Caring for Your Thinning Hair

Shampoo, styling, and hair care tips for women with thinning hair.

From the WebMD Archives


While hormones and genetics are often the cause of hair loss, dermatologist Victoria Barbosa, MD, of Millennium Park Dermatology in Chicago, says it's a good idea to check with a dermatologist to make sure it is not a sign of some other problem like an autoimmune, thyroid, or scalp disease.

McMichael, a consultant for Johnson & Johnson (the makers of Rogaine), tells WebMD that women typically don’t experience hair loss all at once. It frequently occurs over time. There is usually thinning around the crown and at the sides and some gradual, increased shedding. The hair’s part begins to widen, a ponytail has less volume, and the scalp may start to show through the hair.

“Some people start in their 30s and some in their 60s,” she says. “It happens over time. It is slow, and then one day, it starts to bother you.”

Shampoo, Cosmetic Concealers, and Other Products

One of the first steps to improving the look of thinning hair is to experiment with styling products.

Most women start with shampoo, and volumizing products do a good job of giving the appearance of fuller hair, Barbosa says. She tells WebMD that there are too many ingredients to list, but looking for one with some sort of protein is a good place to start. Kutcher recommends looking for words like “body,” “volume,” “texture” or “thickness.”

It is also a good idea to avoid products with a lot of moisture, which only weighs the hair down. Barbosa recommends focusing conditioner on the ends of the hair, not at the roots. Shampoo and conditioners combined often have too much moisture.

“I think that, for a lot of women, there is unfortunately a lot of trial and error involved (in finding the right products),” says Barbosa, who used to work for L'Oreal. “I would also say that women should not expect superior results just from a shampoo system alone - it’s like step one and best for people with little loss.”

A second group of products are mousses, gels, and sprays. Kutcher says mousses and sprays are the best bet because they tend to add texture, but are lighter than gels.