Hair loss is particularly relevant to the blog because eating disorders often cause acute hair loss, or at least result in thinner hair, and stress and anxiety are also culprits in causing women to lose an excessive amount of hair.
As I’ve said before on the blog, losing your hair is one of the most awful things a woman can experience aesthetically. It’s one of those things which you just want to stop immediately – so you’ll pay anything to get your hands on something which promises to stop your hair falling out, and improves the look of your hair, instantly. You feel anxious and upset about your hair and how you look and therefore you enter a vicious cycle because stress will do your hair absolutely no good whatsoever.
I’ve covered a few things that have worked for me, such as Castor Oil and other methods, on the blog before, but in this post I wanted to focus purely on shampoos because they really can be a bit of a minefield and there are a lot of them about. I can honestly say I’ve tried most of them! I’ve also spent hours trudging through reviews online and frankly, they always tend to be mixed and it takes a long time and a lot of review reading to get a decent picture of how and how well a product works! Here’s my genuine, balanced views on the top 5 I have used below:
This stuff worked wonders for me. It’s a caffeine-based shampoo – the caffeine acts as a stimulant on the scalp to encourage hair growth. Scalp Stimulation is a main discipline in the hair growth bible, that’s why head massages and cinnamon and peppermint along with caffeine are extensively used in the industry. Like cinnamon and peppermint, caffeine gives a tingly sensation when it is applied to the scalp. Alpecin instructs users to leave the shampoo on for at least 2 minutes – this is when you start to feel the tingle. The instructions say ‘leave as long as possible’ so sometimes I would sit in the bath with it on my hair for 20-30 minutes just to give it a good go.
There are 2 different brands here – Alpecin and Plantur. Plantur is basically the ladies’ version of Alpecin and from what I have heard they are very similar – I used Alpecin so I had to put up with the manly smell for a few months but in all honesty it was worth it.
After a month or so of using it every other day I noticed new hair growth and the rest of my hair began to grow very rapidly. After 2-3 months I had a thatch of baby hairs about 2-3cm long and my hair was growing very quickly, so I stopped using Alpecin and switched back to my normal shampoo. Another 3 months later and that baby hair is now 2-3 inches long – I’ve had no let up in the speed or thickness of growth and I now have a little fringe of baby hair down to my eyebrows! It really worked for me it just took persistence and regular washing, plus sticking to the instructions of keeping it on for a fair amount of time.
The only thing I will say about Alpecin in particular is that I may not recommend it for lighter hair colours or anyone who dyes their hair. I have naturally mousy brown hair which I dye a shade or two darker but the shampoo actually faded my natural hair (and the dyed hair) to a weird gingery-brown colour which I had to keep dying over. It does say in the instructions that Alpecin may cause discolouration of the hair, especially blonde hair, so it’s a risk you may want to weigh up before using. Personally, I was happy to take this in return for rapid, sustained new growth.
Pros: Fantastic, good-quality new hair growth, very good price, readily available in lots of retailers.
Cons: Manly-smell (if using Alpecin), hair can get more greasy in-between washes, hair dye and natural hair colour can be affected by product.
The favoured premium go-to hair loss solution, this is the product you’ll likely be recommended by your hairdresser. I used this a couple of years ago when my hair started to fall out (not as much as when I was poorly, or last year) but still significantly enough for me to feel I needed to take action. I also had a Nioxin scalp treatment at a hairdresser which involved a long vigorous head massage using a grainy peppermint solution made by Nioxin which made my hair look thicker straight away!
I loved Nioxin so much that I continued to use it as my usual shampoo until last year when my hair started falling out uncontrollably and I felt I needed to try something else; I’m not sure whether Nioxin might have become ineffective because I’d been using it on a day to day basis for so long before my hair started falling out.
Simply put, Nioxin works using peppermint as one of its main active ingredients, to stimulate the scalp but also to fully cleanse the scalp of any debris which may be blocking hair follicles and therefore negatively affecting growth. This is also what gives it its strong, clinical minty scent. Nioxin is great because rather than being ‘one size fits all’, it caters to different hair types and therefore different types of hair loss. For me, I needed something for fine, visibly thinning hair, so I went for Number 2. This meant the shampoo cleansed my hair really nicely and left it bouncy and thick-looking, not at all weighed down. I’d still go back to Nioxin as a regular shampoo now as I liked it so much.
The only complaint I would have about Nioxin is that the range is huge; there are now different foams and lotions you can buy as well as the shampoo and conditioner which are all fairly pricey. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when your hair is falling out and you are desperate to combat it in any way possible but my advice here would be to buy the shampoo and conditioner first, then see how you go. I went ahead and purchased one of the ‘Diamond Boost’ products only to find it made my scalp really dry and itchy and made my hair look greasy. I couldn’t tell if it had any effect on the hair loss because I had to stop using it, and now I have a full bottle of expensive serum lying in my drawer.
Extra tip: I bought Nioxin in bulk from my local beauty wholesalers (you can buy online too) – it was a HUGE bottle but saved me a lot of money.
Pros: Fantastic range of hair loss shampoos and conditioners (and shampoos and conditioners in general), tailored to your hair type and hair loss type, recommended by stylists, works to clean hair and scalp and promote new hair growth, range of salon treatments which are reasonably priced (RRP) and really do work to improve the look and condition of hair.
Cons: A little expensive at £12 a bottle, only available in salons and online (the best price tends to be online!), a confusing extra range of add-on products which are expensive and may be purchased in desperation but may not be best for your hair.
- Mane n’ Tail
I heard about this years ago when I was recovering from my eating disorder but I couldn’t get my hands on any for love nor money. I even spoke to my friend who has horses and she said she couldn’t find any at the equine wholesalers!
A few years on, I noticed it advertised in the beauty section of a magazine and realised that everyone must now have cottoned on to the Mane N Tail craze, hoping this meant it was more readily available. It was! I bought mine from a local African hair retailer but you can find it on Amazon and eBay too.
I bought a bottle on eBay and started to use it straight away. What I will say about Mane N Tail is it’s a fantastic general shampoo. It doesn’t claim to contain special ingredients like others do, and it’s definitely not all-natural but it lathers up so nicely and your hair is fresh and clean and bouncy after use. It also smells gorgeous!
Originally there was just one type of Mane N Tail but there’s now a few to choose from which baffled me at first – I stuck to the original. The range also now features conditioners and a detangling spray however I haven’t tried these (yet!) so I can’t say how good these are.
All in all a good shampoo but I’m not sure it made any real difference to my hair growth. This may be a placebo opinion in that because it wasn’t tingling on my head it wasn’t ‘working’, but I would definitely use the shampoo again.
Pros: Great shampoo, smells lovely, lathers very well and cleans hair well. Good price and readily available.
Cons: Not sure it affected my hair growth (not a con for many but given the point of the article…!)
- Michael Van Clarke 3 More Inches
I had NEVER heard of this stuff (and shamefully the name made me giggle) when I heard about it for the first time when talking to a friend who has beautiful long thick hair, but felt it was thinning at the front due to wearing it in tight buns for work.
She told me she really rated it and that I should definitely try it, but that it was expensive. I went online and yes, it is a little pricey, however easily available from Amazon which also sold trial travel packs for the sceptical to try. I was so happy using my Alpecin that I decided to leave it and subsequently went back to my old shampoo; so on Christmas day when one of the said travel packs landed in my stocking I was over the moon and excited to try it!
The pack contains a tube of leave-in treatment, a tube of conditioner and a tube of shampoo. The treatment is for weekly or fortnightly use whereas the shampoo and conditioner are for regular use. I decided to go for the leave-in treatment straight away and slathered it all over my hair then went off to bake Christmas cookies for a few hours.
When I washed it off, my hair was incredibly silky and soft. It was plump and not at all weighed down by the product, which surprised me as it contains keratin protein and in my experience keratin products can be heavy.
Keratin is the main component in the 3 More Inches range; if you take a look at the ingredients you’ll see there’s no chemical nasties and a hell of a lot of keratin, which is basically protein-rich hair-food (like a smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and avocado steak salad, topically applied!) Keratin is actually a protein itself, naturally found in hair fibres. A lack of Keratin can result in dry brittle hair which breaks off easily – so you can see why sufficient Keratin is important to stop hair loss from breakage and also from brushing out huge knots as it also makes hair much smoother and easier to comb through.
I haven’t used this range enough to be able to categorically say whether it has made a difference or not but it was certainly visibly nourishing for my hair and my friend tells me it has made a massive difference to hers in just a matter of weeks.
Pros: Luxurious shampoo, smells lovely, easy to use and lathers well considering it doesn’t contain any of the worst chemical nasties. Packed full of hair-loving Keratin which can certainly be no bad thing.
Cons: Expensive, only available online.
- Naked Shampoo 2 in 1
When I started reading up on hair loss I read a lot of articles which encouraged me to ditch chemicals completely in order to repair my scalp and restore my lost hair. Some even urged me to stop washing my hair entirely (never going to happen – I have a job!!). Whilst I could see the science behind this I struggled with the practicality. When I started looking at the ingredients lists of shampoos in the shops and the ones I used currently, I noticed they were full of the said ‘nasty chemicals’ that according to those articles under no circumstance should I be applying to my scalp. I panicked, then I Googled natural shampoos.
It took me ages going through online shops and forums to find that one of the Naked range of shampoos did not contain the dreaded Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is what makes shampoos and soaps lather. I wasn’t particularly happy about going lather-less because that’s part of the shampooing process that I love, but with bald patches rapidly emerging I was willing to try anything and going all natural made complete sense. Some of the reviews cited rapid hair growth using the shampoo so I was very excited to give it a go.
I used the Purifying 2 in 1 Shampoo from Naked. It smelt heavenly in the bottle but that smell unfortunately didn’t really linger on my hair. I was pleasantly surprised that it lathered up nicely when I washed my hair and my hair felt really clean after using it – plus it was nice and soft.
I used the shampoo for around 2 months but unfortunately in all honestly I don’t feel it made any difference to the growth of my hair. That’s when I switched to Alpecin.
Pros: Cheaply priced, smells nice, easy to use and still lathers a little bit. 100% natural no nasties.
Cons: You can only buy it from Boots and Sainsburys, and bigger stores at that. Online you can only buy it from these retailers or direct (it’s on eBay but is much higher than retail price, weirdly). Personally saw no difference to my hair growth and wasn’t the best shampoo I have ever had cleansing-wise.
Having read this article back, it’s funny that the two products that worked best for me are the ones with the most cons. Don’t let this put you off – as the saying goes, no pain, no gain. Some of the most potent medical treatments have the worst side effects. The point is, they work. Have you guys used anything you feel is share-worthy here for hair loss? I’d love to share them with everyone else!