In this discussion, we provide readers with a Nioxin Shampoo review — complete with a price comparison chart and information about how it works. If you’ve been combing the web for reliable hair loss solutions or simply searching for ways to thicken your hair you may have come across Nioxin’s website. Their website is refreshing relative to most hair loss and cosmetic type product pages. They don’t make a lot of bold claims nor do they feature dramatic before and after pictures. One of the great things about Nioxin is that it is safe for both women and men to use.
While this is a welcome surprise, the question remains: can slowing down hair loss or even stopping further loss be as simple as using a special shampoo every morning? If there are this many people using the shampoo, it has to deliver results, right? Is it just a thickening shampoo or does it also help prevent hair loss?
Are you ready? Let’s get to the bottom of why Nioxin is such a popular hair loss shampoo. First up, we have a comparison table showing the full spectrum of Nioxin’s products.
- 1 Nioxin Product Overview and Comparison Chart
- 2 What is Nioxin?
- 3 Nioxin for Hair Loss: Does Nioxin Work for Androgenetic Alopecia?
- 4 How Long Before you Notice Results?
- 5 Nioxin Hair Care Systems Review
- 6 Nioxin Side Effects
- 7 The Nioxin Product Line
- 8 Nioxin Advanced Thinning Product Collection
- 9 Hold the Hairline’s Take
- 10 Nioxin System Rating
- 11 Pros
- 12 Cons
Nioxin Product Overview and Comparison Chart
Here is the product pricing for Nioxin’s System 1. As with many products, if you buy in bulk (larger bottles) the price comes down a tad.
Keep in mind that Systems 1-6 have near identical pricing. If you are unsure which system you need, check out the graphic following the comparison chart.
What is Nioxin?
Nioxin has been around since 1987. It was purchased in 2008 by a giant consumer goods company you’re probably familiar with, Proctor and Gamble. Nioxin was developed by founder Eva Graham after she experienced thinning hair following the birth of her child.
Nioxin falls into the category of salon quality products and is used by many salon stylists to thicken hair. Though not the least expensive shampoo on the market, it is reasonably priced. You can purchase the standalone shampoo for around $20.
The Nioxin product range includes a number of styling products, hair masques, deep conditioners, and other such products. The majority of these are available through online shops and upscale salons. A few of their specialized Nioxin products are only available in select salon locations.
The main Nioxin hair care system is featured in six options. Whether your hair is treated, extra-coarse, or extra-thin, they have a custom solution for you. They have standalone products and “kits” that include the whole 3 step system. These hair systems include shampoo, conditioner, and special scalp treatment. These are known as the cleanser, scalp therapy, and scalp treatment respectively.
The shampoo and conditioner is applied as any normal shampoo or conditioner in the shower and rinsed out.
The third step, the scalp treatment, is massaged into the scalp after showering and left in.
This hair treatment system is designed to reduce dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and thinning. Furthermore, continued use of the system promises to enhance the thickness and appearance of your hair.
Nioxin for Hair Loss: Does Nioxin Work for Androgenetic Alopecia?
Despite Nioxin being used by hair loss sufferers as a treatment for androgenetic alopecia (genetic hair loss), there are no such claims on their website. The Nioxin official site states:
NIOXIN uses advanced technologies to deliver thicker, fuller, denser-looking hair. NIOXIN’s advanced technologies provide real solutions for making the most of the hair you have.
We think the key part of that phrase is “making the most of the hair you have.” Don’t expect to put a few drops on the last remaining fighters in a full blown horseshoe pattern and expect magic. Proctor and Gamble states that the Nioxin hair care systems remove dirt and debris that can clog follicles. They also state it removes excess sebum. Sometimes sebum contains scalp DHT. Some commentators point out that removing excess sebum containing high levels of DHT may slow hair loss associated with pattern baldness. Scalp Dihydro-testosterone (DHT) has been identified as one of the main culprits causing genetic type hair loss. The question is: does Nioxin remove scalp-DHT more effectively than any old run-of-the-mill shampoo? In any event, there does seem to be an area where Nioxin shines and that is thickening existing hair.
The logic behind Nioxin shampoo is that it creates a health scalp environment, which in turn fosters healthy, strong growing hair. It also has ingredients that target thickening the actual hair shafts diameter, providing a thicker appearing head of hair. The ingredients list does contain some promising and recognizable stars of herbal hair loss treatments. These include nettle root extract, niacin, biotin, B vitamins, and serenoa serrulata extract more commonly known as saw palmetto. These have been shown to have varying degrees of success in inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into DHT.
- Easy to use, use once daily
- For both women and men
- Natural and safe
- Herbal DHT blockers like nettle root and saw palmetto
- Most users report cosmetic thickening effect; some report noticeable decrease in thinning and shedding
- Prolonged use required before seeing results
- Nioxin discourages use of their scalp treatment product with minoxidil (Rogaine)
- Results last only as long as you continue daily use
- Little evidence that it can prevent genetic pattern baldness
How Long Before you Notice Results?
Nioxin hair care system guarantees denser looking hair in 30 days. Many testimonials indicate they saw the best results after three months of daily application. These customers also state that their scalps felt healthier and able to “breathe easier,” after the first couple treatments. You’ll probably start noticing the cosmetic enhancing effects after a few weeks.
If you’re in it to try Nioxin to see if it stops or slows genetic hair loss, you’ll want to give it about 6 months to see if it works. Six months is a good time frame to test any hair loss prevention product and assess results. You’ll probably notice an invigorating feeling on the scalp after use. You may even see some redness in the first couple weeks of use. This generally goes away after that period of time.
Nioxin Hair Care Systems Review
Here is a video from Dr. Neda where she reviews Nioxin for hair loss. We think she does a pretty good job discussing Nioxin’s strengths and weaknesses.
The Nioxin system is not a one size fits all solution. They have many options that accommodate the whole spectrum of hair types. Each of their six kits include the cleanser (shampoo), therapy (conditioner), and scalp treatment (topical application after shower). Some of these solutions are designed for extra fine hair, and some of them for chemically treated hair. These hair care system products are professional salon quality, so they are going to run a little more expensive than a generic shampoo from a big box retailer.
We provide a list below to clear up any ambiguity in their marketing. The main distinction you need to make before a final purchase is whether you want a set designed for chemically treated or natural hair. Also, whether you have very fine or coarse hair should be taken into account.
Nioxin uses a lot of fancy phrases to describe their formula’s technology. Don’t get too caught up in all this. We will explain the main ones they use so you can decipher what they are talking about. For example, Nioxin names these proprietary technologies BioAMP, Scalp Access Delivery System, and Activ-Renewal. Most of these are just buzz words to describe the thickening properties of Nioxin and their effect on the hair.
- BioAMP is a term that describes the mechanism that enlarges the hair shaft diameter.
- The Scalp-Access Delivery System is a term that describes how Nioxin gently cleanses and removes toxins such as DHT from the scalp.
- The Activ-Renewal is a term that describes how it gives users a “youthful looking scalp complexion.” We don’t really know what that means, but it sounds nice.
For a closer look at the list of ingredients, go here.
The bottom line is that if you have thinning hair you don’t want to use a crappy shampoo that weighs down your hair and makes it knot up. This will make thinning hair look a lot worse. It will seem like the hair loss has progressed that much faster, whereas a thickening/volumizing shampoo will make it seem like you are in the earlier stages of hair loss. This is where Nioxin really shines is in the cosmetic enhancement department.
Nioxin Side Effects
The manufacturer Nioxin has listed no serious or lasting side effects from the use of their products. Nioxin hair products are nonprescription, available at many online retailers, salons and drugstores. Since the brand has been around since 1987 and the Nioxin products have seen widespread use, it is widely accepted as a safe formula.
There have been some consumers who have reported the following side effects, however:
- Scalp itching
- Scalp flaking
- Scalp redness
- Scalp swelling or tenderness
- Dry hair
- Hair Loss
Redness is one of the most common side effects experienced by Nioxin users. It usually occurs directly after the use of the scalp treatment product. This redness is typically caused by the niacin (an ingredient that increases blood flow) which is part of the scalp treatment formula. If you have ever taken a large dose of niacin internally you’ll know about the skin reddening that occurs. Anyway, this side effect is temporary, and should go away within an hour of using the product.
One side effect some users experience is increased hair shedding. In many cases, this should actually be seen as a positive sign. It means your hair is responding to the ingredients of Nioxin. The scalp is ridding itself of weak or already dead hair. It is making room for new, stronger hair to grow in their place.
The bottom line is old, thin hair is vulnerable and fragile. These are likely to fall out of resting hair follicles when you massage your scalp thoroughly with Nioxin products. If this shedding lasts longer than 2-3 weeks after starting this product, stop treatment and see a doctor.
The other commonly seen Nioxin side effect is an itchy scalp. In most cases, this is very mild. Nioxin has a potent blend of purifying ingredients and sometimes it can take some time for the scalp to adjust. Especially if you are using both the shampoo and conditioner, following up with the scalp treatment after shower. Again, if this side effect worsens and does not go away after sustained use, discontinue the product.
The Nioxin Product Line
Nioxin products come in a wide range of options. You can either buy all three together, buy shampoo and conditioner combos, standalone scalp treatment, standalone shampoo, or the standalone conditioner. The kits are not bad deals as well as the shampoo and conditioner combos saving you a little money as opposed to buying each individually. You can buy the two 34 ounce duo set of conditioner and shampoo for around $34.00. Not bad considering it is a salon quality product. The 3 in 1 kit is about $20 and should last you around 1-3 months. This will depend on how long and thick your hair is, and how much you use each shower.
All of their kits incorporate at least 3 (depending on if it is for natural, color, or chemically treated hair) of their following patented technologies:
- BioAMP: cystine amino acids and other conditioning ingredients thicken hair follicle diameter, reducing hair loss by strengthening against breakage and damage.
- Transactive Delivery System: botanicals, vitamins, antioxidants and other purifying agents clean clogged follicles, removing sebum and other blocking residues.
- Activ-Renewal: peppermint oil and white tea extract act as cleansing agents to clean and refresh the scalp environment. Adds healthy shine to natural hair color.
- Glyco-Shield: humectants, white tea extract, peppermint oil, and other protective conditioning ingredients protect and add moisture balance to color treated hair. Leaves the scalp feeling rejuvenated.
- Smoothplex: kukui nut oil, amino acids, and other conditioning agents help provide moisture balance and make hair silky smooth. Reduces hair loss by fortifying against damage.
- Scalp Access Delivery System: botanicals, vitamins, SPF 15 sunscreen, and other purifying agents help cleanse away follicle clogging sebum and other scalp residues from skin. Also provides sun protection for the scalp.
The 6 Systems for Different Types of Hair
Here are the choices you have if you are interested in giving Nioxin a fair go. These are the comprehensive kits with all 3 of their main products. It is probably the best way to do a fair trial of Nioxin’s system. Remember, it is always wise to try any hair loss treatment for at least 6 months to see if you respond well. Around 12 months is even better and a more ideal time frame.
1. Nioxin Hair System 1 Kit: Normal to Thin-Looking HairSystem 1 is best for individuals with natural hair with light thinning.
2. Nioxin Hair System 2 Kit: Noticeably Thinning, Fine Hair
System 2 is best for individuals with natural hair with progressed thinning.
3. Nioxin Hair System 3 Kit: Normal to Thin-Looking, Color Treated Hair
System 3 is best for individuals with colored hair (artificially dyed) with light thinning.
4. Nioxin Hair System 4 Kit: Noticeably Thinning, Fine, Color Treated Hair
System 4 is best for individuals with colored hair (artificially dyed) with progressed thinning.
5. Nioxin Hair System 5 Kit: Normal to Thin-Looking, Chemically-Treated Hair
System 5 is best for individuals with chemically treated hair (like a perm) with light thinning.
6. Nioxin Hair System 6 Kit: Noticeably Thinning, Fine, Chemically-Treated Hair
System 6 is best for individuals with chemically treated hair (like a perm) with progressed thinning.
Nioxin Advanced Thinning Product Collection
In addition to the systems above, Nioxin offers four products in their ‘advanced thinning’ line. A hair regrowth treatment for women and one for men, a scalp optimizing cleanser, and a scalp optimizing conditioner. We highly recommend minoxidil for both men and women (if not Nioxin’s product below then another brand’s) if you’re having trouble with hair loss. It is one of the few proven treatments that work for genetic hair loss.
Unlike their shampoo, this treatment contains an ingredient that is actually clinically proven to effectively help hair growth in women and men. That ingredient is minoxidil. If you haven’t heard of minoxidil you may have heard of Rogaine — one of the most popular hair loss treatments available. Both Rogaine and Nioxin’s Hair Regrowth Treatment for Men contains 5% minoxidil. This product for women contains 2% minoxidil.
Same as the above, but is extra strength and contains 5% concentration instead of the 2% found in the women’s formula. Generally speaking, Nioxin’s Hair Regrowth Treatment is usually a bit more expensive than Rogaine or Kirkland’s Generic Minoxidil.
Nioxin markets this for ‘advanced thinning’ but we don’t see an advantage of this shampoo over the shampoo featured in their systems lineup in the above section in regards to hair loss. In fact, this does not contain nettle root or saw palmetto. Customer feedback has been very positive about this shampoos ability to fight dandruff though so for those individuals struggling with that issue this shampoo may be the way to go. The key active ingredient in this shampoo is pyrithione zinc 1%, which has been shown to be effective against dandruff.
This conditioner is used to help minimize the appearance of thinning hair by reducing hair loss due to breakage. The key part of that sentence being the ‘due to breakage’ part. Hair naturally will break down over time as it gets longer and older but this conditioner will help slow down that natural process. Again, we lean toward recommending their three step systems over the Optimizing Cleanser and Conditioner unless you’re making it snow with dandruff.
Hold the Hairline’s Take
Is Nioxin shampoo going to regrow hair lost years ago? No. Is it going to help slow down hair loss by maintaining a healthy scalp environment? Possibly. Is it a good thickening shampoo that will improve the appearance of thinning hair? Yes. Nioxin is going to work best for individuals who have just started balding with mild to medium thinning.
Despite Nioxin gaining traction as a treatment for androgenetic alopecia (genetic hair loss), there are no such claims on their website. Of course, this traction is much to Proctor and Gamble’s liking because of the increased sales. It is unlikely they will discourage this alternative use of their products or make a direct statement negating these claims.
Nioxin is first and foremost a cosmetic enhancing product. This works well as a volumizing shampoo. The company claims that 70% of Nioxin hair system users notice thicker, denser looking hair after four weeks of continuous use. This is based on their own independent market research. If you want to give it a go, try it out for a month and if you don’t notice thickening results go back to your old shampoo.
In our opinion, the thickening effect is most likely attributed to the leave-in scalp treatment solution. This treatment is packed full of proteins that attach themselves to the hair shaft, coating it and making the hair appear thicker. Using Nioxin is much like a dyeing a person’s hair with color treatment, which also coats hair shafts and provides a thicker appearance. Nioxin does claim to have the following five benefits for hair loss sufferers: cleanses excessive sebum away from the scalp, amplifies texture, increases hair shaft diameter for denser-looking hair, fortifies hair against cuticle damage, and reduces hair loss due to breakage.
Hair Loss Prevention
No where does Nioxin claim it will regrow hair that is lost through pattern baldness due to genetics. We think that the bulk of the hair loss prevention effects surrounding these Nioxin products is likely overblown. Nioxin was not intended to be a hair loss treatment, but somehow it gathered this aura as the best hair loss shampoo. Probably some of this hype is created by salons that will recommend these products to their clients and may receive a commission for selling them.
All this being said, Nioxin is a great hair care system for those experiencing mild thinning. It will thicken the hair and conceal effects of balding from even the most prying set of eyeballs. These products are a great shampoo and conditioner to use alongside a Rogaine, Nizoral, and Propecia regime. The scalp treatment is worth a shot, but if you don’t notice anything significant after about 6 months don’t waste your time with it.
For more thickening shampoo ideas check out our roundup.