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12 best hair growth shampoos for sleeker, stronger locks

Wash away frizz, nourish frazzled ends and transform wispy tresses with these tried-and-tested hair saviours

Clare Austin
Monday 22 March 2021 09:51
<p>While a shampoo has yet to be invented that can make hair grow, the right product can help to encourage healthy growth</p>

While a shampoo has yet to be invented that can make hair grow, the right product can help to encourage healthy growth

When it comes to shampoo, there are no shortcuts (pardon the pun). A shampoo has yet to be invented that can make hair grow. But while they may not be able to magic up extra inches, they can help to encourage healthy growth.

Sara Alkazraji, AIT Trichologist and Education Manager at the Institute of Trichologists explains: “A healthy scalp is the perfect environment to support and enable hair to grow.” In contrast, “a build-up of scaling, flaking and itching can impact and exacerbate hair shedding in some individuals.”

In terms of ingredients to look out for, Sara said peppermint oil and caffeine can help stimulate circulation to the scalp, while menthol can help to reduce scalp flaking and itching.

Amino acids and proteins are also key to hair growth as they help to strengthen the hair shaft whilst also improving physical appearance.

There are, of course, ingredients you should avoid too, Sara says: “The myth surrounding sulphates (also known as surfactants) being carcinogenic, is incorrect. They do provide a lathering effect which gives the feeling of a deep clean, however, they are not essential and can sometimes irritate the eyes or skin. If irritation occurs, try switching to a sulphate-free shampoo.”

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More than just the shampoo you use, incoorporating a scalp massage into your shower routine can help stimulate hair growth and increase blood flow and circulation to aid nutrition and waste removal.

Sara said: “It can also help increase sebaceous activity, by secreting oil onto hair, keeping it soft and supple. Use the pads of the fingertips and gently move in a circular motion similar to the technique of kneading bread”.

Sara recommends washing every one or two days to provide the optimum stimulating environment for hair growth.

We tried these shampoos for a minimum of three weeks, washing our hair every couple of days. In particular, we looked for shampoos that felt nourishing, that left our scalp feeling comfortable and our hair stronger and healthier to the look and touch.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Watermans grow me shampoo, 250ml

This shampoo is packed full of hair-loving ingredients including caffeine, argan oil, antioxidants, and the B vitamins biotin and niacinamide. These work to improve circulation to the scalp and build denser, healthier hair. It also contains DHT blockers – DHT is a male hormone thought to be one of the causes of hair loss.

We found this shampoo very pleasurable to use, with its silky texture and fresh, invigorating feel on the scalp. Although the advice is that you should use it 4-5 times a week for 3 months for the best results, we felt our hair already looked and felt healthier and thicker after just a couple of weeks. Bonus points for being unisex and formulated for all hair types meaning everyone can use and reap the benefits of this shampoo.

Grow Gorgeous intense thickening shampoo, 250ml

Best for: Fine hair

The first thing to note about this shampoo is its fragrance: we loved the sensuous, earthy scent which is more high-end perfume than shampoo. It is packed full of ingredients including biotin, niacinamide and amino acids to boost hair from the roots; caffeine to stimulate the scalp; hyaluronic acid for smoothing moisture; rice protein for shine; and vitamin B8 from sugar beet extract to keep the scalp moisturised.

We noticed an improvement in our usually fine and flyaway hair after just one wash: hair felt heavier and thicker and previously wispy strands seemed transformed into a smooth rope of shiny hair.

Shea Moisture black castor oil shampoo, 506ml

Best for: Curls and coils

In 1912, Sofi Tucker began selling her natural hair preparations in Sierra Leone, since then her grandchildren have gone on to set up Shea Moisture. They still use the same tried and tested ingredients: protein and mineral-rich black castor oil, conditioning organic shea butter and invigorating peppermint. Apple cider vinegar also works to balance scalp pH levels.

Like maple syrup for your hair, we found the liquid consistency of this shampoo pleasing to apply. It felt like the hair was being saturated with goodness. It washes up a nice lather and left our tester’s hair really soft and glossy. The 506ml bonus size is good value and we also loved the caramel scent.

Kérastase résistance bain extentioniste shampoo, 250ml

Best for: Long hair repair

In uplifting turquoise, this shampoo is formulated to strengthen and repair long hair. The longer hair gets, the more damage it is susceptible to from heated styling tools, over-processing and outside elements such as pollution. If you are trying to keep your hair long, the last thing you want is to have to keep cutting off damaged ends, so this shampoo is designed to keep long hair looking its best.

Creatine R complex combines the amino acid creatine to smooth and bond the hair, with ceramides to hold in moisture. We loved the serum-like texture which spread easily through the hair and felt luxurious to use. It left our hair silky, glossy and fragrant.

Aveda invati advanced exfoliating shampoo, 200ml

Best for: Thinning hair

Hair thinning can happen for many reasons: ageing, stress, post-pregnancy, even just tying hair up tightly in braids and ponytails can cause breakage and lead to thinning. With invigorating turmeric, ginger and calming milk thistle extract, this shampoo also includes salicylic acid to gently exfoliate the scalp, removing build-up of product, sebum and impurities without stripping.

We tried the “light” version which has a lightweight, creamy texture. Although it didn’t produce much lather it felt nourishing and pleasant to use, and left the scalp feeling comfortable without any tightness. Our hair felt full of body without being weighed down, and we also loved the Aveda Aroma-Pure fragrance of lavender, rosemary and geranium.

Plantur 39 phyto-caffeine shampoo, 250ml

Best for: The menopause

This shampoo comes in two variations – one for fine, brittle hair and one for coloured, stressed hair. We had heard good things about this from friends who had struggled with age-related thinning hair and now we too love the fresh, light fragrance and the gentleness of this shampoo. It’s so soft and nourishing on the hair that we didn’t really need much conditioner afterwards, just a little on the ends.

Post wash, our hair seemed revived – soft, silky, sleek and bouncy. It is recommended to use every day for 12 weeks for real results to be seen, and we are more than happy, after two and a half weeks, to add this to our regular routine. We would be excited to see a real difference in three months.

Christophe Robin regenerating shampoo with prickly pear oil, 250ml

Best for: Frizzy and dry hair

With antioxidant prickly pear seed oil to smooth and repair, this shampoo is formulated to be gentle enough for everyday use, although we found its richness better suited to washing every couple of days or so.

We rated this one for its de-frizzing capabilities which worked wonders on our unruly flyaway hair, as well as its nourishing effect on dry, rather frazzled ends. The condition of our hair also showed a noticeable improvement after a week of use and although the price tag is on the hefty side, the fragrance, formulation and results give this the feel of a luxury treatment.

Charles Worthington grow strong activating shampoo, 250ml

Best for: Everyday use

With pea sprout extract to invigorate the hair root and proteins to strengthen the lengths, the aim of this shampoo is to get the scalp into the best condition for hair to grow. It also claims to reduce breakage by 90%.

We liked this sweetly fragranced one for gentle everyday use. It took a while to lather when first applied to wet hair, but soon produced a satisfying wash, leaving our hair smoother and frizz-free. It felt really cleansing – hair and scalp were left feeling purified – and after a couple of weeks of use, our hair did appear stronger and sleeker.

Michael Van Clarke 3” more inches cashmere protein volumising shampoo, 250ml

Best for: Damaged hair

Behind the rather cheeky name lies a rather serious shampoo. MVC’s shampoo range rejects quick-fix silicone, which gives hair a superficial softness, for the deeper benefits of cashmere proteins. With the same molecular structure as human hair, these proteins can be absorbed by, rather than just lying on top of, the hair. The lack of silicone can take some getting used to – there is hardly any lather - but persevere and don’t be tempted to just use more product. After a couple of weeks we were reaping the benefits of stronger, healthier locks.

Lush shampoo bar, 55g

Best for: Eco-freindliness

With zingy clove, cinnamon oil and a nettle and peppermint infusion to promote growth, this bar has a divine fragrance that perfumes the hair with a clean, refreshing scent. A little goes a long way, and this seemingly small bar will last for weeks (make sure you let it air dry after use).

Our hair was left feeling properly clean, shiny and bouncy from the very first wash. After three weeks of testing, our rather fine, limp hair saw an impressive amount of body return, and we couldn’t stop running our fingers through our reinvigorated locks.

If you have never used a shampoo bar before, this is a good one to try, as we found it super easy to use. Just take the bar and lather it up between your hands like you would a soap. Putting aside the bar, use the lather as a regular shampoo and massage into your hair and scalp. Alternatively, wet your hair and stroke the actual bar itself over the hair, which can then be stored between uses in a Lush cork pot.

L’Oréal elvive dream lengths restoring shampoo, 500ml

Best for: Detangling

This shampoo is from the same range as the new, much-hyped Wonder Water. Containing the protein keratin, vitamins and castor oil it is designed for hair that is already long, to address split ends and styling damage. Our tester’s long, thick hair loved this and was left shiny and sleek post-wash. The shampoo detangled as it washed too, meaning we could avoid additional breakage from dragging a comb through wet, tangled locks. Even when used every day, it didn’t make hair greasy, and generally gave long hair (long overdue a trip to the hairdressers) a new lease of life.

Philip Kingsley body building weightless shampoo, 250ml

From renowned trichologist brand Philip Kingsley, this shampoo manages to gently cleanse and add volume while remaining weightless on the hair. It uses hydrolyzed keratin which can penetrate the hair shaft, replacing lost keratin and, in doing so, it claims to increase the diameter of the hair fibre.

Our tester, who has fine, flyaway hair, was convinced, highly recommending this for its plumping results, as well as its luxurious “West End salon” scent. A little of this creamy product is all you need for a good lather. After the first wash, our hair felt soft and energised, with no hint of any residue, and after the third wash our tester’s fine flyaway hair was indeed thickened and volumised.

The verdict: Hair growth shampoos

For a great, all-round unisex shampoo that noticeably improves hair health and can be used on all hair types, we love Watermans. We also rated Lush for a plastic-free option that really delivers on shiny, bouncy hair, and Philip Kingsley for its ability to add body to fine, lacklustre locks.

For more hair pampering products, read our review of the 10 best anti-frizz hair products for every hair type or the best purple shampoos

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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