We all dream of having thick, luxurious locks but for some of us, it isn't always possible. If you have naturally thin hair or are losing your hair, it can feel devastating - especially for women, your hair is part of your identity.
It expresses your personality, your personal style and has been a part of your everyday life for as long as you can remember. You don't go a single day without thinking about your hair - it's a big deal.
If you're longing for thicker hair, investing in a hair growth shampoo could be a step in the right direction.
To get you started, we've rounded up the best-rated hair growth shampoos on the market with real reviews from real people. We've also called on some hair experts to give us the lowdown on how they work, if they'll work, plus other routes you can try.
If you're experiencing hair loss, your first port of call should always be your doctor.
Best hair growth shampoos
1. Ultrax Labs Hair Surge
This shampoo is easily the best-rated on Amazon, with over 10,500 reviews at the time of writing. It contains caffeine, ketoconazole and saw palmetto to stimulate the hair follicles and leave your hair feeling thicker and looking healthier. Use it five times per week for the best results.
Amazon review: "I've been using this shampoo since June and I'm very pleased with the results, as my hair is just starting to look a little thicker. It's not an enormous difference, but I wasn't expecting miracles. Yes the price is a bit outrageous, but I still haven't finished the bottle I purchased in June as I find that one pump is enough to wash my short hair, and the bottle feels like it's got a few weeks left to go before it runs out. At this rate, using this shampoo is likely to cost me about £30 a month which I feel is worth it for better looking hair. I've already purchased a second bottle and will continue using this shampoo."
2. Watermans Hair Growth Shampoo and Conditioner
Watermans Grow Me promotes healthy hair growth, shiny hair and a healthier scalp. It's sulphate-free, palm oil-free, PETA-approved, vegan-friendly and paraben-free. Plus, it's formulated only with natural ingredients. For best results, use four to five times per week.
Amazon review: "This shampoo and conditioner are more expensive than the normal ones in shops, however, I have had a problem with my hair thinning for the last few years due to menopause and that I have cutaneous lupus. I went to my hairdresser and my hairdresser remarked that my hair seems to have stopped falling out. Although I have upped my vitamin supplements, the only other thing that has changed is using this shampoo and conditioner. Also, my hair does feel softer so the conditioner is doing its job."
3. Regrows Hair Thickening Shampoo & Conditioner Bundle
Regrowz's award-winning hair thickening shampoo and volume conditioner nourishes fine and thinning hair, leaving it stronger and healthier-looking within a few months. It also aids in preventing split ends, is made with 100 per cent natural ingredients and is vegan and cruelty-free.
Amazon review: "Very pleased with the shampoo and conditioner, stopped my hair falling out and it does feel the best it ever has. You don't need to have tons of foam to clean the scalp and you really only need a small amount; it is still as good as ever, months down the line, the DHT blocker does seem to be working well, so pleased."
4. Lee Stafford Vegan Friendly Hair Growth Shampoo
This hair growth shampoo works by stimulating the metabolic activity of the hair bulb cells and by encouraging blood flow to the root, helping to stimulate growth. Clever moisture-regulating proteins and wheat starch feed the scalp for softer, smoother, healthier hair. The fresh apple and lemon extracts add shine to your hair, whilst anti-oxidising green tea extract helps to protect from heat damage and breakage.
Amazon review: "I had problems with my thyroid, meaning that my hair was literally dropping out in handfuls every time I washed it. My meds for the thyroid clearly needed sorting first! But when those were level, I was dismayed that my hair was taking a long time to get back to normal and researched products to encourage increased thickness and growth. I use this product with the treatment mask and spray and have genuinely been very, very pleased with the results. It appears to make the hair stand up from the head, making it look and feel thicker and fuller. I've noticed some reviews do not praise the smell but I find it fresh and lovely. Will be a committed customer of this product."
5. Roots Double Effect Sensitive Care Shampoo
This shampoo is perfect for sensitive scalps, as it's made from 95 per cent naturally-derived ingredients. It's free from sulphates, silicone, parabens, palm oil and gluten. It's also vegan-friendly and cruelty-free.
Boots review: "I have recently started using this as an alternative to an expensive salon brand. I wasn’t expecting much due to a couple of average reviews here but I am very pleasantly surprised. My fairly damaged long hair feels so soft and full which doesn’t happen with most counter bought products. Highly recommend."
6. Pantene Grow Strong Hair Loss Treatment
This set includes shampoo, conditioner and a hair mask for the ultimate treatment. Pantene claims that this set delivers up to 96 per cent less hair loss, and the reviews tend to agree. All of the products contain biotin and bamboo to help reduce hair loss due to breakage. It's formulated with no nasty ingredients and comes in 100 per cent recyclable bottles.
Amazon review: "Love this product, I'm on treatment for cancer, not chemo, but I still get hair loss, not fully losing it, just strands drop off. I'm usually covered in my hair but since using this I'm not getting as much hair loss so I'm really pleased with this product."
We asked Gail Waterman, co-founder of Watermans Hair, to answer our burning questions on hair loss and hair growth shampoos.
How do hair growth shampoos work?
"Hair growth shampoo works by feeding the hair follicles to revitalise dry and lifeless hair, bringing it back to its former glory."
What makes hair grow faster?
As well as introducing a new shampoo into your life to make your hair grow, you could look into some dietary changes, too.
Gail explains, "It is known that eggs are a great source of protein to help hair growth. Spinach and salmon also help hair growth as they are rich in vitamin A.
"Watermans' hair growth shampoo uses ingredients such as biotin, caffeine, Argan oil, rosemary Extract, allantoin and hydrolyzed lupin protein to promote fuller looking hair. Vitamins and antioxidants such as H, B7, B3, B6, C and E are known to have beneficial and protective effects on the scalp and to strengthen the hair. Our products do not only contain caffeine, as caffeine alone cannot reduce hair loss or prevent hair loss."
When should you start to see results?
Once you've found the product that suits you, "you should start to see results within three months". Results, however, vary from person to person.
Can COVID-19 cause hair loss?
As it turns out, yes. COVID-19 can cause hair loss. Hair Loss Consultant Simone Thomas tells us more.
"As the hair is not vital for the body to function, it is a cosmetic feature, when our bodies are under attack or running on empty, it is one of the first things to be impacted in the case of a virus and any illness. You will find the hair growth cycle is disrupted, sometimes stopping altogether. The result can be sudden hair loss/fall, which in the worst cases can be similar to that experienced by cancer patients after chemotherapy 70% - 100% complete hair loss."
"To start with, many will start to notice hair shredding known as Telogen Effluvium (TE). This type of hair loss can be triggered for several reasons: infection, fever, shock, trauma, medication; all of these and many other reasons can and will have an impact on our skin and our hair.
"At any given time, around 85-90 per cent of the hairs on the average person’s head are actively growing. This is called the anagen phase. The other 10-15 per cent of the hairs are in the resting phase, otherwise known as the telogen phase. Hair is in the anagen phase for around two to four years before entering the resting phase for around two to four months, then shedding to make room for the new hair growth.
"On average, we shed around 100 hairs every day. Telogen effluvium sufferers will shed around 300 hairs a day due to an increased amount of hair (around 30%) going into the resting phase and then shedding. Your hair will feel thinner due to the increased amount of shedding, and even though each hair is replaced with new hair, it can take months for it to grow significantly enough to contribute to the overall thickness of your hair."
"Telogen effluvium hair loss rarely lasts longer than 6 months. If the body is supported and balanced and looked after with nutrition, lifestyle and supplements after such a virus/illness there is no reason hair should not grow back to how it was, but as none of us know the true long-term effects we are only going from what we know about the body and hair function."
Examples of some of the triggers of telogen effluvium hair loss are:
· Undergoing major surgery procedures
· A major physical trauma such as a sporting injury or car accident
· Major psychological stress such as divorce
· Illness, infection or a high fever (which COVID-19 falls under)
· Extreme weight loss through diet or illness
· An iron deficiency
· Abrupt hormonal changes such as childbirth & menopause
Hair ingredients to avoid
For overall hair health, there are certain things experts recommend that you avoid.
· Sulphates - These harsh synthetic surfactants help to get rid of dirt and oil in your hair, but they can cause irritation, inflammation and make your hair dry and dull.
· Parabens - These artificial preservatives are used to lengthen the shelf life of products by preventing the growth of bacteria. Some studies have claimed that they could cause breast cancer, but according to The Cosmetics, Toiletries and Perfumery Association, "all cosmetic and toiletry products containing parabens may continue to be used safely".
· Silicones - Silicones are synthetic polymers which help retain moisture and give your hair that shine. They can build up over time, leading the hair cuticle to become clogged.
If you want to try something other than shampoo, hair supplements have also been known to provide great results when it comes to hair growth. Here are a few of our favourites:
Hair growth supplements
1. Simone Thomas Wellness The Ginkgo Hair Care Plan
Simone Thomas is a hair loss consultant, bio-energetics practitioner and nutritionist, so you know her products are no gimmick. This set of supplements contains everything you need for healthier and thicker hair. In a consumer-based blind study over a three-month period, 71 per cent of participants agreed that the supplements promoted healthy hair growth.
2. Regrows Hair Health Women's Hair Supplements - 1 Month Supply
These 100 per cent natural supplements from Regrowz have a blend of vitamins and minerals to help target hair loss and health with healthy hair growth.
3. Potion London The Beauty Formula
The Beauty Formula from Potion London contains a balance of 19 vitamins and minerals, developed specifically to help promote healthy hair, skin, and nails. It's a great all-rounder and can contribute to healthy hair.