Photo by Innerbody Research
For most of human history, baldness has been a subject of ridicule. Even in the Bible, some kids make fun of the prophet Elijah for being bald, and immediately after pronouncing a curse on them, two bears come out of the woods and maul 42 of the kids.1 The average man insecure about his hair loss doesn’t have that kind of bear-summoning power to vanquish anyone who might make fun of him. But things have come a long way since then.
Not too long ago, 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, unconvincing 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 minoxidil and nutritional supplements.
Hims offers a trio of shampoo options aimed at tackling hair loss and other typical male hair issues. All three are non-prescription formulas with ingredients that can help stop and even reverse hair loss, limit dandruff, or add volume. The hair loss option, in particular, is 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 all of Hims shampoo and conditioner options for themselves, so you could get a first-hand account of the experience.
Low-cost and low-risk, Hims Thick Fix 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. Hims’ other shampoo and conditioner options are equally effective for their intended uses, and we believe they’re a smart choice for most men.
At Innerbody Research, we extensively test each health service we review, including Hims Shampoo products. Our team ordered and used each of its shampoos and conditioners until the bottles ran out, so we could give you a first-hand accounting of the products’ effectiveness and our personal experiences with them. We also did the same with the products from major competitors like Keeps.
Our team has also spent over 560 hours poring over scientific journal articles pertaining to hair loss and common ingredients in the fight against it, as well as researching the products and services of other top hair loss companies. 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.
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions to live healthier lifestyles.
Photo by Innerbody Research
We evaluated Hims Shampoo based on criteria that potential users would find the most helpful, like cost, safety, customer experience, and effectiveness at treating hair loss, dandruff, or volume issues, depending on the specific shampoo in question. The scores below are averages across all three of Hims’ available shampoos.
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, Hims Thick Fix 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.
Each of Hims’ other shampoos — Dandruff Detox and Max Volume — come in at just $18, or $17 if you purchase with a subscription. On the volumizing side, that’s not an exceptional price, but for a product that’s free of sulfates, parabens, silicone, and phthalates, that’s relatively impressive. Only Roman offers a product with similar ingredients (both the good they left in and the bad they left out) for a better price.
The anti-dandruff shampoo is an especially good deal. While many dandruff-fighting shampoos will utilize individual ingredients like salicylic acid, ketoconazole, or pyrithione zinc, Hims combines two of those three (salicylic acid and pyrithione zinc) in a single product. Keeps — Hims’ closest competitor — only offers a ketoconazole shampoo at a concentration that requires a prescription. And that treatment costs $33 per bottle.
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 a bundle that also includes Hims Shampoo, allowing you to get your hands on things like biotin gummies, minoxidil, prescription finasteride, and Thick Fix for less than you’d pay to buy each individually.
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DHT is the primary culprit when it comes to male pattern hair loss. Saw palmetto extract, the active ingredient in Hims Thick Fix Shampoo, can help reduce its presence on the scalp.2 That can not only stop hair loss, 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.
For simply cleaning hair, Hims Shampoo is excellent. It doesn’t contain many common additives that cause lesser shampoos to damage your hair, like sulfates and parabens. Our testers found its fragrance appealing, and it lathers well without using up too much product. It does an admirable job of keeping hair moist and healthy, reducing the likelihood of breakage, and adding volume to fight the appearance of thinness. Several testers who don’t currently suffer from hair loss have continued to use it. Thickening shampoos are relatively common among Hims’ competitors like Keeps and Roman, and all three are comparably effective.
For even more volume, Hims Max Volume is a better choice, but it doesn’t offer the saw palmetto you find in Thick Fix, so it’s best for men who still have plenty of hair to thicken. Our testers saw a noticeable difference in apparent size and waviness after using Max Volume.
The anti-dandruff shampoo works well for its intended use. One of our testers typically relied on a medicated shampoo to fight their dandruff, and Hims’ Dandruff Detox worked comparably well. The most impressive thing about it wasn’t its dandruff-fighting capabilities, though. It was the scent.
Most anti-dandruff shampoos we’ve encountered have medicinal smells that some companies hide better than others. Salicylic acid-based anti-dandruff shampoos like Avalon Organics can smell almost like latex paint. And ketoconazole offerings like the one from Keeps have an acrid scent that doesn’t seem to linger after rinsing but is unpleasant during the wash. Hims Dandruff Detox didn’t suffer from any noticeably unpleasant smell. Our testers found that its fragrance was light, minty, and almost unremarkable, which is much better than the clinical aroma other anti-dandruff products produce.
It’s also worth noting that the irritation associated with dandruff can exacerbate hair loss by uprooting hair prematurely and increasing oxidative stress in an already fragile scalp environment.3 Addressing dandruff can help heal the scalp and give you a leg up in your fight. And if you’re someone who works out every day and feels the need to shampoo after each session, you can alternate between Thick Fix and Dandruff Detox to reap the benefits of saw palmetto to inhibit DHT, as well.
Too many shampoos rely on ingredients that ultimately do more harm than good for your hair. Things like sulfates and artificial dyes can dry out your hair and make your hair loss situation worse over time. When we look at the ingredient selections for Hims’ three shampoo options, the list of ingredients is impressive, but the list of ingredients the company excludes from its products is even more important.
Hims’ shampoos are all:
Keeps’ ketoconazole shampoo contains sulfates and dyes, and it makes no claims of being cruelty-free or vegan.
You can also compare that to a common product like Head & Shoulders, whose products can’t claim anywhere near that many noteworthy absences. Also, its most effective products rely on selenium sulfide to fight dandruff. Selenium sulfide is an effective ingredient, but it’s associated with more adverse effects than other treatment options, and it’s been known to exacerbate hair loss in some study participants (which is likely the opposite of what you want if you’re looking into Hims shampoo).4
That said, some active ingredients in Hims’ shampoos carry a risk for low-level adverse effects like scalp discomfort, cool sensation, and mild burning or itching.5 But, for the most part, these products are among the safest you can reach for to treat hair loss, dandruff, and low-volume issues.
You don’t need to speak with a doctor to acquire any Hims Shampoo, but navigating the site to that shampoo can be tricky if you’ve never been to the site before. The first and most obvious link for hair loss products initiates the intake quiz through which men can receive prescriptions for finasteride or recommendations for minoxidil. If you just want to go on the site and buy some shampoo, you’ll have to click the three short horizontal lines in the corner (a relatively common “hamburger” menu icon). Click on “Hair” in the drop menu that this button initiates, and you’ll be able to find shampoo and conditioner products under hair care.
There’s a live chat feature for customer support, as well, but it’s a bit hidden. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and select “Customer Help Center,” you’ll have access to an extensive FAQ. The bottom left corner of the page will also offer you the live chat option, which we highly recommend if you have any questions. Wait times are typically short, and the staff on the other end is friendly and knowledgeable. This is superior to the system Keeps offers, which is a searchable FAQ and an email form — no live chat.
Thick Fix used to be available on a subscription basis, which saved you a little money and helped ensure you didn’t run out of the product. For some reason, Hims has done away with the subscription option for Thick Fix, even though you can get its other two shampoos as a subscription. Our testers' first orders all came within five business days via USPS.
Ultimately, the best customer experience is one where you’re looking for a multi-faceted approach to treating your hair loss. You can have a free consultation and get prescriptions for certain finasteride products as well as two available forms of minoxidil. And if you want to investigate the company’s other healthcare offerings like psychiatry, primary care, or men’s sexual wellness products (including prescription ED and premature ejaculation meds), you’ll be able to intertwine those experiences with relative ease.
The short answer is yes, to a limited extent — Hims Shampoo, specifically its Thick Fix 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, as well as a bundle that includes all three products.
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.
Hims Dandruff Detox is also very effective at inhibiting the growth of Malassezia, a genus of yeast we all have on our heads but one to which those with dandruff are more sensitive. Our testers found Dandruff Detox to work just as well as other medicated OTC anti-dandruff shampoos like Head & Shoulders or Avalon Organics.
Max Volume offers the least impressive performance of the three. It still works — it added some volume to all of our testers’ hair — but fighting hair loss and dandruff are taller orders that the other two products fill impressively.
Each of Hims three shampoos has its own set of ingredients designed to fight hair loss, reduce dandruff, and volumize hair, respectively. We’ll look at how each product achieved its claims below, but here’s a quick chart to break down each product’s intention and main ingredients.
|Thick Fix||Dandruff Detox||Max Volume|
|Primary goal||Fight hair loss||Reduce dandruff||Increase hair volume|
|Main ingredient(s)||Saw palmetto||Pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid||Linden bud extract (BIOVOLUME 128), caffeine, chia seed oil, biotin, hydrolyzed rice protein|
|Innerbody efficacy rating||7.5||9.0||7.7|
|Innerbody scent rating||8.4||8.2||8.8|
Photo by Innerbody Research
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.6 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.
DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is a male sex hormone (or androgen) that plays a major role in male pattern hair loss.35 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.7 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.
Used medicinally by Indigenous 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.8 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, not a shampoo.9
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.10 This pattern of studies showing positive results with saw palmetto used in conjunction with other botanical treatments is typical of the literature.
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 Hims shampoo as a stand-alone weapon against male pattern hair loss. However, it appears to be a valuable supplement to a comprehensive course of treatment, and its ability to care for and volumize hair is still of great use.
Keeps also makes a thickening shampoo based around saw palmetto that includes biotin, caffeine, and green tea for added effect. But its shampoo is a little more expensive than Hims, and it isn’t sulfate-free.
From what research shows, 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 botanical ingredient like saw palmetto can cause side effects when taken orally in concentrated doses. One study consisting of nearly 400 participants saw the following side effects appear in numbers greater than placebo:11
It’s worth noting that none of these adverse effects appeared in numbers researchers deemed significantly higher than those presented in the placebo group. Perhaps more importantly, none of those side effects are present with topical application. That doesn’t mean there are no side effects associated with topical saw palmetto use.
One systematic review of studies looking at both topical and oral saw palmetto found topical applications associated with:5
However, these effects came from concentrated topical solutions, which, while more effective than a shampoo, also carry higher risks. And compared to Hims’ top competitors in Roman and Keeps, Hims may be the safer choice. That’s because Hims is free of certain potentially dangerous ingredients you’ll find in competitors' products, like dyes and sulfates. Keeps and Roman also use a few other key ingredients intended to address hair loss and hair health directly, like caffeine and biotin. The side effect profiles for these ingredients are low, but their presence mildly increases risk factors you won’t have to worry about with Hims.36
Photo by Innerbody Research
While dandruff may be seen by some as a sign of uncleanliness, the truth is that people with dandruff have the same scalp environment as those without it. And around half of the world’s population suffers from it.¹² All of us are home to innumerable microorganisms, including yeast and fungi, that live on our heads. One such yeast genus — Malassezia — lives off the oil on our scalps. People with dandruff are more sensitive to it, which leads to irritation, itchiness, and flaking.
Most anti-dandruff shampoos target this fungus as a way to alleviate dandruff symptoms, and there are several effective ingredients in the fight:
While its mechanism of action isn’t completely understood, studies regularly illustrate pyrithione zinc’s effectiveness at normalizing the scalp environment.13 This is one of two main ingredients in Dandruff Detox.
A double-blind study using salicylic acid and sulfur (which can also be found in Dandruff Detox) saw “significantly greater and earlier reductions in degree of scaling.”14 This is the other main ingredient in Dandruff Detox.
Available as an OTC treatment in lower concentrations or as a prescription treatment at 2% and above, ketoconazole has been shown to reduce dandruff and serve as a prophylactic against its recurrence with once-weekly use.15 One study found that long-term use of 2% ketoconazole was as effective as 2% minoxidil, though most minoxidil treatments for men are 5% solutions.16 Keeps relies on a 2% ketoconazole shampoo as its anti-dandruff product.
Selenium sulfide is a well-studied and reliably effective dandruff treatment found in products like Head & Shoulders and Selsun Blue. However, it’s associated with a higher degree of irritation than other ingredients.17
These acids are just strong enough to inhibit the growth of Malassezia species.18 We don’t recommend that you pour ACV over your head in the shower (though one tester did try this), but you can look for products that contain it, like the anti-dandruff products from Shea Moisture.
Each of these anti-fungal ingredients has been shown to be effective, though some mechanisms of action, like that of pyrithione zinc, are still not completely understood.19
Often, an anti-dandruff shampoo will center on one of these ingredients, but Hims Dandruff Detox contains both pyrithione zinc and salicylic acid. That increases the likelihood it’ll work without oversaturating your scalp with a single ingredient. Specifically, the salicylic acid allows for a 1% pyrithione zinc concentration, when typical concentrations range from 0.3%-2%. This should decrease the risk of contact dermatitis reactions.
Photo by Innerbody Research
Hims’ closest competitor, Keeps, uses a 2% ketoconazole shampoo as its dandruff fighter. It’s a little pricer than Dandruff Detox, and it requires a prescription to access. And in one large, multicenter trial comparing 2% ketoconazole shampoo with a 1% pyrithione zinc shampoo, the ketoconazole only outperformed the zinc by six percentage points (73% satisfaction with ketoconazole over 67% with zinc).20
Of course, these ingredients are just there to target Malassezia, and while using them can reduce dandruff over time, they can’t heal the damage that’s already been done. That’s why many companies add soothing ingredients to their anti-dandruff shampoos to help heal the scalp. In Dandruff Detox, those include avocado oil and argan oil.
Keeps’ ketoconazole shampoo doesn’t contain any ingredients that nourish the scalp. In fact, its use of sulfates and red 40 may increase irritation on a scalp that’s already suffering. It also won’t be great for the quality of your hair.
Lastly, Hims Dandruff Detox compares favorably to prescription shampoos like Keeps when it comes to scent. We found the Dandruff Detox to smell light, minty, and rather unremarkable. By contrast, the Keeps prescription ketoconazole shampoo had a distinct medicinal smell to it.
Fighting dandruff can be an effective tool in hair loss treatment, as well. The logic is both sound and straightforward. As someone sensitive to Malassezia, its presence on your scalp causes discomfort, flaking, and itching. If you scratch that itch, the flaking only gets worse.3 This damage to the scalp can cause an early ejection of hairs that might not have been ready to shed yet. And the dandruff itself — essentially dead skin cells — can gum up follicles and prevent regrowth.
By treating dandruff effectively, you end up with a cleaner, healthier scalp that can accommodate regrowth.
Hims Dandruff Detox should be safe for most men with dandruff issues. That said, pyrithione zinc and salicylic acid have been associated with minor topical side effects, including skin irritation. If you have severe dandruff, which often results in small lesions on the scalp, you’ll need to talk to a doctor before utilizing any anti-dandruff medications, whether OTC or prescription.
None of our testers experienced any adverse effects throughout our time trying Dandruff Detox.
Photo by Innerbody Research
For many men, neither dandruff nor hair loss is a relevant issue. But that doesn’t mean their hair journey is stagnant. They may still have to confront flat, heavy hair that is particularly difficult to work with — and that requires styling to look anywhere near attractive.
These men might consider Hims Max Volume, a volumizing shampoo designed to invigorate individual strands and give the entire head of hair a bit more life. It does this by utilizing a patented ingredient called BIOVOLUME 128. This component, produced by Normactive Cosmetics, mostly contains linden bud extract and allows your hair to absorb and retain more water.
In addition to BIOVOLUME 128, Hims Max Volume contains four other key ingredients that may boost volume and improve overall hair health:
Hims lists chia oil as one of the key ingredients of its Max Volume shampoo, but little research exists on its topical use for hair health, and Hims doesn’t even associate with any specific claims the way it does for the other ingredients in this list. We can assume that, like many oils, it can nourish the hair and scalp, but that’s not a lot to go on.23 Plenty of claims are circulating about its use in cosmetics, but target research is not available.
Biotin has been studied extensively for hair loss and is a common supplement among those seeking richer hair, skin, and nails.24 But biotin deficiency is rare, and nutritional supplementation appears to bear limited fruit. Some studies have included biotin in complexes alongside minoxidil and other effective topical treatments, and these have been successful, but we lack data comparing that type of complex formula to biotin in isolation.25
According to one systematic review, rice protein can increase the expression of hair growth factors and decrease inflammation around hair follicles.26 Its inclusion in Max Volume may be less about boosting volume and more about maintaining hair health.
In testing, we found the results to be admirable, though the bar for volumizing is a bit lower than fighting dandruff or restoring hair growth. Testers with hair that lacked volume saw an increase that lasted most of the day. It’s still more expensive than products from companies like OGX or Shea Moisture, but it’s cheaper than competitors like PURA D’OR or Prose.
Hims Thick Fix and Max Volume shampoos have complementary conditioners you can use alongside them to round out your hair care routine. The Dandruff Detox does not have a partner conditioner, which we found a little disappointing since other brands like Avalon Organics, Head & Shoulders, and Shea Moisture all offer anti-dandruff conditioners to work with their shampoos.
As with the shampoo options, the Max Volume conditioner was the best-smelling of the bunch. The Thick Fix conditioner still smells good, but our testers were unanimous about Max Volume’s citrus aroma being especially enjoyable. Max Volume conditioner is also the same price as the shampoo ($18 or $17 with a subscription). Thick Fix conditioner, however, costs $22 compared to the shampoo’s $19. Like Thick Fix shampoo, the conditioner does not have a subscription option.
The ingredient profile of the Max Volume conditioner is decidedly similar to the shampoo, relying on BIOVOLUME 128, biotin, and hydrolyzed rice protein. But the ingredients in the Thick Fix conditioner are noteworthy for their differences from what you find in the conditioner. Most prominently, there is no saw palmetto in the conditioner. Instead, it uses a combination of two B vitamins (panthenol and niacinamide) as its key ingredients.
Research into panthenol associates it with cell growth and maintenance, potentially making it an ideal candidate to pair with the saw palmetto in the shampoo.27 And niacinamide has been shown to inhibit the growth of Malassezia, the yeast responsible for dandruff. As a result, the Thick Fix conditioner may help with both hair growth and dandruff issues, making it as ideal a partner for Thick Fix as it is for the Dandruff Detox shampoo.
Thick Fix conditioner turned out to be one of the favorite products from this lineup among testers. In one instance, a tester’s wife tried it and enjoyed it enough to claim it for herself.
Hims shampoo products range in price from $17-$19 for a 6.4fl.oz. bottle. Here’s how each one prices out:
|Thick Fix||Dandruff Detox||Max Volume|
|Price with a subscription||N/A||$17||$17|
Hims provides free shipping on all orders, which is a boon compared to the $5 per order you’ll pay to get shampoo and other products from Keeps.
Like all of Hims’ services, you can buy Hims Shampoo directly from the company’s website. There was a time when these products were only available through the Hims website, but you can now access them in numerous retail locations and on several websites. Amazon, in particular, has good prices on Hims hair care products, with some shampoo or conditioner two-packs costing around $28.
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.
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 its best products to save you money and increase your odds in the fight against hair loss. We very much recommend these treatment combinations.
Hims Thick Fix Shampoo is suitable for daily use, but it can also accommodate your existing washing routine. Dermatologists 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.28 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.
Dandruff Detox may require fewer applications each week to be effective. Hims suggests using it at least twice weekly. And while Max Volume can be your regular shampoo, you could also save it for use on days when you’re going out and want that extra volume. BIOVOLUME 128, the active ingredient in Max Volume, typically works after a single use, and its effects last up to 12 hours.
When you shampoo your hair, don’t scrub too hard. Instead, work the shampoo gradually into a lather and massage gently.
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.
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. Many of these are also bad for general hair health, and they can even make styling more difficult.
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. Worse is that a safety review conducted in the Journal of Applied Toxicology found a link between cosmetic paraben exposure and a risk of estrogenic effects.29
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.
Diethanolamine is a chemical sometimes included in shampoos to make the suds foamier. It can leave your hair damaged. A safety assessment in the International Journal of Toxicology proclaimed it safe “when formulated to be nonirritating,” but that definition is far too vague for us to recommend its use.30
Triethanolamine, like DEA, is a chemical that damages your hair and may also be carcinogenic.31
Whether you want to use them alongside one of Hims’ shampoos or you want a different approach to treating hair loss altogether, there are plenty of options out there. Here, we’ll take a glimpse of a few more noteworthy candidates.
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.32
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.
First developed as a blood pressure medication, minoxidil soon became one of the most well-regarded hair loss treatments on the market. Those early studies looking at its cardiovascular effects used oral minoxidil, but a topical form — Rogaine — came out in the late 1980s and quickly became a hit. Since then, most of the research into minoxidil has focused on topical application.33
Recently, more attention has been paid to the potential for oral minoxidil to work for hair loss with a lower side effect risk than finasteride.34 But, since the minoxidil patent has lapsed, few pharmaceutical companies seem willing to put up the cash required for FDA approval. Fortunately, many urologists and some telehealth companies will prescribe oral minoxidil for hair loss. At this time, Hims is not one of them, but its sister company, Hers, recently added oral minoxidil. And as competitors like Happy Head and Roman begin to offer off-label oral minoxidil prescriptions for men, Hims might not be far behind.
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 offer ingredient profiles similar to what Hims has. We’ll take a quick look at competitors in each of the categories for which Hims has a shampoo, so you can see clearly what to expect from other companies.
Several companies offer shampoo and conditioner products targeting hair loss. Most notable among them are Keeps and Roman.
Here’s a quick comparison of the three:
|Hims Thick Fix||Keeps Thickening Shampoo||Roman Revive Shampoo|
|Price per bottle||$19||$22||$8|
|Key ingredients||Saw palmetto||Saw palmetto, caffeine, green tea, biotin||Saw palmetto, caffeine, pumpkin seed oil, salicylic acid|
As you can see, Hims outduels Keeps in the price department, but both companies lose out to Roman in price and ingredients. In addition to the four listed above, you’ll find helpful B vitamins and aloe in Roman’s shampoo to help nourish the scalp.
Men looking to battle dandruff will appreciate Hims Dandruff Detox. Our testers found it to be effective and to smell better than most competitors containing similar ingredients. Keeps ketoconazole shampoo is likely more effective based on studies comparing its main ingredient to pyrithione zinc, but Hims includes other ingredients designed for scalp health that are not present in the Keeps product. You’ll need to pair that Keeps shampoo with an especially effective conditioner to safeguard against lingering dryness and potential irritation. You also should know that Keeps' ketoconazole shampoo has a medicinal smell, unlike its other hair products and unlike Hims Dandruff Detox.
Roman doesn’t have an anti-dandruff shampoo, per se, but its Revive shampoo includes several ingredients common to the category, including panthenol and salicylic acid. And despite Dandruff Detox’s subscription price of $17, Roman’s offering is still a lot less expensive. So, if dandruff is a concern for you as it relates to hair loss — and not necessarily as its own issue — Roman’s product may be superior. But Hims is still a better choice for men with full albeit flaky heads of hair.
Hims Max Volume has no equal from Keeps or Roman, and there aren’t many other companies out there utilizing its main ingredient — BIOVOLUME 128, to achieve similar results. LxH is one example that offers a hair spray including BIOVOLUME 128, biotin, and hemp to help volumize hair. But it costs around $18 and still leaves you needing a shampoo.
Paul Mitchell has a volumizing shampoo that costs around $15 but doesn’t appear to have a central ingredient known for adding volume. It’s also not sulfate-free. Pete & Pedro is another company that targets a male demographic and offers a thickening shampoo. At $19, its price point is right in line with Hims, and it relies on biotin and rice protein to stimulate keratin production. But it isn’t dye-free, and it only comes in a green apple fragrance, which isn’t going to be for everyone.
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