How To Get Thicker Hair

How General Health and Medical Treatments Can Help

With all the shampoos available that promote thicker hair, it's easy to think there's no way to tackle the issue from a medical point of view.

The truth is there are lots of health factors involved with hair thickness, as well as treatments available that directly affect the hormones related to hair thinning.

Dr Simran Deo Medical Editor

Medically reviewed by

Dr Simran Deo

Last reviewed: 16 Apr 2020

Why Do Some People Have Thicker Hair Than Others?

It's not how thick the hairs are, it's how many there are – the main difference between thick and thin hair is the density. Density is determined by the number of hair strands in one square inch of the head. But really what we’re talking about and interested in is the thickness of the individual strands. The thickness of individual strands, as well as the hair follicle, can affect the thickness of hair, too.

What gives people different hair density? – your genetic make-up could have a significant role in the thickness of your hair. Individuals whose ancestry originates from East Asia have thicker hair fibres than other populations on Earth and scientists believe their genes are the reason. There are many traits which are determined by our genes, such as:

Hair colour/type

Skin colour

Eye colour

Nose size and shape

How Does Health Affect Hair Thickness?

Hair thickness and health can be closely related – hair and skin can be indicators of good health. Hair loss can also have an impact on our self-esteem and mental health.

Diet and hair thickness – the biological ageing process of hair can be affected by the quality and quantity of our diet and therefore our nutritional status. The healthy growth of hair follicles is dependent on a readily available nutrient supply to the follicle. Hair follicles require the following to keep growing at a healthy rate:

Amino acids/proteins:

  • L-Cysteine
  • L-Lysine

Trace elements:

  • Calcium
  • Iodine


  • B5 gives hair flexibility, strength and shine
  • B6 prevents dandruff
  • B12 helps prevent hair loss
  • B1, B2, Niacin, and Pantothenic acid help to keep hair follicles healthy
  • Folic acid deficiency can lead to decreased hair follicle cell division and growth
  • Biotin helps reduce hair loss
  • Vitamin E can help keep the cell membranes of hair follicles healthy

Hair is over 99% protein and so needs a good supply of amino acids and proteins to ensure good health. A diet which lacks protein could therefore be a cause of hair loss, particularly in women. Vegetarians may be at a greater risk as they may lack certain proteins and nutrients required to keep hair healthy.

Alopecia is the name for a health condition that causes hair loss – alopecia is a form of hair loss which may be temporary or permanent, and can be distressing for the individual. There are different types of alopecia as shown below:

Type Cause What Happens Permanent or Temporary Alopecia Areata (AA) Autoimmune condition The immune system attacks the hair follicles leading to hair loss Temporary Androgenetic Alopecia This is thought to have both a hereditary or genetic cause occurring in combination with changes in the levels of certain hormones such as DHT. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the main hormone responsible which is thought to impact the hair follicles. Hair follicles become smaller until they eventually shrink and stop producing hair. Permanent Scarring Alopecias A rare group of disorders which destroys hair follicles due to increased levels of inflammation. Hair follicles are usually replaced with scar tissue. Permanent once damage has occurred. Telogen and Anagen Effluvium When shedding is caused by another factor at either one of these stages of the normal hair cycle. Telogen effluvium is often caused by trauma or stress. Anagen effluvium by chemotherapy, radiation, infection or drugs. Hair sheds but usually regrows at a later date. Temporary Traction Alopecia Excessive pulling or tension on hair shafts. Hair loss is caused by hair pulling often seen in women of East-Indian and Afro-Caribbean origin. Can lead to permanent hair loss.

Smoking and hair thickness – smoking may be related to hair loss. Smoking can make androgenetic alopecia worse. Smoking and alcohol consumption have also been found to accelerate age-related signs including hair loss.

Thyroid problems and hair loss – hair loss can be a symptom of both an overactive and underactive thyroid. The hair loss is uniform and can affect the whole scalp. It often begins to resolve after treatment has started.

Stress and hair loss – emotional stress or anxiety can cause hair loss and is usually more noticeable up to 3 months after the stressful period. In most cases the hair loss is temporary if there are no underlying medical causes.

Cancer treatment and hair loss – cancer drugs can affect your hair causing thinning or loss. Chemotherapy causes hair loss as it works by attacking any cells in the body that are multiplying or growing. As a result hair follicles, the cells of the nails and those of the skin are affected.

Do Hair Thickening Products Work?

There are a number of products marketed towards improving hair thickness but some are more effective than others.

Minoxidil – this is an approved over-the-counter medication specifically developed for hair loss. It is the active ingredient in products such as Regaine®. Minoxidil was first used to treat high blood pressure, but it is now available in a foam or a lotion to promote hair growth.

Minoxidil has been shown to work – studies have shown that Minoxidil is effective for promoting hair growth in men and women. In one study. Both 3% and 2% Minoxidil were both more effective than placebo for female pattern hair loss.

Hair boosting shampoos – these could make hair thicker temporarily, but it is unlikely they will have a long-lasting effect. Some hair thickening shampoos claim to stop or slow hair growth but there are no significant studies to prove this.

Shampoos for healthier follicles – hair growth shampoos such as Alpecin, Nourkrin and Nioxin can help to keep your hair follicles nourished and may help to stimulate hair growth. By improving the appearance of hair, these shampoos can make the hair look thicker, fuller and healthier.

Caffeine shampoo – alpecin contains the stimulant caffeine, which is believed to help stimulate hair growth. Nioxin contains ingredients which the manufacturers claim to strengthen hair, prevent breakage and make hair look fuller. While Nourkrin contains fish proteins which can increase the volume of hair making it look fuller and healthier.

Hair loss supplements – there are many different supplements on the market which claim to help with hair growth. Hair growth can be influenced by our diet and if we are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals our hair can be affected. The most common supplements which are advised for hair growth include:

Iron – anaemia can cause hair loss and so if you feel you may be anaemic you should seek advice from your doctor. If you are anaemic, they can prescribe iron supplements to you which should help to resolve your symptoms including hair thinning and loss

Zinc and Biotin – individuals who are deficient in either one of these minerals often have dry, brittle hair. Therefore, these minerals are needed for healthy hair and to promote hair growth

What Lifestyle Changes Can You Make to Improve Hair Thickness?

There are a few things you can try – by making some changes to your lifestyle, you should notice thicker, healthier hair. The following changes can help:

Eat foods including:

  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Oily fish

Make sure you are getting enough of the following:

  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Zinc

Manage Stress:

  • Emotional stress and anxiety can cause hair loss
  • Try to manage your stress with exercise, yoga, meditation
  • If you can remove yourself from the stressful situation

Quit smoking – smoking has been linked to hair loss


  • Good for your physical and emotional health
  • Helps to fight stress

Avoid over-styling your hair:

  • Cosmetic over styling can cause hair loss
  • Use heat protective products
  • When blow drying use the lowest setting
  • Let your hair breathe by having days off

Are There Medical Treatments for Hair Thickness?

There are medical treatments available for hair loss or to promote hair growth. However, not all are suitable for both men and women.

For men:

Propecia – this can be used by men to increase hair growth and reduce hair loss. It doesn’t work for any other hair other than that on the scalp. Some men are oversensitive to the hormone dihydrotestosterone which can lead to loss of hair follicles and subsequent hair loss. Propecia works by blocking dihydrotestosterone which can reverse balding. It works only for the time treatment is taken and balding may recur if the treatment is stopped. Propecia must not be taken by women or children as it is for men only. Pregnant women should be careful not to handle crushed or broken tablets of Propecia.

Finasteride – this is the active ingredient in Propecia and is the generic name of Propecia. It works in the same way.

For women:

Regaine For Women:

  • Contains Minoxidil
  • Stimulates hair follicles and reduces hair loss
  • Up to 59% of women who use it regrow some hair within the first 32 weeks of using Regaine
  • Needs to be used twice daily

Nourkrin Tablets:

  • Nutritional supplement
  • Contains fish extract
  • Maintains the health of hair follicles
  • Promotes hair growth
  • Suitable for women whose hair loss is due to a lack of certain minerals or nutrients

Alpecin Shampoo:

  • Contains caffeine
  • For men and women
  • Use shampoo daily
  • Stimulates hair follicles and keeps them active

Ordering from us – you can order the following products from our service:



Alpecin shampoo

Regaine for Women

Regaine for Men

Nourkrin tablets

How to order – if the product you require needs a prescription you can order from us. To order, you will need to follow these steps:

You will need to fill out our online questionnaire

Your answers will be submitted to one of our doctors

Our doctor will review your answers and assess your suitability for the medication

Once approved, your medication will be sent directly to you or you can collect it in-store if you would prefer


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British Thyroid Foundation. (2018). Hair loss and thyroid disorders. [online] Available at:[accessed 4th August 2020].
Cancer Research UK. (2017). Hair loss, hair thinning and cancer drugs. [online] Available at: [accessed 5th September 2018].
Gavazzoni Dias, M. F. R. (2015). Hair Cosmetics: An Overview. International Journal of Trichology; 7(1): 2-15.
Lucky, A. W. et al. (2004). A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 5% and 2% topical Minoxidil solutions in the treatment of female pattern hair loss. J Am Acad Dermatol; 50: 541-53.
Rizer, R. L. et al. (2015). A marine protein-based dietary supplement for subclinical hair thinning/loss: results of a multisite, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. International Journal of Trichology; 7(4): 156-166.
Schou, A. L. et al. (2017). Alcohol consumption, smoking and development of visible age-related signs: a prospective cohort study. J Epidemiol Community Health; 71: 1177-1184.
Shin, H. S. et al. (2007). Efficacy of 5% Minoxidil versus combined 5% Minoxidil and 0.01% tretinoin for male hair loss. Am J Clin Dermatol; 8(5): 285-290.
The Trichological Society (2017). Nutrition and hair health. [online] Available at: [accessed 5th September 2018].

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