Product Picks for Thinning Hair

Medically Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on January 06, 2014
2 min read

Losing your hair can play with your emotions, but finding the right products can help you look your best and restore your confidence. Here’s what to look for:

Shampoos: Don’t be afraid of losing hair every time you wash. Check a salon or cosmetic store for products designed to strengthen the hair shaft. Be wary of volumizing shampoos. They can dry hair out, which leads to breakage, says Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD. She's a dermatologist and clinical instructor at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. Avoid products with harsh detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate. Learn more about DHT-blocking shampoos and how they work.

Dry shampoo:These products come as a powder that you sprinkle or spritz on the hair, then comb through. They add bulk to the hair shaft, which can make it look fuller. Use them every 3 or 4 days.

Conditioner: A dry hair shaft breaks more easily. Conditioner adds moisture, so use one designed for your hair type every time you wash. Avoid products with sulfates and volumizing conditioners, which can be drying.

Camouflaging options: Hide thinning hair by making your scalp color match your roots. Products such as scalp lotions, sprays, hair fibers, powder cakes, and hair crayons all provide a temporary solution. Scalp tattooing, a process by which tiny dots that look like hair follicles are tattooed to the scalp, is gaining appeal.

Leave-in products:“Keep hair as natural as possible without excess heat, chemicals, or mechanical breakage,” Badreshia-Bansal says. “The general rule is that chemical, mechanical, or heat injury will not be good for thinning hair.”

Gels, mousses, hair sprays, and pomades that make the hair stiff: Avoid those that promise extra hold. Don't wait for gel or hair spray to dry before combing, or the hair will harden and be more likely to break. Leave-in conditioners or heat treatments are OK.

Hair pieces: If you’re reluctant to wear a wig and your hair loss is in one spot, a hair piece can help. They're often made from animal hair and can be attached using a clip, tape, or glue. A stylist can cut and style your hair to blend well with the addition.

Extensions: These are used to add length and are attached at the back and sides of your head, so they won’t help if your hair is thinning on top. But they can add volume if you're thinning all over. Another option: Knotting synthetic hair to one of your strands can help thicken up the crown and front of the head. Visit a salon that specializes in hair loss to find out more.

Extensions are temporary and don't require the upkeep that other products do. Some extensions can increase tension on your existing hair, though -- so if you have alopecia areata, talk wi th your doctor first.