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:
- Reduces hair loss due to breakage
- Delivers denser-looking hair
- Amplifies texture
- Strengthens hair against cuticle damage
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
|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.
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.
• Mostly natural and safe
• Many users report a cosmetic thickening effect and improved hair appearance; some a noticeable decrease in shedding and hair loss
• 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!
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 here. Like 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.