While there are much worse things that can happen to a person than losing their hair, there’s also no denying how incredibly frustrating it can be.
There are many reasons for hair loss, including genetics, and even more products and solutions out there which claim to slow its progress while even growing new hair.
Finding one that works for you, however, can be easier said than done. But we’re here to help.
We’ve come up with the 6 best hair loss shampoos for men and women that actually work, led by Revita Hair Growth Stimulating Shampoo – which consistently gets positive results.
Let’s dig in.
Table of Contents
- Quick summary
- 3 Things you need to know before buying a hair loss shampoo
- The 4 key ingredients in hair loss shampoos
- Do most hair loss shampoos work?
- The 6 best hair loss shampoos for men & women
- 5 Tips for using hair loss shampoo the most effective way
- A bit about women and hair loss
- Why we chose these products for our list of best hair loss shampoo
Balding Beards is reader-supported. When you buy through external links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
|Revita Hair Growth Stimulating Shampoo||Check Best Price →|
|Ultrax Labs Hair Surge||Check on Amazon →|
|Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo||Check on Amazon →|
|Lipogaine Big 5 All-Natural Shampoo||Check Best Price →|
|Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo||Check on Amazon →|
|Classic Lipogaine Big 3 Hair Loss Prevention Shampoo||Check Best Price →|
3 Things you need to know before buying a hair loss shampoo
Before you grab just any bottle of hair-loss shampoo off the shelf – and many don’t work, which we’ll touch on a bit later – there are things you need to keep in mind:
- If you have something that works for you, don’t change. Search for products that have plenty of positive feedback and don’t just trust Amazon reviews, but dig deeper. Again, most shampoos that claim to halt hair loss and grow new hair are nothing more than snake oil. Stick with ingredients that are clinically proven to work and backed by scientific study.
- Ketoconazole is king. We’ll talk at depth about ketoconazole in a bit, but for now, just know that any hair-loss shampoo that doesn’t contain it won’t work as well as those that do. The biggest reason men lose hair is because of follicle DHT-sensitivity, and ketoconazole is proven to combat this.
- Use one shampoo that works and stick with it. The earliest you can start evaluating results is 6 months. You may also want to use a conditioner, preferably one that’s made for men who are experiencing hair loss.
The 4 key ingredients in hair loss shampoos
Whatever shampoo you use, look for the following four ingredients. Research, though in its preliminary stages in most cases, has shown that all four can not only slow hair loss but also generate new growth. And keep in mind that the only Food and Drug Administration medications used to treat male pattern baldness are topical minoxidil (a.k.a. Rogaine) and finasteride, more commonly referred to as Propecia.
For now, anyway.
You’ll find ketoconazole in Nizoral anti-dandruff shampoo, and preliminary research indicates that it may be effective in treating hair loss. Researchers found that both 2% ketoconazole and minoxidil regimens improved hair density, size, and proportion of anagen follicles. Ketoconazole also is effective in treating a fungus called Pityriasis that often inhabits the scalp.
Studies showed that the most effective use of 2% ketoconazole shampoo was one every two to four days and leaving the shampoo on the scalp for three to five minutes after it has been applied.
Yes, caffeine. Most use caffeine as an ever-important (if not mandatory) jolt of energy in the morning – or anytime our asses are dragging – but studies now show that caffeine “counteracts” the suppression of hair-follicle production by testosterone in males.
Specifically, caffeine enhanced the length of hair shafts, prolonged anagen duration, and stimulated keratinocyte growth. Keratinocyte is the most abundant cell found in the epidermis, the outer layer of your skin.
OK, we know what’s on your mind at this point, and the answer is no. Drinking massive quantities of coffee or other caffeine-laden drinks will not help make hair grow. As one scientist pointed out, you’d have to drink 40 to 50 cups of coffee for caffeine to have any kind of therapeutic benefit for your hair roots because caffeine is easily diluted and quickly excreted by the body. Besides, that amount of coffee would be toxic because caffeine is, well, kind of a drug.
However, there are a variety of topical products available with caffeine that can be directly applied to your scalp. Even better, research shows that hair follicles don’t build up a resistance to caffeine-included products as it does with some drugs.
The benefits of biotin are based on research that shows that hair loss is a consequence of biotin and zinc deficiency. Also known as Vitamin B7, Biotin is a compound that’s important for a wide range of bodily processes, including the synthesis of fatty acids, glucose, and some amino acids. But it also helps the strengthening of hair and nails.
Biotin is a crucial component to skin cells, which also play an important role in hair follicle health. If your follicles are weak or unhealthy, they’ll be unable to retain hair.
The good news is that you can get biotin from many, many food sources, including cooked eggs, peanuts, liver, Swiss chard, cauliflower, bananas, whole grains, mushrooms, and sardines you can also try biotin shampoos.
Saw palmetto is hardly new; Native Americans have been using it as medicine and as a food source for hundreds of years. It’s a small plant with berries that shows promise as a way to treat hair loss (and it’s already used as an herbal remedy to treat an enlarged prostate and a decreased sex drive).
What’s the science behind it? An extract of saw palmetto berries may block an enzyme (5-alpha-reductase) that converts testosterone to DHT. And DHT is responsible both for hair loss and enlargement of the prostate. In one study, nearly half of men who were treated with saw palmetto had an 11.9 percent increase in total hair count.
The berries from a saw palmetto plant can be taken in pill form or from local or online health food stores.
Do most hair loss shampoos work?
The answer, to be brutally honest, is no. Combine that with the fact that many shampoo manufacturers are hungry for a quick buck and make false claims about ingredients that haven’t been proven to work, and you have a market that can be treacherous to navigate. There are even fake reviews – which is a whole additional layer of deceit when you think about it.
We’re going to list the ones for you that are the real deal when it comes to hair loss shampoos, but buyer beware when you’re roaming the hair care product aisle and thinking about buying anything less than the best. Again, use trusted brands with proven results (backed by scientific study) and with plenty of good, verified reviews.
And, remember, your hair loss may have many underlying causes, and your shampoo is just one part of your hair loss treatment. Lifestyle and nutritional changes may also be part of the solution.
That said, let’s take a look at the hair loss shampoos that are the real deal.
The 6 best hair loss shampoos for men & women
DS Laboratories combines proven ingredients with a unique delivery system in its Revita Hair Growth Stimulating Shampoo. The result is a potent product that helps fight hair loss while stimulating hair growth.
And you can’t argue with the results. In one study of 500 men and women between the ages of 18 and 55, 90% of participants using Revita’s shampoo experienced a decrease in hair loss while 85% had an improvement in the overall appearance of the hair.
Indeed, Revita works, thanks to proven ingredients such as caffeine, biotin, ketoconazole, emu oil, vitamin B2 (an antioxidant), as well as key amino acids that provide structural function and elasticity to hair follicles.
What you won’t find in this shampoo are harsh chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate, a detergent often found in shampoos that can cause skin irritation, dryness, and hair loss.
Revita’s Hair Growth Stimulating Shampoo also includes natural cleansers that boost hydration to your scalp and hair, increases protein levels, while also addressing the underlying factors of thinning hair.
The aforementioned unique delivery system is DS Labs’ Nanosome system and how it delivers its ingredients to the hair and scalp. In short, Nanosomes – unlike liposomes found in many cosmetic products – allow for a higher concentration and more efficient use of ingredients.
DS Labs not only has the right ingredients to combat hair loss while improving hair density, but it also has the best method for getting those ingredients to the right place.
- Natural, effective hair loss ingredients
- Unique delivery system
- Cleanses and improves the health of the hair and scalp
- Some users say it left their hair a little dry
Revita’s science-backed technology is second to none and benefits anyone wanting to reverse the effects of hair loss and thinning hair. It’s a powerful-yet-gentle shampoo with proven results.
OK, maybe not the best analogy, but if there were Academy Awards for hair-growth products, Ultrax Labs’ Hair Surge would have its share of Oscars. And the company has only been around since 2012!
Seriously, the stuff works, and it has garnered a lot of attention since being introduced to the market. It was rated the best “Shampoo for Hair Regrowth Stimulation” in 2016 and is effective for men and women (and is one of only a few caffeinated hair shampoos made for both sexes).
One key reason that Hair Surge is a cut above other so-called hair loss shampoos is that it’s formulated to maintain the active ingredients on your scalp and hair until they’re absorbed. Average shampoos include a couple of ingredients that are easily washed away before they have any impact on hair loss and hair growth. Hair Surge is also safe for all skin and hair types.
Hair Surge contains three key ingredients: caffeine, ketoconazole, and saw palmetto. As already mentioned, all three are essential ingredients in any shampoo that’s truly targeted for hair growth. It doesn’t contain biotin, but you can always take biotin as a supplement if you absolutely feel that you have to have it. Besides, if you still have doubts that Hair Surge actually works, you can sift through the thousands of positive comments and testimonials about it online.
Yes, Hair Surge is a bit pricier than your average hair loss shampoo, but that’s the point – it’s not your average hair loss shampoo. It’s more expensive, but it also delivers where it matters most, on your head.
The folks at Ultrax Labs are confident enough that you’ll see results from Hair Surge that they offer a 90-day money-back guarantee. They don’t make a lot of products – only three in their entire portfolio – but they have a firm belief in their formulas.
- Remains on hair until it’s actively absorbed
- Proven results
- Backed by a money-back guarantee
- More expensive than other hair loss shampoos
Nizoral will keep the flakes off of your head while keeping hair on it. It’s a proven anti-dandruff fighter – good for even severe cases of those pesky white flakes – but, for our purposes, also designed to treat hair loss. And treat it well, at that.
The key ingredient in Nizoral is ketoconazole, which reduces hair follicle inflammation that contributes to hair loss. Ketoconazole also kills fungi that cause dandruff, but there’s not so much of it as to be toxic (which large amounts of ketoconazole can be). It has been argued that dandruff may contribute to hair loss; while there’s no direct link, it’s certainly worth noting here.
Nizoral’s A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo has 1% ketoconazole, but you can get a 2% version of it in the U.S. with a prescription. You can get the 2% percent version of it in Europe over-the-counter, although usually under a different name.
The beauty of Nizoral is that it performs three tasks simultaneously; 1) it cleanses the scalp, 2) its anti-fungal properties combat dandruff, and 3) it blocks androgen receptors to deter hair loss. Some caution should be taken when using Nizoral, however, because some studies have shown that leaving it on your hair for an extended period (i.e., five minutes or more) can cause rashes and irritation. Be careful if you have sensitive skin.
It’s certainly worth noting that Nizoral also comes in a tablet form but sustained long-term use of it (the pill) has the potential to cause liver damage. Besides, oral Nizoral hasn’t been shown to have any benefits for hair loss, so simply avoid the stuff altogether and stick with the shampoo.
- Fights dandruff and hair-loss
- Reduces hair-follicle inflammation
- Can cause dryness and irritation if left on too long
What’s in a name? Well, that depends on what or who you’re talking about, but the name is meaningful when discussing Lipogaine’s Big 5 All-Natural Shampoo (which is different from its Big 3 option).
The Big 5 shampoo is a newer addition to the Lipogaine product line, and its five primary ingredients are biotin, caffeine argan oil, castor oil, and saw palmetto – all of which help to fight hair loss. It does not include ketoconazole, unlike the Big 3 version, at least according to its list of ingredients.
The rest of the ingredients are the same for Lipogaine Big 5 and Big 3 and work together to strengthen and nourish hair while preventing thinning and breakage. Included in the long list of organic ingredients are rosemary oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, green tea, cedarwood oil, and more.
A quick word on castor oil: it’s effective for treating hair loss and promoting hair growth because it has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that fight dandruff while helping to prevent scalp infections.
One of the positives of buying a hair-loss shampoo that contains most of the important ingredients in fighting hair loss is that separately purchasing the ingredients isn’t cost-effective. A bottle of castor oil costs in the $20 to $30 range, for instance.
Lipogaine’s Big 5 is good for men and women and also safe to use on color-treated hair. It also comes with a 100% money-back guarantee.
- Safe for all hair types
- Gentle formula
- Good for men and women
- May dry out your hair if not used with a conditioner
Earlier, we talked about the positive effect that caffeine has for stopping the spread of hair loss. It’s the primary active ingredient in Alpecin’s excellent caffeine shampoo, which many users say produce the kind of results they’ve long sought.
Alpecin works, scientifically-speaking, by reducing DHT – a key prompt for hair loss. It also works by stimulating hair growth directly from the roots because its active ingredients help hair follicles grow faster while providing strength and volume to hair.
The caffeine included in Alpecin absorbs easily into the scalp and covers the hair follicle from tip to root. You only need to leave the shampoo on for a couple of minutes to get its full effects before rinsing it off.
But back to how it works: Alpecin doesn’t cause new hair growth. However, it nourishes and stimulates hair follicles that have, generally speaking, become dormant over time and contributed to the effects of male pattern baldness. It strengthens the roots of your hair and prevents follicles from falling out easily.
Besides treating hair loss, Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo is also good for treating scalp-related issues such as dandruff and itchy, sensitive skin. It’s also safe to use on any skin type, and for combating the effects of all types of hair loss.
Alpecin is a German-based company that’s hardly new to the hair-loss game; after all, they’ve been around since 1905. They offer a variety of products designed to treat hair loss, including an after-shampoo liquid.
- Revives dormant hair roots
- Reduces DHT
- Also treats other scalp issues
- Designed for men although its caffeine-based is safe for women to use.
We’ve already included Lipogaine’s Big 5 Hair Loss Shampoo on our list but their Big 3 shampoo is worthy of inclusion, as well. And that leads to the inevitable questions of, 1) what’s the difference between the two, and 2) which one is better?
Both questions are simple enough to answer. You’ll find the main differences in a side-by-side comparison of each product’s ingredients; Big 3 contains ketoconazole, which the Big 5 does not, while the Big 5 adds natural ingredients such as argan oil, and saw palmetto.
Which one is better? That’s a tough call and, without trying to dodge the question, our view is that you can’t go wrong with either one. The Big 3 is a classic version of a great all-around product and you should see the same, or at least very similar, results from the Big 3 and Big 5.
The most notable ingredients of the Big 3 are Biotin (vitamin B7), castor oil, and Emu oil. The latter helps defend against a variety of scalp and skin issues, including inflammation and allergic reactions. It also moisturizes the skin. While you could buy all three ingredients separately, it wouldn’t be very cost-effective and why bother if you can purchase them in a product designed for hair loss?
Lipogaine’s Big 3, like the Big 5, is mild and free of harsh chemicals, and also is safe for color-treated hair, as well as all hair types. Another thing we like about it is that it comes with a full 90-day money-back guarantee.
- Designed for men and women
- Gentle formula
- Safe for all hair types
- Can’t use as frequently as other hair loss shampoos
5 Tips for using hair loss shampoo the most effective way
Wet your hair, slap on some shampoo, massage it down to the scalp, rinse – that’s all there is to using shampoo of any kind, right?
Well, sort of, but there’s more to it than that, including how you should apply hair loss shampoos such as those we’ve listed above. The following are things to consider before you begin a hair loss shampoo regimen.
1. How soon is too soon?
Most hair and hair loss experts agree that you can start using hair loss shampoo as soon as you notice a loss of hair. Well over half of all men experience hair loss by age 35 and many others by age 21. The bottom line: there’s no reason to wait.
2. Let the shampoo soak a bit
The method for applying hair loss shampoo is the same as regular shampoo, i.e., you apply it to wet hair, massage it into the scalp and rinse it. The difference with hair-loss shampoos, however, is that you should leave them in for a longer time before rinsing. Doing so ensures that their ingredients reach your hair’s roots and scalp, where they have the biggest impact.
3. Massage it in
Take your time when massaging your shampoo into your hair and scalp. Hair pros recommend a one to three-minute massage to let the ingredients soak in. Plus, massaging your scalp stimulates it and may spark those dormant hair follicles to return to action.
4. How often?
The best hair loss shampoos are gentle enough so that you can use them multiple times a week. Nizoral, however, is most effective when used only a few times a week (and should be left on the hair for three to five minutes before rinsing).
But you can also alternate Nizoral with another type of hair loss shampoo – such as the Lipogaine products or Alpecin’s Caffeine shampoo – for an effective one-two hair loss fighting punch.
Use Nizoral two to three times a week while using your other hair loss shampoo on the other days.
Or, if you want to keep things simple, you can use a product such as Revita or Ultrax Hair Surge as your all-in-one shampoo because they contain ketoconazole and won’t be too harsh on your hair.
5. Read the instructions & list of ingredients
When in doubt, read the usage recommendations found on your hair loss shampoo’s container. Those recommendations are there to ensure that you get the best results from your shampoo without causing damage to your scalp or hair.
Also, always pay attention to a product’s list of ingredients to make sure that it doesn’t contain something which may cause an allergic reaction.
Finally, consult with your doctor before using a hair loss shampoo while you’re pregnant. Most hair loss shampoos are safe for expecting mothers because their ingredients aren’t absorbed into the bloodstream.
A bit about women and hair loss
Hair loss can be devastating to many men, but perhaps even more so for women, who have often suffered in silence. But, fact is, women make up nearly 40 percent of hair-loss sufferers in the United States. The psychological damage associated with hair loss is, for many women, extensive, especially in a society where hair-loss in men – though usually unwanted – is more or less an accepted fact of life.
What’s equally frustrating for women is that their hair loss is not as clearly understood as hair loss in men and, according to an article in www.dermentz.org, “..presents itself quite differently from the more recognizable male pattern baldness which usually begins with a receding frontal hairline that progresses to a bald patch on top of the head.” The same article also says that it’s uncommon for women to follow a male pattern unless there is excessive production of androgens in her body.
Some factors that are thought to play a role in female hair loss include high androgen birth control pills, menopause, pregnancy, ovarian cysts, and other factors tied to the actions of hormones. The American Hair Loss Association said it’s important that women who have a history of hair loss in their family be made aware of the potential effects of birth control pills on normal hair growth.
Why we chose these products for our list of best hair loss shampoo
We talked about it earlier: while many hair loss shampoos claim to be the real deal, some fall on the side of snake oil. It’s often challenging to sort through the many reviews to find out what’s fake and what’s not.
All that said, our primary consideration for choosing hair loss shampoos for our list was whether it produced actual results. We also acknowledge that what might work for someone may not work for another, but we’re interested in the overall picture.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the “big names” in the hair loss game – Revita, Lipogaine, Nizoral, etc. – made the grade, in part, because they’ve accumulated years of successful results.
I personally use Revita 5 times a week and Nizoral on the remaining 2 days (Wednesdays and Sundays) and can attest that my hairline hasn’t moved back a hair since. Some of it even regrew back. I’m also on finasteride and a form of minoxidil which I would highly encourage you to be on if you have aggressive male pattern baldness, like me. You can read all about the finasteride, minoxidil, and ketoconazole combo here.
Be careful when it comes to choosing the best shampoo for hair growth and thickening. There are plenty of companies out there that make lofty claims but don’t walk the walk. Finding one that works for you will take some research and even trial-and-error, but the five we’ve listed here should serve you well.
We’d love to hear your comments regarding hair loss shampoos. We want to hear what you think and we promise to respond promptly.
You might also like: