Can Shampoo Cause Hair Loss? The Bald Truth About Thickening Shampoos

Here’s a shocker you’ll want to share with every guy you know: THICKENING SHAMPOOS CAN ACTUALLY CAUSE HAIR THINNING!

How can that be?!! Today, we look at misinformation about the causes of men’s balding (and women too!) and get doctors’ advice on best ways to help avoid hair loss.

There are many reasons for hair loss - especially for the men in our lives. The most common of all hair loss causes? Aging. But growing older isn’t the only reason your guy may have thinning hair or a receding hairline.

The truth is, a lot of factors impact hair growth and density. And while some are beyond control, there still are simple measures every guy can (and should!) take to help protect against hair loss.

Today, we’re breaking down why it’s best to stay away from shampoos that promise to thicken hair and why doctors concur that ingredients in shampoos can lead to hair thinning and loss.

Balding and Masculinity

Women derive a huge part of their personal identity from their hair, but it’s no different for men. Or maybe even more so. Hair loss can be traumatic for men. Perceptions of their virility, masculinity, strength, youth can all be tied to the health and density of their hair.

Hair Loss Causes: What’s Age Got to Do With It?

back of a man's head that's baldingIt’s true. Hair loss happens and is a fact of life for many men. Male Pattern Baldness (otherwise known as MPB) is responsible for 95% of thinning hair in men.

Up to two-thirds of all men will experience some degree of MPB by the time they’re 35 - yikes. But… is it heredity at play, or lifestyle choices?

We sought advice from New York based plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Wolfeld, who is renowned for working wonders with men (and women!) to retain and grow full, healthy hair.

dr michael wolfeldA skilled plastic surgeon who specializes in hair loss and restoration, Dr. Wolfeld is sought after for his extensive bio-medical background and remarkable success with hair transplants. Though he is an expert at reversing hair loss, he says “early intervention is the key to keeping hair thick and healthy.” When working with patients, Dr. Wolfeld evaluates the scalp to examine everything about the health of the hair, assesses his patients’ lifestyle and factors in all the variables - from DNA to nutrition to hormones to hair products.

Often, his treatment may begin with a regimen of platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy, medication such as Rogaine or Propecia and vitamins.

inflammatory shampoo effects on the hair strandBut that’s not all! His advice always includes a simple OTC recommendation: use a shampoo that doesn’t contain any ingredients known to irritate the scalp and cause inflammation, which will lead to hair loss. Read more about irritants in shampoos here.

Dr. Wolfeld asserts “It’s clear that inflammation triggers hair loss. 

Furthermore, it makes sense that shampoos that deposit residues on the scalp may interfere with hair growth and cause inflammation. As a precaution, I recommend avoiding them.”

Which brings us to the dangers of THICKENING SHAMPOOS...

How Does Thickening Shampoo Work?

Thickening shampoos have thickening resins and other ingredients that are designed to stick to your hair in order to make it plump. 

They work by coating each hair strand with adhering ingredients like silicones, or keratin proteins or wheat proteins, adding volume and making hair appear fuller.

They also contain humectants that draw moisture into the hair shaft, causing it to swell and look thicker. While they improve the appearance of thickness, they don't change the actual thickness of hair strands or increase hair count.

Is Thickening Shampoo Bad for Hair?

Unfortunately, those ingredients typically found in thickening shampoos also stick to your scalp. The result? Build up that clogs follicles, blocks new hair growth and these factors may lead to hair loss.

Check out this video from THE DOCTORS:

This is what our founder, Gail Federici, has to say on the matter:

gail federici, founder & ceo

“The shampoo that you choose can make a really big difference. It can actually exacerbate the thinning of the hair because, over the years, more and more ingredients have been added to shampoos that have nothing to do with cleansing. 

If your shampoo says it cleans your hair and thickens, you want to stay away from that. You don't want those ingredients.”


2 in 1 shampooGail says that 'two-in-ones' (shampoo and conditioner combined in one formula) are equally bad. And for the same reason: residues from conditioning agents cling to hair and scalp, and can block hair follicles.

Your guy might be saving time by using a combined shampoo and conditioner. But he could be losing hair!

What Shampoo Does NOT Cause Hair Loss?

shampoo product next to a woman lathering her hair with shampoo

The best way to help your guy prevent (and certainly slow) hair loss? Tell him to stay away from shampoos that promise to leave his hair thicker, fuller, or moisturized. And steer him to a formula that leaves nothing behind but clean.

color wow shampooHere’s a proactive way to keep balding at bay! Choose a shampoo that has a positive effect on scalp and hair growth: one that keeps hair fresh, scalp clear and allows strands to grow without any blockage.

Your best bet? Color Wow Color Security Shampoo. The translucent formula is totally free of added ingredients that can negatively affect your hair density.

Why risk hair loss from other shampoos when this one is a clear winner?!

curl wow hooked shampooFor our curly fellas (or honestly anyone looking for extra anti-shedding protection), we highly recommend our Curl Wow Hooked Shampoo.

In addition to being 100% clean and residue-free, it’s also formulated with Procapil®*, a root-locking technology that helps anchor hair into the follicle for less shedding. 

*Procapil® is a registered trademark of Sederma

Other Commonly Asked Questions Around the Link Between Shampoo and Hair Loss

We tapped in our in-house chemist, Dr. Joe Cincotta, Ph.D., to answer your most pressing questions around shampoo and hair loss.

dr joe cincotta1. Can NOT shampooing cause hair loss?

“Not washing your hair regularly will lead to buildup of sebum (oils), dead skin cells, bacteria, fungus, grime, salt (from sweat) and product buildup on the scalp,” Dr. Joe says. “This buildup can lead to serious infections that can damage hair follicles and lead to hair loss.”

2. Can shampooing every day cause hair loss?

“Yes, if you are using shampoos that promise more than just cleansing hair and are engineered to leave ingredients behind to condition, defrizz, thicken hair, then shampooing every day can lead to hair loss,” Dr. Joe says.

“If you use a gentle sulfate-free cleansing shampoo, such as Color Wow Color Security Shampoo, which is clinically tested not to leave any residues on hair and scalp, you will create a clean healthy scalp environment which will produce healthy hair.”

3. Can changing shampoo cause hair loss?

“Again,” Dr. Joe warns, “stay away from shampoos engineered to leave behind conditioning polymers, silicones, volumizing or thickening polymers, waxes and oils. Use a shampoo formulated to leave no residues left behind on your hair or scalp.”

4. Can using too much shampoo cause hair loss?

“It is not about too much shampoo,” Dr. Joe clarifies. “It’s about ingredient residues left behind on your scalp. I always encourage all to thoroughly rinse hair after using a shampoo.”

5. Can dry shampoo cause hair loss?

"Yes, dry shampoos can lead to hair loss. Despite being called a “shampoo,” dry shampoos don’t actually clean your hair. Instead, they add more buildup that temporarily soaks up oils and makes hair appear clean. A powder-based dry shampoo can also mix with your scalp’s natural oils and form a paste that sticks to your scalp. All this buildup can result in clogged follicles, which can eventually lead to hair loss."

Read more about how dry shampoo works here.

6. Can purple shampoo cause hair loss?

“The dyes used in purple shampoos can enter the hair follicles and cause irritation or allergic reactions. I do not recommend regular use of these purple shampoos and instead suggest our Color Wow Purple Toning and Styling Foam,” Dr. Joe says.

Learn more about our stance on purple shampoo here.

Read more hair care tips and tricks on the Color Wow Blog:

  • How often should you really wash your hair?
  • What role does conditioner play in your hair care routine?
  • Learn how to properly wash your hair with these key tips
  • Shop This Blog Post