Did you know that nutrient supplements – such as Viviscal – can create a healthy scalp environment as you work to regrow your hair?
In this post, I’ll introduce Viviscal. I’ll discuss the product line, its ingredients, and whether the claims made by the brand are legitimate or not.
To give you a full and unbiased picture, I’ll also outline some real customer reviews, and share with you some user-submitted before and afters. Finally, I’ll show you four alternative methods to hair regrowth.
What Is Viviscal?
Viviscal is a daily nutritional supplement aimed at treating the underlying cause of hair loss and regrowing hair. It was first developed over 25 years ago. Ever since, it has been growing in popularity among the hair loss community.
The Product Line
While the main product is Viviscal’s dietary supplement, the company has introduced a variety of new products over the years.
- Viviscal Extra Strength Supplement (Women & Men): An extension of the original supplements, the Extra Strength formula is aimed at both men and women.
- Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Shampoo (Women): A women-targeted shampoo that claims to gently clean and nourish the hair for a vibrant look.
- Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Conditioner (Women): A sister product to the above-mentioned shampoo, the conditioner claims to promote thicker-looking hair growth while also conditioning.
- Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Elixir (Women): To be applied to wet or dry hair, this elixir claims to provide a thick and well-nourished look.
- Viviscal Man Full Force Fortifying Shampoo (Men): The only male-focused product aside from the Men’s formula supplement, this shampoo claims to prevent breakage while also creating a thicker look.
How Does It Work?
Hair loss occurs for many reasons; however, the most common is Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA). For individuals with AGA, the follicles are sensitive to a naturally produced hormone known as DHT.
DHT is produced from the interaction between testosterone (the male sex hormone) and 5AR (an enzyme). The more this interaction occurs, the more DHT is produced. The DHT then attaches to the hair follicles and causes miniaturization.
This is a process that occurs when inflammation and irritation cause the follicle to narrow. The hairs become thinner until, eventually, there is no room for new hair to grow. If left untreated, permanent balding can occur.
Viviscal claims that it treats hair loss in four distinct stages. They are:
- Nourishes the hair follicles from within.
- Strengthens and promotes the growth of existing hair.
- Promotes the growth of hair that has slowed or stopped growing.
- Hair is noticeably stronger, healthier, and more vibrant.
According to the company, the ingredients within Viviscal enable it to do all of the above in order to treat the underlying cause(s) of hair loss.
Unlike humans, whose skeleton is made up largely of bone, sharks are cartilaginous. This means their skeleton is made up entirely of cartilage. The extracts from such sources has been used for years in the medical field for an array of treatments, including wound healing and inflammation.
Oyster Extract Powder
A unique addition to the product, oyster extract powder is actually used to naturally boost testosterone levels. The slight boost in testosterone can be useful for both men and women, as it supports hair, nail, and skin health.
When taken regularly, oyster extract powder can also increase vitality and improve your immune system.
Horsetail is an herb that contains numerous beneficial components, including silica, flavonoid, and quercetin. The silica provides strength to the hair strands (preventing breakage and thinning), while the flavonoid and quercetin provide antiviral and anti-allergy proponents.
It’s best used for individuals with oily hair, as it can be drying when applied directly to the scalp. However, in a supplement it likely won’t cause much drying.
Flaxseed Extract (Men’s Formula)
With numerous properties – including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant – flaxseed is a beneficial addition to the hair care routine.
Flaxseed oil, which is the most common type of flaxseed used, is extracted from the whole seed. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber. Lignans have been shown to inhibit 5AR, which is crucial for reducing levels of DHT (in the body and the follicles).
This is why flaxseed is included in the Men’s Formula, but not the Women’s.
Millet Seed Extract (Extra Strength)
A gluten-free grain, millet seed contains silicon – a substance believed to boost hair growth. Silicon works by optimizing collagen synthesis, as well as activating certain enzymes responsible for skin elasticity and strength.
Niacin (Extra Strength)
Niacin is a nutrient with many proven hair health benefits. For example, it’s been shown to increase blood circulation to the scalp, reduce inflammation, and even rebuild keratin.
When taken in large doses, you may experience flushing, upset stomach, and even liver dysfunction. Perhaps this is why it’s included in the Extra Strength product, but not the Men’s Formula.
Biotin (Extra Strength)
There isn’t direct evidence to show that biotin is beneficial in hair growth, but it has been proven to improve the health of nails. As the nails are made from the same component as hair – keratin – it makes sense that it would promote hair health, too.
By adding biotin to a supplement, you can prevent deficiency. This isn’t common, but it can cause hair thinning and lethargy if not treated.
Viviscal for Men
While men and women can both suffer from AGA, it’s the more common cause of hair loss in males. This is because males produces higher levels of DHT than females.
As such, the Men’s Formula contains an ingredient known to block DHT – flaxseed extract.
Viviscal for Women
It seems Viviscal used to have a Women’s formula, though it’s no longer offered on their website. However, there’s a Women’s formula available online.
There are slight differences in ingredient dosages (for example, Vitamin C and Zinc). The other differences include ingredient inclusions. For example:
- The men’s formula contains calcium, while the women’s doesn’t.
- The women’s formula includes niacin, biotin, and iron.
- The men’s formula contains flax seed extract, while the women’s formula contains millet seed extract instead.
The Women’s formula is actually quite close to Viviscal Extra Strength, which is the new formula promoted on the Viviscal website under Women’s.
Viviscal vs Viviscal Extra Strength
While Viviscal Extra Strength is marketed to women on the website, it can be used by both men and women. To understand the difference between the original (men’s) formula and Extra Strength.
The main difference between the products is the addition of nutrients, including iron, niacin, and biotin.
Clinical Research: Is Viviscal Supported by Science?
A major positive for many consumers is the use of clinical research to ‘prove’ the effectiveness of Viviscal. However, the presence of clinical research isn’t enough to recommend without reservation.
In fact, the clinical studies offered up on the website seem to have dwindled in recent years. Previously, seven were included on the Clinical Studies page, though only three currently remain.
It’s also important to understand that clinical research isn’t always as unbiased as it may seem. After all, Viviscal themselves are sponsoring these studies.
Of note, only one of the articles on their website is peer reviewed. This means it was reviewed by various experts to confirm its quality prior to publish. In addition, only one article has been published, while the non-published articles can only be obtained by reaching out to the company.
This doesn’t mean that Viviscal isn’t a good option for some people. Though, it does seem to indicate that the research doesn’t back up the product as wholeheartedly as the company may like.
What Customers Have to Say
A major complaint of consumers is the variability of products sold by Viviscal on Amazon. Many customers have complained that the packaging varies too much, and has even led many to question whether the product is legitimate.
While not a deal breaker, this is something to expect if you purchase from Viviscal as opposed to buying in store.
As with any product, Viviscal doesn’t work for everybody. Quite a few customers have claimed to be using the product for 3+ months without noticing any difference.
However, there are quite a few positives mentioned. For example, many customers say their hair has become fuller and thicker since beginning the product.
Viviscal vs Nutrafol: Which Is the Better Hair Loss Supplement?
Nutrafol is another hair growth supplement on the market, so it’s hard not to make comparisons between the two products.
Both products claim to combat hair loss on a number of fronts. For example, Viviscal states it:
- Nourishes the hair follicles.
- Strengthens and promotes the growth of existing hair.
- Promotes the growth of hair that has slowed or stopped growing.
Nutrafol does much the same, but on four fronts. For example, it claims to:
- Block DHT
- Manage stress hormones
- Fight free radicals
- Treat inflammation
Both products also contain nutrient ingredients, including marine byproducts (collagen for Nutrafol and complex for Viviscal).
Which Option Is Right for You?
The answer will depend entirely on preference, as well as what you’re looking for in a hair supplement.
Nutrafol contains more extensive ingredients, including ashwagandha (for stress) and saw palmetto (for DHT). As such, it’s a more flexible supplement, which can be used for a variety of hair loss causes.
Alternatively, Viviscal is more focused on overall hair health and wellness. It only contains one ingredient known to directly combat hair loss (flaxseed), though other ingredients (such as horsetail extract) may contribute, too.
Another factor to consider is cost. As I’ll discuss further down, Viviscal is the more cost effective choice at $49.99 per bottle. Nutrafol is more expensive, coming in at a whopping $88 per bottle.
Possible Side Effects and Considerations
While Viviscal contains all-natural ingredients, it’s still possible to have an adverse reaction. This may be due to an underlying allergy, or a sensitivity to the ingredients within the product.
The symptoms associated with allergy/sensitivity include rash, hives, and itching. If you experience any of these when using Viviscal, stop use immediately and consult with a physician.
It’s possible for a more severe allergic reaction to take place. The symptoms include:
- Full-body hives
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth, and/or throat
If you experience any of the above symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.
This product is not intended for individuals under 18, and it’s important to keep the supplement out of the reach of children.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid use of Viviscal supplements. It’s unknown whether the product is safe for use during such periods, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.
If you’re currently taking any medications, or you’re being treated for a chronic medical condition (such as heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.), speak with your physician before beginning use.
Viviscal supplements contain marine products – including shark and oyster – and is therefore not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
Are There Alternative Options?
While you may decide that Viviscal is right for you, I urge you to consider the alternative options below. These all-natural options can help you to regrow your hair and take back your life, all for a very minimal investment.
Take a Nutrient Supplement
While Viviscal has almost all the nutrients you’d need, it can be costly. Fortunately, there are many supplements on the market that can replace Viviscal and its ingredients.
Even better, you can increase your own nutrient intake at home with smoothies, bone broth, and other wholesome meal additions.
For example, here’s a smoothie recipe that I use everyday to get my day started right.
- Frozen berry medley
- Hemp and pea protein mixture
- Almond milk
- Coconut oil
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Probiotic powder
- Gingko biloba
Blend the ingredients together until you get the consistency you like. Then, drink and enjoy!
Scalp Massage and Exercise
No matter the cause of your hair loss, one of the best ways to improve the health of your scalp and follicle is by increasing blood circulation. With blood properly flowing to the scalp, your follicles can pick up the oxygen and nutrients they desperately need. And waste, including DHT, can also be removed to prevent further damage.
There are a few ways to increase blood flow to the scalp; for example, inversion therapy. However, the two more effective methods are those that are easy to practice and only take 15 minutes of your day. They are scalp massages and exercises, and they can be done anytime, anywhere.
How to Perform Scalp Massage
A scalp massage can be performed with oil or without.
Begin by placing your thumb, index finger, and middle fingers on the sides of your scalp just above the ears. Apply gentle pressure to the area, and work in a circular motion. As you do so, slowly move up the side of your head towards the crown, and then backtrack. Continue for 2-3 minutes, and finally make your way fully to the crown.
Using both hands, massage in circles. Apply varying levels of pressure (though, avoid pressing too hard) and remain in this spot for 2-3 minutes. Then, slowly make your way to the front of the scalp, at the hairline and temples.
At the center of the hairline, begin by working both hands in the same area. Slowly work your way out, with each hand going to opposite temples. Continue using circular motion, as this enables you to cover the most area. You can backtrack to the center of the hairline as your massage, as long as you always return to the temples.
Finally, guide your fingers from your temples to the sides of your head and all the way to the base of the scalp. Begin at the bottom of the scalp, and slowly work your way up the back of your head towards the crown.
This entire process should take about 10 minutes, and it should be repeated daily for best results.
How to Perform Scalp Exercises
While massage is a great way to handle surface-level blood flow, scalp exercises can target the blood vessels at a deeper level. This is because you’ll use your scalp muscles to target areas of hair loss, such as the hairline.
There are three basic steps when performing scalp exercises. They involve your eyebrow muscles, and they are:
- Lift your eyebrows as high as possible, and hold for 1-2 minutes. Return to the neutral position, and rest.
- Furrow your eyebrows as deep as possible, and hold for 1-2 minutes. Return to neutral position, and rest.
- Lift your eyebrows as high as possible, and hold for 1-2 minutes. Then, furrow your eyebrows as deep as possible and hold for 1-2 minutes. Finally return to neutral position, and rest.
When practiced in addition to scalp massage, you can significantly boost blood flow to the scalp in just a month’s time.
A practice that’s commonly used in the treatment of scarring, microneedling involves the use of tiny needles to create puncture wounds. When used on the scalp, it can increase blood flow and regenerate collagen.
While it seems odds to induce injuries in order to grow hair, it’s actually been scientifically proven. In fact, a 2013 study showed the group that received microneedling therapy in addition to minoxidil performed much better than the minoxidil-only group:
Microneedling can be done in office by a dermatologist, or at your own home. If you opt for the DIY sessions, there are tools such as the dermaroller and dermastamp that you can use.
To learn more about microneedling, and how to get started, check out this in-depth post here.
Viviscal is a high-quality supplement, though not one I would personally take. Why? While it may offer the nutritional support you need, there are cheaper (and more effective) ways to do the same.
In addition to nutritional supplementation, it’s also important to focus on 1) increasing blood flow to the scalp; and 2) optimising your nutrition. These will go a long way in helping you maintain healthy hair.
Hi, Penelope! Thanks for sharing this great review! It is convincing and detailed information that we need about this product. It seems like a good product. I never tried Viviscal, and I would be interested to read other opinions about it.
I think that I need some supplement to strengthen my hair, but I can’t buy this one because I am vegetarian and I don’t use products that are from animal sources.
Maybe you can tell me about other supplements that are good for hair. Thanks!
In September 2016 I suddenly started shedding hair like crazy. It has been thinning on and off for years, but this was a mass exodus! I read about Viviscal and started using it. Within a month the shedding stopped, and then I definitely had significant regrowth by 6 months. So much so that I got lazy and over the summer started only taking it once a day. I also got lazy with my 5000 mcg of Biotin (there’s Biotin in Viviscal, but very little; I hadn’t read the label closely enough and thought it was more than it was.) Fast forward to last month–September again–and the shedding starts anew. So I’m back up to Viviscal 2x/day and trying a number of other things you’ve suggested (per my comments on other pages!) and we’ll see what happens. I have read that fall shedding is a thing, so maybe the stopping/regrowth last year was simply a cycle thing and not the Viviscal. But I’m back on it since I did see a difference last year. ProTip: Buy it at CVS when they’re having a 30% off week and in the box you’ll get a $5 off coupon. Combining those two things every month has made it fairly affordable.
I havent experienced hair loss yet, but my mum does complain of this and said she started in her 30s so I should be looking into this and therefore thanks for the post. The tablets seem quite easy to take and therefore it will be easy to remember and is something I would be able to do.
Thanks for stopping by! Definitely send your mom this way and maybe she can learn more about what hair loss treatment is best for her.
Thanks for sharing this Penelope. I’m starting to recede on the sides and have been looking for a hair growth supplements hence how I came to your site.
I’ve just read other reviews and looks like a great product. I will be purchasing.
Appreciate the information.
thanks for the feedback, Vince! Come back and let us know how Viviscal works for you!
My daughter is having this problem now and I suggested Viviscal for her, however, I knew nothing except what I have read in magazines or seen on commercials. Your post is right on time as I will be seeing my daughter tomorrow & will share this info with her. If she wants to buy it I will send her to your site and after she takes it she will let you know how it worked for her. Also, a question I have is have you researched a line of hair products called Nioxin? I have heard great things about them also, Just curious if you know anything about this line, Thanks for a great review.
Thank you for a very detailed review. It is very informative.
I am a man in his 50s, and have thinning hair at the top of my head. I have tried a hair lotion, and it is helping a little. Just yesterday, I bought online a shampoo set from Korea that boasts anti-hair loss and customers have reported hair growth.
Still, I am on the lookout for more ways to help prevent further hair loss and increase hair growth. This product seems interesting. My only concern is that one of the cons is it may not work for everyone. May I find out if you have further info on this? E.g. what is the percentage? why it may not have worked? etc.
Look forward to your reply.
This product sounds worth a try. I like many black people struggle with growing my hair, so I am interested in any supplement that will aid me to that end.
I prefer natural products, and I’m not sure if these are natural.
I checked out the price and that seems very reasonable and the 90-day money back guarantee is a winner too!
So I think I’m going to give them a try.
I’ll be back to let you know how I get along!
thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to hearing about your experience with Viviscal!
It is very comforting to know that there are seven clinical studies supporting the efficacy of Viviscal. It shows that the product really works. What is really interesting to read on articles about hair-loss is how important the fish (shark) component is in helping the process. And it is good to know that the Viviscal company is so invested in providing clear information about their product, it shows their commitment to provide the best service. I know some people who will be very interested in knowing more about this product. Will share this article with them.
Thanks so much for your feedback and for passing on this blog to people who could use the info. I agree that Viviscal does a great job of supporting their product with science, and I’m grateful for the power of marine collagen!!
Great review once again, it sounds like this supplement would be good for strengthening the hair and helping it to grow, even if hair loss is not a concern. Does that sound about right? I recently had a disaster haircut and I’m looking for ways to make my hair grow back as quickly as possible.
YES: that’s exactly right. Not everyone concerned with hair strengthening and growth is experiencing baldness or hair loss – many people just have temporary hair weakness due to styling and chemical changes. You should try Viviscal and come back and let us know how it works fo ryou!
I agree with Shirley…even though we may not be experiencing hair loss, strengthening is a good idea, especially with the styling and chemical strain we put on our hair every day!
Thanks, Terri! Yeah, it should just be another thing we think about and plan for, as automatic as applying sunscreen!
I absolutely love the details you are providing here! Thanks!
This was a great review. I have not checked into hair loss products before. I woould like to read more about it. Thanks for the information.
Super article, now I must admit that I am a big fan of your article writing and the easy and useful solutions you provide us, even busiest people can follow the treatments and have good hair. Usually on most of the website, instructions and product are really impractical and hard for busiest people. You are great I must say…
Thanks for reading about Viviscal, and I appreciate your kind comments about my writing style~!
Another great article. I don’t suffer from hair loss, but my husband does. He is starting to go bald, do you think this product would work for him? If he starts using this product, how long does it take before seeing result? I know it varies from person to person, but I would love to know the average. Thank you for sharing.
Do you think Nutrafol for men is a better place to start than viviscal for men? I think a lot of my hair damage / falling out is from stress. Thank you.
Hi, I saw your review on Nutrafol. And I’m wondering why you chose to use Nutrafol over Viviscal? I have major sudden hair loss due (1/3 hair gone and continuing) to stress/genetics/anemia. Any advice is so very appreciated.
Thanks for the feedback! Vegetarians (and vegans) can get some of the benefits of marine collagen through taking plant silica – this is a great alternative. There’s something out there for all of us!
Thanks for sharing your experience with Viviscal! And for those of us who don’t want to wait for the CVS sale, Amazon.com is a great alternative – the product runs just over $30 for a month supply.
thanks for passing the blog onto your daughter, hopefully it will help her decide what hair loss treatment is best for her! With Nioxin, I have yet to review it but I do know some of their products are far more favorably reviewed than others. I would need to do more research before trying it or reviewing it, but I may just do that, because it’s a good low-cost alternative!
Thanks for the great questions. First, it’s important to use supplements at the same time as a shampoo, to treat your hair loss from the inside as well as the outside. So, adding this or another hair loss supplement to your routine is something I strongly recommend. And hopefully the Korean product will help! I don’t know the exact percentage of success rate for this product, and I go by average user reviews, and the percentage of those who’ve left 4 or 5 stars. I’d encourage you to check out the Amazon.com reviews and make your own judgment about whether this is the right one for you to try!
He should consider using a different product specifically for men, and that’s Nutrafol for men. He should start seeing results after a couple of months in terms of regrowth. He may see improved existing hair health results sooner – thanks for the question!
Hey Ben! If stress is the culprit, I’d go for Nutrafol for men, since it’s designed to target stress as well. I’d also consider making some major lifestyle changes to deal with the sources of the stress. I wrote an article about stress and hair loss here.
Come back and let us know what you decide.