Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/13/2021
If you’ve ever looked into over-the-counter hair loss treatments, there’s a very good chance that you’ve come across Nioxin®.
Nioxin is a brand that makes and markets hair care products, such as shampoo, conditioner and hair loss “system kits.”
The products are formulated specifically for thinning hair, and most make bold claims about their ability to reduce hair fall, prevent breakage and increase thickness.
Like with many other consumer hair care brands, it can be tough to separate the substance from the marketing with Nioxin.
Below, we’ve looked into Nioxin’s product lineup to determine which products may help with hair loss and which might be best avoided.
We’ve also shared other treatment options that you might want to look into if you’re starting to lose your hair due to male pattern baldness.
Nioxin is a popular brand of hair care and scalp treatment products. The company was originally founded in 1987 by Eva Graham.
After losing half of her hair after giving birth, Graham set out to create a range of products that used herbs and botanicals to treat hair loss.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Nioxin’s products grew popular as non-drug alternatives for promoting fuller hair.
In 2008, consumer products giant Procter & Gamble acquired Nioxin and added it to its extensive range of in-house hair care brands.
Nioxin’s range of hair care products is highly extensive, with more than 50 hair loss shampoos, leave-in conditioners, scalp treatments, oral supplements and other products to choose from.
Before we can get into whether or not Nioxin products actually work for hair loss, it’s important to quickly go over the basics of how and why hair loss happens.
Most hair loss in men is the result of androgenetic alopecia — a clinical term that’s used to refer to male pattern baldness.
This is a type of hormonal and genetic hair loss that can cause you to develop a receding hairline or bald patch as you get older.
Male pattern baldness develops due to a mix of genetic factors and the effects of an androgenic hormone, or male sex hormone, called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Your body produces DHT as a byproduct of testosterone. When you’re young, DHT plays a key role in the development of your male features, including your genitals, facial hair, body hair and more. It’s one of several hormones that make you, as a male, well, male.
Unfortunately, DHT also has negative effects inside your body. One of which is its ability to bind to receptors in your scalp and cause your hair follicles to miniaturize, or shrink.
Over time, DHT can cause your hair follicles to spend less time producing new hairs, leading to thinner, shorter hair follicles.
Eventually, the affected hair follicles are no longer able to produce new hairs that penetrate through your skin.
Not all men are equally sensitive to DHT. In men who are genetically sensitive to the effects of DHT, hair loss can develop early in life and progress quickly. In men who aren’t as sensitive to the effects of DHT, hair loss may only occur later in life, or not at all.
Although male pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss in men, other factors can also cause you to lose your hair.
Sometimes, hair loss occurs as a result of severe stress, nutritional deficiencies, illnesses that cause you to develop a fever or certain hormonal conditions. This form of hair loss is generally temporary and is referred to as telogen effluvium.
So, does Nioxin stop the hair loss process and help to protect your hairline? Well, the answer is both yes and no.
Although the word “Nioxin” is generally used to refer to a single product, Nioxin actually makes and sells several different hair care products, some of which may be effective.
Nioxin hair care and hair loss products include:
Nioxin Hair Care Products. These include shampoo, conditioner, leave-in treatments, hair growth vitamins and other products designed to keep your hair in optimal condition and stimulate healthy hair growth.
Nioxin System Kits. These contain multiple products designed to prevent hair thinning, strengthen your hair to stop breakage and remove dirt, oil and other forms of unwanted environmental residue from your hair.
Nioxin Hair Styling Products. These include gel, hairspray, mousse, and other styling products, many of which are formulated to provide a boost to your hair volume and give your hair a thicker, fuller appearance.
Nioxin Hair Growth Medications. These contain minoxidil in 5% form for men and 2% for women. Minoxidil is the active ingredient in Rogaine®, a well-known medication for stimulating hair growth.
Let’s start by taking a look at Nioxin’s hair care products, such as the shampoo, conditioner and range of leave-in treatments.
These products form the core of Nioxin’s hair system kits. Nioxin recommends that people use all three products together to promote thicker, denser-looking hair.
Before we get into specifics, it’s important to point out that in the world of hair loss, brand names aren’t that important. Instead, what really matters are the active ingredients that can be found in each product.
A lot of the time, an inexpensive hair loss treatment sold at your local drug store will outperform an expensive one sold in a department store if it contains the right active ingredients.
Nioxin offers several different shampoos and conditioners, including products made specifically for colored hair, chemically-treated hair and hair with light or advanced thinning.
When we look at Nioxin’s hair care products, a few active ingredients stand out from the others: serenoa serrulata (also referred to as saw palmetto), peppermint oil, pantothenic acid (referred to as vitamin B5) and niacinamide.
Several of these products are linked to improvements in hair growth. For example, saw palmetto is a berry extract that may reduce local DHT levels. In one study, researchers found that it helps to stimulate hair growth in men with male pattern baldness.
We actually use saw palmetto in our Hair Thickening Shampoo. You can learn more about how it works and the most recent research on its potential hair benefits in our guide to saw palmetto and hair loss.
Niacinamide and pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5, are also linked to hair health. For example, a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in 2005 found that niacin derivatives — a category that includes niacinamide — appear to improve hair fullness in women.
Overall, Nioxin’s hair care products contain active ingredients that are linked to improvements in hair health and density.
It should also be noted that some of them contain ingredients that can affect the levels of important proteins in your hair, including several common sulfates.
Beyond their active ingredients, Nioxin’s products are designed to help cleanse sebum, dirt and other substances that can affect your scalp health. Removing this buildup may help to stop hair damage and promote a healthy scalp environment.
It may also help to prevent scalp irritation. While an irritated or dry scalp doesn’t directly cause hair loss, itching your scalp may damage your hair strands and contribute to brittle hair.
While it’s unlikely that these products will completely turn around severe male pattern baldness, the hair care products from Nioxin may help to make your hair look smoother, thicker and more voluminous.
So, what about Nioxin’s other products? Nioxin also sells a large range of hair styling products that are designed specifically for thinning or fine hair.
The idea behind these hair products is to help you style your hair while providing a helpful boost to its perceived volume.
These products don’t contain growth-promoting ingredients and won’t actually thicken your hair, but they may improve its appearance and perceived density throughout the day by attaching to the hair shaft and adding some extra volume.
Finally, Nioxin also offers actual medication for hair loss in the form of a hair regrowth treatment that contains minoxidil.
Minoxidil is a topical medication for hair loss. It’s approved by the FDA and is believed to work by stimulating blood flow and moving inactive hair follicles into the anagen, or growth, phase of the hair growth cycle.
Several large-scale studies have shown that minoxidil stimulates hair growth, including a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in which 62 percent of men displayed noticeable hair growth after using minoxidil for 12 months.
More than anything else in Nioxon’s product lineup, the products containing minoxidil will likely produce noticeable results.
Nioxin sells two minoxidil products — a 5% version of minoxidil for men and a 2% minoxidil hair regrowth treatment for women. You can learn more about how to use these products in our full guide to applying minoxidil for hair growth.
While Nioxin’s range of shampoos, conditioners and other products may give you healthier and thicker-looking hair, they’re not the only options available for treating hair loss, nor are they the best choice if you have male pattern baldness.
If you’re developing a receding hairline, bald spot or other early signs of hair loss, you may want to consider the following hair loss treatments before Nioxin products.
Finasteride is a prescription hair loss medication. It works by blocking the production of DHT, the androgen hormone that can bind to your hair follicles and cause male pattern baldness.
Originally sold as Propecia®, finasteride is now available as a generic medication. Numerous studies have found that it’s effective at preventing hair loss, including a 10-year study in which more than 91 percent of men who used finasteride saw improvements in hair growth.
We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
In addition to Nioxin’s range of hair care products, many other companies offer shampoos and conditioners that block DHT and prevent hair loss.
These shampoos often contain ingredients such as ketoconazole and saw palmetto, which can help to wash away follicle-clogging sebum and promote healthier hair.
Our Hair Thickening Shampoo, for example, contains saw palmetto to promote optimal volume and moisture. Our guide to DHT blocking shampoos goes into more detail about how shampoo can help you to prevent shedding and maintain a healthy head of hair.
Many of the shampoos, conditioners and other products sold by Nioxin contain ingredients that are linked to hair growth, including saw palmetto and niacinamide.
However, with the exception of the company’s minoxidil treatments, no products sold by Nioxin have been approved by the FDA as treatments for hair loss.
If you use one of Nioxin’s systems, you may notice that your hair looks thicker, feels smoother and has an improved appearance overall. However, it’s best not to rely on these products as a proven option for stopping or reversing hair loss.
For better results, look into proven, FDA-approved hair loss treatments such as finasteride and minoxidil. These are backed up by huge amounts of research, including clinical trials that show increased growth and thicker hair.
Want to learn more about stopping hair loss? Our guide to the best treatments for thinning hair explains everything you need to know about making your hair look and feel its best, from habits to avoid to the best hair loss treatments, concealers, procedures and more.
Insider tips, early access and more.