Are you looking for something to help you prevent hair loss (and maybe even regrow some hair)? If so, we’re not surprised. After all, two thirds of males experience male pattern baldness before the age of 35. Yes—two out of every three. So, in other words, you’re definitely not alone in your search for a solution to your thinning hair.
As you may or may not already know, hair loss is caused by DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a hormone that can cause hair follicles to shrink until they can’t grow anything but peach fuzz.
So if you want to stop hair loss, you have to block that DHT. On your search for DHT blockers, you may’ve come across hair loss shampoo (or anti-hair loss shampoo) that can supposedly stop hair loss. We wanted to know, does it actually work?
Seen ads for shampoos that promise to block DHT, slow down thinning, and stimulate growth? Then you’ve seen a hair loss shampoo. Here are some examples to help jog your memory:
We asked our Keeps medical advisors if there’s a hair loss or hair growth stimulating shampoo out there that really works—and here’s what they had to say.
Dr. Jerry Shapiro, leading hair loss dermatologist and Keeps medical advisor, says it depends on what type of hair loss you’re trying to treat.
Hair loss shampoo is most effective “if you have a scalp condition,” such as seborrheic dermatitis (more commonly known as dandruff) or psoriasis, that could be causing hair loss. With those two conditions, Shapiro says, “you might be losing hair due to inflammation, and the shampoo will help reduce that.”
But that only applies to shampoo that’s actually effective against inflammation, and most hair loss shampoos you’ll find online or on a pharmacy shelf are missing the medication that treats scalp issues: ketoconazole.
Yep! The reason ketoconazole shampoo can treat hair loss, according to hair loss expert and Keeps Medical Advisor Dr. Antonella Tosti, is because “it contains an anti-fungal agent that can help fight the inflammation that is associated with androgenic alopecia.”
The shampoo acts as a scalp treatment—it kills the yeast, inflammation decreases, and hair loss ceases. In fact, several clinical studies have found that ketoconazole boosts the size of individual hair follicles.
We should note that the FDA hasn’t yet approved the use of ketoconazole for hair loss treatment, but many doctors consider it a key part of any treatment plan. “I recommend ketoconazole shampoo to many of my patients who have androgenic alopecia, even if they don’t have dandruff,” Dr. Tosti says.
Now, there are unmedicated shampoos (and other products) that can give the appearance of thicker, healthier-looking hair. In fact, we’ve covered those here and in our guide to how thickening shampoo works. Not to mention, taking good care of the hair you do have makes it look healthier, and that’s never a bad thing.
To sum this up, shampoo is not a miracle remedy for male pattern baldness. However, it can complement the hair loss treatment plan you’re on. If you’re still looking for the right hair loss treatment plan, we recommend speaking to your doctor about the two proven products out there that are clinically-proven to work to stop hair loss: finasteride and minoxidil.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.
Finasteride is an oral medication used to treat male pattern baldness in men only. It is not for use by women. When used by men, finasteride is generally safe but it can also cause serious side effects, including but not limited to allergic reactions, sexual dysfunction, depression, and high-grade prostate cancer. Most patients find that problems with sexual function resolve when they stop taking the medicine. For full prescribing information, view the drug label information.
Ketoconazole is an antifungal medicine used to treat certain kinds of fungal or yeast infections. When used as prescribed, ketoconazole is generally safe, but it also can cause side effects. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue, pain, tingling or numbness. For full prescribing information, view the drug label information.