Ahhh, the first impression. It hangs over every smitten kitten meeting their new sweetheart’s parents. Every nervous networker trying to make connections. Every new person on their first day of whatever it is they’re starting out.
First impressions count. They can make or break what people think of your product, your service – even you as a person. And you’ve got about 5 minutes to make that first impression count. It ain’t easy.
This post covers Nioxin reactions and is specifically for people who are new to the world of Nioxin. Because even though I think it’s a great product, and even though it’s worked for me in the past, it doesn’t give a great first impression. I’ll explain why below.
Emma’s ‘not a doctor’ disclaimer
Hi there, I’m an alopecian, I’m not a doctor! Any advice I give is based on my own research and personal experiences. This site is however reader-supported. When you buy through external links, I may earn a tiny affiliate commission. Learn more here.
If you haven’t heard of the brand, it offers a line of products that can reduce hair loss.
It’s worth noting that the company doesn’t claim to be a regrowth solution. Rather, it markets itself as providing a healthier scalp environment for existing follicles. A field from which new hair can spring forth. Nice one.
One of the ways it does this is by blocking dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This unhappy hormone shrinks hair follicles and is closely linked to alopecia. (Boo!) But Nioxin clears these follicles from accumulated buildup and excess sebum, opening them up again to hairy opportunities and stimulating blood flow to the scalp. (Yay!)
Some people don’t trust this brand – especially since P&G took over and reportedly changed its formula. And although it can be very effective, with some great results, this might come at a price.
Basically, the products contain a mixture of natural and chemical ingredients. Both of which can cause certain side effects, which customers should be aware of before use.
Read my full Nioxin reviews post here or stick around to learn about these particular reactions.
Before I get into the potential side effects of using Nioxin, let’s take a quick look at some of its benefits.
What most people want to know is: Can Nioxin regrow hair?
The short answer is: I can’t say for sure. It worked for me briefly, but I’m wary of offering false hope to fellow alopecians. Still, while there’s no miracle cure, this could be a temporary fix!
Although some people love this product, others are less keen. Some even say it’s dangerous since it can cause more locks to fall out. (Which is actually part of the process, but I’ll get into that soon).
The thing is, since these products contain so many ingredients, there’s a wider scope for allergic reactions.
The detergents and sulfates (used to create a lather) can irritate the scalp. Even the herbal and botanical extracts might not agree with certain skin types. (Example: for some reason, I’m massively allergic to cinnamon oil. Go figure).
Some reactions are to be expected when you start out. Others aren’t. Most are temporary, but it’s the persistent ones you should watch out for!
Still, since the ingredients are non-prescription and generally quite mild, severe reactions are rare.
Ok, so I know I said Nioxin reduces inflammation. But when you first start using it, you probably will notice some redness on your scalp and a tingling sensation, too.
Don’t worry, this is really common! It just means the shampoo is doing its thing – working on circulation and blood flow to liven up those cells again.
The redness is down to Niacin (aka Vitamin B3) dilating blood vessels to stimulate the scalp. While any irritation you experience (apart from your partner mocking your red head) probably comes from the antioxidant CoZyme.
Also known as CoQ10, it contains plant and chemical compounds to which some people are allergic. These reactions are nothing to worry about, and they usually only last for a couple of hours.
Watch out for: Facial swelling, hives or prolonged redness. Plus, while tingling is ok (it’s probably the peppermint oil), burning isn’t. Nor is tenderness. Otis Redding may have encouraged us to “try a little”, but I don’t think he was talking about sensitive scalps!
So if you experience any of these symptoms, stop using the products immediately and seek medical advice.
Although Nioxin fights dandruff, its initial reaction might be just the opposite. (I told you it made a crummy first impression, didn’t I?!) The thing is, after a long time of lying fallow, the scalp suddenly kicks into life.
This might make it feel itchy, which could cause you to scratch it, which could lead to flaking. Charming.
Watch out for: Abnormal levels of flaking. Like, snake-shedding-skin kind of stuff. The itchy stage should pass after a week, no longer than two. If it persists, try reducing application to once or twice a week and if there’s still no improvement, consider stopping altogether.
This is definitely one I’d “power through” if you can. Because during the first 2 weeks of using Nioxin System 6, I kept wondering what all the fuss was about. I was even annoyed at my hairdresser friend for recommending it to me.
My remaining curls became dry, brittle and even more prone to snapping than usual. My scalp felt completely dried out. Something didn’t feel right.
And yet. I kept using Nioxin and before long, started noticing how soft, shiny and full my hair became. I can’t say exactly when the turning point happened… but it did happen!
Watch out for: Hmm. Hard for me to give a real caution with this one as like I said, if brittle hair is the only side effect you notice, I’d keep going until the shift happens. I guess if you experience any severe reactions alongside dry hair, and it doesn’t improve over time, that’s a sign to stop.
Yep, that’s right. A shampoo for hair loss can actually cause hair loss. What’s an alopecian to do?!
First of all, don’t fret. (We don’t want you shedding more strands due to anxiety, do we?!) Your scalp is just getting used to the new shampoo. And the product is getting rid of “dead hair” in order to allow new, healthier hair to take root.
In fact, the manufacturer actually states that hair loss is a common side effect during the first 2 weeks of use. Because the product works to unclog the hair follicles – in doing so, releasing hair strands that were previously trapped in sebum. One, two, three… Ewwwwww!!!
Watch out for: Any shedding beyond these first 2 weeks. The chemicals should have “settled in” by now and you shouldn’t be experiencing any more hair fall at this stage. If you are, discontinue use and seek advice from a doctor or trichologist (hair doctor).
There’s no medical evidence to support any negative side effects of using Nioxin. For instance, in the US, every chemical product is required to have a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), listing potential hazards of use. And the one for Nioxin shows only very mild effects.
However, there is enough anecdotal evidence (in the form of customer reviews) to highlight that individual reactions are possible.
Customers have reported very different reactions to using the various kits and products. Some reviews are really positive, others are overwhelmingly negative. I don’t want to advocate its safety 100% as in all honesty, Nioxin reactions seem to differ from person to person.
Of course, this is the case with lots of products. Certain ingredients affect different people in different ways. So some customers may not respond well to Nioxin’s formula (and may even have an allergic reaction). While others will thrive and for them, the only side effects of Nioxin will be softer, silkier and fuller hair!
Remember, lots of hair products have the same or similar ingredients – some have slightly harsher ones, like Keranique, which contains minoxidil.
So if you’ve ever experienced reactions to other brands, you’re likely to go through the same thing with Nioxin.
Plus, if you’re overly sensitive to skincare products in general (or to household goods like washing detergent), there’s a good chance you’ll have a bad reaction to Nioxin, too.
Personally, I’ve never experienced anything other than mild, temporary effects – which is why I still advocate its use. But please use your own judgement!
My advice? Give it a go for a few months.
Are Nioxin reactions and side effects lasting longer than they should? Or has redness/swelling extended to your face and neck (indicating a systemic allergic reaction)? Then quit using it and talk to your doctor if necessary. Otherwise, be patient!
I hope this post clears up some of your questions but if you want to know more about Nioxin, check out more articles below!
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I’ve been using the Nioxin 4 products for a couple of months. My hair virtually almost stopped falling out after the first month. I tried the foam but, as someone else said, it made my hair stiff so I stopped using it. You suggested to her that she apply it only to the scalp, when hair is wet, and to massage it in a little; I plan on trying this. I use the shampoo & conditioner about 3x/wk.
I have now noticed that my hair is very dry and frizzy. (My former full head of very fine naturally curly/wavy hair was never this dry.) It almost feels like fine straw, and most of the curl has gone out of it; I can scrunch it while wet and it curls up a bit but the next day it just looks wild and frizzy. I can make it look
“nice” only by using a curling iron on it (I do spray some heat protector stuff on it first).
I should add that I’ve been taking Vital Nutritive Complex supplements for the last six months or so, and before that Hair Essentials, which I took for several years – I switched when I noticed hair falling our again. I definitely have new hair
growth along the hairline, which started with the Hair Essentials.
I guess my question is whether you think I should persist with the Nioxin, all aforementioned things considered.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience with Nioxin – it’s wonderful to hear that it stopped your shedding so soon! And I hope changing the way you’ve been using the foam will make it less stiff/sticky, too.
I am sorry to hear that it’s changed the texture of your hair, though. This is most likely due to the sulfates (Nioxin didn’t used to contain them, but unfortunately since P&G took over in 2008, they added sulfates). I didn’t have this problem as I was bald when I started using Nioxin and then, only had very short hair so it didn’t make it frizzy or anything. But I have heard this from other people before. I would either recommend that you continue using Nioxin but once or twice a week, apply a conditioning leave-in treatment with natural oils (see some ideas here) or use Nioxin twice a week instead, then on the other days use a more moisturizing sulfate-free shampoo like Revita or Pura D’Or.
Hope that helps, Addie, and feel free to check in again with your progress!
Emma/ Lady Alopecia xo
I see this is an old thread but I’ve been using the nioxin safe for coloured hair shampoo and conditioner for about a month.. my hair is falling out more and more, I’ve been getting horrible migraines and facial swelling.. I’m giving up and assuming it just isn’t right for me.. Sad that my hair loss really just worsened
Oh Megan, I’m so sorry to hear that. Sounds like you had a nasty reaction and yes, you were definitely right to give it up in that case. Things like headaches, hives or swelling indicate you might have been allergic to some of the ingredients; it’s rare but it does happen. I’m really sorry you had to go through that and hopefully your hair loss has improved since you posted this. If you’re looking for a more natural treatment, I’d recommend Revita – or check out my post on natural remedies. Take care, and thanks for sharing your experience.
Hiya I’ve started using the system 6, after I used the scalp treatment foam, my hair was all stiff, like I had used a styling foam on it, I applied it to the roots as best I could and combed it through, it made my hair really dry and stiff, have I applied it incorrectly.
Hi Sue, thanks for your question! Sorry to hear you haven’t had a great experience with the foam so far. You only need to use a tiny, tiny amount though – and I prefer applying it to damp hair, so before it’s totally dry. If your hair still feels stiff then you can just apply it to your scalp (rather than brushing it through your hair) as that’s where the focus should be. Make sure to give yourself a little scalp massage with it and let it really sink in! Hope that helps. 🙂
I had an awful reaction to Nioxin, I tried it this morning (bought the 3 steps shampoo, conditioner, spray treatment) and my body was burning as was my scalp… It still is 12 hours later. I ended up with redness and hives all over my body it was very scary. I’d also never had a reaction to any product before so very strange.. Wont be using again.
I’m so sorry to hear that Georgia, it seems you’re one of the rare ones who might have an allergy to one or more of the botanical ingredients! That must’ve been quite a shock for you to experience. It’s very, very rare that this will happen but unfortunately, it can have this reaction in a few people. You’re totally right to discontinue use and I hope you find something that is more suitable for you! I’d recommend trying Vegamour or Revita. 🙂
Hi, I have been using nioxin for a couple of years (light thinning). I only wash my hair once a week. I have noticed that my hair is breaking off bad now. I asked a salon hairdresser about it and she advised nioxin is probably why it is breaking off. I have stopped using it, but I miss it so bad. I really loved the way it makes my hair look. My question is does it cause hair breakage after using for so long?
Hi Kathy, thanks for sharing your experience! And I’m sorry to hear about your recent hair breakage. It’s strange though, that Nioxin could suddenly cause adverse effects when you’ve been using it for years without this happening. I wonder could other factors be involved? Like, have you had any periods of recent stress, lifestyle changes, a change in environment or dietary alterations? Have a read of this post to see if you can determine whether anything else could be causing the breakage. I’m not ruling Nioxin out, but I find it odd that it could cause hair breakage now, and not before. In answer to your question, I’ve never heard of anyone experiencing this problem. Mostly, breakage or hair fall could result in the first 2-3 weeks as the scalp adjusts to the new formula…but I haven’t before heard of someone in your situation. Of course, I’m not a doctor, but I don’t think this sounds like Nioxin is the culprit here! You could always reintroduce it, but only use it 2-3 times a week instead, and see if that helps.
Good luck! 🙂
Hello. I have been using nioxin 4 without minoxidil. Shampoo conditioner and scalp treatment that came in the kit. I have noticed the last couple day I’ve had palpitations. I’ve been using the product almost 2 weeks. Could this be a side effect from one of the products?
Hi Michelle, thanks for your question! That’s interesting, I’ve never heard palpitations reported as a side effect of using Nioxin (although I have for other minoxidil-based products, which I mention in my Keranique post). But if you’re not using a minoxidil product, that shouldn’t be an issue. Have the palpitations only started once you started using Nioxin? Or did you have them before? I’ve read that palpitations can be a result of thyroid issues (as is hair loss) so I’m just wondering if that could be a link…but of course, I’m not a doctor so I wouldn’t want to offer any ‘diagnosis’ here!
If the problem has only started once you started using Nioxin, try the following: a) reduce use to 3 times a week, b) only use the shampoo and conditioner, as the scalp treatment is a little stronger or c) if the problem persists, I’d recommend discontinuing use and trying an all-natural shampoo instead. I’ve been loving Revita lately and I talk about it in more detail here.
I hope that helps, Michelle! Take care, and thanks again.
I’ve noticed that I will feel off balance or even dizziness when I use. Is this a common side effect?
Good question and apologies I didn’t address that in this post. This can happen, although it’s not a common side effect. Are you using the shampoo/conditioner or any of the products with Minoxidil, may I ask?? If you’re experiencing this, I’d discontinue use and either speak to your doctor or try a fully natural treatment instead – I would recommend Revita, and you can read my full review of that here.
Hope that helps!
Emma / Lady Alopecia.
I’m curious about redness. I’ve heard that Nioxin uses a vasodilator to increase blood flow. Spraying the leave in scalp treatment has resulted in residual spray landing on my shoulder and arms. They turn bright red for over an hour (less than 2 hours) and I’m just wondering if that’s normal or if I need to stop using it. Thank you.
Thanks for your question, Ben! I also had this redness on my scalp and a tingling sensation…but I didn’t get it so often after using Nioxin for a few weeks. I don’t personally see there’s anything wrong with the increased blood flow/redness – as that’s what remedies like onion juice will do, too – but that’s just my opinion! For next time, I’d just be careful you avoid your shoulders, arms and the facial area when you’re using the spray. It won’t do you damage but just to avoid those red patches if you don’t want them to appear!!
I been using nioxin tablets and my hair feels super dry and like sticky , brittle and flaky my hair is just like super dry , but the hair stoped falling I had Covid and my hair started falling 3 months after so I started taking Nioxin but my hair is just dry dry dry horrible I can’t even pass my fingers thru my hair is been like maybe a month
Hi Yusima, I’m really sorry to hear about your bad experience. May I ask, are you using Nioxin shampoo as well as the tablets, or just the tablets? I haven’t personally tried the tablets, although I did really like the cleanser, conditioner and scalp treatment (you can read my full review here, if you like). I’m also sorry to hear that you suffered with COVID and hope you’re feeling ok now. As I explain in this post about COVID and hair loss, more and more people seem to be experiencing alopecia, even for the first time, in the wake of the virus. Many of these people didn’t have the virus but the stress around the pandemic has led to hair loss. I would recommend discontinuing those tablets if they are still causing dry hair after a month, usually any reactions should calm down after 2-3 weeks. If you want to take a good hair supplement, I’d highly recommend Folexin (my full review is here), plus try to include more oily fish in your diet, or take Omega-3 supplements for added moisture. Finally, have a look at these natural oils for hair and see if any of those will reverse the dryness. I know that’s a lot of links! But I hope you find the information useful. 🙂
I’m wondering if anyone using Nioxin has experienced allergies – specific to the eyes. I have had dryness and itchiness that my Optometrist can’t explain. I have also been to an allergist to see if there are any airborne allergens that might be responsible but nothing appears to be an issue. I have been using Nioxin for several years… probably close to that my eye allergies started to – but it could be something else. Thank you!
Hi Sandra, thanks for your question. I hadn’t heard of this side effect before but actually, after researching other users’ experiences around this topic, it seems some users have had the same problem. Even though Nioxin uses botanical ingredients, we all react differently and perhaps you are experiencing a reaction to one of these specific ingredients. Nioxin itself explains on a fact sheet about their cleansers that if skin irritation occurs around the eyes, rinse for 5 minutes with warm water…obviously I doubt you’ll want to do this every time you use it though! It’s a shame that you’ve used it for several years and are still experiencing this issue. My advice would be perhaps cut down use to twice a week, even just once, and see if that helps? If you feel that it’s definitely Nioxin causing you this issue, perhaps you could go for something even more gentle – my new favourite shampoo is Revita and Pura D’Or is also really good. I hope that helps!!
Emma/Lady Alopecia 🙂
I am having the same issue. I have red and itchy eyelids. I thought it could be something else, but other use of Nioxin has been the only change. I am going to stop using it for now.
Thanks for sharing, Mayra! And I’m so sorry to hear about that. It sounds like it’s a common denominator in both of your cases, so maybe you just have a particular sensitivity to the formula – and you’re right to discontinue! I hope you find more success with other products, please feel free to have a look around my site for some more natural treatments you could try! Wishing you all the very best. 🙂
I read somewhere that. Side effect is sudden weight loss…. it seems I have noticed that after 2 weeks of using it. Is this my imagination?
Is this actually possible?
Thanks for sharing your experience…I personally didn’t experience that, nor have I actually heard of that side effect at all. In fact, I’ve heard the opposite – as one effect of using the Nioxin Minoxidil treatment (which I don’t really recommend, I prefer the shampoo and conditioner) is sudden weight gain. If that happens, the manufacturer recommends discontinuing use. May I ask if there are any other lifestyle changes you’ve made? Or what Nioxin product you’re using?
Emma / Lady Alopecia 🙂
I’ve been using Noixin system 1 everyday for three weeks now, and am still experiencing hair loss, maybe even more than before.
I’m pretty sure that in my case I suffer from hereditary hair loss, so I’m not even sure if these are the right products for me to use, so I’m debating whether to continue or not. You say that hair loss should stop after two weeks? Luckily I’m not experiencing any reactions or side effects, so should I continue or toss the products all together?
Thanks for your message and I’m really sorry to hear about your experience. Can I ask you a couple of questions? 1. Is it the same amount of shedding as before or a lot more? 2. Are they short, fine hairs you’re losing or longer strands? 3. Do you have any bald patches also or is it more like thinning hair…and how long have you experienced it?
I mention the 2 week thing because one side effect of starting to use Nioxin can be more hair fall, initially (while your scalp gets used to the new solution). But if you were already seeing hair fall before using it, and it hasn’t stopped, that is more difficult to determine (because Nioxin recommend using the product for a minimum of 6 months for full effectiveness…I noticed a difference after 2 months and most people say 3…then they’ll give up if it’s not working for them after that). So the 2 week warning is if you suddenly start losing a lot more hair than you’re used to. In your case, if it isn’t all that different, and if you’re not experiencing any bad reactions, I’d keep it up. 2 weeks isn’t long enough for the product to really work, even with daily use – as with all hair thinning treatments, they do take time.
So continue, if you can, and perhaps look at bringing down inflammation in the body with these nutritional tips, too.
I hope that helps! 🙂
I’ve used the nioxin twice. 3 days apart and I’m losing more hair now after each wash than I did before I started use it. It’s stressing me out. I’m scared I’m going to end up with a bald patch ☹. Also my scalp it’s itching like crazy. I don’t know whether to wash my hair again with nioxin or go back to my normal shampoo. Please help x
Hi Shezza, thanks for writing in. I know it’s stressful at first but this is a totally natural side effect, don’t worry! So is the itching. It’s just your scalp getting used to the new formula and this will/should calm down after 2 weeks. That’s what happened for me!
If you’re concerned about using it daily and if the itchiness is too much, use it 3 times a week instead – and alternate it with a very gentle, sulfate-free shampoo on other days (or even skip washing your hair daily, if you can!) You could also apply aloe vera gel or coconut oil to soothe your scalp…but again, this is a normal side effect for the first two weeks.
I hope that helps a little. Wishing you all the very best, and please let me know how it goes after say, a month, if you continue using it!! Thanks so much xo
I don’t have alopecia but I’m suffering significant hair as a post viral result of Covid. Lovely.
My Dr suggested Nioxin as there’s nothing available to prescribe, it arrived today so I’ll be starting it this week – your post has been great to give me an idea of what to expect!
Hi Lucy, thank you for your comment! And I’m so glad that my post has been helpful for you, although I’m really sorry to hear about your hair loss and how it happened. That’s awful, and what an unfair byproduct. Clearly, you’ve gone through a very stressful time and unfortunately, our bodies aren’t designed to cope with this kind of chronic stress. I really hope Nioxin helps you though and please, let me know how you get on! It’s good that you’re aware of those possible side effects early on. Also, you can combine Nioxin with a holistic approach to boost your immune system further: have a look at my post on gut inflammation and nutrition for more on that. I’d also recommend rubbing a mix of coconut oil and peppermint essential oil a couple of nights a week to stimulate the hair follicles. Wishing you all the very best and thanks again for reaching out. xx
I was told from my stylist that since you are using the conditioner and treatment on the scalp, that using anything like Moroccan Oil, heat styling products or a leave in conditioner would be perfectly fine as long as you just use it at the halfway point to the ends. Stay clear from putting on other products on your scalp and was told not to use any other shampoo or conditioner during this time, only use the Nioxin.
I just started using it and for me I don’t have Alopecia, but rather thinning hair and was told to get Starter Kit 3. My shedding has been a lot, which is why I haven’t used it ever day, but rather every 3rd day. I feel like I can make a partial wig already. I am not going to lie, that part is freaking me out the most. I hope it does pass!
Hi Ann, thanks for sharing your experience – and it’s interesting to learn what your stylist said about just using other products from the halfway point, good to know!
How long have you been using System 3? Note that increased shedding is a normal side effect for the first 2 weeks, as your scalp gets rid of that dead hair. It should pass (it did for me) but if it continues after 3 weeks, I would probably switch to something else or consult your stylist again. Good luck!
Can you use other products when you blow dry your hair and can you blow dry your hair and you straighteners with this product or doesn’t make your hair worse and fall out and how much hair do you lose when they say you’ll have hair loss in the beginning
Hi Elizabeth, thanks for your questions! Yes, you can blowdry your hair and use straighteners after using Nioxin…I personally wouldn’t recommend doing it too regularly as these heat treatments can damage your hair – but if you use Nioxin System 5 or 6 (5 for light thinning, 6 for excessive thinning), that’s a good way to counteract the process. Their formulas are designed to restore hair after chemical or heat treatments so they’re nice and gentle! In my case, I noticed a little shedding in the first week or so (not too much). It was the short, brittle ‘dead hairs’ that hadn’t fully formed yet. Once they were gone I started growing stronger hair in their place. 🙂 Good luck!