If you've ever tried to untangle the web of claims and counter-claims surrounding the myriad of hair loss medications on the market, you'll know that it's enough to make anyone's fall out. Unfortunately the bad news is that it's child's play compared to making sense of hair loss shampoos. Opinion is divided; on one hand they're seen as a vital part of the armoury used to fight hair loss, while on the other they're regarded as just another way to boost pharmaceutical companies' bank balances. The truth is somewhere in between; no doubt they can be a useful if used in conjunction with other medicines, but don't expect miracles.
Hair loss shampoos work in a number of different ways and opinion is still divided as to which is the most effective. Some dermatologists simply recommend using a neutral/ ph-balanced shampoo, and as most baby shampoos fall into this category it represents the most cost effective answer. There are also several herbal shampoos which use natural alternatives (such as tea tree oil) instead of potentially damaging commercially manufactured detergents.
Only a handful of shampoos have any scientific weight behind their claims to promote hair re-growth, although this doesn't stop the majority of products printing fantastically overblown sales pitches (so it pays to read both the small print and between the lines). Look for shampoos containing aminexil (such as Dercap), pyridine n-oxide (e.g. Nano) or ketoconazole (e.g. Nizoral).
The majority of hair loss shampoos work by cleansing the scalp so that topical medications are more effective, this includes; unblocking follicles, stimulating blood flow and getting rid of seabum (the scalp's natural grease which contains DHT) - which is how Nisim shampoo works.
Other shampoos target hair loss with the help of vitamins and minerals (typically the vitamin B complex, niacin and biotin), although the jury is still out on how much of the 'active ingredient' can actually be absorbed through the scalp.
To further muddy the waters there's another range of shampoos that have been designed solely to cleanse, condition and thicken the existing hair. Popular bands include Nioxin, COUVRé and Thicker, Fuller Hair.