Despite what the label says, there isn't a single shampoo that can actually make thinning hair permanently thick again. However, lathering up with the right formula can help your strands appear fuller in conjunction with whatever treatment method your dermatologist recommends to full-on address the issue.
"If your hair is fine or thinning, the right shampoo can be a great 'body builder,'" says Anabel Kingsley, director of communications at Philip Kingsley. "However, it's really important to be aware that, while a shampoo may create the illusion of greater hair density, they do not actually treat hair thinning."
As for why your hair is thinning, New York-based dermatologist Dr. Francesca Fusco says there are three common causes: breakage from styling or coloring your hair, androgenic alopecia (also known as female-patterned) which is hormonally based, and inflammation from dermatitis or a reaction to products you're using.
Whatever the reason, she says to look for nourishing formulas that won't strip the hair of moisture, which will prevent breakage. "You want to use a product that’s going to keep the hair fibers strengthened," she explains. "Even if you microscopically see a dent or bend a semi-fractured hair, if you keep that hair well hydrated, it might not break so soon. Look on labels that say are for volume and strengthening and anti-breakage because that means they're going to coat the hair."
For hair loss caused by inflammation, Dr. Fusco also recommends using a shampoo that contains zinc pyrithione because it will also hydrate the hair follicle in addition to minimizing dandruff and flaking, two factors that can contribute to thinning. Hormonal or androgenic alopecia can benefit from ketoconazole. "This ingredient is prescription strength and has been shown to have a good effect on the hair follicle receptors, which are being triggered by hormones to make the hair fall out," she explains.
Here, we've rounded up eight shampoos that help thinning hair appear thick and full.
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