons, curling irons, and hot rollers can damage hair that’s already thin. The same goes for punishing treatments like hot oil and perms.

Accessories

Hair vitamins: HairAnew Healthy Hair Formula Vitamins
Strengthen your hair from the inside, too, with these vitamins from HairAnew. Besides being chock-full of biotin, these vegan capsules are packed with 11 key vitamins that nourish hair, nails, and skin. Many users even enjoy fuller eyebrows and lashes. 

Semi-permanent hair color: DPHUE Semi-Permanent Hair Color
Stylists suggest that adding color to your hair can disguise overall thinning. But the salon isn’t always convenient. Luckily, a semi-permanent hair color is the next best thing. Experts say that semi-permanent coloring is gentler than harsh permanent dyes, and it delivers glossy, beautiful hues in under three minutes. 

DID YOU KNOW?

Color variations like highlights and lowlights can help disguise thinning hair.

Thinning hair shampoo prices

It’s hard to put a price on well-being and confidence, but you’ll find that shampoos for thinning hair are pricier than your average shampoo. 

Inexpensive: You’ll find quality shampoos designed for thinning hair starting at around $0.60 per ounce. At this price, you can find both volumizing and thickening formulas. They’ll be paraben-free, and some may contain natural botanical ingredients. 

Mid-range: These shampoos cost between $0.75 and $1.25 per ounce. Here, you’ll find shampoos that pull double duty, and maybe more. Many strip heavy buildup from both hair and scalp while simultaneously thickening and lifting your locks with gentle ingredients. 

Expensive: The most expensive shampoos for thinning hair cost $1.50 to $1.75 per ounce. These shampoos cleanse down to the follicle level, optimizing chances for regrowth. They also fortify your existing hair hair with healthy ingredients that nourish both hair and scalp.

All-around favorite

Made by a company with a proven track record, Nioxin is our top choice for a reason. This formula does it all: thickens, deep cleans, and moisturizes. Its unique ingredients even open clogged follicles, optimizing your chances for hair regrowth. Best results, however, come from using Nioxin shampoo in conjunction with other products from the same brand. 

 

Tips

  • Avoid heavy oils. When choosing hair products, avoid those containing argan oil and shea butter. These heavier ingredients tend to weigh down thinning hair.

  • Try a leave-in conditioner. If traditional conditioners seem too heavy for your locks, try using a lightweight spray-on, leave-in conditioner.

  • Use caution if you have color-treated hair. Individuals who use color or highlights to disguise their thinning tresses should make sure the formula they choose is safe for color-treated hair. 

The average woman spends the equivalent of ten days a year on hair care and maintenance.

FAQ

Q. Should I use shampoo for thinning hair every time I wash?
A. Yes. Since you should only be washing your hair two to three times per week, your hair needs consistency to derive your shampoo’s full benefits. Follow your bottle’s specific instructions, but be prepared to leave your shampoo on for a few minutes so your hair and scalp can absorb the formula’s nourishing ingredients. 

 

Q. Do I need a conditioner for thinning hair, too?
A. Ideally, thinning hair should be conditioned every time it’s washed. Thin, fine hair gets easily tangled and needs a regular dose of smoothing and moisturizing. However, a special conditioner may not be necessary. Conditioner should be used only on the bottom half of the hair, not near the follicle, where many thinning problems originate. If, however, you choose a thickening shampoo that’s marketed in tandem with a conditioner, buy the conditioner, too. Any promised results are based on using the two formulas together, not just one. Additionally, a standard conditioner may wash out the beneficial ingredients the special shampoo leaves behind.

 

Q. Which styling products are best for thinning hair?
A. Light styling aids are best for thinning hair because they won’t weigh down the strands. Foamy, airy mousse can give texture without creating stiff, awkward locks. Lighter hair sprays let your style bounce naturally without hardening it into place. Avoid gels and heavy sprays that freeze your style too tightly in place. 

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
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    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
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    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
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    Web Producer

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