Shine on: rescue for hypothyroid hair

shine on rescue for hypothyroid hair

Hypothyroidism can make hair look so…thirsty. But depleting moisture isn’t the only way hypothyroidism drives your locks crazy. It can even change the texture and quality of your mane—leaving you throwing your hands up in the air and wondering what to do.

Tired of the toll heat styling and hypothyroidism were taking on the health and looks of our locks, we set out to find a few products to save our strands. Here’s what earned a permanent spot in the shower.


We’ve seen so much talk about this and had to give it a go. Celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Kim Kardashian have sung its praises, and whoa: we will too. It’s worth the hype.

Olaplex was created by chemists Craig Hawker and Eric Pressly. The products work on a molecular level, helping restore broken bonds in your hair’s structure. Some of Olaplex’s products are just for professional use—that means you’ll have to ask your stylist to use them on your hair. But there are products for home, too: No. 3 Hair Perfector, No. 4 Bonding Shampoo, and No. 5 Bonding Conditioner. Considered “clean” by Sephora ($28 per bottle), you won’t find phthalates, sulfates, or other hormone-disruptive chemicals in any of these bottles.

Unlike most products we tried, Olaplex didn’t weigh down the fine, thin locks we tested on—and we put it straight on the roots and rubbed it into the scalp. In fact, hair was decidedly more manageable. After a few uses, we started to lose the straw-like texture and feeling we get after heat styling. (Hey, we’re in Florida. Flat-ironing’s a must with the humidity.)

Argan oil

Anything with the nickname liquid gold deserves some love. Argan oil is derived from the Morrocan argan tree and offers up a ton of vitamin D and fatty acids, both of which are key to a shiny, smooth mane and healthy scalp.

If you have coarse or thick hair, you can put a few drops into your palm and run your hands through wet strands. Then, blow dry and style as usual. For our friends with fine hair, we know you’re nervous and thinking you’ll look like you haven’t washed your hair in days. But there’s a way to take advantage of argan oil without feeling greasy. Try adding a few drops to your conditioner and rinsing thoroughly. Or, place a single drop in your hands, rub them together, and lightly (very lightly) gloss your hands over your strands to remove flyaways. Wait a few minutes before deciding if you need more.

There’s no shortage of places to find argan oil or brands to choose from. We love The Ordinary (under $7). Along with being affordable and organic, it’s cold-pressed. That means it may hang onto nutrients (fatty acids, vitamin D, and plant phenols) better than some other production methods.

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention

These are thick, creamy products meant to strengthen and support hair that’s been through a lot. One of the reasons to say “yes” to this brand? They firmly say “no” to a long list of unwanted ingredients that can interfere with your body’s natural hormone balance: mineral oil, phthalates, sulfates, propylene glycol, and petroleum. In Shea Moisture’s Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo and Conditioner ($20.99 set), organic shea butter, vitamin E, and sea kelp extract help condition locks.

Sea kelp

Sea kelp can help strengthen strands and prevent breakage. It’s also rich in iodine, a mineral your body (and thyroid) needs. Iodine in shampoo may get absorbed through the skin of the scalp, and, if you’re deficient, may help with hair loss.

Since we’re talking about iodine and hypothyroidism, we can’t help but mention: iodine deficiency is a problem worldwide, but it’s not much of an issue in the United States. Too much iodine, however, can have a negative effect on the thyroid gland. The amount in shampoo and hair products is unlikely to cause any issues. In fact, according to Dr. Christian Nasr at the Cleveland Clinic, the amount of kelp in foods shouldn’t be a problem, either. But you should think twice about a sea kelp supplement, and talk with your provider first.

Shea butter

Shea butter is made from the shea tree and has vitamins A and E, two things that help with skin cell health (and that your hair will love). But best of all: shea butter is made up of a few different fatty acids. Stearic acid does a great job coating your strands without leaving them feeling oily or greasy. Linoleic acid and oleic acid help with hair growth and keep your scalp in top condition, which is a perfect combat to dry skin from hypothyroidism.

Depending on your hair type, this product may weigh your hair down slightly. Avoid over-conditioning around the scalp and roots. Instead, concentrate your efforts on working the conditioner into the ends of your hair, and rinse thoroughly.

Gimme Bands

For anyone with hair long enough to pull back, it’s possible your go-to styling move is a ponytail or bun. But standard elastics? They can really do a number on even the healthiest hair. With hypothyroidism, your strands may be extra fragile and prone to breakage. Ordinary elastics create tension and can cause your hair to snap off wherever the band wraps around it.

But you don’t have to give up keeping your hair off your shoulders. Some ponytail holders are designed to minimize or eliminate breakage—both while you’re wearing them and when you go to pull them out and shake your hair loose. One of our favorites? Gimme Bands. They come in different sizes, so you can order what’s right for your hair type: fine, thick, long, or a universal product that works for them all (price range $12 to $25 per set).