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


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