Solutions

Hair loss shampoo

Woman washing hair in sink salon

Experiencing hair loss can be a worrying and anxious time for many. Hair can be important to a person’s identity and how they feel about themselves, and so it is not a surprise that many want a quick fix. One of the most commonly searched questions on Google is finding which shampoos can stop hair loss. The answer isn’t quite so simple. It’s dependent on the type of hair loss you’re experiencing and what the underlying cause may be. In this article, we myth bust and answer questions related hair loss and shampooing.

The most common reasons for hair loss include genetic factors (androgenetic alopecia), or reactive reason such as hormone imbalances, vitamin deficiencies, stress etc. Understanding the cause will help you find either options to resolve the issue or slow down and better treat the hair you have currently. Take a look at our causes page after reading this article to begin the journey in understanding your hair loss.

However, the positive news is that a good shampoo and hair wash routine can aid better scalp conditions. We’ve answered some commonly asked questions about hair loss shampoos. 

Can a shampoo stop hair loss?

Wooden hair brush with tangled hair loss

For most people, a ‘hair loss’ or ‘hair growth’ shampoo will not be your single, magic bullet to stopping hair loss. Slowing hair loss is shown to be best tackled through a combination of options such as vitamin supplements if you are deficient, drugs, light therapy etc. The combination will be dependent on what is causing the hair loss and addressing this. The only type of hair loss which may directly correlate with the use of shampoo are scalp conditions such as psoriasis.

However, finding a good shampoo which gently washes hair will help to improve the scalp’s condition and will give your hair the best chance to grow back strong. Selecting a suitable shampoo is therefore an important step in your hair’s overall condition.

You may be thinking… so all shampoos must be the same. No, most shampoos will share similar properties, but there will be some chemicals which will be added to benefit your scalp and others which may have adverse effects. The key is finding a shampoo which gently cleanses the hair, whilst giving you the right balance of keeping the scalp clean without being too harsh. A gentle formula will give hair the best chance for regrowth as harsher chemicals can over-strip the scalp of natural oils.  

What shampoo ingredients are good and bad for my hair?

Blue shampoo bottles lined up

​Ingredients to avoid

  • Sulfates are a cleaning agent which strips away dirt. It creates foam in many household products such as toothpastes and is very effective in what it does. The downsides to sulfates are that excessive cleaning can leave the skin sensitive, dry, and itchy. If you have skin conditions such as eczema, have dry or frizzy hair, dyed or chemically altered hair, you should look for sulfate-free shampoos. Keeping some natural oil on the scalp will help to keep hair feeling healthier. Sulfates to avoid include SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), SLES (sodium laureth sulfate), and ammonium lauryl sulfate.  

 

  • Silicon is another chemical to look out for. Silicones are widely used in cosmetic products, including hair products, to reduce frizz and create shine. It is not toxic for human use; however, it can lead to build up and the clogging of pores on the scalp. It is often criticised for creating a ‘fake’ glossy or moisturised look, when in fact it leaves a wax-like coat on the hair. Residue can also add weight to the hair strands, making it look dull and prone to breakage. The waxy layer also prevents the hair strands from being well hydrated in the long run. 

    Finding ‘silicone free’ shampoo is not easy and when they are labelled as this, they in fact mean free from amodimethicone, dimethicone, or cyclomethicone. These types of silicones are weightier and are best avoided when looking for suitable shampoos for hair loss.   

 

  • Parabens is the final main ingredient to look out for. It is a preservative which is used to prolong shelf life and stabilise products (found typically in two-in-one shampoos). There have been a number of discussions linking this to imbalances of the female hormone cycle, mimicking oestrogen, and causing irritation on the scalp. This is yet to be proven, however, Methylparaben and propylparaben (types of parabens) are best avoided for those experiencing hair loss.  

Other ingredients to avoid: 

  • Shampoo thickeners – Polyethylene glycol (PEG) strips out moisture from the hair and scalp. 

  • Formaldehyde – A colourless chemical used to prolong shelf life of a product. This can be used in shampoos but is best avoided. Some people may experience short term effects of scalp irritation or hormonal disruption. Exposure over a long period of time is suggested to be linked to increased risk of cancer. 

  • Alcohol – Some level of alcohol may be used in shampoos but it is important to check it isn’t ranked near the top of the ingredients list. If ranked towards the top, it will indicate a large proportion of the shampoo is made up of this. High levels of alcohol can dehydrate the hair. 

  • Fragrance – Fragrances aren’t essential for shampoos and don’t add any additional benefit to the scalp. They are often labelled as FD&C or D&C. 

  • Greasers – You don’t need more oils in your wash routine and will only prevent your hair from being cleansed from its own build up. Look out for petroleum, mineral oils, and lanolin at the back of labels.  

  • Synthetic colours – If your shampoo is pink, purple, or an eye-popping colour of the rainbow, these are artificial colours which when left behind block follicle growth. Avoid these brightly coloured shampoos.  

Ingredients in shampoos to look for

 

Good hair loss shampoos will contain a number of these ‘helpful’ ingredients. Here are just some of the types to look for at the back of the shampoo label: 

 

  • Salicylic acid – Helps to remove dead skin cells and sebum from the pores in the gentlest way. It removes build up without stripping away all the moisture from the hair. Over time, this gentle cleansing can improve the condition of the scalp.    

  • Menthol – This is an antimicrobial compound which helps to settle and soothe the scalp from irritation.   

  • Hydrocortisone or ketoconazole (1-2% form) – If you have skin conditions such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, ringwork etc., you may benefit from shampoos which include these. Ketoconazole is linked to improved hair growth. It is also a DHT blocker. Speak to a dermatologist if you are experiencing hormonal hair loss.  

  • Plant extracts, vitamins, and proteins – Popular vitamins include biotin (part of the B vitamin group) and vitamin E which is linked to hair growth. Collagen can be found in more recent products – found naturally in the body, it helps with cell renewal.  

Where can I buy hair loss shampoos? 

We’ve put together our top 10 hair loss shampoos for a range of budgets and linked to where you can purchase them from.  Follow the link to see our recommended shampoo list.

 

If you are looking into medicated shampoos, do seek advice with a medical professional beforehand. 

How should I wash my hair to reduce hair loss? 

Woman with long wet hair from washing

The roots of your hair are most vulnerable to falling out when washing. Here are some simple tips to minimise damage when washing and drying your hair.

  • Try to wash your hair every few days (depending on your hair type) allowing the natural oils (sebum) to soak into the hair. If your hair is very fine and gets too greasy quickly, try washing it with just water on some of the days. Washing too often with harsh chemicals can dry out the scalp and damage hair cells. 

  • Some people believe by avoiding washing their hair for long periods of time it can stop hair loss - this is not true. Spaced out hair washes in the week will prevent the build-up of bacteria and oils on your scalp. 

  • Wash your hair with lukewarm water – neither too hot or cold. This is the best temperature to wash hair strands.  

  • When washing your hair, stroke the hair in a gentle up and down motion with the finger tips from either side of the central parting.  

  • Avoid scrubbing the scalp with fingernails, vigorously rubbing the ends together, or moving the hair round in a circular motion which knots the hair. You will find a gentle motion with shampoo is effective enough to clean the hair. 

  • Avoid putting conditioner at the root as this can create build-up. You should only place this towards the end of your hair strands.  

  • When drying your hair, allow it to part naturally air-dry and avoid letting your hair sit in a traditional towel. Wrapping your hair in a microfiber towel keeps in warmth and loosens the hair follicles. 

  • Do not brush immediately after washing, wait a few moments until the crown of your hair is semi-dry to prevent breakage. 

  • Brush your hair as though they were made from 'golden threads'. Be gentle and avoid tugging at knots.  

  • Use a wide tooth comb for brushing and to prevent damage at the roots.  

  • Use a cooler setting when hair drying. Also use heat protection spray before use.

How often should I wash my hair? 

How often you wash your hair will depend on your hair type – whether you have fine, thick, or coarse hair. Typically for most people, two to three times a week is a good amount. Over washing may strip away too many of your natural oils which protect your scalp. 

You should focus on shampooing the scalp rather than the ends of your hair. The ends tend to be the driest and it is the scalp that needs shampoo to cleanse itself from pollutants and build-up.

Look to massage your hair for a few minutes before rinsing with lukewarm water. Avoid keeping your hair in a towel as this loosens the roots of your hair further than necessary. You should only comb your hair once it’s semi-dry to also reduce the chance of breakage.

What is the difference between thickening and volumising shampoo? And will they benefit my hair? 

Liquid shampoo from bottle into the palm of a person's hand

‘Thickening’ refers to the individual hair density of a strand and ‘volume’ refers to the body of hair (i.e. how full does it look). You may see shampoos using these words and it’s important to note that they are talking about different ingredients and different effects.

Volumizing shampoo may be good to those experiencing hair loss or hair thinning as it will help give the appearance of thicker hair. These shampoos will use more light weight ingredients which means less product weighing down the strands from the root. It will feel lighter on the hair compared to more weightier shampoos.

Thickening shampoos may contain extracts such as protein (keratein) or vitamins (such as biotin) and works to thicken each strand. The focus is more around the long-term health of the hair and so those with hair loss may benefit from these types of products.

Is there a link to more expensive shampoo and effective prevention for hair loss?

No. It’s all down to the ingredients and finding a shampoo which gently cleanses your hair and is suitable for your hair type. You can find a range of affordable shampoos which do the job. Click here to see our range of shampoos suitable for different budgets.

Do be aware of the big brands which dominate the shelves in supermarkets and pharmacies. They are known to contain the harsh ingredients mentioned above which are best avoided when exploring new hair loss shampoos. These brands do tend to be low to midrange in price but reading the back of the bottle is key.  

References

Please click below if you want to read the science behind this article.

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