Which Is Best For Thinning Hair?
Nioxin is one of the top hair loss shampoos around…but the brand never actually promises to reduce hair loss, or to promote hair growth.
Instead, it sticks to a basic truth: “Scalp Health Promotes Hair Health”. And advertises its products as fostering a healthier scalp – so, in turn, healthier hair.
Rather than marketing itself as a hair loss product (which is actually a happy side effect), Nioxin is, with 30 years of experience, the #1 salon brand for thicker and fuller hair.
I like that Nioxin doesn’t make grandiose claims of miracle regrowth, unlike many of its competitors. I also like that it has different systems available, depending on your hair type and whether your thinning hair is lighter or more extreme.
But what I like most about Nioxin, is that it worked for me! In this comparison post, I’ll highlight the differences between Nioxin System 1 vs 2 to help you decide which is best for you.
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.
Nioxin is a fan of the number 3. Each clinically tested 3-part system comprises of a cleanser shampoo, a scalp revitalizing therapy conditioner and a powerful scalp and hair treatment.
Together, these 3 products aim to tackle the 3Ds of thinning hair:
They contain a blend of 3 different technologies: strengthening and conditioning BioAMP, cooling and anti-inflammatory Activ-Renewal plus mositurizing and protecting Glyco-Shield.
Aside from sounding like something from an X-Men film, these 3 technologies work to promote scalp health and to reduce thinning hair in both men and women – while improving the volume and texture of the hair they already have.
The final ‘3’ Nioxin enlists is a 3-Step Process towards better scalp and hair health.
Step 1 – Cleanse – is all about the minty, cooling cleanser. Use it to gently cleanse your scalp of excess sebum and oils, which can clog your hair follicles.
Step 2 – Optimize – focuses on deeply moisturizing your locks and repairing damage from chemical treatments or oxidative stress.
Step 3 – Treat – provides your hair and scalp with a protective layer, shielding it from harmful external elements and pollutants, with an added protective dose of SPF.
The same steps are involved across all 6 systems – but each dermatologically tested system has slightly different ingredients, depending on your hair’s individual needs. So let’s take a look at the first 2 systems: Nioxin 1 and Nioxin 2.
Nioxin 1 is for natural, lightly thinning hair. Hair that’s uncolored and untreated but all textures, from straight to curly. (At the other end of the spectrum, we have System 6, for chemically treated hair and extensive thinning.)
Maybe you’ve just starting shedding extra hair as a result of hormone changes, age or even an illness like COVID. In any case, your hair loss isn’t that concerning, no large patches or anything when you look in a mirror.
But you want a gentle shampoo that can plump up the hair you do have, while nourishing your scalp and stopping that shedding before it gets more extreme.
The main function of Nioxin 1 is to amplify and improve hair texture, while protecting your hair against breakage. Less breakage means less hair loss and stronger, thicker hair. In fact, 85% of customers who used Nioxin noticed this thickening effect.
As with the other systems, the shampoo works to remove dirt and sebum, the conditioner provides hair strength and the scalp and hair treatment increases the volume of each strand while adding a protective barrier against damage.
Customer reviews for Nioxin System 1 are really positive: with people noticing a complete stop in hair shedding, a vast improvement in softness and silkiness after Week 4 (because when you first start using Nioxin, it can make your hair dry and frizzy) and even new hair growth.
System 1 is a great option if you’ve noticed more hair coming out in the shower or on your hairbrush, and you want to take action.
Nioxin 2 is for natural hair with progressed thinning. Again, this applies to wavy, straight and curly hair – but hair that isn’t chemically treated or colored, and in cases whether the shedding is more advanced. When you notice a lot of hair fall and you can easily see the scalp.
The set of professional hair products is based on an “advanced skin care approach” and is, according to Nioxin, specially formulated as a hair thickening treatment. It works to hydrate the scalp and hair, from root to tip…with noticeably thicker and fuller hair from the very first use.
Nioxin System 2 was what I used for my own extensive hair loss, back in 2018. Actually “all-consuming” might be a better word than “extensive” because I started using Nioxin on an entirely bald head!
I felt pretty silly, applying the shampoo, conditioner and scalp/hair treatment to a bare scalp, having no hair to massage it through. And I didn’t notice an improvement in thickness or texture, having had no hair to begin with!
But – and no one was more surprised than me – it actually helped my hair grow back! I noticed white vellus fuzz after a few weeks and within 3 months I had around an inch or two of thick hair covering my entire scalp.
Note, I did use a couple of other Nioxin products at the same time: like its scalp dermabrasion treatment and its night density serum, which I talk about in my full Nioxin review post. But I’m fairly sure that System 2 had a big impact on regrowth!
Psst…Nioxin System 2 was voted “Favorite Thinning Haircare Product” at the Behind the Chair Stylist Choice awards – for 16 years in a row! So I’m not the only one who thinks highly of it.
You use System 1 and System 2 in exactly the same way:
You can get all Nioxin systems from Amazon, from the manufacturer’s site, from your local salon or even from Walmart. Beware of knock-off cheapies, though…if what you find is a fraction of the price of other versions you’ve seen, it probably ain’t the real deal!
So make sure you buy from a trusted retailer on Amazon who gets good reviews (which is what I did, and I still got a cheaper product than when I started buying Nioxin from my hairdresser). Or pay a little more and go through Nioxin’s website or from your salon.
Although Nioxin doesn’t claim to regrow hair or fill in bald spots, it did just that for me. And System 2 was the one that helped most.
You’ve noticed more hair fall but it hasn’t been so bad to cause bald spots, or a much more visible scalp.
The sulfates in Nioxin can, unfortunately, dry out your hair and actually leave your texture worse for the first couple of weeks. The turning point should come around Week 3 or 4, when your scalp gets used to the new formula and it becomes softer and smoother. If it doesn’t by then, consider using Nioxin only 2 or 3 times a week or switching to something else instead.
Hopefully this comparison post has narrowed things down and made it clear for you: if you don’t color or chemically treat your hair, and if your thinning is quite light, then you should go for System 1.
If you have the same type of hair (ie not processed in any way) but your hairfall is worse and you can see your scalp or bald spots, try System 2.
For tips on the other systems and the hair types they’re made for, check out my full Nioxin review! Or if you’d like a more natural option, without sulfates that could dry out your scalp, check out my top sulfate free shampoos.
Wishing you all happy and healthy scalp and hair, whichever one you choose.
Love & hugs,
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Alopecian. Yoga Teacher. Copywriter. Here to share information, offer support and show people the adventures that can lie in hair loss. I’m proud to have alopecia and I want to help others embrace their baldness, too!
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