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Hims Shampoo Review: Does Hims really work for hair loss?

In this Hims hair review, we tell you everything you need to know about their products that treat male pattern baldness.

Last Updated: Mar 28, 2021
Hims Shampoo Review

For most of human history, the treatment of baldness was a lost cause. Once you started to lose your hair, there was no stopping it. If you couldn’t let it go gracefully, your options were limited to bad toupees, creepy spray-on hair, or a full head shave. Today, your options are significantly more hopeful, including prescription drugs administered orally or topically and non-prescription treatments like biotin supplements.

Hims Shampoo is a non-prescription shampoo formulated with ingredients that can help you stop and even reverse hair loss. It’s not a magic bullet, but it can be effective, especially when combined with other treatments. Best of all, it doesn’t suffer from any of the unpleasant side effects associated with the most commonly used prescription options. Our testers tried Hims Shampoo for themselves, along with Hims Thickening Conditioner, so you could get a first-hand account of the experience.

Editor's Summary

Overall Rating 8.6 / 10

Low-cost and low-risk, Hims Shampoo is a helpful tool in treating your hair loss. Studies have connected its active ingredients with a reduction in levels of the hormone that causes male pattern baldness. It works best as a supporting player alongside stronger, more proven treatments.

Pros

  • Saw palmetto, the shampoo’s main ingredient, shows promise in hair loss studies.
  • Excludes common ingredients that can damage fragile hair.
  • Topical DHT-blockers are less risky than oral ones.
  • Has a pleasant scent.
  • Hims offers a free hair consultation.

Cons

  • Topical saw palmetto may not be as powerful as oral supplementation.
  • While gentler, DHT-blocking shampoos aren’t as effective as other treatments.
  • If it isn’t male pattern hair loss, the shampoo won’t necessarily help.
Our Top Picks

Hims Thickening Shampoo

Hims Shampoo is a helpful supporting actor as you work to prevent male pattern baldness and try to regrow hair.

Shampoo alone will likely not be enough to accomplish your goals of preventing hair loss and regrowing hair. But since Hims' includes topical saw palmetto and excludes harsh ingredients, it can help you as you use additional aggressive treatments.

Thickening Shampoo
Reviewed by Innerbody Research
$19
Hair Power Pack
Reviewed by Innerbody Research
$23

Does Hims shampoo work?

The short answer is yes, to a limited extent — Hims Shampoo can likely help you in the fight against hair loss, but not nearly as much or as predictably as other hair loss treatments like minoxidil, finasteride, or a combination of the two. Hims incidentally offers an excellent combination of minoxidil + finasteride, which you could use along with the shampoo to combat hair loss.

If you make it a part of your regular cleansing routine, this particular shampoo will also leave your hair feeling clean and soft. Our testers found that after a few treatments, they could each notice a sense of density in their hair without the overly fluffy texture you’d get from a shampoo packed with sulfates.

How we evaluated Hims Shampoo

Hims Shampoo Power Pack

We evaluated Hims Shampoo based on criteria that most potential users would find the most helpful, like cost, ingredient quality, customer experience, and effectiveness at treating hair loss and simply washing and caring for your hair.

Cost

9.4/10

There are several hair-thickening shampoos on the market, many of which don’t contain the DHT blocking saw palmetto found in Hims Shampoo. At $19, it has a lower price tag than just about all of its competitors, but it’s also less expensive than most when you compare the cost of each shampoo by the ounce. And Hims Shampoo creates a nice lather without a lot of product, so the 6.4-ounce monthly allotment should last you the full 30 days.

Men looking for a more comprehensive approach to their hair loss treatment will appreciate the additional products available from Hims. Many of those exist in bundles that also include Hims Shampoo, allowing you to get your hands on things like a moisturizing conditioner, biotin gummies, prescription finasteride, and more for less than you’d pay to buy each individually.

Ingredient quality

9.0/10

With more than 70% natural ingredients, Hims does an excellent job providing you with shampoo that won’t cause a lot of damage to your hair. That’s very important if you’re hoping to keep or even regrow hair. Its saw palmetto is the key to combating DHT on the scalp, but the things that are not in the shampoo are equally noteworthy. Hims Shampoo is sulfate-free, gluten-free, paraben-free, and phthalate-free. It’s never tested on animals, and its ingredients are totally vegan.

Customer experience

8.8/10

The Hims website is well-designed and simple to navigate. Finding the listing for their hair loss products is easy, and their prescription offerings are clearly marked, so you can find what you want in short order. You don’t need to speak with a doctor to acquire Hims Shampoo, and it arrives on a regular monthly basis to ensure you never run out. Our testers’ first orders all came within five days via USPS.

If you have any questions about the product or still wish to speak with a doctor regarding your hair loss, the consultation is free, and Hims’ customer support staff are friendly and knowledgeable.

Try Hims

Effectiveness (hair loss)

6.8/10

DHT is the primary culprit when it comes to male pattern hair loss. Saw palmetto extract, the active ingredient in Hims Shampoo, can help reduce its presence on the scalp. That can not only stop hair loss in its tracks, but it can also allow hair the opportunity to grow back. Unfortunately, saw palmetto can’t keep DHT levels low enough to make a significant impact on its own. It will likely reduce DHT somewhat, but it works best when used as part of a more comprehensive regimen including finasteride and/or minoxidil.

Effectiveness (hair cleanliness)

9.2/10

For simply cleaning hair, Hims Shampoo is excellent. It uses mostly natural ingredients, and it doesn’t contain many common additives that cause lesser shampoos to damage your hair. Its fragrance is all-natural and appealing, and it lathers well without using up too much product. It does an admirable job of keeping hair moist and healthy, as well, reducing the likelihood of breakage and adding volume to fight the appearance of thinness.

How exactly does Hims Shampoo work?

As men age, it’s quite common for them to experience male pattern hair loss on the scalp, even as new hair grows elsewhere on the body. Interestingly, a hormone called DHT is primarily responsible for both phenomena.

Finasteride (the main ingredient in Propecia) and minoxidil (the main ingredient in Rogaine) are among the most popular treatments that target DHT on the scalp and within the body. Hims Shampoo utilizes saw palmetto extract as its primary active ingredient. It is a natural substance that requires no prescription and shows promise in reducing scalp DHT in several studies.

What is DHT?

DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is a male sex hormone (or androgen) that plays a major role in male pattern hair loss. It’s also responsible for hair growth elsewhere as men age.

The male body contains an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, which converts testosterone into DHT in places like our skin, prostate gland, liver, and hair follicles. 5-alpha reductase and DHT are essential for our bodies to develop sexually. If you’re one of the many men genetically predisposed to male pattern hair loss, an overabundance of DHT will eventually weaken the hair follicles in your scalp and cause male pattern baldness to occur.

Saw palmetto as a DHT-blocker

Used medicinally by Native Americans for centuries, the saw palmetto berry has properties that make it promising for men with hair loss. Specifically, it acts as a non-selective 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, reducing the amount of 5-alpha reductase in the body. That means your body will convert less testosterone into DHT.

One study shows that saw palmetto yields positive results in combating male pattern hair loss when taken orally. However, it isn’t as effective as oral finasteride in the study’s side-by-side comparison. Saw palmetto’s topical efficacy is not as thoroughly substantiated. One study demonstrated usefulness in increasing hair count, but it used a concentrated saw palmetto topical.

It may seem like the obvious answer is to take saw palmetto orally instead of topically, but there are a few good reasons to consider sticking with a topical application. For starters, even a natural botanical ingredient like saw palmetto can cause side effects when taken orally in concentrated doses. Those side effects typically include dizziness, headache, and digestive issues. None of those side effects are present with topical application.

Another study found that almost 50% of men with androgenic alopecia saw a nearly 12% increase in hair count when using concentrated topical saw palmetto along with another substance (trichogen veg complex) not found in Hims Shampoo. This pattern of studies showing positive results with saw palmetto used in conjunction with other botanical treatments is typical of the literature.

It’s also worth noting that the evidence in support of saw palmetto for male pattern hair loss suggests that it is most effective for hair loss at the vertex/crown area of the head, rather than receding hairlines.

For now, there isn’t enough proven potency and efficacy to recommend the shampoo as a stand-alone weapon against male pattern hair loss. However, it appears to be an undeniably valuable supplement to a comprehensive course of treatment, and its ability to care for and volumize hair is still of great use.

Other noteworthy ingredients

Hims Shampoo has a relatively long list of inactive ingredients, many of which are among the industry’s gentlest options for creating an effective shampoo. Some of those include:

  • Cocamidopropyl betaine - a surfactant derived partially from coconut oil
  • Decyl glucoside - another surfactant commonly found in baby shampoo, used as a substitute for sulfates
  • Cetyl palmitate - a waxy, texture-enhancing substance that was once harvested from the skulls of sperm whales (but isn’t anymore)
  • Xylitol - A naturally occurring sugar substitute used to enhance the aroma of the shampoo

You’ll notice that like most shampoo on the market, Hims Shampoo contains plenty of ingredients that are a mouthful to pronounce. Close examination of them finds many naturally occurring compounds that Hims selected for their effectiveness and their gentleness. That allows their shampoo to get the job done while still protecting your hair.

Getting started at Hims

Hims Shampoo costs $19 for a 6.4-ounce bottle. Although that isn’t cheap compared to regular shampoo without the specially formulated ingredients to fight hair loss, it is pretty reasonable compared to other shampoos that share this goal.

Like all of Hims’ services, you buy Hims Shampoo directly from the company’s website. If it’s convenient, you can also place a recurring monthly order or set your orders to recur every two or three months.

If you are interested in exploring additional, more aggressive hair loss treatment options through Hims, you can readily begin the free initial telemedicine consultation. There you will answer some basic questions about your hair loss goals while providing important information about your medical history. Read more about this process and all Hims’ hair loss treatments and other telemedicine services in our full Hims review.

You might conclude that it’s worth a little extra investment per month to keep your hair. In that instance, Hims offers prescription and non-prescription kits that bundle some of their best products to save you money and increase your odds in the fight against hair loss. We very much recommend these treatment combinations.

Using Hims Shampoo

Hims Shampoo is suitable for daily use, but it will accommodate your existing washing routine. Recent studies suggest that washing your hair less frequently might be better for it than a daily cleanse, but fighting hair loss may require a more stringent approach. Dirt, oil, and dead skin cells can block follicles, making it more difficult to regrow hair. Take note of your daily activity level and the cleanliness of your environment, and adjust your showering schedule to keep your hair clean without overwashing it.

When you shampoo your hair, don’t scrub too hard. Instead, work the shampoo gradually into a lather and massage gently.

Insider Tip: In testing, we found that the lather slowly subsided as we worked the shampoo through our hair. This is actually a good thing; when the lather fades, you know you’ve done a good job massaging it into your scalp. Then, you simply let it sit for a minute and rinse. This method allows the beneficial ingredients to do everything they can do for you.

Using Hims Shampoo, you’ll find that it has a pleasant scent not too different from tea tree oil. It’s not too strong, though, and afterward, your hair will smell clean and fresh without carrying any intense aromas around all day. If you have Hims Thickening Conditioner, you will use it right after the shampoo.

Ingredients Hims wisely left out

What Hims Shampoo doesn’t contain is also important. For anyone trying to confront male pattern baldness, you should aim to avoid ingredients that damage or weaken your hair.

No parabens

We are glad to see that the shampoo does not contain parabens, a common ingredient in low-cost shampoos. A preservative in many industrial applications, parabens can significantly damage your hair and scalp.

No sulfates

Sulfates can dry out hair and lead to breakage. Broken hairs will make a thinning set of locks look even thinner. It’s an ingredient many savvy consumers now scrutinize, so Hims did well to exclude it.

No DEA

Diethanolamine is a chemical sometimes included in shampoos to make the suds foamier. It can leave your hair damaged. Studies also show it to be a carcinogen for animals, which is disconcerting.

No TEA

Triethanolamine, like DEA, is a chemical that damages your hair and may also be carcinogenic.

Room for the shampoo to improve

If and when Hims reformulates its shampoo again, we would love for them to consider adding some of the following ingredients. Studies lend credence to their topical use in fighting male pattern hair loss, and they have some additional benefits.

Ketoconazole

Used in shampoo primarily to treat dandruff and as an antifungal agent, ketoconazole could also benefit hair loss treatment. One study found that long-term use of 2% ketoconazole was as effective as 2% minoxidil. Studies on mice also demonstrate positive results with ketoconazole.

Another study demonstrated the ability of ketoconazole (2% in a shampoo) to block DHT at the scalp.

Pyrithione zinc

A different anti-dandruff ingredient in some shampoos, pyrithione zinc could help men fight hair loss mainly by clearing out dead skin cells that can clog follicles and impair hair growth. One study of 200 men found that 1% pyrithione zinc topically was about half as effective as 5% minoxidil for treating male pattern baldness.

Other treatment options

Finasteride (generic for Propecia) is a popular DHT-blocking prescription medication conveniently available from Hims and elsewhere. A 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, finasteride works to prevent testosterone from converting to DHT.

But finasteride isn’t suitable for everyone. About 2% of men taking oral finasteride report unpleasant side effects, some of which relate to their sexual health. That’s why topical finasteride is gaining popularity, not to mention why tried-and-true solutions of minoxidil remain among the most popular treatments available.

Applying DHT-blockers topically rather than taking them orally is gentler on your body. The topical mode reduces your risk of contraindications and unwanted side effects because the activity is essentially limited to the application site. And the topical application can still shield hair follicles from the negative effects of DHT.

For men seeking additional non-prescription help, Hims also offers biotin gummies and a specially formulated conditioner that contains niacinamide. Together with Hims Shampoo, this combination is gentle and effective, and it will leave your hair looking clean and healthy.

To read up on all treatment options and compare them, check out our guide to the best hair loss treatments for men.

How Hims Shampoo compares to the competition

There are a lot of companies that offer shampoo intended to mitigate the effects of male pattern baldness. Some products, like Jack Black’s True Volume, merely volumize hair to make it appear thicker and hide bits of the scalp that would otherwise shine through. Others, like Pure Biology’s Revivahair or Pura D’or’s Original Gold Label, contain ingredients like saw palmetto, niacin, caffeine, or biotin. In almost every instance, Hims Shampoo is both more effective and less expensive, making it an easy choice by comparison.

One significant competitor that offers an undeniably effective product for a competitive price is Keeps. Their primary offering is a prescription-strength shampoo, but their non-prescription thickening shampoo combines saw palmetto with biotin, green tea, and caffeine. It costs nearly $0.22 less per ounce than Hims Shampoo, and its ingredient quality is similar, but the shampoo is not sulfate-free or vegan.

Final thoughts on this hair loss shampoo

The reason to use Hims Shampoo is to keep as much of your hair as possible. When you use it along with additional treatments, you can rest assured that the shampoo is not working against your hair loss goals; there are no ingredients in Hims shampoo that would set you back. Its saw palmetto lends a helping hand in clearing some of the damaging DHT from where it could harm your fragile hair follicles. But that alone will likely not be enough to stop hair loss; for that, you need to combine this with other treatments.

That’s why we recommend using Hims Shampoo as a complementary treatment alongside more potent options like finasteride or minoxidil. When appropriately used, these approaches do not interfere with one another, so they can collectively do more for you than any single effort alone. And since the shampoo and conditioner can leave anyone’s hair feeling full, clean, and manageable, there’s certainly no harm in using them.

Why you should trust us

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions to live healthier lifestyles. We extensively test each health service we review, including Hims Shampoo.

All told, our team has spent over 160 hours testing and researching the products and services of top hair loss companies. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health services, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate the service based on our adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review of Hims Shampoo was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

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