The Nioxin brand is a popular brand of shampoos and other hair care products. The shampoo is marketed to people who have moderate or advanced hair loss, but can it really help?
This article will review the pros and cons of Nioxin. This will include an in-depth look at its claims, as well as the scientific research backing them up.
What Is Nioxin Shampoo?
Nioxin shampoo and the Nioxin line of products were developed to help address issues of thinning and receding hair by making the scalp healthier.
A woman called Eva Graham launched the brand in the 1980s.
On the company’s website we find the following account of how she decided to start Nioxin (1):
When Eva lost half of her own hair after giving birth – and found no real solution – her mind was made up. She began to cultivate a new approach to healthy hair, starting with the scalp. She read everything she could find on skin and hair. She visited dermatologists, attended medical conventions and listened to lectures in the car and realised that “the scalp is simply an extension of the face: it needs gentle ingredients to breathe and function correctly.” It was a simple but visionary idea and with just $500 dollars and a dream, Eva set to work. She started experimenting with herbs and botanicals at home and, from a small desk in her bedroom, built a network. She teamed up with biologists, chemists, pharmacologists and hairdressers and talked endlessly to consumers to create a revolutionary skin care company for hair.
Over time, the product range and formula evolved significantly. Eventually, the brand was purchased by Procter & Gamble.
In 2019, Procter & Gamble announced they would be closing the company’s Atlanta headquarters and factory, moving all production to Mexico (2).
Procter & Gamble justified the cost-cutting measure by claiming the move “will enable P&G Salon Professional to create better long-term economics, generate additional manufacturing scale, a more robust research and development infrastructure and greater organizational capability.”
The Nioxin Range
The foundation of the brand is the so-called Nioxin systems. Each system is made of shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in conditioner. Though it is possible to use the shampoo only, for best results, Nioxin recommends all three.
Here is the full current lineup of the Nioxin systems:
Treatments for light thinning:
- System 1: for natural hair
- System 3: for colored hair
- System 5: for bleached hair
Treatments for progressed thinning:
- System 2: for natural hair
- System 4: for colored hair
- System 6: for bleached hair
Aside from the six systems, the company offers numerous other products. These include a vitamin supplement they call a “recharging complex”, as well as styling products like hair sprays and gels, minoxidil topicals, and more. There are also numerous stand-alone shampoos, conditioners, and leave-ins that are not part of a system.
On the brand’s website, one can count around 80 products. This range of products is so large as to be confusing to the consumer. This is one of the main drawbacks we will discuss below.
Nioxin has opted for a combination of chemical and plant-derived ingredients. Unlike other products for men and women with hair loss, there is no single active ingredient that stands out in the Nioxin formula.
Because the product range is so varied, the active ingredients can also be quite different from one product to the next. This makes it difficult to assess the effectiveness of Nioxin.
Some of the plant-based compounds we find in the System 2 shampoo, for example, include (3):
- Stinging nettle (Urtica Dioica)
- Saw Palmetto (Serenoa Serrulata)
- Grapefruit extract (Citrus Paradisi)
- Common hop (Humulus lupulus)
- Essential oils like peppermint and wild mint
The list of chemicals in Nioxin is quite long. Here are the main ingredients you will find in the System 2 Shampoo:
- Salicylic acid
- Sodium laureth sulfate
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
Salicylic acid is one of the most common anti-dandruff ingredients (4). You can also find it in popular anti-dandruff shampoos like Neutrogena T-Sal, Baker’s P and S, etc.
What Are Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?
As we saw, two of the ingredients you will find in some Nioxin products are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate (SLS). These chemicals are so-called surfactants and are used as cleansing and foaming agents. Nioxin’s rich lather is largely due to the SLS in the formula.
What many users don’t know is that these chemicals are also used in industrial detergents and household cleaning products like laundry detergents, carpet cleaners, and stain removers.
\In recent years, they have come under increasing scrutiny, as some claim, they can have an adverse impact on humans, especially when used excessively.
These chemicals have corrosive properties and are known as skin irritants, leading to dry skin and itchiness (4). They can also irritate the eyes.
These substances are common allergens and may be one of the leading causes of irritation caused by the use of Nioxin shampoos and cleansing products.
Does It Work?
There is no published independent research to confirm Nioxin’s effectiveness in regrowing hair.
Having said that, it is likely that at least some users will see benefits from using Nioxin.
Support for this comes from the large number of positive reviews many users post online (see below). The formulation also contains a number of ingredients believed to promote hair growth, such as saw palmetto and stinging nettle (5).
What About the Side Effects?
According to the makers of Nioxin, there are no side effects associated with Nioxin.
As discussed above, some of the harsh chemicals in the Nioxin formula might act as skin irritants. Over time, rather than promoting a healthy scalp, the user may experience increased irritation and sensitivity. If you experience any unwelcome side effects when using Nioxin, discontinue treatment.
Reviews of Nioxin
On Amazon, the Nioxin systems have an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, based on over 11,000 ratings (6).
Many users report stronger hair growth and the formation of new baby hair.
The shampoo is also pleasant to use. The combination of a herbal scent and peppermint oils create a pleasant shampoo for daily use. Users often report enjoying the tingling sensation associated with peppermint oil extracts.
As a daily use shampoo, these products also tend to provide a clean head of hair that smells nice and does not appear oily or unhealthy.
On the other hand, many users report the system did nothing for them. Some even report increased shedding.
According to some long-time users of the Nioxin products, the changes since production moved to Mexico have led to a different product. This is inferior to the original formulation in contents and results.
What Is the Cost of Nioxin?
A single month’s supply of the entire Nioxin system can cost upwards of $40USD. This can become quite expensive, as the manufacturer recommends daily use for the best results.
It is possible to utilize just the daily cleansing product (shampoo), which contains the most effective active ingredients.
When compared to other products on the market that are addressed to a similar audience, Nioxin products are among the more expensive options available. This becomes especially apparent when considering competitor products that do not require frequent use.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Nioxin for Both Sexes?
Can People without Hair Loss Use It?
According to the makers of Nioxin, even people who are suffering from hair loss will benefit from using Nioxin.
How Often Should You Use It?
The makers recommend you use the Nioxin shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in on a daily basis.
How Long till You Start Seeing Results?
Any new regrowth may take a few months to become visible. However, in users who respond well to Nioxin, the effects on the scalp and existing hair shafts can be seen after a few weeks.
Where Can You Order it?
You cannot purchase Nioxin directly from the company’s website. Most people purchase it through Amazon or other online retailers. You can also find it in selected hair salons.
Conclusion – Is Nioxin Worth It?
There are plenty of products on the market that claim to improve the health of the scalp and reduce hair fall.
Nioxin has been on the market for over three decades. Millions of consumers in many countries have used and still use it to this day. This alone suggests that the product is effective, at least for some users.
On the other hand, the Nioxin range does have some glaring weaknesses. Most notably, the range of products and versions is so large that the consumer might end confused as to what product is appropriate for him or her.
The high cost and recommended daily use are another notable disadvantage.
The products also appear over-processed, with a long-range of ingredients. In addition, the manufacturer recommends the daily use of a 3-part system. This overabundance of chemical treatments might end up having the opposite to the intended effect, at least in some users.
When it comes to hair, less is often better. This might be especially true for men and women who are dealing with hair loss. After all, our scalp and hair evolved over millions of years with our ancestors treating it with nothing but water.