Product Review: Nanogen vs. Toppik

Fri 14 Jul 2006


I became a fan of concealers when my crown area began thinning a few years ago. Though I have had two successful hair transplants that concentrated on the hairline and forelock (as detailed in my Hair Loss Weblog), I am hesitant to pursue another procedure that will put grafts into my crown for fear of shock loss, future thinning, and limited donor area. As many have learned the hard way, the crown can be a real “black hole” for hair transplant grafts.Toppik

I am currently on a medicinal regimen of Avodart and 5% minoxidil that shows promise in continuing to thicken up my crown and vertex area, but as you probably know from your own experience, it is slow-going. It is for that reason that I looked to concealers to mask the diffuse thinning.

In the past, I have used Toppik, Couvre’, and DermMatch in the past, all with good success. Each has had their ups and downs but I have found that each can perform a sufficient job of concealing my hair loss with varying degrees of difficulty in application.

Nanogen fibers are closely related to that of Toppik. Both claim to be tiny fibers that electrostatically bond to the individual hairs, actually giving the appearance of not just a “painted scalp” but thicker, fuller hair.

After using Toppik for quite some time and hearing from others that Nanogen is a little better I decided to give it the ol’ “Pepsi Challenge.” Here are my thoughts:

Messiness of application

Nanogen is applied in the exact same way as Toppik. You tap the container over thinning spots to fill them in. Neither will work on completely bald spots. They have to have something to cling to. Both can be messy since those microfibers get everywhere. I found that Nanogen seemed slightly less messy but that may just be that I have gotten to be a pro at limiting the mess with Toppik.

Nanogen – Tie – 0
Toppik – Tie – 0

Hokey sprays

Both companies try to sell you a fiber holding spray that is basically just hair spray. If I remember correctly, they want around $7 or $8 for this stuff. I use a bottle of Herbal Essence hair spray that I “borrowed” from an ex-girlfriend some time last year. Works just fine. Just spritz a little on and you’re fine.

Nanogen – Tie – 0
Toppik – Tie – 0

Initial appearance after application

When I applied the Nanogen this morning, the first thing I noticed is that it actually appeared to give my hair “lift” right away. Toppik just kind of sits on the hair until you pat it in, thus making more of a mess on your bathroom floor. You still have to pat a little with Nanogen just not as much. It looks fuller, to boot. Plus, it seemed like I used a bit less of this than I usually do of Toppik. That’s a big plus, as this stuff isn’t terribly expensive but it isn’t necessarily cheap either.

Nanogen – 1
Toppik – 0

Accumulation at hair line

The trouble with these “shake on” concealers is that if you aren’t careful around the hair line it can accumulate there, making it look like you have dirt in your hair. I always just wipe away an residue with a damp towel. Nanogen does this the same as Toppik, but it didn’t seem to do so as much. It seemed like more actually clung to the hairs at my hair line.

Nanogen – 1
Toppik – 0

Staying with you all day

Luckily for my little test, today was a windy day and I was outside a good bit. Every time I checked, my hair looked fine. Wear all day hasn’t seemed to blow any of the particles away. Toppik is good for this too, however.

Nanogen – Tie – 0
Toppik – Tie – 0

Color matching (your mileage may vary)

I am lucky in that I have dark brown hair. The dark brown colors on both products match almost perfectly. To ensure I get a consistent match all over is to make sure I sprinkle a little bit all over my hair, even on parts that aren’t thin. This makes any dissimilarities minute at worst. Both Toppik and Nanogen are good for this. I have heard nothing but complaints from blonde Toppik users. I have heard nothing at all from blonde Nanogen users.

Nanogen – Tie – 0
Toppik – Tie – 0

Snail-mail shipping

I have always been impressed with Toppik’s shipping time. It has never been more than 3 business days from my order to the time I recieved the product. Nanogen took 6, if memory serves me correctly. I always use the cheapest shipping option because I am, admittedly, pretty cheap.

Nanogen – 0
Toppik – 1


Finally, since I am so cheap I like to look at price. For two similar items the price should be similar.

For a one month supply of Toppik + cheapest available shipping (says 7-10 business days but I always get it in 3) is $19.95 + $4.95 = $24.90.

For a one month supply of Nanogen + cheapest available shipping (UPS Ground; 7-10 busines days; I got mine in 6) is $19.95 + $7.00 = $26.95.

So Nanogen is a bit more expensive just for shipping. However, you can save a good chunk of change with both companies through saved shipping and product by buying in bulk. I like to buy in 3 month supplies. It’s worth it.
Nanogen – 0
Toppik – 1 (But basically a tie)


Ok, we aren’t talking “Camaro” to “Mustang” here. More like “Camaro” to “Firebird.” There are some differences, but the two are basically the same product. I think I may prefer Nanogen just because it seems to give a little extra body to my hair, or maybe I was just having a good hair day. Who knows? I’ll go with the Nanogen for a while to see if I change my mind. Bottom line: If I run out and need some quick, Toppik is going to be my weapon of choice. If I am just ordering some more because I am running short but have enough for the next week or so, I’ll probably go with Nanogen.

Next: 5 Ways to Regrow Your Hair: The Real How-To Guide for the Hair Loss Sufferer


Editor of the Hair Loss Q & A Blog.

View my Hair Loss Weblog

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28 Comments so far:

  1. jake says:

    I’m a toppik user for 3 years now & it gives amazing result every time i use it, though it has one ingredient that concerns me which i read in the internet, ammonium chloride, if inhaled, it can cause various illnesses & toppik happens to be in a powder form that can be easily fly in the air, so i switch to nanogen that does not seem to contain this ingredient. anyway the problem with this product is you have to use a lot to cover the thinning area, not like toppik, you just need to use less to get the result. i just hope we get a hair concealer that is really safe to use & effective like toppik.

  2. i-love-nanogen says:

    hi – thought i’d add my comment after reading this excellent review. maybe coz i’m english and i can get supplies the next day, but i have tried both products and as you can see from my username – i love nanogen. much better product – it is just works instantly and gives a lift. toppik is somehow less static and i found it itchy – don;t know if that is just me. also i find the nanogen colours richer and toppik ones flat. for me both products are pretty similar but i would go for nanogen everytime.

  3. […] sprays and topical concealers like Dermmatch, Toppik, and Nanogen do nothing to stop hair loss but can be quite effective in disguising baldness. Despite some […]

  4. Rickinator says:

    I’ve only used Nanogen so far, but I’d suggest getting the spray along with the product, or at least something store-bought. Anything to make it wet, or it just looks like dry dirt on your hair. Besides that, the Nanogen has been a great concealer.

    As far as regrowth, I’ve been using minoxidil for 4 or 5 months now and it’s hard to tell if anything is happening yet. I’m going to start Propecia as well and hope either or both work. Hopefully some day they’ll have something that inhibits or blocks the DHT from the start, thereby getting rid of the problem altogether before it can begin.

  5. johnboy80 says:

    Hi Robert, great review, thanks for your work. I started using Nanagen after being a Toppik customer for 2 years. I have not looked back.

    As you said, they’re pretty much the same thing, but I found that Toppik woud make my head itchy and it looked a bit ‘dull’. I have not had this problem with nanogen. Your right about the postage times, my Nanogen takes about 5 days to get to me, but I stock up so no big deal.

    Am looking into transsplants now (and saving the $$$).


  6. questionsss says:

    Thanks for the review. Did you test these product both in natural light? I just had a bad experience with toppik when I realized you can totally see a purple cast in daylight. I never noticed the issue since it looked so great inside

  7. llnath says:

    I have dark brown hair and have been thinning at the crown for a few years now and after much ribbing from work mates decided to invest in something like this.After reading several reviews including this one i decided to try Toppik (10g sample) and was completly surpised on how good it looked.EVERYONE commented on how real it appeared.
    Many of the reviews i read seemed to think the Nanogen was a better product,so i went for four 12.5g of Nanogen (dark brown again) but was disappointed with a “blue tint” that it gave when applied.
    Maybe its me or just the Toppik goes with my hair colour better-im not sure..
    Anyway back on ebay for some more Toppik i think!

  8. Mav says:

    Do either of these products get in people’s eyes? I’ve only used Toppik (so I can’t comment on Nanogen) but towards the end of the day, a few Toppik particles seem to make their way to my eyes. It’s like having heaviness in the eyes similar to hayfever.

    Has anyone experienced this and more particularly, would Nanogen be any different?

  9. Mav,

    I would think as long as they’re properly applied, that they shouldn’t get in your eyes. You may want to consider the holding spray for Toppik, which may help keep the particles in place so they don’t get into your face. I’ve never used Nanogen, but having tried DermMatch, I never had a problem with it getting into my eyes or on my face.

    Best wishes,

    Bill Seemiller
    Managing Publisher of this Community

  10. Stylist says:

    I wonder if anyone has had a problem with Toppik turning green. I am a hairdresser and am using it on 3 of my clients. They come in once a week, and do not shampoo at home, and two of them have had the product turn green. They are older clients and have tinted hair. I can’t believe that THAT would be an issue, but, I also thought maybe since it’s summer persiration might be the cause. Just wondering!

  11. Stylist,

    After researching this issue, it appears as if other Toppik users have experienced the product turning green. From what I understand, it usually happens when the hair becomes wet, and is especially noticeable (and green) when users sweat. Although there really isn’t a definitive answer to the problem, most of the responses I read suggested trying one of the following techniques:

    1. Switching to a darker color of Toppik. Most individuals reported that they experienced green sweat or a greenish scalp when using “brown or light brown” Toppik and sweating.

    2. Trying Nanogen. A few individuals said the problem stopped when they switched from Toppik to Nanogen.

    3. Anticipating any precipitation or strenuous situations that would cause sweating. Now, I understand this seems a bit involved, but a lot of people said they were able to avoid the issue entirely by simply checking the weather before leaving the house (if there was a chance of rain, they would grab an umbrella) and not applying Toppik before exercising, playing a sport, sitting in the sun, etc.

    I hope this helps!

    Blake (Future_HT_Doc)

  12. Stylist says:


    Thank you for your response. I’m sure it’s a perspiraton issue. The only client that doesn’t have a green scalp, also doesn’t sweat. I also don’t think it’s a product to be used on hair only shampooed once a week. Whatever, maybe they’ll have thicker looking hair only in the cold months! I just wish the company was a little more honest. I was told they had no complaints about this. (Hard to believe that) They also suggested using the spray before and after, I guess to provide a buffer. I did that on a client, we’ll see. Thanks again!

  13. Brian says:

    I have used a product called EMERGE For Men that doesn’t drip or turn your scalp green when you sweat. It’s also not as messy as either Toppik or Nanogen – comes with a brush to apply it.

    I got 2 bottles for $15 bucks and it’s lasted me a little more than a month, so it’s better value IMHO.


  14. matt says:

    I use medium and light brown toppik. I sweat profusley at the gym and it does not turn green ever. It does, however, turn green when I’m in direct harsh sunlight for more then one hour. The entire area I use it on turns a blueish-green. Has anyone experienced this? If it were perspiration then i would think it would turn green in both the gym and the sun. but for me, it is only in hot sunlight.

  15. DRo says:

    I have had this green sweat for a while now but i did not figure it out until today. I tried putting toppik in water and no dye came out so I could not understand why my sweat is green. Then i put some table salt in hot water ( hence sweat) and added a little bit of dark brown toppik and you guessed it -> the water was bright green. I think that is it. I saw that the blogs above say nanogen does not do that so I will try it with the that product next and let you know.

  16. Ray says:

    I’ve been using Nanogen for 3 years now, but thought I’d try Toppik out of curiousity. I was disappointed with the results of Toppik. I seemed to use more to get decent coverage & it left residue staining on my pillow which is very minimal with Nanogen. The new Nanogen is now even better. You get better coverage using less, & it works out cheaper all round. So it’s the far superior Nanogen for me every time!

  17. shaz says:


    Just thought id let you all know yo try the spray applicator it is much better with application doesnt get all mess all over the place hence saves so much product. Just use a little hairspray so that the product stays in place and doesnt get onto your pillow. I bought the spray from Toppik but it makes your hair oily and wet looking. So hairspray is a lot better. Didn realise it contained ammonium chloride thats not very good at all.

  18. joejoe says:

    This question is for hair loss doctor or anyone that tried the experiment that he tried in line 15 above. You stated
    (I saw that the blogs above say Nanogen does not do that so I will try it with the that product next and let you know.)
    So did you try that experiment with Nanogen? Thanks.

  19. David aka - TakingthePlunge says:


    I have only used Toppik a couple of times and I have no experience with Nanogen. However, there have been a few threads on our discussion forum about Toppik turning green. The general consensus seems to be that Nanogen does not do the same.

    For more information, I suggest visiting our hair loss forum and starting a discussion thread.

    David (TakingThePlunge)

  20. Lee says:

    I have been using Nanogen for a couple of years now and it has been a life saver! You do need some hair thought for the fibres to blend with but it gives a very convincing cover up! Im an african american man and find the match much more suited to my hair than Toppik.

  21. Dan says:

    Ok so this article really pissed me off. I cant help but hate the amount of misinformation on fthe internetbthat plays on people’s insecurities, in my case hair loss.

    Ok so I bought Toppik, to be honest I was amazed how how well it worked. My gf didnt even notice I was wearing it and commented on my hair being so much thicker. It looms so natural and blends in very well. Now this article annoys me, for the reason that it provides an alternative in nanogen. I bought it, put it on and looked like an absolute idiot. It has a weird purple color , makes you look like u have dirt in ur hair. Do u think the review mentioned this?? No apparently it’s just as good, in no way shape or form does it come close . Seriously author, get real and stop fooling the vulnerable .nanogen isn’t good, buy it try and and get purple dirt in ur hair.

  22. Dan says:

    To be completely fair, the reason why I tried nanogen was due to the chemicals in toppik it worried me and I felt a little sick after overuse. Ammonium chloride, worried me. Catch 22 with toppik, really amazing results, however you have a dangerous chemical on ur head. to toppik – please remove the harmfully chemicals, it’s an amazing product, I want to use it every day but can’t!!

    As for nanogen – rip off failure of a product, Dan I completely agree the WORST crap purple dirt, I cannot believe the article it’s just dishonest and posted probably by the nanogen marketing team. Please don’t be fooled into buying this product.

  23. Bill - Managing Publisher says:


    The article above is one man’s opinion and a product review based on his own experience with both Toppik and Nanogen. Each and every consumer is free to draw their own conclusion about any product they use. But know that the above article was written from an unbiased point of view as the author wasn’t an employee of either Nanogen or Toppik nor was he being compensated in any way by either product company to provide this review. Robert was previously an editorial assistant of this community and his only goal was to provide his input on hot topic hair loss related issues.

    If Toppik is working better for you and it makes you feel better about yourself, I encourage you to continue using it. Personally, I’ve never tried Nanogen but I do agree that Toppik seems to work pretty well. But I also know a number of people who feel Nanogen works well for them too.

    Best wishes,

    Bill – Managing Publisher of this Community

  24. topical blog says:

    Thanks for this discussion.
    I have been using Toppik for two years now, and I have been generally very happy with the results.

    I started out using the Light Brown and soon realized that it turned slightly green in sunlight, which I’m glad some of the other folks here have also noticed. As long as I kept a hat on, it was generally safe.

    I also noticed that it had a reddish tint under florescent lighting, which was odd.

    But I tried getting the Medium Brown, which was a bit too dark for my hair color, so I mix together equal parts of light brown and medium brown and the results are excellent. I have no more noticeable green cast in sunlight, and the reddish tint is also less visible under florescent light.

    I do notice that, with hairspray, it appears a bit dull, dry to the touch, and “fuzzy”, which some people notice. This tends to improve after a day of use, with my natural hair oil, but I wonder if there is a hairspray that has a better, more natural shine.

    I keep it on for a few days before it gets too itchy and I have to wash it. I notice that it looks better with shorter hair on me, due to my balding pattern.

    Overall, I’ve been really happy with Toppik, but now that I’m significantly balder than I was when I started, I realize that at some point, it wont work well and I’ll have to make a big jump from having what looks like a full head of hair to having none!

    Nature will win in the end. In the meantime, I’m glad Toppik has helped to prolong my years of having hair.

  25. Trevor A says:

    Another option is to use Couvre along with Toppik in order to hide thin patches as Couvre is applied directly to the scalp.

  26. Phil says:

    I found the same thing. Toppik and Nanogen work basically the same for me. I’ve also used Instant Hair and find it works about the same as well. No problems with any of them. I tend to lean to the Instant Hair because of the two for one price, so it works out a lot cheaper to buy, but whatever I can get is fine.

  27. ronnie says:

    I’ve been using Toppik and Nanogen for over 5 years. Nanogen is the best. It looks natural, a great filler. I’m very happy with it. Toppik sucks. It wouldn’t stay nearly as long, and when it rains it runs out….never had that problem with Nanogen.

  28. Gary says:

    I tried Toppik several years ago and it looked horrible, like powder on my head. I also had to immediately wash my hair because it felt like I had rubbed insulation onto my scalp. That itchy feeling that can drive you mad.
    The company gave me a refund. Id like to try Nanogen but i’m a little afraid I might have the same results. Be nice if these places offered small samples for a nominal fee.

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