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Nioxin Shampoo Review: My Personal Experience

Lady Alopecia's Nioxin Shampoo Review

One of the most frustrating things about alopecia is the feeling that you can’t do anything about it. And this stress might lead to more hair falling out. It’s a cruel circle that can cause alopecia sufferers to feel pretty helpless.

That’s why I believe it’s important to take whatever measures you can to regain control. Because even if it’s just for the placebo effect, the sheer act of doing something about your alopecia can have a positive result.

Now, don’t get me wrong: this can get tiring. Expensive. And messy.

I’ve tried all kinds of remedies. Stocking up on whatever pills and powders, lotions and potions I could get my hands on. Until my bathroom resembled a very hair-centric pharmacy!

But one treatment really made a difference – hence the reason for this Nioxin shampoo review.

Welcome to Lady Alopecia’s thoughts on Nioxin

Psst… If you want to read up on the full collection of Nioxin’s products, and learn a little bit more about the brand, check out this post instead.

Update, June 2019: While Nioxin still delivers all the benefits I mention in the below post, it’s changed up its systems slightly. It’s actually much easier to figure out which one is a better fit than it once was! So even though I talk about System 6 here, the one I’d use now – for natural hair with progressed thinning – is System 2. Check out their consultation tool if you’re not sure. 🙂

A Quick Look At Nioxin

CLEANSER SHAMPOO

SCALP THERAPY CONDITIONER

SCALP TREATMENT

STARTER
KIT

What Is Nioxin, Anyway?

If you haven’t heard of it before, Nioxin is a scalp treatment and hair care system launched in the ’80s. Its founder, Eva Graham, developed it after experiencing hair loss while pregnant. 10 years later, Proctor and Gamble bought the company and the shampoo is still used in salons around the world as a hair-thickening solution. 

You’ll find more detailed information about the system’s history, its ingredients and its reputation in my other posts but I’m here to tell you about my personal experience in this Nioxin shampoo review.

eva graham

LA's Nioxin Shampoo Review: The Beginning

I first used this brand 5 years ago. I had just returned from a trip to Bali and was rocking a hard-boiled egg look. During my travels, I’d visited a traditional healer and acquired a homemade concoction of snail eggs and coconut, which I continued to rub on my noggin for the first 2 weeks after landing home. (Despite the eggs turning rotten. I must’ve smelled great.)

A week or so later, I visited a hairdresser friend of mine for further advice and she introduced me to Nioxin’s 3D Care System. She gave me system number 6; although it’s normally reserved for chemically treated hair and I’d never touched a dye in my life, it’s also for those with the most progressed thinning.

And I definitely fell into that category.

The Nioxin 3D Care System contains:

How Does Nioxin Work?

As I mentioned, there are different kits available. And each shampoo works in a different way, depending on your hair type. But basically, the cleanser removes dirt and debris that normally block hair follicles. It also actively removes follicle-clogging sebum, which often contains a hormone called DHT (seen as a major factor in alopecia). Acting as a DHT blocker, therefore, means that Nioxin cleanser can promote hair growth. Yay!

Note: I do include some other products in this review, purely because I supplemented my shampoo with a conditioner and a scalp and hair treatment. Plus some more items within the Nioxin 3D Intensive Care range. (I went all out!) 

But you could start with just the shampoo, if you like, and see how you go. Or try a trial-sized kit instead. 😉

Here is the brand’s own Nioxin Shampoo Review:

‘System 6 delivers thicker, fuller hair with smooth control by removing follicle-clogging sebum, fatty acids and environmental residues, while restoring the moisture level and providing color protection.’

Salesy, right? Definitely. But it actually delivers on these points. Even though I felt a little silly using something ‘designed to strengthen, nourish and repair thinning hair from its foundation’ when I had no hair at all, I soldiered on.

I used the shampoo, conditioner and scalp & hair treatment every day for 3 months and can report that sprouting did indeed occur! The ‘after’ results showed thicker, healthier-looking locks than the ‘before’.

What I like about Nioxin shampoo:

Like most things in life, there are pros and cons. And this cleanser ticks many boxes for me. Such as the following… 

1. It starts with the scalp

Unlike many other treatments for alopecia, Nioxin shampoo never actually claims to promote growth. Instead, it talks about boosting the scalp’s health and improving the condition of the hair that’s already present.

After all, an ayurvedic doctor once told me: ‘The hair is like grass. If the soil is all dried up or flooded, how can we expect it to grow?’ So anything that focuses on the scalp sounds like a good idea to me.

With the moisture control and sebum-removing qualities that Nioxin products offer, the scalp becomes neither too dry nor too oily. For instance, the scalp and hair treatment that comes with the 3D kit (and is also available as a standalone product) contains sunscreen – so I was free to bare my patches without fear of burning or flaking.

2. Plus, it’s gentle on the shaft

(I’m talking about the hair shaft, of course. Shame on you.) The thing is, when you do have some hair to bare, Nioxin treats each follicle in a kinder way. For instance, the lightweight conditioner contains vital amino acids for moisture balance. This protects all hair strands against the damages of environmental stresses and reduces breakage.

Meanwhile, the cleanser itself focuses on what Nioxin calls “the 3Ds of haircare” – Denisty, Derma and Diameter. Basically meaning that each strand expands to look bigger than it actually is. Fake it ’til you make it, right?! 

Plus, having thicker-looking hair is a major confidence-booster. You might find yourself less anxious about your barnet and losing less of it as a result. Sweet!

3. You Get L'orealesque Locks

When my natural hair started to fill in after a few weeks of using Nioxin, I noticed that it was stronger than before my alopecia.

Back then, I had a head full of red curls. But its condition was dry, brittle and prone to snapping. Maybe because I used shampoos and conditioners that were full of chemicals and doing serious damage to my already dry locks. Plus, because I never cut my hair, it was basically one giant split end!

That all changed when I started using this shampoo. I had a second chance and a clean, bald slate. My scalp tingled at first, as if waking back up from years of a steroid-induced coma, and then it got to work. The fuzz took root within just a couple of weeks and, somewhat miraculously, I had a full head of it for the first time in 3 years.

It wasn’t thin hair anymore. Nope, the stuff that grew back looked and felt nourished and moisturised. I used the cleanser daily for 3 months to keep it that way. The brand promises a real difference in 30 days, and I can report that it tells no lie.

How This Good Thing Came To An End...

A few months later, the first sneaky patch appeared on the back of my head. Then it got bigger. Then another patch appeared. And, well… it was back to being an egghead.

But maybe if I’d continued using Nioxin, I could’ve prevented the spread? Hindsight, you’re so damn easy.

Still, while I used it, Nioxin cleanser gave me fuller, stronger hair. Most importantly, it gave me hair! So, of course, there’s plenty to like about it. And that’s why my Nioxin shampoo review is, for the most part, pretty positive.

Here’s What I Don’t Like:

In saying that, I can’t give you my full honest review without including some cons. Here we go!

1. It can get expensive

With my advanced state of hair loss, the shampoo alone probably wouldn’t have been enough – so I had to get the full shebang of Nioxin products. (Apparently, more peace of mind, brought on by more pieces of hair, doesn’t come cheap.)

However, those with less extensive hair thinning might see great results by using just a few of the hair products from system 1, 3 or 5. They last for a long time, too.

2. It’s extensive

Second of all, it’s a bit like buying Apple products – once you’re in, it’s hard to get out. You don’t want to keep using it forever but what happens if you stop?

And the company always seems to have a new, better version that you simply must test out. it’s hard to keep up with the changes. Nioxin System 1 suddenly becomes Nioxin System 3. Which might become Nioxin System 4 a few months later. I used System 6 for a while before the products for color treated hair and progressive thinning split into different systems.

Aside from being confusing, these turnarounds can be costly. And quite time-consuming – there’s no such thing as falling into bed without first rubbing an assortment of smelly products into your scalp. (So there goes your social life!)

3. It requires commitment

You have to remember to apply most products daily (sometimes twice a day). And since the times they need to be applied vary – some are in the morning, some before bed – it’s easy to lose track. I’m not the most organised person in the world and the sheer scheduling of Nioxin stressed me out a bit at first. 

But I did get used to it. And actually sticking to a treatment plan for a decent length of time, instead of looking to the next cure, made a difference. Who knew hair care monogamy could be so rewarding?!

A word of warning: You might notice that things get worse before they get better. In fact, some Nioxin customers reported actually shedding more during the first few weeks of use. But this is supposed to be a good thing – as the scalp is ridding itself of unwanted, dead strands, leaving stronger hair free to take its place. This shedding should peter out after 3 weeks or so (if not, consider seeing your doctor).

What Nioxin Reviews Say:

To be honest, reviews for this cleanser vary dramatically. Many people find that it’s really effective after just a couple of weeks’ use (like I did). Thin-looking locks are suddenly volumised. Male and female-pattern baldness patches fill in. Shedding stops and self-esteem soars.

Whereas others, particularly those with fine hair, report that Nioxin causes breakages and increased hair fall. Which (understandably) means they give up on it before regrowth can occur.

The credibility of the hair loss treatment has also been called into question, with customers complaining that Nioxin changed its formula since P&G took over. (It now contains sodium laureth sulfate).

However, from my own research and my own use, I found this hair loss shampoo to be pretty effective. I used Nioxin hair care products long after the takeover in 2008 and they worked for me!

The cleanser has also won the Stylist Choice Awards (in the Favourite Fine/Thinning Hair Product category) for over 15 years. If it’s good enough for professional salons and stylists, it’s good enough for Lady Alopecia. 😉

Common Questions

And is it bad for your hair? These questions pop up again and again in hair loss forums and in Nioxin reviews. Because after all, the shampoo does contain sulfates nowadays, which some people deem harmful.

In my experience, it is perfectly safe. However, if you do have a very sensitive scalp, I’d avoid using the shampoo daily and alternate with more natural products instead.

The immediate side effects are a tingling scalp, a little redness and irritation, and in some cases, flaking of the scalp. When you start using it you might start to notice more hair falling out. But don’t be alarmed. As I mentioned earlier, this is simply ‘dead’ hair making way for a new life.

You can get the products I mention above (or a trial kit for each system) from Amazon. Or you could ask your local hair salon to hook you up. Depending on where you live, you might also be able to buy products directly from the manufacturer’s site.

To get the full benefits, the company recommends sticking to a treatment system for 6 months. However, this is longer than I ever committed so I’m afraid that I can’t give you an honest opinion! I used it daily for 3 months though, and it was really effective.

Remember, those with a sensitive scalp might want to stick to using it 3-4 times a week instead.

In terms of usage, it depends on what product you’re trying out. Some you’ll rinse out, others you’ll leave in. For the cleanser, rub it into your scalp until it creates a lather (for about a minute or two), before rinsing. For the conditioner, leave it to soak in a little longer.

Final Thoughts on Nioxin Shampoo

Full disclosure? I had already started to notice a tiny white fuzz in my patches prior to using Nioxin. Whether this was a result of my Bali trip, the effects of that snail/coconut potion or the healthier, more mindful lifestyle I adopted when I got home, I can’t say. All I know is that during the 3 months that I used Nioxin, my hair grew back. Stronger and thicker than ever before.

It took me a while to realise this – possibly because I’d shunned chemicals after years of those harmful injections and wanted a more holistic approach. But when I did go back to Nioxin in the summer of 2018, it proved effective once again.

Unfortunately, I didn’t experience complete regrowth.

But it did make my existing hair a lot stronger. In fact, I only noticed how much I’d come to depend on Nioxin when my little travel bottles of the shampoo and conditioner ran out and I had to use normal shampoo again. The almost instantaneous result was dry, brittle hair, increased hair fall and bigger patches.

One Nioxin shampoo review might tell you it’s the best thing ever. Another might tell you it’s a waste of time and money. And I don’t want to tell people suffering from alopecia that this is a guaranteed cure – I’ve been let down too many times myself!

But Nioxin does:

  • Nourish your existing hair
  • Give the appearance of thicker hair
  • Make you feel like you’re taking action against alopecia

In other words, it puts you in control. So you can stop feeling helpless as alopecia takes over your head. (And your life.)

So whether the cleanser works or not, I think it’s worth a try. If you can afford the cost and the commitment, try it for 6 months. And let me know how you get on!

la-small

Lady Alopecia xxx

Useful links:

Not satisfied yet? Need some more information on Nioxin? Then check out these posts I wrote earlier!

1. Where to Buy – See where you can snap it up
2. Nioxin Ingredients – What’s in that winning formula… 
3. Nioxin Side Effects – What reactions to expect
4. When to Stop – Knowing when to call it quits
5. All About Nioxin – Read the full story

Showing 24 comments
  • Tina
    Reply

    I wanted to thank you for the kind and positive message you give on your page. I’ve had alopecia aerata for my whole life, it started when i was 3 years old. I am constantly trying new things – from Mesotherapy, AIP diet and thousands of supplements and medication.
    Its nice to know i am not the only person who is persistent in the fight with alopecia. Sometimes it feels like i am loosing my mind trying anything that might help.
    After reading your article i decided to try and i just started using nioxin.
    I noticed i had some small sandlike waxy balls on my scalp for a while already.I tried to talk about it with a specialist but he dissmised it completely. I was wondering if maybe you had it too at some point? I have greasy hair and have to wash it every morning. That’s why i also thought Nioxin might help me with restoring balance in my scalp.

    • Lady Alopecia
      Reply

      Hi Tina,

      Thank you so much for your very kind words – I really appreciate it. And I’m so sorry to hear about your ongoing battle with alopecia, I know how frustrating it is to try a million things with no results! How long have you been using Nioxin for? I don’t recall having a similar experience with the waxy balls, I’m sorry. Maybe try the Nioxin Dermabrasion treatment I mention in this post. It’s a great exfoliator – like a facial for the scalp – and it could help you to get rid of that excess sebum or build-up.

      Let me know how you get on!! Good luck, and thanks again for your message. x

  • Vinns
    Reply

    Hi Lisa,
    I apply conditioner, shampoo and scalp treatment daily after shower, is it ok as some of them suggested shampoo and conditioner 2-3/week not more than that. Please share your views on this.

    • Lady Alopecia
      Reply

      Thanks for your question! It really depends on the person…if you don’t notice any irritation on your scalp then I’d use it daily – that’s what I did, anyway! A little redness is fine but excess itchiness or irritation might mean you have a more sensitive scalp, in which case 3 times per week is probably best. Hope that helps! 🙂

  • Hemi
    Reply

    So helpful! Thank you for sharing your experience with it. Nioxin was recommended by a relative and now going into my 3rd year with alopecia, I’m going to regain the fight against. I’ll happily keep you all posted.

    • Lady Alopecia
      Reply

      Hi, Hemi! Thank you for your kind words and I really hope it works for you too. Let us know how you get on! 🙂

  • Debbie
    Reply

    Hi Amy
    thanks so much! this has been so helpful!

    Is nioxin sulfate free as i have kertin treatment

    Thanks
    Debbie

    • Lady Alopecia
      Reply

      Hi Debbie,

      Thanks for your question! I’m afraid that no, Nioxin isn’t sulfate-free, not since P&G changed the formula. If you are worried about its effects on your keratin treatment, you could always try using Keranique instead, which is sulfate-free. Good luck! 🙂

  • Susan E Lyons
    Reply

    I thought Nioxin was bought out by Proctor and Gamble and removed the anti-DHT ingredient that made the product work thus rendering the product to just any old shampoo. There is clearly a difference with the cleansers and conditioners and most health and beauty experts agree. Are you being paid for this review?

    • Lady Alopecia
      Reply

      Hi Susan, thank you for your comment. And no, I am not being paid for this review – although I do receive a small commission from products I recommend on Lady Alopecia, no individual company has paid or sponsored content. I simply advocate the use of Nioxin because it worked for me! And yes, as I mention in this post, P&G did take over in 2008 and reputedly changed the formula. I cannot find concrete research to say that this includes the anti-DHT ingredient, although I am open to updates on this! All I can say is that the products worked for me – my hair grew back after a few months of use and that was in 2014, long after P&G took over. It might not work for everyone, of course, but what I share is just my opinion! Thank you again for your comment. 🙂

  • Issac
    Reply

    Hi ,

    Could you please tell me whether I can stop using Nioxin after I have myhair grown after 3/4 months or certain point of time in future? I fear my hair starts falling again after stopping to use these products. So, need a genuine advice.

    • Lady Alopecia
      Reply

      Hi Issac,

      Thanks for your comment. In my personal experience, I had a full head of hair after using Nioxin for 3 months. But when I stopped using it, a small patch appeared at the back of my head…which grew and grew pretty quickly! So I sort of wish I hadn’t stopped using it. And lots of customer reviews say the same thing – that their hair fell out again once they stopped using the product. I know that it might not be financially viable for you to keep using it but my advice is this: If you’ve found something that’s working for you (and if you’re not experiencing any negative side effects) then keep it up! Just replace your regular shampoo with it…or if you’re not comfortable using it every day, maybe you could reduce the frequency to 3 times a week. I’d be really interested in how it works out for you so please keep us posted! Thanks again, and good luck!! 🙂

  • Julie
    Reply

    Hi, I have alopecia areata and I just started using Nioxin. But I only bought the shampoo and conditioner. Do you think that can work without the treatment ?

    • Lady Alopecia
      Reply

      Hi Julie! Thanks for your message. Personally, I did use the scalp treatment in addition to the shampoo and conditioner – so I can’t say for certain whether just the s&c will work by themselves. But you could always try them out for a month and see how you get on? I liked the way that the treatment doubled up as a suncream and styling mousse (it was good for the curls I did have) but other people find it a little too sticky.

  • Cecilia
    Reply

    I’ve been using nioxin for like 4 months now and the scalp treatment every day the scalp treatment makes my hair feel sticky did you use it every day ?? Am I suppose to use every day ?? I see hairs growing on scalp but I get discouraged because I could still see my scalp and it makes me sad and depressed

    • Lady Alopecia
      Reply

      Hi Cecilia, I did use the scalp treatment every day but only a very small amount. If you don’t like how it makes your hair feel, maybe you could use it at night instead? Nioxin does recommend daily use for best results but you could always use it every second day if you don’t feel comfortable. It’s great that you see hair growing on your scalp! And I know it’s frustrating but try not to worry…it might take some time but the fact that you’re seeing growth is a really good sign. It proves that the hair is out of the resting phase and in the growth stage again. Keep doing what you’re doing and I’m sure you’ll experience positive results. xxx

  • Lisa
    Reply

    Were you just using the shampoo alone?I’m probably four weeks in and I’m shedding more then normal so not sure if I should keep going

    • Lady Alopecia
      Reply

      Hi Lisa, thanks for your message. I used the shampoo, the conditioner and the head and scalp treatment. And, like you, I experienced more shedding at first – that seems to be a common side effect. The shedding should cease after about 3 weeks but since we’re all different, it could be a little longer. I would advise discontinuing use if you don’t see any improvement after 6 weeks. Are you just using the shampoo or any other Nioxin products?

      • Lisa
        Reply

        Hi I’m just using shampoo and conditioner the scalp mousse feels weird on my scalp I’m going to give it a few more weeks.Do you have alopecia?Im not sure if I do but I do have thyroid issues so I can’t figure out what’s doing it

        • Lady Alopecia
          Reply

          Great, let me know how you get on with the shampoo and conditioner! I would recommend using the scalp and head treatment maybe once or twice a week (instead of daily) and see how that goes. Yes, I’ve had alopecia areata on and off for 20 years and Nioxin was one of the things that helped me a few years back. But we’re all different! If you have thyroid issues that can certainly be linked to alopecia, as hormonal imbalance is just one of the factors that can cause it. Check out this post for more info: http://ladyalopecia.com/give-me-a-reason-for-alopecia/ xo

        • Carol
          Reply

          Are these Nioxin hair products for Alopecia only as this is what its suggesting going by the reviews here ?

          • Lady Alopecia

            Hi Carol,

            Nope, these products aren’t just for people with alopecia – they’re actually designed for men and women with thinning hair, or who may experience some shedding. They’re also great for improving the scalp environment and for thickening individual strands to give more volume. My sister and a couple of my friends use Nioxin, and they don’t have alopecia – they just love how healthy and shiny it makes their hair! Hope that helps. 🙂

  • Amy estes
    Reply

    My hairdresser has recommended this product. Not sure about it. My hair loss is due to my medications which I cannot stop taking.

    • Lady Alopecia
      Reply

      Hi Amy,

      My hairdresser actually recommended it to me, too – that’s how I discovered it! Sorry to hear about your hair loss…are you currently using any other products for it? I would definitely recommend trying it out for at least 3 months if you can anyway – you should start noticing a difference in volume and thickness in as little as 2 weeks. And remember, side effects such as tingling or redness are ok but if you experience anything more serious discontinue use. Hope that helps! 🙂

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