Do you need Nioxin for thinning hair?

Gail’s guard is up: My hairdresser assured me that Nioxin would make my thin, fine hair stop falling out so much and appear thicker. So far it just seems finer and thinner. (She insists that I need to use the Therapy conditioner as well as the shampoo.) What do you know about Nioxin?

The Left Brain responds:

Nioxin’s line of shampoos, conditioners, and treatments is an interesting example of a cosmetic product that has a reputation for having drug benefits. If you do a quick web search of Nioxin you’ll find numerous sites commenting on its ability to slow hair loss, increase hair growth, inhibit DHT (one of the causes of thinning hair) and make hair grow thicker. As we’ve blogged before, if a product really did claim to do any of these things it would have to be a drug and would require FDA approval.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

But if you go to the source and look at Nioxin’s website, there is no direct mention of any drug benefits. In fact, they are very careful to tell you that their product is NOT a drug and that it does not grow hair. What do they say? The Nioxin story can be summarized in three basic points: 1. DHT is linked to thinning hair. 2. Nioxin helps remove DHT. 3. The Nixon system reduces the appearance of thinning hair. Specifically their website says:

9 out of 10 people perceive a thickening effect

when using the daily 3-part system.*

*Independent Market Research conducted among consumers who perceived themselves as having fine, normal to thin-looking hair.

Deciphering Nioxin’s clams

What does this mean? They’re not claiming their product grows hair or even that it stop hair loss. They’re not even claiming that the product makes individual hair strands thicker. First, they’re just claming that DHT is linked to thinning hair which is true. Second, they say their shampoo removes DHT. This is true as far as any shampoo will remove any DHT that’s present on the scalp in sebum. Third, they are claiming that 90% of the people who used their shampoo, conditioner and treatment perceived a thickening effect.

Since the 3 part system includes a leave in treatment that contains various proteins, and glycoproteins and other film formers, it’s likely that people are perceiving a thickening effect just from the ability of the product to provide a mild styling effect. In other words, if the product leaves a coating on the hair that stiffens it, it will look and feel like it has more body and will therefore be perceived as thicker.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Nioxin, like Scalp med, is a good example of why you have to read claims very carefully so you understand what’s REALLY being said and so you aren’t fooled by what the advertiser is implying. (You could always try Toppik Hair Building Fibers!)