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Craving Full, Lush Locks? Use This In The Shower To Thicken Hair

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mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor

By Jamie Schneider

mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.

Image by Studio Firma / Stocksy

Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

July 19, 2022

You may have heard once or twice that healthy hair starts in the shower. Well, allow us to hit the point home: A quality wash can elevate basically any hair goal you have. Looking for smooth locks with minimal frizz? Look for hydrating ingredients that coat each strand and add some slip. Gunning for extra volume? Opt for an airy, clarifying formula that dissolves buildup and grime.

And if you’re dealing with increased shedding (a very common hair care concern), select a shampoo specifically geared toward thinning hair. Not sure what ingredients to look for or where to start? Here, find our prized recommendations.

Do shampoos for thinning hair work?

Your shampoo can help encourage fullness in a few ways: First, a clean scalp is imperative for hair growth since too much buildup (via oil, grime, or styling products) can suffocate the follicle root and create scalp inflammation–and too much inflammation over time can limit growth and eventually lead to shedding.

Take it from Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Mudgil Dermatology: “If buildup is really extreme, it can even pull the hair down because there’s so much inflammation around the hair follicle,” he previously told mbg. You don’t want to completely strip the scalp of moisture, though, so cleansing with gentle, sulfate-free washes is key.

As you gently scrub in your shampoo, you also stimulate the scalp, which can help encourage growth. “While shampooing, massage the scalp to increase the flow of blood, relieve stress, and stimulate hair follicles. It’s a win-win!” says hairstylist Miko Branch. In fact, regular scalp massages have been shown to increase hair fullness in small studies, and in some self-reported cases, individuals who gave themselves daily scalp massages, over the course of months, saw hair loss stabilization or regrowth.

Finally, these shampoos come with naturally derived ingredients to help further stimulate the scalp (rosemary oil, lavender oil, and the like) or antioxidants to help combat free radicals from UV rays or pollution. Plenty of shampoos even feature the same ingredients found in your favorite hair growth serums–they just come with a shorter contact time, since these products are meant to be washed out.

How we picked

Ingredients

We always select products that are clean- and -natural leaning–and with shampoos, we always recommend sulfate-free options that won’t strip the strands. On top of that, we sought out ingredients known to encourage hair growth, including amino acid-rich proteins, antioxidants, and thickening actives.

Testing & Testimonials

We tested out products firsthand to see what worked and what didn’t. When this wasn’t possible, our editors utilized verified customer experiences to ensure the products listed performed at the level needed to meet our strict standards.

Hair Type

Those with curls may prioritize hydration and a lower lather, those with fine hair might want to encourage lift at the roots, and those with mature hair might want a shampoo that also brightens silver strands. We made sure to cover several bases here.

Variety

Thinning hair happens for a number of reasons, so we made sure to include a wide range of shampoos meant for every concern. For example, someone dealing with buildup might need a different option than someone looking for bond-building and repair.

mbg’s picks for the best shampoos for thinning hair of 2022:

Best for curly hair: Living Proof Curl Shampoo

Living Proof Curl Shampoo

VIEW ON Living Proof | $32VIEW ON Sephora | $32

Pros

Does not strip curls

Cons

Very low lather, so might not be best for buildup

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sulfate-free

Active ingredients: Methiopeptide, Rosemary leaf extract

Curly heads should gravitate toward hydrating shampoos and conditioners since the textured strands are more prone to dryness and breakage. Living Proof’s curl range keeps the ringlets extra juicy, with plenty of conditioning agents to help provide slip and softness, as well as peptides to strengthen the strands. Not to mention, the formula includes rosemary leaf extract–a natural ingredient renowned for its hair growing abilities.

Best splurge: Vegamour GRO Revitalizing Shampoo

Vegamour GRO Revitalizing Shampoo

VIEW ON Vegamour | $48VIEW ON Amazon | $48VIEW ON Sephora | $48

Pros

Mirrors a highly concentrated hair growth serum

Cons

Pricey for a small bottle

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sulfate-free

Active ingredients: Karmatin, Red clover, Mung bean, Curcumin

This formula is brimming with hi-tech ingredients for healthy hair growth: There’s karmatin, a vegan keratin made from fermented silk protein to create a mirror image of the amino acids that naturally occur in hair; marula, baobab, and ximenia seed oils to provide moisture and nourish the strands; and red clover, mung bean, and curcumin to fortify the hair follicles and protect against inflammation.

Best for mature hair: dpHUE Cool Blonde Purple Shampoo

dpHUE Cool Blonde Purple Shampoo

VIEW ON dpHUE | $28VIEW ON Sephora | $28

Pros

Great for gray hair or hair with highlights

Cons

Very pigmented, so can stain

Considerations: Cruelty-free, Sulfate-free

Active ingredients: Hibiscus flower extract, Silk amino acids, Hydrolyzed silk protein

Silver strands can easily appear dull or brassy thanks to pollution, topicals, heat damage, and other stressors. “Gray hair grabs what’s in the atmosphere, so it can turn yellow very quickly,” says color and hair expert Christin Brown. That’s why many opt for a purple or blue shampoo to correct these subtle changes. dpHUE’s blond- and gray-enhancing shampoo not only contains purple pigments to neutralize brassy tones, but it also comes loaded with vegan silk proteins, amino acids, and hibiscus flower extract to repair and protect strands from environmental aggressors. Your hair will appear brighter, fuller, and most importantly, feel stronger over time.

Best strengthening: Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Hair Volumizing Shampoo

Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Hair Volumizing Shampoo

VIEW ON Briogeo | $28VIEW ON Amazon | $26VIEW ON Sephora | $28

Pros

Fast results

Cons

Contains essential oils, if you’re sensitive to those

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sulfate-free

Active ingredients: Ginseng root extract, Biotin, Maltodextrin

Your hair is made up of protein, but those amino acid chains can weaken over time, which can lead to breakage. That’s where bond-building ingredients like biotin come in: “We can’t recreate the exact protein that is in our hair [with topicals], but synthetic and naturally sourced proteins can repair and stand in place like a Band-Aid,” explains hairstylist Matt Newman about protein treatments for hair. That’s precisely why Briogeo includes biotin in their volumizing shampoo, as well as ginseng root extract to combat free radicals and maltodextrin–a starch-like substance that creates a film-like coating on the hair, which thickens the strands and gives the appearance of a fuller mane.

Best for color-treated hair: Pureology Hydrate Sheer Shampoo

Pureology Hydrate Sheer Shampoo

VIEW ON Amazon | $34VIEW ON Sephora | $34

Pros

Great for fine, color-treated hair that’s prone to dryness

Cons

Not the best for thicker hair

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sulfate-free

Active ingredients: Green tea, Sage, Jojoba oil

Finding a wash that provides a deep clean without stripping the pigment off your strands can be difficult if you have color-treated hair. A color-safe shampoo is key, like this Pureology number: The lightweight jojoba-oil-infused lather won’t disrupt your gorgeous color, and it includes antioxidant-rich green tea extract to protect your strands and scalp, as well as sage to stimulate those hair follicles.

Best for damaged hair: JVN Undamage Strengthening Shampoo

JVN Undamage Strengthening Shampoo

VIEW ON JVN Hair | $18VIEW ON Amazon | $18VIEW ON Sephora | $18

Pros

Makes hair shiny and frizz-free without silicones Luxurious fragrance

Cons

Contains essential oils

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sulfate-free

Active ingredients: Ceramides, Squalane, Hemi-squalane

No product can truly “repair” split ends, but JVN’s strengthening range comes pretty close: Ceramides mask the appearance of dry, brittle ends; aloe juice drenches the strands in hydration; and jojoba oil simultaneously conditions with every wash. The formula also swaps squalane and hemi-squalane for silicones–they provide a similar amount of slip and softness to the strands, but unlike silicones (which don’t really benefit the hair aside from aesthetics), they simultaneously deliver moisture and improve hair health over time.

Best custom: Prose Custom Shampoo

Prose Custom Shampoo

VIEW ON Prose | $28

Pros

Addresses unique hair goals

Cons

Questionnaire requires some basic knowledge about hair type & porosity

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sulfate-free

Active ingredients: Depends on custom formula

At the end of the day, hair thinning is personal: Shedding can happen for a number of reasons, which is why Prose offers a questionnaire to understand your specific hair type, texture, and length goals. From there, you’ll receive a curated selection of high-quality hair care products, including a sulfate-free fortifying shampoo. While ingredients may vary depending on your results, some common players include biotin to strengthen, silk proteins for repair, apple cider vinegar for shine, green tea water to protect, and peppermint extract to stimulate the scalp.

Best natural: Love Beauty And Planet Sulfate-Free Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower Shampoo

Love Beauty And Planet Sulfate-Free Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower Shampoo

VIEW ON Amazon | $7VIEW ON Walmart | $8

Pros

Smells great

Cons

Contains essential oils

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sulfate-free

Active ingredients: Coconut water, Coconut oil, Mimosa flower

This 93% naturally derived formula is a coconut lover’s dream: It uses gentle coconut-based surfactants from coconut to gently lift and dissolve buildup, coconut water to hydrate the strands without weighing them down, and coconut oil to create a glossy sheen. Plus, mimosa flower provides a light, invigorating scent–this shampoo will elevate your senses and will leave your strands looking bouncy and rejuvenated.

Best for dandruff: Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo

Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo

VIEW ON Amazon | $10VIEW ON Target | $10

Pros

Removes buildup without stripping the scalp

Cons

Contains essential oils, if you’re sensitive to those

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sulfate-free

Active ingredients: Apple cider vinegar, Peppermint extract

Flakes and buildup can suffocate the hair follicles and eventually lead to shedding. If you’re dealing with dandruff, you might want to opt for a clarifying shampoo with apple cider vinegar. The antimicrobial, anti-yeast, and antifungal ingredient is a popular addition to many natural dandruff shampoos. When dandruff-causing bacteria don’t like the acidic environment, they tend to stop multiplying. “When used for short contact, such as in a shampoo, it is generally safe and well tolerated,” board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, M.D., previously shared with mbg. To keep it moisturizing, the formula also loops in Jamaican Black castor oil and shea butter, so your scalp won’t feel too tight or squeaky.

Best for buildup: Olaplex No. 4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo

Olaplex No. 4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo

VIEW ON Sephora | $30

Pros

Less drying than other clarifying shampoos

Cons

Not for everyday or frequent use

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sulfate-free

Active ingredients: Bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate (Olaplex patented bond-building ingredient), Panthenol

If you’re in need of a deep clean, you can’t go wrong with this Olaplex number. The clarifying formula removes product buildup, excess oil, and even hard water minerals (mineral buildup can lead to duller hair color). It also includes the Olaplex signature bond-building technology to repair broken hair bonds for stronger, healthier hair. Translation? This clarifying shampoo simultaneously cleans and strengthens the strands.

Best volumizing: Rossano Ferretti Parma Grandioso Extra Volume Shampoo

Rossano Ferretti Parma Grandioso Extra Volume Shampoo

VIEW ON Sephora | $35

Pros

Contains 92% natural ingredients

Cons

Pricey for a small bottle

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sulfate-free

Active ingredients: Creatine, Ginseng root extract, Avocado oil, Macadamia oil, Hydrolyzed sweet almond protein

Thinning hair often appears flat at the root, so opt for a volumizing shampoo to lift your strands and create the illusion of fullness. Not only does this stylist-approved formula instantly give your mane more body (thanks to creatine), but it also includes ginseng root extract for antioxidants, avocado and macadamia oils for moisture, and hydrolyzed sweet almond protein to help repair broken hair bonds. Your hair will look and feel thicker, for sure.

Best budget: Odele Moisture Repair Shampoo

Odele Moisture Repair Shampoo

VIEW ON Target | $12

Pros

Provides deep hydration while cleansing

Cons

Low lather

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sulfate-free

Active ingredients: Hydrolyzed rice protein, Hydrolyzed quinoa, Aloe vera juice, Amaranth oil, Glycerin

With hydrolyzed rice protein, hydrolyzed quinoa, aloe, amaranth oil, and glycerin, this shampoo is equally strengthening and moisturizing–with a $12 price tag, to boot. Plus, the scent is simply divine (luxurious, even!): Odele combines cucumber, oakmoss, ylang-ylang, and other florals for a 100% natural fragrance blend that smells nothing short of spa-grade.

Hair Growth FAQ

Why does hair thin in the first place?

Hair thinning is super common, and it can happen for a variety of reasons: scalp inflammation (from too much buildup), nutritional deficiencies, air pollution, too-tight hairstyles, stress (yes, really), and more. Thinning hair can also just be a natural part of aging–hair ages just like the rest of your body–or a result of postpartum hair loss. Oftentimes, the hair loss is temporary and can be restored with a few lifestyle adjustments. But if you’re experiencing severe thinning or hair loss in patches, it’s best to consult a doctor to get to the root of the issue.

How do you prevent hair loss?

We highly suggest you head over to our full guide to hair growth, as shedding is a pretty complex issue that may require multiple approaches. However, to prevent hair loss, you’ll want to think about it in two ways: stimulating the follicles and keeping the hair you do have healthy. Cleaning and massaging the scalp (better yet, with one of the shampoos above!), using antioxidants, moisturizing your hair, protecting your lengths from physical stressors, hair growth serums, and even targeted supplements can encourage fullness and keep your strands thriving.

Can you grow back thinning hair?

Short answer? It depends on the cause. Many times, though, the hair loss is temporary–especially when it comes to traction alopecia (caused by too-tight hairstyles), stress, or postpartum hair loss. Of course, treating thinning hair doesn’t happen overnight, but with time and a diligent routine, you should see some thickness return or at least stop the shedding in its tracks.

Just know that your hair does lose density as you age, and sometimes a receding hairline is unavoidable. According to hair restoration specialist Craig Ziering, D.O., FAOCD, FISHRS, FAAD, owner of Ziering Medical, your hair ultimately reaches what’s known as its “mature hairline,” a new normal for your aging hair, so to speak. It’s when that thinning doesn’t slow or stop that it becomes an issue.

mbg review process.

At mbg, high standards are earned and there are no shortcuts. Our beauty editors stay up to date on the latest ingredient research and innovation. It’s a dynamic, continuously evolving space, and it’s important we look into the science so we can make informed choices about which formulas earn our stamp of approval (figuratively speaking).

Our high standards also come from testing products–many, many products. Our editors and writers rigorously test and research the products featured in our roundups to offer you the best, most informed recommendations. When we write reviews, you can trust we spend quality time with the formulas: We don’t simply rave about products we’ve slathered on the back of our hand. We endorse products we’ve tried and loved.

Learn more about our testing process and clean beauty standards here.

The takeaway.

To address thinning hair, it’s important to approach shedding from multiple avenues–but switching up your shampoo is a great place to start. After all, healthy hair really does start in the shower with a quality wash. Once you choose your lather, go ahead and select an equally hydrating conditioner, and perhaps follow up with a hair growth serum to target thinning even further. Your lush, thriving locks will thank you.

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