There are plenty of products on the market that claim to reverse balding, but what about those that claim to cover it up? Toppik is one such product used by thousands of sufferers of hair loss with good results.
This post will introduce Toppik (including how it works and its ingredients). You will also learn:
- What real users of Toppik have to say;
- The side effects that are possible with use;
- How to use the product effectively;
- Its costs and where to find it; and
- How it compares to similar products on the market.
This article will also provide a two-step process for starting your own hair recovery journey, whether you intend to use Toppik along the way or not.
What is Toppik?
Toppik is a hair fiber product that claims to conceal bald patches and create a fuller appearance to the hair of both men and women. While not the only hair fiber brand on the market, Toppik is one of the most well known and reviewed.
How Does It Work?
In simplest terms, hair fiber products contain tiny fibers (usually made of keratin) with magnetic charges. This magnetism helps them to cling to individual strands of hair, which adds bulk. As bulk is added to each strand, they appear to be fuller and thicker. This works to cover up areas of thinning while also looking natural.
Ingredients and Additives
Each Toppik formulation consists of five active ingredients. They are:
- Ammonium Chloride
Keratin is a natural fiber, and the one that human hair is made of. It is essentially tightly-packed layers of proteins that protect your body’s epithelial cells (surface tissues) from outside damage.
Silica is a natural element (also referred to as silicon dioxide and quartz) that can also be produced artificially. New research also shows that silica can be beneficial to human health, especially as it is believed to promote mineral absorption (particularly calcium) (1).
When applied to the skin and hair, silica is not likely to be absorbed. But it may still prove beneficial by helping the other ingredients to absorb more readily.
Ammonium chloride is an inorganic material, but one used frequently as a flavoring and thickening agent. In small doses, such as what would be found in Toppik, it is not believed to be harmful.
Phenoxyethanol is an alcohol often used as a preservative in cosmetics. Unfortunately, this ingredient can cause allergic reactions, including contact dermatitis and even anaphylaxis. If nursing or pregnant, any product containing phenoxyethanol should be avoided as it can cause nervous system malfunction in infants.
Chlorphenesin is a synthetic chemical with two main uses: muscle relaxant and preservative. This is another ingredient that may cause contact dermatitis, and can also cause respiratory distress in infants who come into contact with it.
Depending on the color you choose, the product will also contain a color additive. The different additives that Toppik uses include:
- Orange 4 (CI 15510)
- Yellow 5 (CI 19140)
- Yellow 6 (CI 15985)
- Red 22 (CI 45380)
- Red 33 (CI 17200)
- Green 3 (CI 42053)
- Green 5 (CI 61570)
- Green 6 (CI 61565)
- Blue 1 (CI 42090)
As you can see, this product contains a number of synthetic additives that may cause adverse effects.
Is Toppik Safe to Use?
While Toppik is not blatantly unsafe, it does contain some concerning ingredients. These ingredients – especially phenoxyethanol and chlorphenesin – have been linked to various health concerns and adverse reactions.
In addition, the exact extent to which these ingredients absorb into the skin is not entirely known.
If you still plan to use the product, just be aware of any adverse reactions.
What Do Consumers Have to Say?
As the most reviewed hair fiber brand on the market, there are plenty of consumer reviews to help you make your decision. Overall, users of the product are quite happy with the results. It has a rating of 4.0/5 stars on Amazon, which is not bad considering there are over 3,000 reviews.
The positives mentioned include the wonderful job that Toppik does in covering bare spots, while also blending well with the natural hair color (even graying hair).
Of course, some users have had less desirable results, including patchy-looking coverage and dullness. This can give off a less-than-natural look.
A few users have also made mention of the product appearing green (especially under lights). This is also true for some users who sweat throughout the day, as the green tint will appear on the brow and other areas where sweat accumulates near the scalp.
While reviews tell us a lot about the experience of individual users, only you can determine how the product works for you. As such, it is important to keep in mind that results will differ from person to person.
Toppik Before and After
Sometimes, before and after images can be the best way to determine how well a product works. Of course, keep in mind that it is usually the most extreme results that are documented.
As you can see, Toppik works best when there is still significant amounts of hair left on the scalp.
Are There Side Effects?
As with any hair product on the market, there is the potential for side effects. This will depend on the sensitivity of the individual.
The most common side effects of Toppik use include scalp irritation and itching. For some, the fibers may be irritating, and long-term use can lead to redness and other signs of irritation.
It is also possible for flaking and rub off to occur, especially when exposed to extreme heat or perspiration.
For certain individuals, an allergic reaction (known as contact dermatitis) is possible. The symptoms include itching, burning, redness, and hives. In severe (but rare) cases, this can turn into anaphylaxis. If it does, stop product use and seek medical attention immediately.
As mentioned previously, ammonium chloride is an ingredient in Toppik. You should avoid contact with your eyes, nose, and mouth, and avoid inhaling. While rare, it is possible to suffer from ammonia poisoning from over exposure. The symptoms include:
- Chest tightness/pain
- Coughing/airway irritation
- Wheezing/rapid breathing
- Muscle spasms
If you experience any of these symptoms after long-term use, seek emergency medical attention.
If you are pregnant or nursing, avoid the use of Toppik as its absorption rate and effects are unknown.
One thing to keep in mind is that Toppik and similar products must be washed out on a daily basis. Otherwise, you are at an increased risk of developing folliculitis.
Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles commonly associated with a bacterial or fungal infection. The symptoms include itching, burning, pain, red bumps, pus, and swelling.
While minor forms of folliculitis will resolve on their own, more advanced forms require medical attention and treatment.
At the first signs of swelling and pus, you should visit your primary care. However, more severe symptoms include the affected area being hot to the touch and fever. These require immediate medical care.
How to Use Toppik
To apply Toppik to the scalp, you simply shake the product onto patches of thinning. The fibers will automatically cling, and you can then style your hair as usual.
Alternatively, Toppik offers a spray applicator. This makes it easier to target areas of thinning.
Tips for Use
While application is simple, it can be messy and sometimes ineffective. As such, here are a few tips to improve the application process.
Set with hairspray. To prevent rub off and flaking, hairspray can be used to set the product. It is best to use hairspray a few minutes after applying Toppik to allow it to settle on its own.
Use a comb. To better direct the powder fiber, you can use a comb to apply the product and style it accordingly. This significantly reduces flaking and residue and makes it easier to target application.
Wash out daily. If you are using Toppik on a daily basis, it is crucial for the health of your scalp that you wash it out at the end of each day. By washing it out, you can prevent irritation and the occurrence of side effects (such as itching and redness).
Mix colors. To achieve a more natural look, you can combine Toppik colors to more closely match your natural hair color.
Using Toppik is not difficult, but there is a bit of a learning curve. The tips above should help you to more quickly sort out any issues and enhance the process.
Cost and Availability
Toppik comes in a variety of sizes (3 g, 12 g, 27.5 g, and 55 g) and colors (black, dark brown, medium brown, light brown, medium blonde, light blonde, auburn, gray, and white). This means the price varies (based on size, not color).
On the Toppik website, an economy bottle (27.5 g) can be purchased for $50. The same bottle can also be found on Amazon for a slight discount at $46.95.
You may also find Toppik at a few in-store locations, such as Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid.
How Does Toppik Compare to Similar Products?
Toppik is far from the only hair fiber brand on the market. In fact, it is quite a broad niche within the hair loss industry. But how does Toppik compare to similar products?
Here is how Toppik compares to three similar products on the market: Caboki, Nanogen, and HairMax.
All four products – Toppik, Caboki, Nanogen, and HairMax – claim to cover areas of thinning. However, how each product claims to do so is slightly different.
Toppik, Nanogen, and HairMax do so using keratin fibers. These are exactly what our hair is made of. Caboki uses a more ‘natural’ fiber, cotton.
Each of the products claim their fibers ‘stick’ to the hair strands, which produces a fuller look.
Overall, Toppik and Caboki beat out Nanogen and HairMax by far. Here is a look at the breakdown:
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Of course, it may just be that Nanogen and HairMax are not as popular as the previous two products. But that also says something about their effectiveness that should be considered.
When looking to compare costs, it is important to compare the products as closely as possible. This means each product is the same color (black) and about the same size (based on the brand’s offerings).
Based on price alone, HairMax is the winner. Though, the costs are not astronomically different between any of the products, so it should not be the sole factor in your decision.
How to Regrow Your Hair Naturally (2 Steps)
Whether you intend to use Toppik while regrowing your hair or not, it is important that you take a natural approach. This will ensure your results are long-lasting.
1. Identify the Cause of Hair Loss
The only way to truly ever put an end to your hair loss is to first find the cause. This will help you to understand why hair loss is happening and what you can do to stop it.
Of course, identifying the cause is not always easy and there may be numerous factors at play. Here are a few tips to try.
Track Your Symptoms
One of the easiest ways to rule out certain types of hair loss, such as Alopecia Areata (AA) or Male-Pattern Baldness (MPB), is to track your symptoms. You will get a fuller picture of your problem and, perhaps, be able to pinpoint the exact cause as a result.
There are many symptoms that may plague individuals with hair loss. Some of these symptoms are unique to specific types of balding, which can help you to narrow down the cause.
Learn more about early signs of balding here.
For example, patchy hair loss is commonly associated with certain medications or treatments (such as chemotherapy) or alopecia areata. Alternatively, gradual hair loss that begins at the hairline is more likely caused by MPB.
Keep a Food Diary
While food is not the main factor in hair loss, it can be one that helps you to more easily narrow the cause. By keeping a food diary, you can track the kinds of foods you eat. This will help you to see whether you are experiencing any nutrient deficiencies or experiencing any reactions.
A food diary is also a great way to stay accountable. When you track each bite of food, you are more likely to make healthier decisions. This can be crucial for certain kinds of hair loss, including MPB and Female-Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL).
Your food diary does not need to be elaborate. Simply record the foods you eat and their quantities, as well as any ‘symptoms’ you notice after eating them. For example, do you feel sluggish or unwell?
Visit a Specialist
Sometimes, the cause of hair loss can be obscure and may require the help of a hair loss specialist.
A specialist will likely perform diagnostic tests (such as scalp biopsies), which may be able to pinpoint a health problem. For example, thyroid malfunction or nutritional deficiency. They can also examine your hair closely under the microscope to determine if DHT is a cause.
2. Treat the Problem At Its Source
With the cause now understood, it is time to treat the problem at its source. This means avoiding products that cover up the problem (such as minoxidil and finasteride) and using those that actually target and treat it.
The exact route you take will depend entirely on the cause. For example, individuals with MPB should focus on reducing DHT and increasing blood flow to the scalp. On the other hand, those with AA will need to seek out the help of a dermatologist to get the inflammation under control.
If you do choose to use Toppik, remember that you must also be working to treat the underlying hair loss. Otherwise, you may end up with permanent and irreversible baldness in the future.