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 an androgen hormone that is mainly responsible for creating the biological characteristics of men (a deeper voice, body hair, changes to body composition) during puberty.1 In women, androgens like DHT also initiate changes associated with puberty. DHT also plays a role in estrogen synthesis and may regulate organ functions.2 However, excess levels of DHT 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
Choosing the Best DHT Blocker Shampoo
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 ingredients 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 preventing the conversion of testosterone into DHT. While supporting a healthy prostate, this also can help to reduce or reverse hair loss.4
- 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
- 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 may also possess anti-inflammatory properties.
- 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.8
- Biotin – Biotin is a B vitamin known to improve the structure of keratin, the main protein making up your skin, hair, and nails.9 Although we require further study to understand exactly how biotin works to support hair growth, research does show that 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 companies that make outrageous claims.
All the claims that a company makes about their DHT blocker shampoo should be backed up by scientific studies. Unfortunately, many brands tend to make outrageous claims about their shampoos’ abilities. If you do find a shampoo that makes big claims, do your own research and see if the ingredients are as effective as they say. However, even the most effective ingredients don’t work overnight. They all take time, and any products that tout immediate or instant results should come with some suspicions.
3. Cost and efficacy are not related.
A high price does not necessarily equate to rich, flowing locks. That should be reassuring to you. It means that you can find a quality, effective DHT blocker shampoo while staying well within your budget. Most DHT blocker shampoos are relatively affordable. With more expensive shampoos, you tend to be paying more for the hype than the quality of ingredients or general effectiveness.
4. 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.
5. Use a Conditioner with both Jojoba and Peppermint Oils.
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.
6. Use DHT blocker shampoo with other DHT blockers.
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
Finding the right DHT blocker shampoo could be the first steps to reducing hair loss and promoting healthy hair growth.