of The Shampoos that Help Bulk Up Thinning Hair

ishonest / Chloe Jeong

When it comes to your hair, thinning strands aren't something most people wish for. It’s also important to remember that there’s a difference between simply being born with a finer texture, and experiencing actual hair loss and thinning. Even within the latter, there’s a certain amount of shedding that everyone will experience.

“Hair falling is normal as the hair enters a resting phase, called the telogen phase,” explains Suneel Chilukuri, MD, and director of cosmetic surgery at Refresh Dermatology in Houston, Texas. “At any one time, approximately 10 percent of the hair is in this resting phase. It’s normal to lose approximately 100 hairs per day.” In other words, there’s no need to stress about seeing a few strands in your brush or in the shower drain. But on the flip side, there’s true hair loss, which is much more extreme and, “indicates miniaturization of the hair follicle, leading to permanent hair loss,” notes Chilukuri.

Meet the Expert

Suneel Chilukuri, M.D., is a board certified and internationally recognized expert on cosmetic and reconstructive surgery practicing out of Houston, TX. He specializes in the C-Lift, a non-surgical facelift technique.

But don't panic. It’s important to remember that strong, thick hair can only come from a healthy scalp, which is why it’s a good move to opt for a shampoo made for thinning hair. “The right shampoo can promote a healthier scalp to keep the hair in the anagen (growing phase) longer, which results in less hair fall,” says Chilukuri.

Ahead, discover the best shampoos for thinning hair.

  • Our Picks
  • Final Verdict
  • What to Look For
  • Why Trust ishonest

Best Overall: Biolage Advanced Full Density Thickening Shampoo

Removes follicle-clogging impurities

Strengthens with biotin, zinc, and a gluco-omega blend

Fights frizz

Strong scent

This pick first goes to town by gently removing follicle-clogging impurities that can impede new hair growth. Then it delivers a host of important nutrients —think biotin, zinc, and a gluco-omega blend—to strengthen the hair you have. So much so that, when used with the accompanying conditioner, it reduces breakage by up to 95 percent. And when you’re already dealing with thinning, the less breakage the better.

Sulfate-Free: No | Size: 13.5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | ishonest Clean: No | Hair Type: Curly, Thin, Straight | Scent: Mint and Clove

What Our Testers Say

“After losing a lot of hair postpartum, the Biolage Advanced Full Density Thickening Shampoo gave me a fuller-looking head of hair with plenty of shine.” — Leigh Weingus, Product Tester

Best Budget: Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Shampoo

Thickens hair with a proprietary complex

Strengthens with keratin, biotin, and zinc

Works for all hair types and textures

May strip color-treated hair

The oral hair supplement this brand makes is a cult favorite, but their topical products are just as good. Take this sudser. It works well on all hair types and textures, can be used daily, and, along with strengthening ingredients such as keratin, biotin, and zinc, it also contains their proprietary Ana: Tel complex to promote thicker hair, too. Bonus points for the fresh, botanical scent and affordable price.

Sulfate-Free: No | Size: 8.45 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes | Hair Type: Frizzy, Dry | Scent: Botanical

What Our Testers Say

“With ingredients like biotin, panthenol, and keratin that help hair to feel and look thicker, I consider this shampoo all in all to be a total steal.” — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester

Best Anti-Dandruff: Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

It's anti-fungal

Fights chronic dandruff that causes shedding

Rich, thick lather

Bottle is small

It may not seem like the most obvious connection, but untreated, chronic dandruff may be linked to unwanted shedding. The active ingredient in this pick, ketoconazole (say that three times fast), is an “anti-fungal and anti-yeast medication that has been shown, when taken systemically, to disrupt the action of DHT,” says Dr. Jeremy Fenton of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. (DHT is a hormone that affects the hair follicle and can lead to thinning hair.)

“When using this shampoo, let it sit for two to three minutes on the scalp before rinsing to get the most benefit," he suggests. Fewer flakes and thicker hair? Yes, please.

Sulfate-Free: No | Size: 4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | ishonest Clean: No | Hair Type: All | Scent: Fresh

Best for Natural Hair: SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo

Thickens and strengthens curls and kinks

Castor oil increases scalp circulation


Thin and runny formula

This ultra-hydrating shampoo is ideal for those with curly or kinky hair who want to grow their strands thicker and stronger. Users rave that they can retain length and thickness without sacrificing a squeaky clean.

Sulfate-Free: Yes | Size: 13 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes | Hair Type: Curly, Wavy, Damaged and Treated | Scent: Peppermint

What Our Testers Say

“Shoutout to Shea Moisture for creating a product that is full of ingredients I love: Shea butter, peppermint, and apple cider vinegar are all favorites of mine.” — Leigh Weingus, Product Tester

Best for Damaged Hair: Jason Thin to Thick Extra Volume Shampoo

Cleanses with botanical extracts


Strengthens with panthenol and biotin

Strong medicinal scent

Sulfate- and paraben-free, this instead uses botanical extracts to gently cleanse hair, without over-drying or stripping it (a major no-no for damaged strands). Couple that with the addition of strengthening panthenol and biotin, and you have the perfect recipe for thicker, stronger strands.

Sulfate-Free: No | Size: 8 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: No | Hair Type: Fine | Scent: Citrus, Peppermint

What Our Testers Say

"The Jason Thin to Thick Extra Volume Shampoo is a budget-friendly shampoo with a clean formula that made my hair feel soft and weightless." — Joline Buscemi, Product Tester

Best System: Aveda Invati Advanced Three-Step Kit

Multi-pronged approach to hair loss

Shampoo exfoliates scalp and removes impurities

Conditioner and scalp treatment reduce breakage


Taking a multi-pronged, multi-step approach is the most effective way to target hair loss; this three-part system makes it easy to do just that. Start with this exfoliating shampoo, which uses wintergreen-derived salicylic acid to clear out impurities that can clog hair follicles, while also gently cleansing and detangling. Follow that up with the conditioner and leave-in scalp revitalizer to reduce hair loss due to breakage by up to 53% in just 12 weeks.

Sulfate-Free: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: No | Hair Type: Fine | Scent: Wintergreen

Best Natural: Seed Phytonutrients Volume Shampoo

Grapefruit seed oil reduces oil production

Rice protein strengthens and thickens

Sustainable packaging

Strong scent

Loaded with natural ingredients and free of questionable chemicals, this relies on grapefruit seed oil and rice protein. Even the (addicting) scent is completely naturally derived, and the unique paper bottle with minimal plastic minimizes your environmental impact, too.

Sulfate-Free: Yes | Size: 8.5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes | Hair Type: Fine | Scent: Garden Mint, Vanilla

Best for Scalp: Nioxin Scalp Optimizing Cleanser for Thinning Hair

Antioxidants and essential oils target scalp inflammation and irritation

Fights dandruff and flakes

Strengthens the hair to prevent breakage

Contains some iffy ingredients

Learn more

This shampoo gets right to the root of the issue (pun intended, obviously).

“Nioxin formulates their shampoos with antioxidants, peppermint oil, tea tree oil, and amino acids that are designed to strengthen the hair and prevent damage. It may not prevent hair loss, but it may help strengthen and improve the hair that you have,” says Fenton. Reach for this two to three times a week, more often if you have a particularly stressed out scalp.

Sulfate-Free: No | Size: 6.8 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | ishonest Clean: No | Hair Type: Fine, Dry | Scent: Peppermint

Best Volumizing: Living Proof Full Shampoo

Patented molecule cleanses and repels dirt and oil

Gives body to fine, limp hair

Keeps hair cleaner, longer


No matter whether your hair is naturally fine, you’re experiencing more shedding, or that dreaded combination of both, reach for this guy. The star of the show is a patented healthy hair molecule, which efficiently and effectively removes residue and build-up. Less gunk and grime equals thicker, fuller hair. Plus, that molecule also repels dirt and oil so hair stays cleaner, longer. We’re not mad about that.

Sulfate-Free: Yes | Size: 8 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: No | Hair Type: Fine, Treated | Scent: N/A

Best for Colored Hair: Verb Volume Shampoo

Copolymer adds body and hold

Hydrolyzed keratin protein strengthens

Provides UV protection

May be slightly drying

A patented copolymer adds both body and hold, while hydrolyzed keratin protein adds strength and pliability. While it’s great for all hair types, we especially like it for colored hair; not only is it sulfate-free, it also offers UV protection to ward off fading and color changes.

Sulfate-Free: Yes | Size: 12 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: No | Hair Type: All | Scent: Grapefruit, Oatmeal

Best Strengthening: Mielle Rosemary Mint Strengthening Shampoo

Improves scalp health

Biotin strengthens and thickens

A little goes a long way

May be slightly drying

When it comes to thinning hair, you want to go for a product that targets the scalp first, and this rosemary mint shampoo does just that. The formula is infused with biotin, which is clinically proven to fortify your hair with the nutrients it needs to grow thicker and stronger. You'll also love that a little goes a long way, so you're totally getting your money's worth.

Sulfate-Free: Yes | Size: 12 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes | Hair Type: Curly | Scent: Rosemary Mint

Best Dry Shampoo: TruHair Volcanic Volume Dry Shampoo Paste

Absorbs excess oil while adding volume

Refreshes between shampoos

Fortifies hair with coconut and argan oils

Too much product may cause stickiness

Part dry shampoo, part styler, this is an easy way to boost limp locks, fast. Volcanic spring powder coupled with argan and coconut oils gives it its creamy consistency. To use, massage a dime-sized amount into your roots with your fingertips and repeat as needed. Not only will it absorb excess oil, but it also bulks up the hairs for an instantly fuller look.

Sulfate-Free: No | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

“When it comes to thinning hair, the most important thing is to be consistent with your routine and be patient,” says Adam Federico, Director of Content for R + Co. If you're looking to begin repairing your thinning hair, Biolage Advanced Full Density Thickening Shampoo is a foolproof pick. Composed of Biotin, Zinc, and a Gluco-omega blend, it will remove follicle-clogging impurities that can prevent new hair growth while strengthening your hair. If your hair thinning is due to chronic dandruff, Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo will help because of its infusion of anti-fungal ingredient ketoconazole. Lastly, for some affordable options that are super effective, try Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Shampoo, OGX Biotin & Collagen Shampoo, and Mielle’s Rosemary Mint Strengthening Shampoo.

What to Look for in a Shampoo for Thinning Hair

Strengthening Ingredients

When you’re already dealing with thinning hair, you want to prevent breakage as much as you can. To do this, your hair needs to strengthen with ingredients like biotin, keratin, and zinc. “Biotin improves the internal structure of the hair which can help to prevent snapping and breaking,” says Federico. In short, the less breakage you have the better your hair will be because you’ll keep more from falling out.

Healthy Oils

If your hair is dried out, oils can help replenish moisture loss and prevent breakage. “Coconut oil promotes scalp health and helps prevent splitting and breakage,” explains Federico. These oils can be especially helpful if your hair is thinning out due to damage from chemical treatments or dyes.

Avoid Sulfates

Sulfates break down hair protein, strip hair of its natural oils, and can potentially cause even more breakage. Due to this, avoiding sulfates as much as possible will help prevent more breakage and help avoid dryness.

FYI, your scalp routine matters too. “To repair thinning hair, you must take a very aggressive approach to it,” explains Federico. “First and foremost I recommend doing everything you can to assure that your scalp is in its best condition.” He further explains, “because hair grows through follicles on your scalp, if those follicles are blocked or obstructed by dead skin cells, growth can slow or stop completely.” He advises doing an apple cider vinegar rinse once a week (he recommends R + Co’s Acid Wash Apple Cider Vinegar Cleansing Rinse) and a scalp scrub (he recommends R + Co’s Crown) to keep your scalp healthy.

While results may vary depending on the product, the right shampoo can absolutely be helpful in slowing and reversing hair loss. Look for a shampoo that gets to the root of the issue—if you have seasonal or hormonal hair loss, try a product like Davines Energizing Shampoo, which the brand’s hair care expert Chelsey Pickthorn explains works by adding shine and thickness to balance harsh environmental factors.

Those dealing with thinning hair may want to avoid dry shampoo so not to cause further hair loss. Dermatologist Neil Sadick, MD, explains that excessive use of these products can lead to buildup, occlusion, and inflammation, all of which may lead to or escalate thinning hair. It’s better to use dry shampoo sparingly and instead wash your hair as often as it needs.

Why Trust ishonest

ishonest contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. While her hair isn’t thinning, it is fine, so she does use the Living Proof and Verb volumizing formulas on this list. She’s also covered thinning hair and thinning hair products extensively throughout her career.

Is Biotin as Good as Advertised for Your Hair Loss? Health Essentials Cleveland Clinic. https: //health.clevelandclinic.org/is-biotin-as-good-as-advertised-for- your-hair-loss/.

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