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Whether or not their hair is actually thinning, most guys want a little more oomph to their hair. If you’re one of those guys who spends time in front of the mirror styling and blow drying and just trying to get a little more fullness to their quaff (don’t worry, we are too), one of the best things you can invest in is a quality thickening shampoo. In many cases, styling starts in the shower, and these hair products help to pump up the volume to your strands even before you towel off.
These days, thickening shampoos are a dime a dozen, most of which contain ingredients like biotin, saw palmetto, caffeine and a veritable cornucopia of botanical extracts that can help with everything from temporarily volumizing hair, balancing the scalp, strengthening strands and, in some cases, even address hair thinning and hair loss. That can be good news because it means that no matter what kind of hair you have, there’s a hair thickening shampoo out there for you. But with all those options, where do you start? We’ve asked a panel of hair experts for their favorites, so the best place to start is this list.
Densifique Thickening Shampoo
Not only does this luxe shampoo clean like a dream, but it’s “formulated with a number of ingredients that help add volume to the hair strand including hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and peptides to create a thickening effect,” says Natalie Kash, MD, a dermatologist in Seattle, WA and co-founder of Root Hair Institute.
Thick & Full Biotin & Collagen Shampoo
This thickening shampoo “is an excellent option for those who want to thicken their hair without breaking the bank,” says Hardik Doshi, MD, lead surgeon at Ample Hair Restoration Clinic in New York City. “It's packed with biotin and collagen, which are well-known for promoting hair volume and overall health. What's more, it's got wheat protein to strengthen your hair and reduce breakage.”
Specifically formulated to pump up fine and thinning hair, this gentle shampoo uses ingredients like phyto extracts, panthenol and biotin to add volume and lift to limp hair in just one wash. Bonus: it also helps balance and control scalp issues like dryness.
Thick Fix Thickening Shampoo
This well-reviewed volumizing shampoo offers a deep clean as well as volumizing benefits that can be seen as soon as the first wash. The hero ingredient in the formula, saw palmetto, has also been found to help block DHT which contributes to male pattern hair loss.
SH1 Daily Thickening Shampoo
This ultra-luxe shampoo feels and smells like the top-tier, rich-lathering product it is, but it’s also packed with a proprietary compound of plant-based and scientifically-developed ingredients to not only make hair appear thicker and fuller, but also help combat the first signs of hair loss.
Fortified with ingredients like rice protein and Vitamin E, this thickening shampoo not only helps hair appear thicker and more voluminous, but it also helps fortify strands so they get stronger from the inside out.
Complete a quick survey on everything from your hair characteristics, lifestyle factors and even the water and air quality in your zip code and Prose develops a custom shampoo formula especially for your hair. “This can be a great option for those with multiple factors to consider as well as those who struggle finding hair products that work for them,” says Dr. Kash. Once your formula is created, you can even give them feedback so they can tweak it until it’s absolutely perfect.
Trichology HairSTEM DHT Blocking Shampoo
With a mix of botanical ingredients and vitamins, this thickening shampoo “acts both as a volumizing shampoo and scalp nourishing product” for an overall healthier scalp, says William Gaunitz, FWTS, trichologist and founder of Advanced Trichology. While it volumizes, it also helps block DHT on the scalp, which is linked to hair loss.
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Hair Thinning Therapy Shampoo
"I also recommend Pura D’or Shampoo as a backup," says Gaunitz. "I have seen clients bring this shampoo into the clinics as shampoos they’ve been using, and I have actually seen some improved scalp health for those clients while using shampoo in real-world cases."
Extra Love Thickening Shampoo
This lightweight-yet-hydrating shampoo not only deep cleans your scalp and strands without leaving them dry, but it uses ingredients like microbiome prebiotics to help control oil and volcanic jeju water that’s packed with zinc and iron to promote healthy hair. Oh, and it also helps your hair look thicker.
Diametress Volumizing Shampoo
Dr. Doshi recommends this volumizing shampoo because of the “protein-rich formula that strengthens and adds fullness” and because it has gentle cleansing agents and Vitamin B5 that both nourish hair lift it from the roots to deliver volume without weighing it down.
Dr. Kash also recommends this volumizing and thickening shampoo because “it balances cleansing properties with avoiding overly drying out the hair or weighing it down.” The formula contains amaranth peptides to help plump fine and thin hair, but is also be safe for color or chemically treated hair as well thanks to the inclusion of phytantriol in the formula.
Virtue Flourish Shampoo for Thinning Hair | Detoxifies, Volumizes, Repairs Thinning Hair
Not only does this thickening shampoo help to balance the scalp’s microbiome and contain ingredients that could help decrease hair shedding, but it also “contains keratins and rice-based humectants, sodium hyaluronate, red algae extract, and peptides to help create the appearance of thicker hair,” says Dr. Kash
This thickening shampoo shines not only because “it really does help volumize hair,” according to John Arsenault, hairstylist and co-founder of Mott NYC, but it also “uses Australian botanicals and essential oils” like cupuaçu butter and neem seed oil to fortify strands and mango butter, hempseed and marula oil to help repair damage.
How Do Hair Thickening Shampoos Work?
“Hair-thickening shampoos typically act in two possible ways,” says Gaunitz. Either the shampoo leaves behind some sort of thickening agent after you wash, like protein or a chemical that can help expand the hair shaft, or the shampoo uses topical nutrients like vitamins B12 or B5 to nourish the scalp and improve body or ingredients like saw palmetto or tea tree oil to help decrease oil (which weighs down hair). “You should look for thickening shampoos that act in both ways,” he says. There are a few other ways a thickening shampoo can work, like actually strengthening the hair, blocking DHT, and stimulating hair growth, according to Dr. Doshi. Hair growth claims can be tricky on a product like shampoo, which doesn’t stay on your scalp very long, so most thickening shampoo will use a combination of these mechanisms to achieve thickening and volumizing results.
What Ingredients to Look for in a Hair Thickening Shampoo
Keep in mind that “all products don’t work for everyone,” advises Dr. Kash, and whether a thickening shampoo works for you will depends on “your scalp type and hair type” as well as “the formulation, concentration and mixture of ingredients.” However, a few common ingredients to look for that have been shown to help hair appear thicker and fuller, according to Dr. Doshi, are biotin (a B-vitamin that can help strengthen hair), caffeine (believed to stimulate hair follicles by improving blood circulation), keratin (a protein found in the structure of hair), niacin (which can improve blood flow to the scalp), panthenol (which can help strengthen and add thickness to the hair shaft), and saw palmetto (believed to inhibit the production of DHT which contributes to hair loss).
What Ingredients to Avoid in a Hair Thickening Shampoo
When it comes to thickening shampoos, what ingredients are not in the formula can be just as important as those that are. Dr. Doshi recommends avoiding sulfates which can strip your hair of natural oils, parabens and phthalates which have been linked to potential health risks in some people, silicones which can build up on hair and weigh it down, and artificial fragrances which can cause irritation.
How to Pick a Hair Thickening Shampoo
First, consider your scalp and hair type, advises Dr. Kash. “If you tend to have a dry scalp or dry, brittle hair, avoid harsh ingredients like alcohols that can further dry out hair as well as strong surfactants like sulfates.” Instead, look for gentle shampoos with moisturizing ingredients. On the other hand, “those with oily scalps and hair may actually need shampoos with more cleansing properties.” Basically, choose a shampoo that’s been designed for your specific hair type to take out the guesswork. Dr. Kash also advises considering how frequently you wash your hair (if you wash frequently, choose a gentler shampoo) and your hair texture.
Most importantly, keep in mind that not very shampoo is going to work for everyone, says Dr. Doshi, so finding the right thickening shampoo may take some trial and error. Keep at it for a while until you decide, though, because “it can take a while before any noticeable improvement occur.” And finally, if you’re dealing with “substantial hair loss or thinning,” seek the guidance of a medical professional.
Meet the Experts
Hardik Doshi, MD is a board-certified plastic surgeon and lead surgeon at Ample Hair Restoration Clinic in New York City
John Arsenault is a hairstylist and co-founder of Mott NYC in New York City
How We Selected the Best Hair Thickening Shampoos for Men
For this story, Munce consulted with four doctors and one hairstylist on the best hair thickening shampoos for men. Munce has more than a decade of experience testing these shampoos, and considered their effectiveness, scent, and price point. Munce, as well as other Men's Health Commerce editors, use most of these hair thickening shampoos regularly.
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