What Is the Best Shampoo for Thinning Hair?

By Melissa J. Bell

Don't give up on your dreams of a full, lustrous head of hair. Just because your mane looks a bit thinner than you last remember doesn't mean your mirror will tomorrow reflect total baldness back at you. Your frequent hair shedding and miniaturized regrowth is a sign of follicle damage, but it may be reversed or slowed if addressed at home as well as your doctor's office. Stop hair thinning in its tracks and give your hair follicle health a boost with the best growth-encouraging shampoo ingredients on the market.

woman getting hair shampooed
credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Thinning hair can be genetic, hormonal or nutritional.

DHT Blockers

Kick scalp-inflaming androgens to the curb with DHT-, or dihydrotestosterone-, blocking shampoo additives. DHT comes from regular testosterone, but production of enzyme 5-alpha reductase turns it stronger and deadlier to hair follicles. Some people tolerate DHT just fine, but if you have a genetic sensitivity to it, your hair is at risk. Choose a shampoo that inhibits DHT production with ingredients like saw palmetto berry extract, azelaic acid, oleanolic acid and ketoconazole.

Follicle Health

Your dermatologist may prescribe topical agents like minoxidil to help kick start your hair growth, so help them better penetrate your skin be keeping your scalp clear and calm. Unblock pores filled with dead skin cells and sebum with a shampoo that contains gentle exfoliating agents like salicylic acid. Seek out anti-inflammatory cleansers like tea tree oil and ingredients that improve blood circulation like caffeine, niacinamide and mint. For suspected fungal infections, look for zinc and ketoconazole.

Scalp Nutrition

Feed your scalp with a diet of all-natural herb extracts and proteins to correct any deficiencies and prevent damage to weakened hair strands. Essential oils and plant extracts like jojoba, rosemary and peppermint, antioxidants like green tea extract, and vitamins A, E and B-complex like biotin nourish thin, dry hair and scalps. Rice or wheat amino acids increase each strand's volume over time -- and sometimes immediately improve hair appearance after use.

What to Avoid

Your fine hair is fragile, so any harsh chemical cleansers are a no-go. Moisture-stripping sulfates, or detergents, like sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate are common in shampoo, but still avoidable. Select sulfate-free formulas that use milder detergents like sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, so that your hair retains some of its original oil and proteins. Also avoid anything irritating or inflaming, which will just exacerbate the problem. If you're sensitive to fragrances, parabens or alcohol, ditch them for gentler alternatives.