At some point in our lives, our hair starts to get a bit thinner. If your once-thick mane looks a tad sparse these days, you may be wondering what’s behind the hair loss and what you can do to fix it.
The Shop TODAY team wanted to get a better grasp of the factors around hair loss, so we consulted top dermatologists and hairstylists for their expertise. They shared a few of their go-to products that can help encourage hair growth and restore fullness, along with some insight into what causes hair loss in women.
What we found: While you should always consult your doctor for more intensive treatments tailored to your unique situation, there are actually a few ways to treat thinning hair at home, like using anti-thinning shampoos, leave-in treatments and more.
Keep scrolling or use the links below to see our list of the 26 best products for thinning hair and hair loss, according to dermatologists, editors and stylists, as well as shopper ratings and reviews.
Dermatologist-recommended products for thinning hair
Find yourself dealing with chronic scalp irritation? Whether the root cause is psoriasis, dandruff or eczema, the irritation can harm healthy hair growth and even cause some hair loss, according to American Academy of Dermatology fellow Dr. Robert Anolik.
“As a consequence, an indirect therapy for hair thinning in these settings is certainly anti-inflammatory products that may reduce the irritation,” he explains. As always, make sure to consult with your dermatologist first to make sure hydrocortisone is the right approach for your unique situation.
What you use to comb your hair can either help or hurt your strands, and that’s why a solid detangling brush is one must-have of Dr. Susan Massick, an associate professor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. This popular version promises to minimize tangles and breakage with its flexible bristles.
With almost 16,000 verified five-star ratings under its belt, this biotin shampoo comes highly recommended by Amazon shoppers and Dr. Liia Ramachandra, a skin care expert and former pharma executive.
“I love it since it is clean and great for sensitive scalps,” she says. “This formula is packed with a powerful blend of biotin, nettle extract, pumpkin seed and black cumin seed oil.”
The hypoallergenic, gluten-free shampoo promises to reduce hair thinning by strengthening and thickening strands, adding volume for days and reducing breakage along the way.
A favorite of Dr. Angela J. Lamb, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist, Aveda’s Thickening Tonic is designed to pump up the volume of your mane in an instant, working its way from the roots to the ends. Made for thin or thinning hair, the spray is free of parabens, petrolatum and synthetic fragrance, the brand claims.
Rogaine is a household name for a good reason. "It's a tried-and-true solution to help combat hair loss. The foam penetrates your scalp and targets your hair follicle to reactivate the growth cycle," says Dr. Orit Markowitz, a leading dermatologist and the CEO and founder of OptiSkin.
Rogaine is great to use at the early stages of hair thinning and works pretty darn quickly. It's formulated with 5% minoxidil and a mix of botanical extracts and emollients that hydrate your scalp. The best part? The foam format is easy to use and takes just seconds to massage into strands.
Lamb is a fan of this three-step hair-thickening system that includes shampoo, conditioner and a hair treatment that's designed to strengthen strands and volumize locks.
The set comes in different varieties for colored and natural hair and is clinically proven to reduce breakage-related hair loss by up to 91%, according to the brand. The Amazon bestseller also comes backed by over 6,000 verified five-star ratings, as well as a plethora of perfect reviews saying that it's made users' hair look “fuller and thicker.”
One reviewer adds, “After using this product for one month so far, I can honestly say I see a huge difference in my hair."
“This is a tried-and-true treatment that promotes faster, thicker hair growth. Newer formulations allow for easier, less messy application,” Dr. Leah Jacob, an assistant professor of dermatology at Tulane University, tells us. Here’s how it works: Each day, you apply some of the lightweight foam directly to your scalp where you’re experiencing hair loss. According to the brand, the product then goes to work stimulating hair follicles and encouraging growth.
Stylist-recommended products for thinning hair
A little bit of shedding is normal, but if you seem to be losing more hair than you typically do, Salon deZEN founder Maria Elizabeth recommends using these regrowth drops.
"The 2% minoxidil in this solution actively promotes hair growth by shedding old hairs and replacing them with new, stronger ones," she says.
The FDA-approved topical solution comes with a handy dropper applicator and can be applied to your scalp two times per day. "I love that it doesn't make hair greasy and dries quickly," Elizabeth adds.
"This lightweight leave-in treatment is suitable for all hair types and adds volume to hair using AnaTel (a proprietary complex), keratin, biotin and zinc," celebrity hairstylist Cheryl Bergamy says.
The body-boosting treatment is said to leave limp hair looking thicker and fuller without adding bulk or leaving it feeling greasy.
Combing can be a nerve-racking process when your hair is thinning, and brushing wet hair actually causes more breakage because that’s when your hair is at its weakest. T3's two-piece detangling set includes a shower comb and a detangling brush to help you remove knots without causing damage that could result in even thinner hair.
In the shower, use the comb to help evenly disperse the liquid products, such as conditioner, through your wet locks. You can also use the comb while rinsing to get out any last knots before getting out of the shower. Then, use the detangling brush on towel-dried hair, starting at the bottom and gradually working upward to the roots.
The result? Knot- and breakage-free hair.
The journey towards a thicker mane can start in the shower, and this powerful shampoo might just be a great addition to your bathtime routine.
"It's packed with vitamins, minerals and amino acids that revitalize the hair shaft, plus gentle cleansers to help whisk away scalp buildup," says Bergamy.
If you do want to give your tresses a boost, Elizabeth loves to spray on a bit of this plumping treatment before styling.
"It was uniquely created with eyelash thickening and lengthening technology, which helps strengthen hair while also adding thickness, body and bounce," she says.
Looking for a quick way to add volume to your locks during your daily routine? This leave-in treatment is said to stimulate strands and encourage denser-looking hair. It's made with caviar and lends thinning hair some texture while boosting volume and fullness, the brand says.
"Simply spritz the product on towel-dried tresses and then let it air-dry, or style per usual. This elegant-seeming treatment is formulated with eco-certified ingredients, such as caviar, sea silk, bamboo and kendi oil, that are sustainably harvested to protect the environment," Elizabeth says.
Regular scalp massages can help improve blood flow to the scalp, minimize hair loss and contribute to hair regrowth. So it’s no surprise that celebrity hairstylist Ayumi Yamamoto raves about the importance of exfoliating and stimulating the scalp when looking to grow healthy, beautiful hair.
"Massaging the head is key, even if you have a dry or oily scalp. But when massaging your head with your hands, please be careful not to scratch your scalp with your nails," the hairstylist says.
Comfier's cordless hair and scalp massager features four massage heads with 21 nodes each and four settings, so you can find the technique that feels best without having to worry about scratching your scalp. It's also waterproof, so you can enjoy a relaxing scalp massage in the shower.
Pricey? Yes. Worth it? We think so. Christophe Robin's sea salt scrub is designed as a hybrid exfoliator and shampoo that tackles buildup while soothing sensitive scalps. Perfect for a range of hair types, the cruelty-free multitasker is known for its powerful formula, according to the brand.
"The ingredients are amazing. Sea salt helps purify scalps by removing residue, while sweet almond oil hydrates and soothes scalps," Yamamoto tells us.
It only takes seconds a day to give your scalp a little TLC, and serums are one of Sabit Hantal's favorite ways to do so. The hairstylist and founder of SH Fifth Avenue Salon swears by this scalp and hair serum to strengthen and grow hair fibers.
"This is my favorite product for thinning hair because it literally transforms your hair in a week. It uses wheat protein derivatives to repair the flexibility and elasticity of damaged hair and restores uniformity and smoothness. It makes your hair strong and shiny, while adding substance to thicken it and reduces breakage at the same time," Hantal says.
More top-rated products to help with thinning hair
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry previously told Shop TODAY that rosemary oil has been shown to be equivalent to 2.5% minoxidil, when it comes to promoting hair growth. While experts aren't exactly sure how it works, they believe that it can improve circulation, and as a result, lead to growth.
When using it in essential oil form, she suggests mixing it with a carrier oil (like coconut oil) to help your skin better tolerate it and massaging it onto your scalp twice a day.
As one of the most cost-effective options on our list, this scalp serum is popular with those on the search for fuller-looking hair. Formulated with a unique combination of plant-based extracts and peptide technologies, this leave-in treatment can help initiate the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle, while also increasing blood flow in the scalp, the brand says.
One Shop TODAY editor said she noticed her hairline looking fuller after years of damaging habits, "my hairline looks fuller and there's new growth starting to appear. I even have family and friends commenting on how long my locks have gotten."
Gone are the days of traditional drying methods that can damage the hair with heat or friction. A microfiber towel won't give you thicker hair, but it can help you maintain the hair you do have if thinning is a concern.
This bestseller from Aquis can help strengthen hair by cutting down on the amount of heat used during the drying process. But that’s not all: Hair is weaker when it's wet, and this rapid-dry hair towel is said to help cut down drying time by up to 50%. As an added bonus, it nixes frizz, and the hands-free design is pretty convenient!
This twice-a-day treatment is formulated with minoxidil, the only FDA-approved non-prescription ingredient for hair regrowth. It not only helps improve blood flow to the scalp, but also stimulates hair growth at the follicle level and helps prolong the growth cycle, the brand says. As a result, users may be left with thicker, longer and healthier hair.
With over 4,000 verified five-star ratings on Amazon, users share how the scalp treatment has left them with less hair loss and new regrowth. One user states, “I love this product. I was thinning in the front bang area and within weeks I could see new growth.”
One Shop TODAY writer who reviewed this thickening shampoo in an effort to return her mane to its "larger-than-life style" loved it so much that she now cycles it in her daily hair care routine.
"My hair has developed volume and shine that I haven’t seen in years," she raves.
She credits her hair's journey to fullness to biotin, the shampoo's star ingredient. This vitamin, the brand claims, is vital to "improving the keratin infrastructure of the hair" — read: denser and thicker hair.
"After a few weeks, I can't imagine not using this shampoo. It's given my roots a noticeable boost, and my locks have a bounce they've been sorely lacking," our writer adds.
This vegan formula from Vegamour uses plant extracts like mung bean, curcumin and red clover and is designed to not only soothe the scalp, but also to improve the health of the follicle for improved overall hair health. The result? Less hair loss and more hair growth — a win on all accounts when it comes to thinning hair.
One Amazon shopper states, “I’ve been using this for two months and see some hair growth around my crown.” Another user shares, “I was skeptical, but decided to give this a try. After six weeks of use, I see a noticeable difference in the thickness of my hair as well as length.”
Even commerce editor Vivien Moon started using this serum and says she is beginning to notice baby hairs pop up — after one month of use!
While you're waiting for regrowth and need a little help on the way, Moon uses root touch-up powder to help cover thinning spots and give the illusion of more hair. The brand offers 14 natural colors and says the mess-free powder will remain on your scalp for up to 48 hours.
Dermatologists previously told Shop TODAY that rosemary is beneficial and a good alternative to minoxdil for hair growth. A popular option to use? This bestselling oil from Mielle. According to the brand, it's infused with biotin to help encourage hair growth from the follicle. Shop TODAY editorial assistant Madison San Miguel says it really helped her hair.
Deputy editorial director Alexandra Deabler says this product helps her hair look fuller and less flat. According to the brand, the lightweight formula is non-drying and won't damage your cuticles, which is another good option if you're looking for a quick fix for fuller hair.
SEO commerce writer Jannely Espinal says after testing this product last October, she's noticed significant growth, including baby hairs along her hairline. She even says her hair texture has improved. According to the brand, the formula targets the roots and scalps to help stimulate hair growth, however, the brand does note you'll need to take their hair assessment to see if you qualify for treatment.
Your questions about hair loss and thinning hair, answered
What causes hair loss in women?
Not sure how much hair loss is normal? Dr. Rae Lynne Kinler, medical director of Ziering Medical in Connecticut, tells us that the average person loses approximately 100 to 150 hairs per day as a result of our normal hair cycle. Anything that’s much more noticeable than that could be cause for investigation.
“If you are seeing excessively large amounts of hair on your pillow, upon combing your hair or in the drain upon showering, it may be time to look into other causes,” echoes Dr. Andrew Kwak, a hair restoration surgeon, hair loss expert and founder of The Lumen Center in Pennsylvania.
Though you should also check in with a doctor to identify the exact cause of your thinning hair, there are some potential explanations.
“From an internal medicine point of view, there are many abnormalities (which we can find through a simple blood test) that can cause hair loss,” says Dr. Cameron K. Rokhsar, founder and medical director of New York Cosmetic, Skin & Laser Surgery Center.
“These include low iron, anemia, changes in thyroid hormone (hyper- or hypothyroidism), changes in sex hormones (conditions such as polycystic ovary disease, which causes an increase in male hormones like testosterone) and autoimmune diseases such as lupus," Rokhsar adds.
These are just a few of the more common causes of hair loss:
- Androgenetic alopecia: Also known as female pattern balding, this type of genetic hair loss leads to thinning and can become permanent if left untreated. “While it can happen at any age, this form of hair loss is more common during the natural aging process, during perimenopause or after menopause,” Kinler explains.
- Traction alopecia: All that tugging and pulling from styling your hair and throwing it up in a tight ponytail can wreak havoc over time. “It leads to broken hairs and lack of hair regrowth. With continued traction, hair loss becomes permanent and irreversible,” says Massick.
- Scarring alopecia: Also known as cicatricial alopecia, this type of hair loss is generally caused by inflammation that can damage or destroy hair follicles. Common underlying causes include fungal infections, burns or radiation. “It leads to scarring of the scalp with resulting hair loss and is often irreversible,” Massick explains.
- Alopecia areata: This autoimmune condition causes bald patches that usually begin as round or oval in shape. “It’s typically reversible but can range from a few small patches to the entire scalp (alopecia totalis),” Massick says.
- Telogen effluvium: This temporary hair shedding is often brought on by physical stress. “It can be seen with pregnancy, illness, major surgeries or major stresses (loss of loved one),” Jacob said. “This is the type of hair loss we are seeing post-COVID infection.”
With that in mind, it’s only natural to wonder: Do hats or hair coverings cause hair loss? Our experts explain that this is generally not an issue.
“Unless it is super tight, causing traction, creating an environment that is too hot or somehow decreases the blood flow and oxygen necessary for the hair follicles, hair should grow normally with hair coverings and hats,” Kinler says.
Can stress cause hair loss?
“When stress causes a hormone spike in our androgenic genes (cortisol, in particular, plays a role), it redirects energy needed for hair growth and therefore increases shedding," Kinler says.
According to Kwak, psychological stress can put the body into an unbalanced state. But you can rest assured that it’s not a cause for too much concern.
“The good news is that the hair loss is usually not permanent and will improve as the mind and body heals itself,” Kwak says.
Can hard water cause hair loss?
“Even though there are no studies that show that hard water directly causes hair loss, water that is too loaded with minerals can lead to hair that breaks more easily. If you live in a region where the water is very ‘hard,’ it is easy enough to install a shower head that ‘softens’ the water to counteract this possible problem,” Kwak tells us.
How can I prevent hair loss?
Let’s lead with the bad news first: Not all hair loss is preventable, especially if it runs in your family. But there are a few steps you can take to treat it if it does happen.
For example, androgenetic alopecia is a progressive condition, but with early intervention and a custom treatment program, it’s possible to mitigate and manage hair loss, Kinler explains. Treatments may include lifestyle changes, along with topicals, exosome (growth factor) injections, laser and LED light therapy.
When it comes to hair loss that can be prevented (like traction alopecia), there are a few things you can do to set your strands on the right track, like avoiding chemical treatments (such as relaxers or perms), wearing your locks in loose hairstyles and eating healthy foods.
“Make sure that you are on a well-balanced diet containing enough protein, iron, zinc and biotin. If you are unsure, you can take supplements to keep these things in tip-top shape,” Kwak explains.
Above all, remember that there are many ways to treat thinning hair, so try not to panic.
“Be kind to yourself and your self-image. If the hair thinning is distressing, see a board-certified dermatologist who can help you navigate different treatment options,” Massick says.
Meet our experts
- Dr. Robert Anolik, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. He focuses on cosmetic dermatology and laser skin surgery and is a dermatology professor at New York University.
- Cheryl Bergamy is a celebrity hairstylist and salon owner. She founded plant-based focused Contents Hair Care.
- Maria Elizabeth is a hairstylist and the founder and owner of Salon DeZEN. She has over 20 years of experience.
- Sabit Hantal is a hairstylist and founder of founder of SH Fifth Avenue Salon. He's been working in the field for over 10 years.
- Dr. Leah Jacob, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor based in Tulane, Louisiana. Her focus is one general and cosmetic dermatology, as well as skin cancer screening.
- Dr. Rae Lynne Kinler, MD, is a hair transplant surgeon and the clinical director at Ziering Medical in Greenwich, Connecticut.
- Dr. Andrew Kwak, MD, is a hair restoration surgeon, hair loss expert and founder of The Lumen Center in Philadelphia.
- Dr. Angela J. Lamb, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist, as well as the Vice Chair of Operations and an associate professor of dermatology for the Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice.
- Dr. Orit Markowitz, MD, is a New York-based board-certified dermatologist and CEO and founder of Markowitz Medical. She's known for her work in minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment protocols for skin cancer.
- Dr. Liia Ramachandra, Pharm.D., Ph.D., is a doctor of pharmacy and analytical chemistry based in Canoga Park, California. She is the co-founder and CEO of EpiLynx, a skin care and cosmetics company.
- Dr. Cameron K. Rokhsar, MD, is a double board-certified dermatologist and laser surgeon based in New York City. He is founder and medical director of New York Cosmetic, Skin & Laser Surgery Center.
- Ayumi Yamamoto is a celebrity hairstylist based in New York City. Her work has been featured in Vogue Netherlands, GQ and Kenneth Cole's "Be Essential" campaign.