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)
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.