Nioxin Review | What Exactly Does Nioxin Treat Again?

nioxin review

His hair was … perfect.

What is Nioxin?

Nioxin has been around since 1987 (purchased by Proctor and Gamble in 2008) and was developed by founder, Eva Graham, after experiencing thinning hair following the birth of her first child.

Despite the fact that it has gained popularity in the market as a treatment for pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia), there are no such claims made on Nioxin’s website.

Nioxin’s official site states that “NIOXIN uses advanced technologies to deliver thicker, fuller, denser-looking hair.  Further, “NIOXIN’s advanced technologies provide real solutions for making the most of the hair you have.”

The Nioxin range includes six, 3-step hair care systems, each of which includes a Nioxin Cleanser (shampoo), Nioxin Scalp Therapy (conditioner) and Nioxin Scalp Treatment, which is left in the hair after washing.

Which system you choose depends on whether or not your hair is chemically treated, how thin it looks, and how coarse.

The Nioxin system claims to provide 5 effects for thicker looking hair:

  1. Reduces hair loss due to breakage
  2. Delivers denser-looking hair
  3. Amplifies texture
  4. Strengthens hair against cuticle damage
  5. Cleanses excessive sebum from scalp

In addition to the 3-step systems, the Nioxin product range also includes deep conditioners, hair masques, styling products and the Nioxin Scalp Therapy line, for those with dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis.  All available in (generally upmarket) salons and on the internet.  A number of specialised (advanced) treatments are only available in a salon.

How Does it Work?

Nioxin’s manufacturer claims that the Nioxin systems remove excess sebum, dirt and debris that can clog follicles, helping to create a healthy scalp environment and promote healthy hair growth. The system also includes ingredients which focus on the hair itself, promoting hair health and thickness.

There’s a long list of ingredients* included in the 6 systems, along with a number of very gimmicky sounding names for proprietary Nioxin ‘technologies’ such as: BioAMP®, Scalp Access® Delivery System, and Activ-Renewal®.  The ingredients list includes a number which are said to inhibit the conversion of testosterone into DHT, including urtica dioica (nettle) extract, serenoa serrulata fruit extract (saw palmetto).  DHT is believed to be the leading cause of male pattern hair loss.

Several commentators also note that by removing excess sebum containing elevated levels of DHT it may slow, or in some cases, stop hair loss associated with MPB.

*For those interested, a full list of ingredients can be found here under the product details tab. A description of what each of the active ingredients do is available here .

How Effective Is It?

Whether by design, neglect, or a pervasive delusion of bald men and women everywhere, Nioxin is often positioned as a treatment for pattern baldness.  It’s therefore also often judged on its ability to slow or regrow hair lost through androgenetic alopecia, despite no direct claims to that effect by the manufacturer.  Unfortunately there’s no study I’m aware of that attempts to assess efficacy on this basis.

In terms of how effective it is in enabling healthy hair follicles to produce healthy, thicker hair, which is the manufacturer’s core claim, there’s similarly a lack of hard data to share.  A statement on the Nioxin website reads: “NIOXIN uses natural ingredients in our products, therefore, we do not make any drug claims.  Our products are primarily topical, cosmetic-based and do not require clinical studies to be conducted.”

The company does, however, claim that 70% of users notice thicker, denser looking hair in just four weeks after using the Nioxin 3-part system on a daily basis.  This, based on independent market research.

According to the thebeautybrains.com, a group of cosmetic scientists which seeks to educate consumers about cosmetic product claims, the thickening effect is likely due to the leave-in scalp treatment, which contains various proteins that coat the hair shaft, giving the perception of thicker hair.

The Beauty Brains also states that while Nioxin cleansers do remove excess sebum from the scalp, almost any shampoo will do the same thing.

nioxin reviewHow Long Before I See Results?

The manufacturer guarantees thicker, denser-looking hair in 30 days. Depending on the benefit you’re after, there are numerous testimonials available which indicate at least two to three months are required to see best results.  Many also say that the scalp feels cleaner and ‘breathes’ easier within a month.  With regards to potentially slowing or stopping hair loss, you will want to give it 3-6 months to assess results.

Best Suited For

Men and women of all ages, and all hair types, who are seeking a cosmetic improvement in the appearance of their hair.  The product does not claim to treat male or female pattern baldness.

Guidelines for Effective Use of the Three Step System

The 3-step systems are designed for daily use, but can be used less frequently.

The Nioxin cleanser (shampoo) is applied to wet hair and lathered for one minute before being rinsed out.  This is immediately followed by the Nioxin Scalp Therapy (conditioner), which is left in for one to three minutes.

The final step of the system is the leave-in Nioxin scalp treatment, which is applied after the hair is towel-dried.  The treatment is distributed evenly throughout the scalp and hair before combing through.

Cost

Nioxin products are available either as a standalone or a system (three-piece package). It may be more cost-efficient to first see if the Scalp Therapy works for you, if you’re simply after the cosmetic effect.

Prices vary wildly, as does suitability for hair types and benefits claimed, depending on the system.

System Hair Type Claim
Hair System Kit 1 Normal to Thin-Looking, Fine, Natural Hair Amplifies hair texture while protecting against breakage, refreshing the scalp and delivering a healthy shine.
Hair System Kit 2 Noticeably Thinning, Fine, Natural Hair Promotes denser-looking hair while strengthening against damage, protecting the scalp and delivering a healthy shine.
Hair System Kit 3 Normal to Thin-Looking, Fine, Chemically Treated Hair Amplifies hair texture while refreshing the scalp and providing moisture balance to coloured hair.
Hair System Kit 4 Noticeably Thinning, Fine, Chemically-Treated Hair Promotes denser-looking hair while protecting the scalp and providing moisture balance to coloured hair.
Hair System Kit 5 Normal to Thin-Looking, Medium to Coarse, Natural and Chemically-Treated Hair For fuller-looking hair.  Delivers smoothing control to hair while refreshing the scalp and restoring moisture balance.
Hair System Kit 6 Noticeably Thinning, Medium to Coarse, Natural and Chemically-Treated Hair For smoother, denser-looking hair.  Delivers smoothing control to hair while protecting the scalp and restoring moisture balance.

You can purchase the scalp therapy in the US for under USD 20, and the 3-step systems for just under USD 30. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but the margin is often a lot more depending on your hair type and the discount on the particular day (or month).*

In the UK, you can purchase the scalp therapy for just over GBP 10 and the system for north of GBP 15.

* Note: Since first researching this article back in 2012/13, Nioxin have added several other products to their range including minoxidil for men and women, styling products, oral supplements, volumizers and intensive therapy treatments.

Side Effects

Some users report redness of the scalp, which generally disappears after a week or two of continued use.  If the redness persists, try using either less frequently and/or in smaller doses.

Pros

• Mostly natural and safe

• Many users report a cosmetic thickening effect and improved hair appearance; some a noticeable decrease in shedding and hair loss

Cons

• The manufacturer does not recommend using Nioxin Follicle Booster or Scalp Treatment with minoxidil (I note that they now offer a Minoxidil product, however)

• If you’re using the 3-step system on a daily basis, it can be difficult to incorporate into your routine

• If you stop using the system, your hair reverts to its previous state

Hair Today There Tomorrow View

I tried Nioxin right after I finished my Nisim shampoo experiment back in 1999 (you can read that review here).

Unfortunately, I was one of those balding, delusional men I referred to earlier that started using Nioxin in the belief it would reverse thinning arising from pattern baldness.  Whether that was simply desperation displacing judgment, or courtesy of the way Nioxin was marketed at the time, I can’t really say. Potentially a mixture of both.

Whatever the case, it patently did not work for either reducing shedding, or slowing the rate of hair loss.  Visible lack of progress of any kind was enough to make me stop after 4 months, even though it did invigorate the scalp in a rather pleasing, if not initially alarming, way.

I may have received some cosmetic thickening of the hair but, to be honest, that wasn’t my focus at the time.  Given this was early on in my hair loss journey I still had a pretty full head of hair.  Thickening what I had didn’t even cross my mind as being a priority.  I wanted a ‘cure’.  Fast!

Bottom Line

Nioxin suffers from a small identity crisis (whether or not of its own making), and therefore tends to draw strong criticism on forums and in testimonials from people suffering from MPB.  These are generally people who are expecting the kind of visible results that can be obtained from treatments such as Rogaine (Regaine) or propecia.

If one were to judge Nioxin on its merits, however – as a cosmetic treatment for thinning hair – it’s difficult to be quite so harsh.  By the same token, if this is essentially all it does, there remain downsides.

For one, it’s expensive.  There are also any number of other readily available shampoos that can likely give similar results from a single bottle.  (Moreover, if you decide to try Nizoral you’ll also probably only want a simple shampoo that you can use on your off days).

That said, for those that appreciate how the Nioxin range is tailored to specific hair types, and the cache that goes with a high-end, salon-friendly product, it may well be worth the price.

 

To see what ultimately worked for me go hereLike this article? Why not sign up to receive new articles the minute they’re published in the e-mail subscription box on the homepage. I promise, hand on heart, that I will never spam you or share your e-mail address. Not even under federal subpoena. OK, maybe then. But you’re not planning on getting into any trouble … are you? Don’t forget to confirm your subscription by clicking on the verification link you’ll receive in your inbox. My ‘mail bot’ is a stickler for that.

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for the detailed review!

    I know you said it did not work for you – at all. I tried it and it seemed to help a lot.

    I will say that it did not reverse hair loss, rather just kept me from loosing more hair!

    It also made my hair look thicker. I also agree with you that it takes time to do the full routine. For me it is worth it.

    Do you have a review on propecea?

    • HTTT says

      Thanks for the comment and good to hear it helped stop your hair loss. Unfortunately I don’t yet have a review on Propecia. As I mostly write from my own experience, and I have never used Propecia, it’s not at the top of my list. There’s also around 1 million – at my last count, give or take a few ten thousand – reviews of Propecia available. A site that I like in terms of quality reviews is http://www.hairlosstalk.com. Happy hunting.

  2. Diane says

    You mentioned downsides to Nioxin. “For one, it’s expensive. There are also any number of other readily available shampoos that can likely give similar results from a single bottle.” What are some of the other ones?

      • Jodie says

        Nizoral is an antifungal medicated shampoo. Do you have any other suggestions? That would only work for treating the scalp if you need that medication.

        • HTTT says

          Not entirely sure I understand your point / question. Nizoral works for hair-loss, even though it is marketed as an anti-fungal.

  3. Bob says

    I was never expecting Nioxin to regrow hair or anything, I was just using it to compliment my use of regaine (rogaine in the states).

    After 3 weeks I must say it has done its job. My fair feels and looks healthier and shinier, and I also can’t see my scalp as much as I used to. However, after 3-4 days without using it my old thin hair appearance comes back so you have to keep using it!

    But as I say, I’m just using it until the regaine kicks in!

    The product did what it said it would for me and for that I’ll give it 5 stars 😀

  4. atul sharma says

    Hi,

    I have fungicide problem on my scalp , pleas advise is this is fruitful for me or not.

    Regards,
    Atul
    9716914055

    • HTTT says

      I would suggest you talk to your doctor on this point. On this website I talk about potential treatments for hair loss based on my personal experience.

  5. John says

    I’ve been using Nioxin for over 5 years. It certainly has worked for me, in that my hair loss has slowed down and although I’m bald on top from the front you wouldn’t notice. At holiday times when I just take ‘Head and Shoulders’ with me for convenience, I notice quick hair loss. I’m almost 70 and will be always grateful to my hairdresser for her recommendation.

    • HTTT says

      Nioxin certainly does seem to have broad support in the hairdresser community. Appreciate you taking the time to leave your view here and glad to hear you’ve received some benefit.

  6. Rohit says

    Hi, Please read all and reply!

    my hair is somewhere between level 2 and 3
    and recently I started Rogaine.

    that hair Shedding phase scared the hell out of.. I mean My hairs were falling out like there is no Bond between my hair’s root and my scaple..

    and I was at the starting point of Level 2.. but just in a month rogaine drag me near to the level 3 -_-

    Now.. I just felt that my scalp is really dirty and My hair growth is fast.. THANKS TO GOD!
    but those place where hairs are gone..my hairline mostly.. I am going for surgery.

    and I think that I MUST CLEAN my SCALP… maybe that could also help me grow hair on those areas.

    I want to know few things from you..

    1. do I have to keep using it? although We all need a regular Shampoo and I can Spend a little extra to have hair thickness. But if I stop using it.. then ?

    2. I read in comment on Amazon that after 2013 comment people are saying they changed the formula and now it is not working anymore.. and the only good comment I saw were posted before 2013….Do you have any idea about that? are you still using it? Maybe that’s just fake comment to drop it’s sales.

    3. HOW TO BUY THIS… WHICH SET, WHAT STUFF…I mean what should I keep in mind to before buying it ? I have to buy Shampoo and Conditioner.. that’s ok! but what else I have to buy with this Serum or anything? And what is with the Number… System 3 and System 4, Plz clearfy!

    4. How do I make sure that I bought a Genuine Product?

    PLZ PLZ PLZZZZ REPLY!!

    • HTTT says

      Apologies for the delayed response. Firstly, glad you got past the hair shedding phase and have seen some results. Congratulations! As to your other points, there are scalp cleansers you can buy. However, most have harsh chemicals and I would personally avoid them. What I have seen work is some stringent massaging of the scalp together with a herbal shampoo. The massage does eventually work out the excess dirt and oils. But this takes patience and I would recommend no less than 20 minutes a day (and your fingers and hand should hurt afterwards, at least for the first few weeks). Expect to see pimples and potentially a brown layer on your scalp, which can be scraped off.

      As to your other points:
      – You need to keep using Minoxidil once you’ve started otherwise your hair loss will return to its normal pattern (some say worsen, but I have not personally seen this occur)
      – You’ll need to tell me which product on Amazon you’re talking about. There are quite a few out there.
      – In terms of which products to buy. Go and read my post on what worked for me to see which products I use http://www.hairtodaytheretomorrow.com/what-hair-loss-treatment-worked-for-me/

      Let me know if I can help further.

  7. nuri says

    After using nioxin. If you ever get tired of using it . Can you use another different type of shampoo like for instance pantene

  8. Elena says

    Hi!

    Thank you for this article. I have a rich, quite thick and wavy hair which got damaged by dyes and it started falling. I simply panicked and picked Hair System 6. After reading the comments from your article, I am not sure if I am using the correct number. I don’t have missing patches and, even though I know I have a lot less hair than 4 years ago, everybody says that I have rich hair, which I think it is far from the “noticeably thinning” mention for System 6. Please advise!

    Thank you very much and best regards!

    • HTTT says

      I personally do not recommend Nioxin and am not familiar with all their systems. I do know it is commonly sold in hair dressers and suggest that you ask their advice ‘in store’ (rather than buying online) if you’re unsure of which suits your particular situation.

  9. Darlene Lage says

    My mother in law bought Nioxin for my husbands thinning hair and told my 16 year old daughter that has thick hair she could use it also, is it safe for a teen with fairly healthy, thick hair?

    • HTTT says

      Based on the ingredients list it’s not any more aggressive than many other readily available shampoos.

  10. rogue g says

    I am only just now seeing the results of using the Somaluxe Shampoo (after about 1 month). I noticed that my hair isn’t falling out like before,..

    • HTTT says

      Hadn’t heard of this shampoo. Took a quick look. Seems to be marketed toward women and doesn’t seem to particularly target hair loss?

  11. Liz says

    I have been using Nioxin for 4 months. My hair was getting thin and less by the day. After my first review in the microscope. My hair has thickened and new hair is growing. I couldn’t be happier! !

  12. Danny says

    They don’t suggest using their systems with rogaine but now offer a product with 5% minoxidil. Have been using system 2 for almost a year. Have noticed hair loss when I am not using it now. Just purchased their minoxidil treatment. Not sure how to use it with or around the system 2. Instructions say nothing about combining or not.

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