After I wrote my review of Viviscal, I started to get emails about another hair growth supplement called Hair Essentials. In this review, I'll review at the ingredients in Hair Essentials -as it pertains to hair growth -as well as its clinical study. The main goals of this review are to help you understand this product better and most importantly to try to answer the real question, “Does Hair Essentials really work?” Let's see what we can discover. Also see the review of Viviscal for more on that product.
Hair Essentials Research
Hair Essentials claims to be clinically proven to work. As proof, a clinical study is indeed listed on their website (HairEssentials.com) which I'll outline now. The study is titled “A single center clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of Hair Essentials supplement for women with androgenic alopecia (ludwig I and II).”
If you do an online search for that title, the study should show up. If you read the study, keep in mind that they call Hair Essentials “Active Supplement HT1000.”
In the title of the study you see the words “ludwig I and II.” Ludwig I and II is a reference to the Ludwig Scale of hair loss. Ludwig I is mild hair loss while Ludwig II is moderate hair loss. See this for more on the Ludwig scale.
The Hair Essentials study lasted 90 days and involved 34 women (26 completed the study). The average age of the women was 54 years. The women in the study had a variety of ethnicities, but over 60% were either white or Asian. There were no men in the study.
The women were instructed to take 3 Hair Essentials capsules per day for 90 days. At the beginning, midway point and end of the study, the women had their hair washed by researchers, over a cheesecloth to collect any hair that had fallen out. Those hairs were counted and compared to the number of hairs that were counted at the start of the study.
Pictures of specific areas of the women's scalps were taken for before and after comparisons.
The women also completed journals about how they felt their hair was doing during the study.
After the study, the researchers stated that:
1. Hair Essentials “produced a statistically significant improvement for hair loss/shedding/thinning, hair growth, impression of scalp hair coverage, and overall perception of treatment benefit at day 45 and day 90.”
2. Hair Essentials resulted in ” statistically significant improvement in Investigator rating scores for hair loss/shedding/thinning, hair growth, impression of scalp hair coverage, and overall perception of treatment benefit at day 90 when compared to day 45, suggesting continued improvement over time.”
Overall this is interesting in that it appears to show that Hair Essentials is doing something to help hair loss.
On the the Hair Essentials.com website, you can see the summary of the study and download a PDF of the study too. In the PDF, you can see before and after pictures of women's scalps too.
Potential Study Problems
This is an interesting study, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention some issues that I noticed as I read it. Take these for what you like.
1. The study does not appear to be peer reviewed. In other words, it doesn't seem to be published in a medical or scientific journal. I prefer peer-reviewed studies because that means other researchers (the peers) reviewed the study before its allowed to be published.
2. The study does not appear to have a placebo group. Studies that have placebo groups are usually seen as better studies. Because hair growth is not something that we can will to occur – we can see if its happening or not- I can understand not having one. Still, given that the women filled out diaries on their self perceptions -and that the researchers themselves were grading hair improvements- I think having a placebo group would be worthwhile.
3. There were only 26 women in the study. That's not a lot of people.
4. The study consisted of only women. As such, if Hair Essentials works in men, needs more study.
5. While the researchers said Hair Essentials produced “statistically significant” improvement, they didn't tell us the p value of this significant effect. The p value is a statistics term that refers to how much confidence the researchers have that they are actually seeing a real effect that was not a random act of chance. Most clinical studies published in medical journals give p values for their outcomes (for example, p <.05). For scientists, p values are pretty important. Saying the word “significant” without providing the p value is a weakness of the study in my opinion.
Other than this study, I was not able to locate any other clinical studies on Hair Essentials.
Hair Essentials Ingredients
A serving size of Hair Essentials is 3 capsules. Each 3 capsules of this supplement contains the following ingredients and amounts:
|Ingredient||Amount||Percent Daily Value|
|Vitamin A (100% natural beta carotene||5500 IU||110% DV|
|Vitamin C (as calcium ascorbate)||70 mg||117% DV|
|Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopheryl succinate)||35 IU||117% DV|
|Biotin (d biotin)||35 micrograms||117% DV|
|Iodine (from kelp)||155 micrograms||100% DV|
|Zinc (zinc amino acid chelate)||15 mg||100% DV|
|Selenium (selenium amino acid chelate)||75 micrograms||107%|
|Proprietary Hair Essentials Blend Containing :||1500 mg||N/A|
|1 Saw Palmetto Blend||N/A|
|4. Bu Gu Zhi (Psoralea corylifolia)||N/A|
|5. Han Lian Cao (Eclipta prostrate)||N/A|
|6. L Cysteine Hydrochloride||N/A|
|7. L Methionine||N/A|
|8. Bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris) extract||N/A|
|9. Horsetail (Equisetum arvense ) extract||N/A|
|10. Borage Oil (source of GLA)||N/A|
|11. White Tea (camellia sinensis) extract||N/A|
|12. Rice Bran||N/A|
|13. Milk Thistle (silybum marianum)|
|14. Flaxseed Oil (source of ALA)||N/A|
|15. Black Pepper (piper nigrum) extract||N/A|
Read the table from left to right. This will tell which ingredients are present the most and least. For example, since black pepper is listed last, it makes up the least of the 1500 mg (1.5 grams) in the proprietary blend.
Other ingredients listed, in order, on the label are the following
- Rice flour
- Magnesium stearate
- Silicon dioxide
These ingredients are likely not involved in any effects that Hair Essentials has. Rather they are probably related to what makes up the capsules. The label also says that Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) were not detected.
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are compounds that plants make that protect themselves from disease. The downside is that they are toxic to the liver, so it's good that Hair Essentials doesn't contain them.
I can see the logic used in picking some of the ingredients in Hair Essentials. For example:
- Biotin helps hair and nails grow. It does not regrow new hair. Rather it just helps existing hair /nails grow a bit faster.
- Iodine helps us make thyroid hormone. One of the signs of hypothyroisim (low thyroid hormone production) is hair loss.
- Zinc plays a role in many body functions including hair growth.
That said, with exception of maybe iodine, I don't think most healthy people, living in developed countries, are lacking in most of the vitamins in Hair Essentials. In other words, I think most people already get enough of these nutrients.
If Hair Essentials is going to work, I think that answer is found in its Proprietary blend of ingredients. Let's take a look at those ingredients now.
The scientific name for this herb is Serenoa repens. Saw palmetto is the first ingredient listed, so it likely makes up most of the 1500 mg in the proprietary blend. Hair Essentials uses a blend of saw palmetto which consists of saw palmetto berry as well as a saw palmetto extract, although what that extract is, they dont say.
That said, I wonder if the extract used might be beta sitosterol? I say this because there has been some evidence that beta sitosterol might help hair loss. See the Rice Bran section below for more about this ingredient.
The scientific name for this herb is Polygonum multiflorum. On the product website, it's said that Fo Ti (along with Han Lian Cao) promotes thicker, fuller hair. I searched pubmed.gov to see if there was any evidence of this. I found these studies:
- Hair Growth Promotion Activity and Its Mechanism of Polygonum multiflorum. This is a mouse study.
- In vivo hair growth-stimulating effect of medicinal plant extract on BALB/c nude mice. This is a mouse study.
- Promotion effect of constituents from the root of Polygonum multiflorum on hair growth. This is a test tube study.
- Topical application of Polygonum multiflorum extract induces hair growth of resting hair follicles through upregulating Shh and β-catenin expression in C57BL/6 mice. This is a mouse study.
While these studies are all very intriguing, I have to ask the question, where are the human studies? Where are the studies that show Fo Ti grows hair in people? I am unable to locate any such studies.
Fo ti supplements have been linked to possible liver damage. Recall from above, that the Hair Essentials label said it contained no Pyrrolizidine alkaloids. My hunch is that statement is a reference to Fo ti. So, basically they took the bad stuff out of Foti. That's good.
MSM is short for Methyl sulfonyl methane. It is often found in arthritis supplements. MSM contains the mineral sulfur which is needed to help make collagen. Collagen is a big part of what makes up hair. So, my guess is that MSM is supposed to help hair growth by providing sulfur to the diet.
Sounds good, but is there any proof MSM aids hair growth? If that research exists, I can't locate it. Maybe it helps or maybe not. I can't say either way. For what it's worth, sulfur is naturally found in garlic, eggs, broccoli and kale.
Bu Gu Zhi
The scientific name for this herb is Psoralea corylifolia. Another name for it is “babchi.” I can't find any peer reviewed human evidence that this herb helps hair growth.
Han Lian Cao
The scientific name for this herb is Eclipta prostrate. According to the USDA, another name for this is “False Daisy.” According to Wikipedia, still another name this herb goes by is “King of Hair.” That said, Wikipedia didn't provide any good evidence (peer reviewed clinical studies) to substantiate that this herb helps hair growth. When I searched Pubmed.gov for “Eclipta prostrate hair” no studies showed up.
It's scientific name is Equisetum arvense. A lot of websites tout horsetail as something that can help hair loss, but none that I saw, showed any clinical evidence to prove it.
Likewise, I can't find any clinical studies showing horsetail helps hair growth either. It might reduce inflammation and that, in a roundabout way, might -in theory- help hair?
Horsetail is also an ingredient in the hair supplement called Viviscal. See that review for more information.
Borage (Borago officinalis) is a plant that grows in various places on Earth. The seeds of borage contain, borage oil, which, as Hair Essentials label indicates, is a source of the omega-6 fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
Gamma linolenic acid, can help reduce inflammation and I think this is at the root of why it might be in hair loss supplements. By reducing inflammation, it might allow the body to heal itself and get hair growth started again.
While that sounds plausible on the surface, I must say that I can't find any good proof that borage oil /GLA has promoted hair growth in people.
It's scientific name is Camellia sinensis. All types of tea contains various antioxidants. Could this be why its in hair formulas? I can't say. I can't find any clinical studies of white tea and hair growth.
Rice bran contains many different compounds. One of those is beta sitosterol. Recall from above that saw palmetto also contains this compound. While I often see beta sitosterol in prostate supplements, it can also be found in hair supplements because it can reduce DHT levels.
DHT stands for Dihydrotestosterone. By reducing DHT, it might help some forms of hair loss. It's worth noting that this is also how a drug called Finasteride works too. It's because of this, that I believe saw palmetto (as well as rice bran) are in Hair Essentials.
It's scientific name is Silybum marianum. When most people think of milk thistle, they think about something that can help the liver. But, as for helping hair, or reducing hair loss, I am not aware of any evidence.
Flax Seed Oil
This is a source of an omega 3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid. I'm not aware of any evidence that flax seed helps hair growth or reduces hair loss. We have a very limited ability to turn ALA into the fish oils (EPA and DHA) but I don't think this plays a role in the product.
Black pepper is usually found in supplements as we way to help with the absorption of other ingredients. That is why I think its in Hair Essentials too.
What's The Active Ingredient?
From what I'm able to gather, the ingredients in Hair Essentials were chosen because of the following reasons:
- Help the thyroid
- Help support natural hair production
- To provide building blocks for hair
- To reduce DHT levels
That said, if I had to pick just one thing that might be its main ingredient, I'd choose, saw palmetto. Saw palmetto contains beta sitosterol, which, as mentioned above, does have some evidence that it might reduce DHT levels and, in theory, help hair growth.
Saw palmetto is the very first ingredient listed in the proprietary blend as well, which says to me, its makers feel its most important too. Could all the ingredients in Hair Essentials work better than just saw palmetto alone? Anything is possible. We would need clinical evidence to prove it one way or another.
Does It Darken Hair?
Hair Essentials is designed to grow hair, not restore hair color. Products that are supposed to return hair to its natural color often contain an enzyme called catalase. The Gray Hair Supplements Review has more info on catalase.
Another product touted to reverse gray hair is Amla fruit, also called Indian Gooseberry. See the Indian Gooseberry Review for the research on that product.
Who Makes Hair Essentials?
Hair Essentials is a product of a company called Natural Well Being Distribution Inc. Their website is Naturalwellbeing.com and their address is 438 Westridge Parkway,
Building 100 McDonough, GA, 30253. When I googled this, I saw it was the same address as another company called “Pet Wellbeing.” Perhaps this is a related company?
The Whois file for NaturalWellBeing tells us that the site was registered in 2001 and at that time, the company address was: 401 W Georgia St Suite 2005 Vancouver British Columbia V6B 5A1, Canada.
The Better Business Bureau gave Natural Well Being Distribution a rating of “A+” When this review was created. The company has been a BBB accredited business since 2009. See the BBB file for updates and more information.
How To Contact Hair Essentials?
To contact NaturalWellbeing.com (Hair Essentials parent company), call (800) 536-9353 or (604) 733-2470.
Does Hair Essentials Contain Gluten?
No, the bottle says certified gluten free.
Hair Essentials Side Effects
I'm not aware of any negative side effects when I wrote this review. Based on what Ive seen, I think Hair Essentials is safe in healthy people. Based on its ingredients, here are some general things to keep in mind.
- See your doctor first if you take any medications such as blood thinners or those used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, diabetes or any health issue.
- Stop taking Hair Essentials at least 2 weeks before having surgery.
- Pregnant and nursing women should speak to their doctor first.
- There is some evidence that saw palmetto might reduce how well birth control pills work.
- Fo ti has been associated with liver damage.
Like all supplements, it's wise to speak to your doctor or pharmacist first if you have any health conditions or take any medications.
Does It Work?
I'm not sure. While the ingredients sound good on paper, it would take a couple of real clinical trials published in medical journals before I could say either way if Hair Essentials works or not. If those studies become published I'll update this review. If Hair Essentials is going to work, you should notice a difference within 90 days.
Here is Hair Essentials on Amazonif you want to see what others are saying about it.
Have you tried this? What do you think?