Review :: Nioxin Scalp Recovery Medicated Cleanser

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  • Ingredients
  • Wash
  • Scent
  • Price


This is a real shame. Nioxin had the potential to be the finest Zinc Pyrithione shampoo we’ve yet seen, Yet the addition of 3 or 4 ingredients, particularly the sulfates and the harsh preservatives, make this a real mixed bag of a shampoo. If this works for you then I can see it working very very well. However if you react to any of the ingredients, it will be horrid.

User Review
3.2 (5 votes)

buy now on Amazon Nioxin were set up by Eva Graham in 1987. The company has seen extremely impressive growth over the years and are owned by the a Wella company.

The company built their brand on combatting hair loss. Even today their website homepage proclaims

Inspired by her own experience Eva Graham made it her life’s mission to help men and women keep their hair.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t suffer from hair loss. Judging from the company literature, fighting dandruff is a secondary mission for Nioxin. This may not be a bad thing, however, I must admit it didn’t give me huge amounts of confidence.

Their Scalp Recovery line of products are where you’ll find the dry scalp and dandruff treatments which consist of a cleanser (aka a shampoo), a conditioner and a serum. This particular review of the shampoo, however after reviewing the after the impressive Eucerin Dermocapillaire Dry Scalp leave in serumI’ll take a look at Nioxin’s serum at a later date.

nioxin-scalp-recovery-bottle Nioxins Scalp Recovery shampoo contains one active ingredient, Zinc Pyrithione, in a 1% dosage. Zinc Pyrithione is possibly the most common active ingredient on the market today to combat dandruff caused by seb derm. Everything from Head and Shoulders to generic dollar store own brand shampoos typically contain this active ingredient. As well as being commonplace, it’s not a particularly strong active ingredient either. It doesn’t control my seb derm at all (which is admittedly moderate to severe at times). However it is clinically proven to help million of people.

I tend to recommend that only those with mild to moderate seb derm try this active ingredient.

The shampoo itself is a gloss white and the consistency isn’t too dissimilar to white gloss paint. Don’t let that put you off though, it foams exceptionally well and has an extremely pleasant but not too overpowering floral/fruity/minty scent.

During the wash, I could detect some menthol in the shampoo which gave my head a pleasant cooling tingle. I’m not necessarily a fan of menthol. However, if your scalp is itchy it will provide some short-term relief. It won’t really help your condition truth be told but it doesn’t do any harm either. And it feels oh so good…

After washing my hair felt soft and, dare I say it, luxurious. It felt like a real high-end shampoo. Nioxin has created a moisturizer to accompany this range but I genuinely never needed it. This shampoo felt my scalp and hair feeling extremely soft.

I couldn’t wait to see what this shampoo was made of…

I don’t think I’ve seen so many ingredients in one shampoo ever. 28 in total. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. nioxin-shampoo

I do prefer the less is more approach to shampoo formulation. The less ingredients a shampoo has, the less chance the shampoo causes contact dermatitis. If Nioxin carefully chose and considered each ingredient on merit, selecting only the gentlest ingredients for the job, then the shampoo could still be an absolute winner.

So did they? Yes and No… This shampoo is another Jekyll and Hyde of a formulation.

Concentrating on the good news first, Nioxin has added some of the most innovative ingredients I’ve ever seen in a dandruff shampoo. In addition to the previously mentioned menthol, they’ve added at least seven different moisturizers which explains why my scalp felt so good after washing. In addition, the various polypeptides will provide proteins, iron, vitamin B/B1/B2/B3/B5/B6 while enhancing skin vitality. The Saccharomyces/Magnesium Ferment is an antioxidant commonly found in anti-aging products.

This is a seriously interesting shampoo!

In addition, the company has added two different minerals to the formulation:

  • Epsom Salt – a mineral with many different health benefits (at least 40 according to which include soothing and exfoliating your skin
  • Smithsonite – an astringent that helps the skin to recover from sores, cuts or bruises

In addition, Nioxin also contains extracts of:

  • Peppermint – an analgesic that is reported to relieve various skin conditions including dry skin
  • Mentha Arvensis (Mint) Leaf Oil – much like methol, this oil can cool skin, calming irritations
  • Camellia Sinensis (tea) Leaf Extract – an anti-inflammatory that can reduce redness and calm the skin

I have never seen this formulation before and the results were very good in the short term. The downside of adding essential oils and extracts to shampoos, however, is they typically contain various fragrances. Fragrances that can cause contact dermatitis.

Which leads me nicely to the bad news…

This shampoo, despite containing some of the mist interesting ingredients I’ve seen in a shampoo, also contains some of the harshest contact irritants and allergens on the market.

It contains the three deadly sins:

  • SLS
  • SLES
  • Fragrance

In addition it contains a preservative called DMDM Hydontoin, a particularly harsh formaldehyde releaser (the stuff they use to preserve corpses).

And while the shampoo contains a number of effective moisturizers, Nioxin also contains:

  • Dimethicone – a silicone which can coat tour scalp after prolonged usage. Preventing your skin from breathing and keeps sweat locked in. This can dry the scalp or even instigate eczema or psoriasis.
  • Benzyl Alcohol – a preservative that can dry your scalp.

The latter is particularly insane considering how much effort and thought they’ve put in to moisturize your scalp!

All in all, this is a unique shampoo. Whether I recommend it or not depends on your tolerance to Fragrances, SLS, SLES, Formaldehyde or the other ingredients we know can cause contact dermatitis.

If you don’t react to these ingredients then in the short term this can be a good shampoo for short-term relief of dry scalp or mild seb derm. However, the addition of silicon makes me wary of recommending this for long term usage.

This is a real shame. Nioxin had the potential to be the finest Zinc Pyrithione shampoo we’ve yet seen, Yet the addition of 3 or 4 ingredients, particularly the sulfates and the harsh preservatives, make this a real mixed bag of a shampoo. If this works for you then I can see it working very very well. If you react to any of the ingredients, it will be horrid.


  • The site owner. I founded, and have ran this site for too many years now. I have extremely sensitive skin, have suffered from seb derm for all my adult life and this site is my way of doing something about it. Check out my sister site at

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