What is the Best Shampoo for Hair Loss?

Written by
The Manual Team
Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
4th May 2021
In 30 seconds

What is the best shampoo for thinning hair? There are plenty of them. But, when they include everything from argan oil to aloe, from keratin to rosemary, it can be difficult to know which one to pick.

The best strategy for all things hair loss is to follow the science. And the science suggests that ingredients including biotin, caffeine, and saw palmetto are pretty crucial for hair growth and overall hair health. The trouble is that many hair growth shampoos and conditioners don’t have any active ingredients that are known to be effective.

At Manual, our Power Shampoo includes natural ingredients that science has shown to help your hair. And lots of other natural goodness besides.

Hair Loss Shampoo?

Yes, you heard that right: hair loss shampoo. It’s the 21st century. What men once had to accept as a given is no longer inevitable. You do not need to suffer the stress and the sap on your self-confidence that male hair loss – or male pattern baldness – threatens. There are now ways to tackle it.

Many ways, in fact. From hair transplants to medicinal hair loss treatments, you do have some options when it comes to keeping a head full of healthy hair. However, you may well never have heard of hair loss shampoo.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? A treatment for hair loss that is as easy as taking a shower. But it raises questions. Which product to trust? And will they really work to put a brake on balding?

In other words, what is the best shampoo for thinning hair? Here, we have some options. However, first, we’ll let you know what’s causing that hair loss in the first place. 

Why is My Hair Thinning?

Male pattern baldness – or androgenetic alopecia, to use its medical name – is a condition that affects the majority of men at some point throughout their lifetime. And, in all likelihood, if you’re a bloke, it is the cause of your thinning hair.

It’s caused by a hormone known as DHT, which is produced when your body breaks down testosterone. DHT – or dihydrotestosterone – is the more active form of that familiar hormone. But, while it plays a crucial role in your sexual development, DHT has an unfortunate side effect: your hair follicles are sensitive to it. And, in its presence, they tend to shrink, weaken, and stop producing hair.

It all happens gradually, however – and some follicles are more sensitive than others. Those above the temples and at your crown are the most susceptible (hence why it’s the receding hairline and balding crown that tend to happen first).

Some licensed anti-hair loss medicines, such as Finasteride, tackle the production of DHT – and are therefore known as DHT blockers. Others, however, find different ways to give your follicles what they need to stay healthy.

Some Key Things to Look Out for in Shampoo for Hair Loss

So, what is the sign of the best hair loss shampoo? When considering your haircare options, what you want to see is ingredients that are backed by science. What might these be? Well, let’s take a look.

But remember, while all of these ingredients are really promising, there are only two medicines that we know stop hair loss. They are Finasteride and Minoxidil.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant. The cool thing is that it isn’t just a stimulant for your mood and your brain. Hair follicles tend to get a boost from it too. One test tube study, for example, found that caffeine applied to follicles caused a “significant stimulation” of hair growth. Similarly, another study found that it boosted the follicular growth phase.

Overall, a caffeine shampoo shows promising signs that it can counteract the effect of DHT on your follicles. And when we say promising, well – it may well be as effective as licensed medicines for tackling male pattern hair loss.

Biotin, Selenium, and Zinc

Biotin – also known as vitamin H or vitamin B7 – plays an essential role in the production of keratin, the protein that makes hair. And, vice versa, hair loss is often associated with a biotin deficiency. As a result, biotin supplements have been found to boost hair regrowth in men and women. However, there is not much evidence that this will help if you are not suffering from a deficiency in the vitamin already.

It’s a similar story with selenium and zinc, two minerals that are often found in hair loss products and supplements. Ensuring that you keep all of these minerals to a healthy level is crucial for healthy hair. And that’s where shampoos can help.

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is an extract from the plant, serenoa repens, that grows in the south-east US. While there is a lot of noise that saw palmetto increases testosterone levels (there’s not much evidence of that), the plant may be effectively used for hair loss treatment.

This comes back to that thing about DHT. Saw palmetto may block DHT production. Other studies have shown that around 40% of men using saw palmetto as a treatment for hair loss found that it increased their growth of new hair.

Other Ingredients?

There are lots of other ingredients that you will see in hair loss shampoos on Amazon and elsewhere. But can you trust them? Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common:

Argan oil. While it may work as a nourishing and hydrating product for both hair and skin, there is no evidence that argan oil – the oil from the fruit of the argan tree – works as a treatment for hair loss or thinning hair.

Aloe vera. Famous worldwide for its health benefits, aloe vera can help to give you a healthy scalp, reduce dandruff, and support damaged hair to return to health. However, it won’t tackle DHT, the thing that is causing your hair loss in the first place.

Coconut oil. Coconut oil is another of the natural ingredients touted for its possible treatment of hair loss. While many swear by it, there have been no scientific studies to support its effectiveness.

Rosemary? It might seem like a strange one, but in one study rosemary was tested against Minoxidil – the licensed hair loss treatment – and it held its own. In fact, it performed just as well as the licensed medicine. However, one study is usually not enough for doctors to recommend it.

What is the Best Shampoo for Thinning Hair?

That brings us round to the big question: what is the best shampoo for thinning hair? Here are 4 of our favourites.

Manual Power Shampoo

Well, there’s no point being coy here, is there? 

We produced our Power Shampoo from the ingredients that science says work best for tackling thinning hair: biotin, saw palmetto, and caffeine. These boost the health of your follicles and support hair growth. And that’s why we’re proud to say it’s one of the best haircare products out there.

We’ve topped it up with some essential oils too – using extracts of sage and ginger – to make it as lovely a shampooing experience as you could hope for.

Viviscal Man Full Force Fortifying Shampoo

Designed for all hair types, Viviscal’s Fortifying Shampoo harnesses the power of science – just like our Power Shampoo. Combining biotin, zinc, and keratin, it ticks many of the boxes for effective hair loss treatment. It does lack the caffeine and saw palmetto and their DHT-blocking potential. 

Grow Gorgeous Hair Density Intense Shampoo

Grow Gorgeous claims that their density shampoo is highly effective for the treatment of thinning hair. But do we trust them? Caffeine, biotin, and a range of proteins, vitamins, and amino acids give some credibility to their claims – there’s no doubt about that. However, you might find it a wee bit more expensive than other products offering the same selection of ingredients.

Patrick’s SH1 Thickening Shampoo

Finally, there is Patrick’s Thickening Shampoo. While the loud claims to 17 active ingredients – including clover, ginkgo biloba and kigelia africana – may make it sound too good to be true, this boasting isn’t actually necessary. The basics are there, including caffeine, serenoa repens, and rosemary – making this a very promising shampoo. The other ingredients? Well, there just isn’t evidence that they do much.

The Complete Hair Loss Plan

Finasteride & Minoxidil

This powerful combo promotes hair growth by blocking DHT – a hormone linked to hair loss – and by increasing blood flow around your follicles.


Best for
Overall thinning hair
Effectiveness
Over 9/10 Men
Contains
One-a-day tablets (Finasteride) / Daily Spray (Minoxidil)

Key Takeaways

So, what is the best shampoo for thinning hair? The best way to decide is to listen to the science. And that tells us some ingredients to look out for in particular. These include saw palmetto, biotin, and caffeine – all of which show incredibly promising signs for the treatment of hair loss.

If you are not convinced, however, you have other options. They’re Minoxidil and Finasteride, the only two licensed treatments for male pattern baldness on the market.

References

  1. T W FischerU C HiplerP Elsner (2007). Effect of caffeine and testosterone on the proliferation of human hair follicles in vitro: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17214716/

  2. T W FischerE Herczeg-LisztesW FunkD ZillikensT BíróR Paus (2014). Differential effects of caffeine on hair shaft elongation, matrix and outer root sheath keratinocyte proliferation, and transforming growth factor-β2/insulin-like growth factor-1-mediated regulation of the hair cycle in male and female human hair follicles in vitro: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24836650/

  3. Manish Bansal, Kajal Manchanda, and Shyam Sunder Pandey (2012). Role of Caffeine in the Management of Androgenetic Alopecia: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3500065/

  4. Rachita Dhurat, Jill Chitallia, Theodor W. May, Ammani M. Jayaraaman, Jithendriya Madhukara, Subbu Anandan, Pradyumna Vaidya, and Adolf Klenk (2017). An Open-Label Randomized Multicenter Study Assessing the Noninferiority of a Caffeine-Based Topical Liquid 0.2% versus Minoxidil 5% Solution in Male Androgenetic Alopecia: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5804833/

  5. Ralph M Trüeb (2016). Serum Biotin Levels in Women Complaining of Hair Loss: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4989391/

  6. Ablon Glynis (2012). A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/

  7. Sundaram Murugusundram (2009). Serenoa Repens: Does It have Any Role in the Management of Androgenetic Alopecia?: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2840915/

  8. A. Rossi, E. Mari, M. Scarnò,  V. GarelliC. MaxiaE. ScaliA. IorioM. Carlesimo (2012). Comparitive Effectiveness and Finasteride Vs Serenoa Repens in Male Androgenetic Alopecia: A Two-Year Study. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/039463201202500435
  9. Yunes PanahiMohsen TaghizadehEisa Tahmasbpour MarzonyAmirhossein Sahebkar (2015). Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25842469/

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Further reading

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