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 become defunct. 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?

Wait, what’s hair loss shampoo?

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:

  • Actiiv® Hair Science
  • Nioxin®
  • PURA D’OR®
  • Redkin® Cerafill
  • Revita® Hair Growth Stimulating Shampoo
  • Ultrax Labs® Hair Surge

Does hair loss shampoo really work?

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 only 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.” It is not, however, an effective hair loss treatment for male pattern baldness.

But, you might be wondering, if hair loss shampoo says it can block DHT, why can’t it help with male pattern hair loss? According to Dr. Antonella Tosti, hair disorder expert and Keeps medical advisor, the reason is quite simple.

“Shampoo has a very short period of contact with the scalp and the hair follicle,” Tosti explains. “Therefore, it just doesn’t have enough time to stimulate hair growth or prevent hair loss.”

OK, but why does ketoconazole shampoo help?

The reason ketoconazole, one well-known shampoo, can treat dandruff-induced hair loss, she says, is because “dandruff is caused by yeast that lives on the scalp. For that, I usually recommend a prescription and an over-the-counter shampoo that contains an anti-fungal agent.”

And for hair loss caused by psoriasis, she prescribes a shampoo that has a topical steroid in it. In these cases, the shampoo acts as a scalp treatment—it remedies the dandruff or psoriasis, swelling decreases, and temporary hair loss ceases (unless you also have male pattern baldness).

The keyword here is “scalp.” Ultimately, “hair loss shampoo doesn’t work if you’re using it to treat male pattern hair loss and have no other underlying conditions,” Dr. Shapiro says. “In addition, there’s no shampoo that’s clinically proven to support hair regrowth.”

So, why do some people claim otherwise? There are shampoos that can give the appearance of thicker, fuller hair (here’s more on how those work). Not to mention, taking good care of the hair you do have makes it look healthier, and that’s never a bad thing.

Again, shampoo is not a remedy for male pattern baldness. But the situation isn’t hopeless—we promise. If you’re still looking for something to help with that, we recommend talking to your doctor about the two DHT-blocking 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, 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.