The Best Thickening Shampoos in 2023


Luscious locks. A majestic mane. Tumbling tresses. There’s something about a healthy head of hair that automatically captures attention. The good kind. The kind of attention that comes with second glances and compliments from strangers. We all want that kind of hair.

Limp locks, a mangey mane and tired tresses just don’t have quite the same effect, do they? You don’t want that. We don’t want that. No one wants that. So, can you shampoo your way to a vibrant head of hair that shouts youth, good health, and desirability? That might be pushing it, but an effective thickening shampoo is a good place to start.

How Much Can You Really Change Your Hair?

Healthy hair comes down to numerous variables that go beyond simply hair-care products. Genetics, nutrition, overall health, lifestyle, and the environment all play a role in how healthy your hair is. While great hair-care products can certainly improve the texture and appearance of your hair, there are of course limits to what these products can do. 

Take, for example, the problem of thin or fine hair. When we talk about ‘thin hair’ we could be talking about the thickness of each individual strand of hair, but we could also be talking about the number of hairs on your head. The number of hair follicles that you have is determined by genetics and no shampoo – no matter how great – can change this. At least, not yet. However, a thickening shampoo can make each strand of hair thicker and, in doing so, create the illusion of a fuller head of hair. Shampoo can also create volume in your hair by adding lift to the roots, creating the impression of healthier hair. 

Sounds promising, right? But if you’ve ever browsed the hair-care aisle at your local supermarket you’ll know that there are a lot of products out there that claim to give you fuller, thicker hair. So, how do you figure out which ones actually work and – equally important – which thickening shampoo is the right fit for you? You could spend hours researching each brand, reading hundreds of customer reviews and trying to decipher lists of ingredients.  Or you could simply read through our round-up of the best thickening shampoos on the market in 2023. Imagine how much time that would save you; time better spent on hair-care and graciously accepting the compliments of strangers!

1. Blu Atlas Shampoo


You’d be forgiven for wondering how this shampoo cracked the number one spot on our list of the best thickening shampoos in 2023, after all, there is no mention of the words ‘thickening’ or ‘volumizing’ in the name or on the bottle. If you look a little closer, though, you will discover that this unassuming shampoo is packed full of all the right ingredients. For a start, let’s meet the superstar: saw palmetto. The extract of this plant is reputed to counteract the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone associated with hair loss. In addition to this, saw palmetto is brimming with anti-inflammatory properties that promote scalp health. Gorgeous thick hair definitely begins with a clean, healthy scalp. 

Of course, there is more to the Blu Atlas shampoo than just saw palmetto. It gently cleanses the scalp and hair with coconut-derived surfactants (no harsh sulfates here!) and moisturizes damaged or fragile strands with vitamin-rich jojoba oil and aloe barbadensis leaf extract. The inclusion of vegan biotin promotes the production of keratin, which adds body to individual strands of hair. We love that Blu Atlas sources almost all of its ingredients (99%) from natural origins and that this shampoo is free of parabens, phthalate, sulfates and synthetic fragrances.

2. Vegamour Gro Revitalizing Shampoo


Looking for a vegan, cruelty-free hair product that also comes with scientific oomph? Vegamour Gro Revitalizing Shampoo will not disappoint. First, let’s tackle the science of the product. Your hair is largely made up of a substance called keratin. Historically, the keratin used in hair products has been derived from other animals, and there are two reasons why this isn’t great. The first is obvious: gorgeous hair seems less gorgeous when it comes at the expense of other living creatures. The second problem is that animal-derived keratin rinses away with the shampoo, instead of remaining bonded to your hair. The clever folks at Vegamour have created a vegan version of keratin that bonds to the hair and forms a protective – yet breathable – barrier that strengthens each strand of hair. Even better? It doesn’t rinse off with the shampoo.

The bergamot-scented shampoo also incorporates a host of other plant-based ingredients that boost hair growth and repair damaged hair such as mung bean, curcumin and red clover. This shampoo isn’t an instant fix – instant tends to be temporary – but clinical tests suggest that you should see noticeably fuller-looking hair after 90 days.  

3. Alterna Haircare Caviar Anti-Aging Clinical Densifying Shampoo


It’s hard not to be lured in by the name of this shampoo. Anti-aging? Check. Clinically-tested? Check. Densifying? Check. Caviar? Unusual… but the very idea of it as an ingredient oozes luxury. Evidently, this shampoo is not for the vegan consumer. While caviar is not on the menu, many people who have qualms about eating caviar would be equally uneasy about applying it to their hair. So, what’s the motivation behind this unusual ingredient? The omega fatty acids, vitamins and minerals found in caviar extract work to restore strength, vibrancy and elasticity in damaged hair. Because of these powerful age-defying characteristics, Alterna includes caviar sourced in France from the roe of non-endangered sturgeon fish in all of the products in its anti-aging line. 

This shampoo, which is also suitable for color-treated hair, also includes red clover and Amia Indian gooseberry extract. Red clover is a popular ingredient in thickening shampoos because of its scalp-benefitting properties and Amia Indian gooseberry extract brings antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce scalp irritation and fortify the hair. The shampoo is free of added sulfates, parabens, phthalates and synthetic color, so if you aren’t squeamish about the caviar, this shampoo might be just what your sensitive scalp and fine hair need. 

4. Briogeo Blossom & Bloom ginseng + biotin volumizing shampoo


This vegan shampoo contains none of the stuff it shouldn’t – sulfates, silicones, parabens or phthalates – and plenty of naturally-derived (94%) ingredients it should. Among those ingredients, the ones that’ll have your scalp dancing a little happy dance include ginseng and biotin. Ginseng increases circulation to the scalp and stimulates the hair follicles, while biotin boosts keratin production and promotes the growth of healthy hair. 

Your hair will take on a more voluminous appearance thanks to maltodextrin – a natural starch that coats the hair shaft – and witch hazel extract which absorbs excess oil from the scalp to stop your hair looking limp and oily between washes. Unlike many shampoos, this volumizing shampoo can safely be used on color-treated, keratin-treated, chemically-treated and relaxed hair! As an added bonus, the ingredients in this shampoo offer heat protection, which means you don’t need to apply yet another product to your hair before heat styling. 

5. BosleyMD BosRevive Non Color-treated Hair Nourishing Shampoo


With over 45 years of experience in creating treatments for thinning hair, the brand BosleyMD has accumulated a wealth of knowledge about what it takes to keep your scalp in tip-top shape. Their nourishing shampoo contains soy proteins, pumpkin seed extract and saw palmetto as natural blockers to reduce the build-up of the hormone DHT and increase circulation to the scalp. Rosemary extract, which is brimming with antioxidants, reduces inflammation in the scalp, leading to healthier hair growth. Finally, panthenol strengthens individual strands of hair and improves the hair’s ability to retain moisture, resulting in thicker, healthier-looking hair. For all the scalp-cleansing benefits, be sure to massage this sulfate-free shampoo into your scalp for at least a minute before rinsing. 

6. Oribe Shampoo for Magnificent Volume


Magnificent volume. Who doesn’t want that, right? Mag-ni-fi-cent. We’re not suggesting that you go out and buy a bottle of shampoo because the wording on the bottle conjures up images of Mufasa from The Lion King. That would be silly. No, this shampoo cracks our list of the best shampoos for thickening in 2023 because the ingredients and specific formulation will give you a mane you can wear with pride. 

Coconut-derived cleansers gently rid the scalp of dirt and pollutants, while lupine protein and saw palmetto extract restore balance to the scalp and invigorate the hair follicles. A blend of body-building polymers add volume to the hair shaft, while hydrolyzed vegetable protein provides protection against the damaging effects of heat styling.  

7. OGX Thick & Full + Biotin & Collagen Shampoo


Fabulous hair or a college fund for your kid? You shouldn’t have to choose between the two, which is why OGX Thick & Full + Biotin & Collagen Shampoo is one of our picks for the best thickening shampoos in 2023. Not only is this shampoo really affordable, it also delivers on its promise of thicker and fuller hair. The formula, which contains hydrolyzed wheat proteins, biotin (otherwise known as vitamin B7) and collagen, adds moisture and volume to individual strands of hair, leaving you with fuller-looking locks. Lightly scented with bergamot, jasmine and vanilla, this budget-friendly thickening shampoo doesn’t contain parabens or sulfates. 

8. R+Co Dallas Biotin Thickening Shampoo


If your budget is a little more generous, this biotin-rich offering from R+Co is perfect for those with fine hair looking for more body. Coconut oil helps to cleanse the scalp and strengthen the hair, saw palmetto berry extract promotes thicker strands and loquat fruit extract delivers a host of nutrients, vitamins and minerals to help maintain healthy hair. Infused with the brand’s ‘dark waves’ fragrance – notes of cardamom, pineapple, tangerine, lavender and bamboo – this shampoo leaves your hair soft, shiny and full of vitality. 

9. Kérastase Densifique Densité Shampoo


Transform stressed-out, thinning hair with this density-boosting shampoo from the French brand Kérastase. Three key ingredients work to hydrate, strengthen and repair hair. Hyaluronic acid – a natural salt with an impressive ability to retain moisture (up to 1000 times its weight) – moisturizes and plumps up each strand of hair. Gluco-peptides repair damage by smoothing out surface irregularities and ceramides strengthen the hair fiber. For hair with added bounce and volume and a squeaky clean scalp, shampoo twice before moving on to the conditioner. While this is a shampoo designed for daily use, it does contain sulfates and may therefore be a little harsh for hair that is particularly dry or hair that has been chemically treated. 

10. Bumble and Bumble Thickening Volume Shampoo


Bumble and Bumble Thickening Volume Shampoo is your ticket to incredibly soft hair with volume that lasts all day. This shampoo, which gently cleanses and gradually strengthens hair, uses panthenol to promote the retention of moisture. While this product does contain sulfates, it is free of parabens, phthalates, mineral oils and formaldehyde. Formulated specifically for those with straight to wavy hair with a fine to medium density, this shampoo may not work as well for those with different hair types to these. 

11. Living Proof Full Shampoo


This thickening shampoo is, well, living proof that bouncy, fuller-looking hair is possible if you use the right products. A blend of sulfate-free cleansers removes dirt and residue without stripping the hair. Amaranth peptides trap moisture in each strand of your hair, giving you a healthier, thicker-looking head of hair. A combination of marine algae polysaccharides and phytantriol preserve color and protect the hair against potential environmental stressors. 

If that all sounds like far too much science for you, here’s what you need to know: fine flat hair can be a thing of the past; even hair that has been colored or chemically-treated. Better yet, you can get bigger, more beautiful hair without phthalates, silicones, parabens, formaldehyde, sulfates or cruelty to animals!

12. Tea Tree by Paul Mitchell Lemon Sage Thickening Shampoo


The reputable Tea Tree by Paul Mitchell brand doesn’t disappoint with its collection of lemon sage invigorating and volumizing hair-care products. The Lemon Sage Thickening Shampoo contains a blend of energizing essential oils – lemon, sage, peppermint, and tea tree – to boost volume, while panthenol thickens and strengthens every strand. With its uplifting zesty scent, this shampoo is the perfect start to every good hair day.

13. Sachajuan Thickening Shampoo


This award-winning shampoo – and we’re talking multiple awards here – from internationally renowned hairdressers Sacha Mitic and Juan Rosenlind, lifts hair from the roots and creates the impression of thicker, smoother hair. The brand’s proprietary Ocean Silk Technology is the key to giving you hair that is thicker, more moisturized and filled with more elasticity. A blend of cold-water algae – Rhodophycea and Chondrus – penetrates each strand, delivering magnesium, calcium, manganese and zinc to improve your hair’s mineral balance. 

Effective on most hair types, regardless of whether your hair has been chemically-treated or colored, or not, this shampoo also provides heat and UV protectants ensuring that your healthier, shinier hair stays that way.

14. Aveda Pure Abundance Volumizing Shampoo


In need of a little radiant abundance? This shampoo was specifically developed to bring extra life and body to fine, limp hair. The formula uses kaolin clay and acacia gum to build volume and add thickness to fine hair. While the shampoo is free of most undesirable synthetic ingredients, it does include two plant-derived sulfate cleansers, namely ammonium lauryl sulfate and coco-sulfate derived from coconut. In some individuals, sulfates can lead to excessively dry hair and if, for example, you have color-treated hair, this might not be the best fit for you. Scented with jasmine, peppermint, palmarosa and ylang ylang essential oils, this shampoo is cruelty-free and environmentally friendly. 

15. Hims Shampoo Thick Fix


While there is nothing stopping women from using this shampoo, the brand focuses on products formulated specifically for men. One of the key ingredients in the formulation is saw palmetto, which has been shown to help block the hormone DHT, which contributes to male pattern baldness. This eucalyptus-scented shampoo cleanses away excess sebum, ensuring a happy scalp and laying the foundations for stronger, healthier hair growth. A vegan and cruelty-free product, Hims Shampoo Thick Fix is free from parabens, sulfates, silicones and phthalates.  

Frequently asked questions

Can a thickening shampoo really make your hair thicker?

While a thickening shampoo can make individual strands of hair thicker, it cannot change the number of hair follicles – and therefore strands of hair – on your head. 

How do hair thickening shampoos work?

By making each strand of hair thicker, thickening shampoos help to give you the appearance of a fuller head of hair. Some shampoos coat the individual strands with a sheath that instantly makes the hair thicker, while others use ingredients that penetrate the strand to plump it up and thicken it more gradually over time. Key ingredients in thickening shampoos include proteins and collagens, which will plump out or coat the individual strands of hair making them thicker. 

Moisture is another key element in creating the look of more luscious hair. Strands of hair are primarily made up of keratin, but moisture can cause the hair follicles to swell, creating the appearance of thicker hair. In addition to targeting individual strands of hair, thickening shampoos might also include ingredients such as saw palmetto, red clover, Amia Indian gooseberry, biotin and niacin to improve the health of your scalp and promote healthy hair growth. 

What causes hair to start thinning?

If you are looking for an effective thickening shampoo it is probably for one of two reasons. The first is that you have naturally fine hair and want to create a more voluminous look. The second is that you have noticed your hair thinning. Hair thinning can occur when the hair growth cycle is disrupted or altered, or when hair follicles are damaged. Hair loss or thinning is more likely to become a concern with age, but there are also factors that can contribute to this problem at a young age. Reasons for hair loss include: genetics, stress, inadequate nutrition, dramatic weight loss, certain medical conditions or medications or over styling/treating your hair. While the right thickening shampoo can help solve the problem, it’s a good idea to get to the root cause, to prevent or reduce permanent hair loss. 

What is hair follicle miniaturization?

While hair follicle miniaturization occurs in both men and women, it is more common in men and is often used by doctors to distinguish androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness) from other types of hair loss. During hair follicle miniaturization the hair cycle undergoes two significant changes: the growth (anagen) phase is shortened and the resting (telogen) phase is lengthened. The process is also marked by a constriction of the hair follicle. As a result, the hair follicle begins to produce thinner, shorter hairs until it shrinks completely and disappears. 

What’s the deal with silicones?

Silicones coat each strand of hair in a protective sheath that gives your hair a sleek and glossy look. Sounds great, right? Yes and no. The problem is that once the silicone coats your hair, this protective sheath can also prevent the absorption of beneficial ingredients. Some silicones are water soluble, but others are not. Those that aren’t water soluble build up on the hair strands over time which can leave your hair looking limp and lanky. Silicones are usually easy to spot in an ingredients list because they tend to end with ‘-cone’. 

While amodimethicone and dimethicone may initially give your hair the shine and sparkle you desire, these silicones are not water soluble. If you like the silky effect that silicones give your hair, opt instead for a shampoo that includes a water-soluble silicone, such as cyclomethicone. 

What ingredients are best avoided?

There’s a reason why shampoos that don’t contain sulfates, parabens or phthalates list this information proudly on the bottle – these ingredients aren’t great for your health or the environment. So, why do they appear in cosmetics in the first place? Well, they are effective. Sulfates such as sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate act as powerful surfactants, cleansing the hair of dirt, oil and pollutants. 

The problem is that they have a tendency to strip the hair of beneficial oils and moisture too and to irritate the scalp. Parabens help to keep your shampoo free of bacteria, but they can leave your skin feeling itchy, irritated and flakey. Phthalates ensure that your hair-care products smell great for longer, but they are definitely not good for your health. Studies have linked this petroleum-based chemical to kidney and liver damage, impaired thyroid function and immune system disruptions. 

What else can I do to make my hair thicker?

  • Like healthy skin, healthy hair depends not only on what you put onto your hair, but also what you put into your body. A healthy diet rich in omega fatty acids, iron, vitamin D, folic acid and zinc will promote scalp and hair health.
  • Regular scalp massage – ideally with a carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil and a few drops of rosemary essential oil – can stimulate hair follicles and encourage growth. 
  • A medical treatment to prevent hair loss that has been approved by the FDA involves the topical application of the drug minoxidil, which extends the duration of the growth period of the hair cycle. 
  • Laser therapy can aid hair regrowth.
  • Platelet rich plasma injections into the scalp can create an environment that is more conducive to hair growth.
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