Photo: Bill McCay/NBC/Photo Bank
Hair thinning can affect anyone, regardless of your hair type or gender — and while getting older certainly can be a factor, hair loss can happen at any age. Fortunately, there are a lot of products out there to help give hair a fuller look, and others that will actually strengthen and build up your strands, making them less likely to break or fall out. Before you reach for the volumizing shampoo, though, we should note: If you’re dealing with chronic hair thinning and/or loss, the pros say it’s best to consult a professional in case there’s an underlying medical cause. “If you’re experiencing significant hair loss, or hair that seems to be thinning before your very eyes, the best thing I can do as your hairdresser is to recommend seeing a doctor,” says Brooke Jordan, the owner and master stylist at the Bird House salon in Gowanus. “There may be things going on with your endocrine system, or spiked cortisol levels, or any number of clinical issues contributing to the problem.”
If you’ve ruled out underlying biological factors — or if your thinning hair isn’t that severe — there are plenty of hair-boosting shampoos and products to consider. “I think it’s just really important for people with thin or thinning hair to be conscious consumers and shop brands that can provide the long-term solutions that shampoos at the pharmacy, for example, just can’t,” says Shirley Hagel, an advanced master stylist at Parlor salon. “Those brands don’t have the same research and development processes or standards for ingredients used.” Hagel, Jordan, and three other hairstylists gave us some tips about what to look for in shampoos and products that combat and conceal hair thinning, and plenty of recommendations for products you can try at home. Read on for their picks.
Aveda invati™ Advanced Three-Step Kit
There were a few general tips that we heard from the stylists about how to treat thinning hair: First, maintain a clean and healthy scalp. This doesn’t necessarily mean washing your hair every day — Hagel tells us that once or twice a week is plenty — but instead, using products with clarifying ingredients that keep your scalp free of buildup, which will “help promote hair growth,” she says. Next, look for products that boost keratin proteins, which Stephanie Louis, the owner of Stylebox Salon in Brooklyn, says help prevent hair from becoming brittle and prone to breakage. Amino acids are another thing to look for on your product label, according to our experts, as they help boost hair growth and strengthen the strands that you have.
If you’re looking for something that checks all these boxes, and can be used on all hair types, this three-step system from Aveda is the one. Hagel, who says that thinning hair is something she deals with herself, swears by it. “It’s hands down what I would recommend to anyone with thinning hair,” she says. The first step is a shampoo that Hagel says “uses wintergreen-derived salicylic acid to gently exfoliate the scalp, removes buildup, and unclogs pores.” Follow the shampoo with the kit’s lightweight conditioner, which has soy protein and amino acids that “mimic the building blocks in our hair to thicken it from the inside out,” making strands less susceptible to breakage, she explains. The final step is the Scalp Revitalizer, which is a spray containing ginseng, certified organic tumeric, and amla, that Hagel says should be massaged into your scalp after using the shampoo and conditioner. “It’s important to invigorate the scalp because that stimulates blood circulation, and poor blood circulation in the scalp can lead to hair loss,” she notes. “The scalp revitalizer is meant to be used once a day and can be used on wet or dry hair; it absorbs into the scalp really well, so you aren’t left feeling oily or anything.”
Maple Holistics Biotin Shampoo
Biotin is a vitamin that “makes up enzymes in charge of breaking down fats, carbohydrates, and certain amino acids,” according to Louis, who told us that hair loss can be a symptom of biotin deficiency. So one way to combat thinning hair of any type is to reintroduce biotin to it, she says. “As a truly multicultural salon, we’ve been able to see this shampoo’s effects on a wide variety of hair textures and it is relatively effective,” Louis says. “Clients who continue to use shampoo and other ancillary products at home have been able to notice changes in their hair length and volume. So anecdotally, it’s our opinion that the brand is pretty effective.”
Verb Volume Shampoo
As several of our experts noted, keeping your scalp healthy is essential when treating thinning hair, and this shampoo from Verb Volume will promote scalp health — while also plumping your tresses, according to Louis. “The active ingredient in the Verb Volume Shampoo is likely pantothenic acid (or provitamin B5), which is an anti-inflammatory agent that promotes a healthy scalp,” she says. Verb also makes a volumizing conditioner, which has provitamin B5 along with keratin protein — an ingredient in some of the other expert-recommended products on this list. Verb’s shampoo and conditioner are also good choices if you’re looking for something sulfate-free and cruelty-free.
Eufora Volumizing Shampoo
The active ingredients in this shampoo are soy and wheat keratin proteins, which Louis told us “help prevent dry and brittle nails, skin, and hair.” Soy protein is another hair-strengthening ingredient that was popular among the stylists we spoke with, and one that Hagel agrees is important for preventing thinning hair from breaking. Louis adds that, like the best-overall kit and Maple Holistic Biotin shampoo, this and the above Verb formula can be used on all hair types and textures.
Kerastase Densifique Bain Densite Bodifying Shampoo
This shampoo appeared in our list of the best shampoos for fine hair, but was specifically recommended for thinning hair, too. Fred Connors, the owner and creative director of FRED Salon, says that this one is his pick for thinning hair because “it contains hyaluronic acid to plump hair up, and ceramide to strengthen.”
Bioken Thick & Full Biotin Shampoo
Magda Ryczko, owner of Hairrari Salon, recommends treating thinning hair with “any shampoo with minoxidil,” which she describes as a “chemical that regrows hair this is dying.” It’s the active ingredient in Rogaine, but now plenty of other shampoos have it, too, according to and Ryczko, who says it gives “good results.” This shampoo’s ingredients include minoxidil, as well as biotin and procapil, a hair-stimulating botanical that Jordan tells us has been scientifically proven to be as effective as minoxidil (making this some pretty powerful stuff, we imagine.)
Sachajuan Hair Control Treatment
“Sachajuan sells a wonderful product called Hair Control Treatment, which uses procapil, which seems to have been a breakthrough product in hair-growth stimulation,” says Jordan, who pointed us to clinical studies that have shown procapil to be as effective as minoxidil in treating thinning hair. But, unlike minoxidil, which is a chemical ingredient, procapil is botanical, so it’s not as harsh, she explains. “I’m a huge Sachajuan fan for so many reasons, and their treatment line is a big one of those reasons,” Jordan says. “It’s really simple to use because it’s a leave-in treatment. You simply massage it on your scalp morning and evening and leave it in.”
Toppik Hair Building Fibers
Jordan also told us that another way to make thinning hair look thicker is to use a hair-building fiber like Toppik’s, which is formulated with keratin proteins and she says “genuinely helps your hair look fuller and filled out.” The powder, she explains, “is essentially a tinted dust that you sprinkle on your scalp in thin areas. For some, that will be certain spots and places on the scalp, and for others, it will be where you want the hair to look thicker — primarily the crown and hairline.” According to Toppik’s description, the keratin proteins in this product are statically charged, allowing the fibers to attach to your natural hair and give it a fuller look. The fibers will wash out with shampoo, but are rain-, wind-, and sweat-resistant.
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