DHT is one of the main contributors to male and female pattern baldness. DHT blockers, available in the form of supplements and shampoos, may reduce hair loss while supporting healthy hair growth. Take a look below for tips on choosing the best DHT blocker shampoo.
Understanding DHT and DHT Blockers
Dihydrotestoerone, or DHT, is a hormone that is present in both men and women. In men it is responsible for some important changes during puberty including a deeper voice, body hair, changes to body composition.1 In women DHT plays a role in estrogen synthesis and may regulate organ functions.2
With age however, DHT levels increase which can contribute to hair loss in both men and women by shrinking hair follicles. High DHT levels in men has also been linked to benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate, as well as prostate cancer.3
DHT blockers work to regulate the hormone’s levels, often by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone into DHT, resulting in an increase in DHT levels while reducing existing testosterone. By keeping 5-alpha reductase at bay, your hormones have an easier time maintaining balance.3
Do DHT Blocking Shampoos Work?
As a general rule, you’ll want to check the list of ingredients before you buy any shampoo that’s designed to block DHT. Again, there are a few anti-DHT shampoo ingredients that are proven to have some effect on scalp DHT levels and hair growth.
1. Look for proven, effective ingredients.
Check the label for ingredients that are actually proven to block DHT and support hair growth. Some of the most popular and effective natural DHT blocking herbs that you should look for include:
- Saw palmetto– Saw palmetto is currently the most popular herbal ingredient for treating symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. It does so by blocking DHT which helps to support healthy prostates and hair loss caused by DHT.4
Ketoconazole– Ketoconazole is an antifungal medication that may effectively combat fungi (particularly of the species Malasezzia) that are known to cause dandruff and hair loss. Ketoconazole is available in the form of an oral tablet and can be included in topical treatments, like creams and shampoos.
It is most often prescribed for a wide range of fungal infections, including cases of ringworm, tinea cruris, athlete’s foot, and general yeast infections on the skin. In its over-the-counter shampoo form, ketoconazole can be used to control dandruff.
While ketoconazole is antifungal in nature, some studies have found promising evidence that it may be effective in reducing a type of hair loss caused by excess DHT. Excess DHT causes androgenic alopecia and ketoconazole is known to have some DHT blocking properties. Studies in mice have found that ketoconazole has hair growth effects that are comparable to minoxidil.8
Lavender Oil - In a study involving mice, topical application of lavender oil was found to promote hair growth. Results of the study showed significant increases in the number of hair follicles, hair follicle depth, and dermal layer thickness, all of which contributed to increased hair growth.21 Lavender oil has been found to have anti-androgen (anti-DHT) properties.22
Tea tree oil– Derived from the leaves of the tea tree, tea tree oil has been shown in several studies to be an effective antimicrobial that can fight bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Tea tree oil’s natural antifungal properties may help to reduce certain forms of dandruff caused by fungi. Tea tree oil also has anti-androgen (anti-DHT) properties.22
Other Helpful Shampoo Ingredients
- Argan oil – Argan oil is rich in antioxidants, omega-6 fatty acids, linoleic acid, and vitamins A, C, and E. This blend of nutrients may protect hair and increases hair’s elasticity to prevent breakage and split-ends while nourishing dull, lifeless hair. The high antioxidant content may help to neutralize free radicals and prevent damage to your hair cells.16
- Peppermint oil – Peppermint oil naturally possesses antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, which may allow it to combat hair loss or dandruff caused by fungi or bacterial infections. Some studies suggest that peppermint oil may reduce hair loss by acting as a vasodilator (meaning that it may improve blood flow). Increasing blood flow to the scalp may provide hair follicles with more nutrients and oxygen which may promote hair growth and reduce hair loss.19
- Biotin - Biotin is a B vitamin known to improve the structure of keratin, the main protein making up your skin, hair, and nails.9 While biotin doesn’t block DHT at the skin level, it has a measurable effect on hair growth, making it a good option for people dealing with hair loss. Biotin deficiency can result in thinning hair or hair loss. Supplementing with biotin or using a biotin-enriched shampoo may thicken hair and support hair growth.10
2. Avoid shampoos containing harsh chemicals like sulfates.
Many shampoos tend to include harsh, potentially harmful chemicals. The two main culprits here are sulfates and parabens. Sulfates refer to a detergent called sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. These compounds are harsh detergents that strip away moisture from the scalp.11
It is often added to shampoo, soap, and cleaning products to promote lathering, which gives the illusion of a stronger, more effective clean.12 The immediate problem with sulfate is that it is irritating to skin and scalp. Any added irritation to your scalp may aggravate your hair loss.
Parabens are another group of synthetic compounds added to shampoo and other personal care products as a preservative. They effectively stop the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that could pose a health risk. While the amount in a singular product might be negligible, parabens are nearly ubiquitous, found in almost 90 percent of regular grocery items. Experts and public health advocates are worried that the accumulation of and exposure to parabens from so many different sources could lead to health issues. The main concern is paraben’s ability to mimic estrogen, resulting in hormonal dysfunctions that could lead to reproductive toxicity and an increased chance of breast cancer.13
Many modern shampoos and personal care products have found healthier, cleaner alternatives to sulfates and parabens. Shop for shampoos with natural ingredients and it’s always a good idea to check the label.
3. Follow Up with a Conditioner with both Jojoba and Peppermint Oil
Choosing a DHT blocker shampoo that comes with an accompanying a good conditioner can provide further support for healthy hair growth. While shampoos are designed to wash your hair, they often strip your hair and scalp of its natural oils. That dryness can potentially contribute to irritation and exacerbate your hair loss. Conditioner contains a mix of ingredients designed to replenish your hair’s moisture and refortify your hair’s cuticle with a protective coating. This encourages growth and prevents potential hair breakage. Most also just help your hair maintain its shine, smooth out frizz and tangles, and generally make your hair nice to touch and easier to work with.14
To accompany your DHT blocking shampoo, look for conditioners containing essential oils such as jojoba and peppermint oils. Jojoba oil most closely mimics the oils your follicles produce and offers a rich combination of vitamins and minerals that help to nourish and protect your hair, including:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Jojoba oil is also a powerful moisturizer, which can fight against breakage, split ends, and a dry scalp. This moisturizing ability nurtures your hair follicles, preventing the dryness that may cause hair loss, itchiness, or dandruff.15
Jojoba oil penetrates deep into each strand of hair, providing much needed nourishment and moisture to the hair roots and follicles. Vitamin E and other antioxidants combat free radicals, a product of oxidation, and protect hair from breakage and split ends. The high antioxidant content can also help to reduce inflammation in the scalp that contributes to dandruff and hair loss.
A study found that combining peppermint oil with jojoba oil had the most significant hair growth effects compared to using either oil alone. The study found that peppermint oil changes the levels of gene expression, promoting hair growth at molecular level.
4. Use DHT Blocker Shampoos with other Hair Loss Products
Combine your DHT blocker shampoo with other DHT blocker supplements and hair growth ingredients to maintain healthy hair growth. Oral DHT blocker supplements can further help to rebalance hormones and reduce hair loss.
Minoxidil is one of the most popular ingredients for hair growth in both men and women. It is available as a topical treatment that can be applied directly to the scalp. Unlike DHT blockers, which affect hormones, minoxidil is in a class of drugs known as peripheral vasodilators. These work by relaxing and enlarging blood vessels, allowing for better blood flow.17
While research is not sure of the exact mechanisms of action, minoxidil has been shown to improve blood flow in the scalp, enlarging hair follicles while providing the scalp with easier access to nutrients. The result is an extended growth phase that allows for greater hair coverage on the scalp. Studies show that minoxidil has been effective in reducing hair loss and regrowing hair.18
DHT Blocker Shampoo Side Effects
You generally don’t have to worry about that with DHT blocking shampoos because they are applied topically. Any effects are localized to the scalp with a minimal risk of altering DHT levels elsewhere in the body.
Side effects from a DHT blocking shampoo are usually a result of allergies to the ingredients. This may result in redness, itching, rash, or irritation in the scalp. Certain shampoos may also contain irritating agents that may cause discomfort and dry out the scalp, which may also lead to excess oil as your scalp tries to overcompensate.20 To minimize discomfort, make sure you look for natural formulations without sulfates.
With so many hair loss treatments out there, finding an effective DHT blocker shampoo with natural ingredients is the best first step you can take to mitigate hair loss and support hair growth. Keep in mind that DHT blocker shampoos are designed for hair loss caused by androgenic alopecia. If you are not sure what product to start with, consider trying DrFormulas HairOmega® DHT blocking shampoo, which is formulated with natural ingredients to inhibit DHT and promote healthy hair growth.
Read next: How to Make Your Hair Growth Thicker and Faster