Nioxin Side Effects: 4 Common Reactions

The lowdown on Nioxin reactions

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.

So Nioxin reactions aren’t always positive. I’ll explain why in a sec, but first…

Quick Links

What Is Nioxin?

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!)

Lady Alopecia getting a good lather on.

The Reviews: Some People Diss & Dismiss

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.

The Bright Side: Nioxin Benefits

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!

Those lovely bubbles couldn't do any harm, could they? Surely not!

The Dark Side: Nioxin Side Effects

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.

A List Of Nioxin Reactions...

1. Redness or inflammation

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.

2. Itching and flaking

Things could get a little flaky.

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.

3. Dry, brittle hair

Desert Tree
Your hair could feel like this tree does.

This is definitely one I’d “power through” if you can. Because during the first 2 weeks of using Nioxin, I couldn’t help 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.

4. Hair loss

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).

A hair loss shampoo that causes your hair to fall out? Oh, the irony!

Is There Any Evidence?

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!

Conclusion: It’s Worth A Try!

Remember, lots of hair products have the same or similar ingredients. 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! 🙂

Take Lady Alopecia’s 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 discontinue use and seek medical advice if necessary.

I hope this post clears up some of your questions but if you want to know more about Nioxin, check out more articles below!

Lady Alopecia xxx

Useful links

Not satisfied yet? Need some more information on Nioxin? Then keep reading, dear reader!

1. Nioxin Shampoo Review – Read about my personal experience with the shampoo.
2. Ingredients – Discover what’s in it that might cause reactions.
3. Where To Buy – Find out where you can get your hands on it.
4. Keranique Side Effects – The reactions to expect from Nioxin’s competitor.

10 Responses

  1. 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?

    1. Hi Agnes,

      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! 🙂

  2. 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

    1. 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

  3. 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!

    1. 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

  4. 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!

    1. 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!

  5. 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

    1. 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!

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