Does Viviscal grow hair or is it a scam? That was the question I was recently asked by someone, so after asking myself “what’s Viviscal?” I did some digging and discovered that Viviscal is a hair loss treatment pill that you take to combat not only male pattern baldness but hair loss in women too. Turns out there are many Viviscal products- Viviscal shampoos ect – but I want to review Viviscal, the hair loss pill, because that’s what the research is on. Also read my review of gray hair supplementsas well as castor oil and hair growth for more info.
Who Makes Viviscal?
Viviscal is sold by Lifes2good a company that markets many health and beauty products. The company has been in business since 1997 according to the Better Business Bureau. The BBB gives this company a rating of A+ and has no complaints against it as of 6/22/15. Check the BBB file for updates and other information. You can also get Viviscal at Rite Aid and other stores also.
According to the label, here are the ingredients in Viviscal Extra Strength
|Ingredient||Amount per serving||Percent Daily Value|
|Total Carbohydrates||<1 g||<1% DV|
|Vitamin C||59 mg||98% DV|
|Niacinamide (Niacin)||12 mg||60% DV|
|Biotin||120 micrograms||40% DV|
|Iron||10 mg||56% DV|
|Zinc||11 mg||73% DV|
|AminoMar Marine Complex||450 mg||N/A|
|Horsetail Extract||36.7 mg||N/A|
|Millet Seed Extract||7.5 mg||N/A|
AminoMar Marine Complex
Thanks to a 2015 Viviscal study (which I'll cover below), I was able to learn that AminoMar Marine Complex is composed of:
- Shark Powder
- Mollusk Powder
What parts of sharks and mollusks are used in Viviscal, I can't say. From the 2015 study, I did learn that these these ingredients come from “sustainable marine sources.”
I called the Viviscal company and they did tell me shark cartilage is part of the AminoMar complex. The name “AminoMar” complex is the name the company gives to these two ingredients.
The scientific name for this is Equisetum arvense. While they don't tell us what extract of horsetail Viviscal contains, we are told it comes from the stem. What I can say is that when I searched the National Library of Medicine for “Horsetail and hair growth” and “Equisetum arvense and hair” no studies showed up. Horse tail does appear to have some anti-inflammatory properties and I wonder if this might help “support” hair growth. I am speculating about this.
Also see my review of Hair Essentials for more information.
Millet Seed Extract
The scientific name for this is Sorghum bicolor. It's also called “broom corn” a reference I believe that stems from when this was used to make brooms. The role it plays in human hair growth, I can't say.
I did locate one study on vitamin C and hair growth. Technically this study was on a vitamin C-like compound called L ascorbic acid 2 phosphate. Basically, the compound caused the elongation of hair shafts in mice and also in isolated hair follicles in a test tube. This is intriguing but as far as I can tell no study has shown that this compound caused hair growth in a person. What about vitamin C itself? Does vitamin C grow hair? If it does, I can't find any proof of it.
This is the type of niacin found in the product. My guess is that niacinamide is used because it does not cause facial flushing and redness.
Some may have heard of an anti-aging supplement called nicotinamide riboside (NR). While NR is not in Viviscal, it does contain one of its building blocks – niacinamide. See my nicotinamide riboside review for more on that supplement.
This B vitamin is found in many shampoos and other hair products. While lack of biotin may lead to hair loss in some people, I'm not convinced that most are lacking in it because many foods provide it and bacteria inside of us can make it also. Either way, while a lack of biotin might lead to hair loss, I'm not aware of any evidence that eating biotin grows hair.
Iron and Zinc
There is a Viviscal for Men but it does not have iron. I think this is wise because too much iron may not be healthy for men to get in their diet.
Viviscal also contains these “other ingredients” according to the product website:
|Microcrystalline cellulose||Maltodextrin||Hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose|
|Silicon dioxide||Magnesium stearate||Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose|
|Glycerol||Artificial orange flavoring||Modified starch|
Read the table above from left to right. This will place them in the order they appear in the product. I dont believe these ingredients play any role in how Viviscal works.
There are some studies on Viviscal and hair growth. Let’s briefly review them here. I’ll list the studies in order as they are listed on the Viviscal website.
Scientific Pilot Study #1.
Study title. “An 10 week pilot consumer perception test to evaluate the overall acceptability of a viviscal oral supplement when used by females with self perceived thinning hair”. (An should be “A”. It’s a typo in the report).
This study involved 40 women and lasted 40 weeks. Results indicate that Viviscal reduces hair loss by 46%.
Problems with this study
This is a pilot study and does not seem to be a published peer reviewed study.
They say the study had 40 women but if you read the study, it indicates that only 16 “completed study participation”. To me that says that 24 people dropped out of the study. In my view, this really reduces the significance of the study.
Scientific Study #2
Study title. A comparative study of a new food supplement, ViviScal, with fish extract for the treatment of hereditary androgenic alopecia in young males.
This study was published in 1992 in the Journal of International Medical Research and twas titled A comparative study of a new food supplement, ViviScal, with fish extract for the treatment of hereditary androgenic alopecia in young males.
This seems to be the first published peer reviewed study on ViviScal. The study involved 40 young men and lasted 6 months. Half the people got ViviScal and half received a placebo (fish extract). After 6 months of treatment, those getting ViviScal had a 38% increase in non vellus hair (in other words hair that’s not “peach fuzz”). Those getting the placebo saw a 2% increase in non-vellus hair.
Scientific Study #3
Study title. Treatment of Alopecia Areata, Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis with Oral Viviscal® for 12 months
This study appears to have been conducted in 1994.
Study problems. This does not seem to be a published peer reviewed study.
Scientific Study #4
Study title. A Comparative Study of a New Food Supplement, Viviscal®, with Fish Extract for the Treatment of Hereditary Androgenic Alopecia
Study problem. This is the exact same study as “scientific study #2”. I don’t know why they are listing this study 2 times?
Scientific Study #5
Revista Brasileira de Medicina. 1997. Vol 53; No. 3; p 1-5. Pareira, Jose Marcos.
This study does not appear to be in English and I can’t locate it.
They say this study involved 200 men with male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia). After 6 months of ViviScal treatment, 75.3% decrease in hair loss was observed and 14.6% of men showed partial hair re-growth.
The study involved 10 women , 21-75 years of age with thinning hair. The women were randomly assigned to get either viviscal (10 women in this group) or a placebo (5 women in this group) twice a day for 6 months.
After 6 months, those taking Viviscal showed significantly more hair growth, vs the placebo group which showed hair loss. After 6 months, those taking Viviscal also reported more hair shine and skin improvements.
While this study was supported by a grant by the company that makes Viviscal, check out the pictures of the hair that accompany this study.
Thanks to someone who read my review, I was alerted to another Viviscal study. This study lasted 3 months and involved 60 women (21-65 years of age) who were either given Viviscal Extra Strength (2x per day) or a placebo. You can read the study here. After the study, researchers noted that women who got Viviscal:
- Had more hair in the area measured
- Had less hair shedding
Women also reported -via a life quality questionnaire – that they felt better also. While this study was supported by a grant from Lifes2Good, the researchers report no conflicts of interest so that is good.
Viviscal For Men
There is a version of Viviscal For Men. Here are the ingredients in Viviscal Extra Strength vs. Viviscal For Men side by side:
|Viviscal Extra Strength||Viviscal For Men|
|Total carbs <1g (<1%DVP||Total carbs <1 g (<1%DV)|
|Vitamin C 59 mg (98%DV)||Vitamin C 30 mg (50% DV)|
|Niacin 12 mg (60% DV)||Zinc 8 mg (53% DV)|
|Biotin 120 mcg (40% DV)||N/A|
|Iron 10 mg (56% DV)||N/A|
|Zinc 11 mg (73% DV)||8 mg (53% DV)|
|Amino Mar Complex 450 mg||Amino Mar Complex 452.9 mg|
|Horsetail 36.7 mg||Horsetail 24.5 mg|
|Millet seed 7.5 mg||N/A|
|Flaxseed extract 50 mg|
In the table above % DV = percent daily value. “N/A” = does not contain that nutrient.
For the most part there is not a significant difference between the two versions with respect to the active ingredients. In fact the Male version has a tad more of the Amino Mar Marine complex and Horsetail extract compared to Viviscal Extra Strength. Also note that Millet Seed Extract has been replaced with Flaxseed Extract in the Mens version.
I did like that the Men's version did not contain iron. While a healthy mineral, too much iron might not be good for us.
Overall, I don't see a significant difference between Viviscal Extra Strength and Viviscal For Men. I think they will both work the same.
Viviscal vs. Viviscal Extra Strength
There are different types of Viviscal. When I called Viviscal, I was told that this mostly has to do with the amount of Amino Mar complex they have. Here are the differences between them:
- Viviscal Extra Strength: 450 mg
- Viviscal For Men : 450 mg
- Viviscal Professional: 475 mg
I was told that Viviscal Professional is said to be not sold to the public but rather only available through doctors or salons. That said, I did find Professional on Amazon.
Viviscal Side Effects
Because of what I perceive as a lack of quality research, its hard to say what Viviscal side effects might be. In “scientific study #1” there is mention of a study participant getting headaches which caused the person to drop out of the study. In the Pdf file of this study – which you can view on the Viviscal website – they make reference to “Appendix V” which lists the reasons why people dropped out of the study. Unfortunately Appendix V is not part of this Pdf file. It should have been attached to the pdf file. hmmm…
Viviscal And Sleep Problems?
Since writing my review several people have reported that Viviscal has been interfering with sleeping. I saw no mention of this possible side effect in any of the Viviscal research studies so its hard to say how prevalent this is. For more on this, read the comments from others. Horsetail does contain small amounts of nicotine. It's just trace amounts, so it's very little, but, could this cause sleep problems? I can't say.
Viviscal and Gaining Weight?
Some people have also reported that Viviscal has caused them to gain weight. I am not aware of any evidence for the ingredients doing this. See the comments for more on this. I am not sure how prevalent this side effect is.
Finola Hughes And ViviScal
Actress Finola Hughes is listed on the Viviscal website as a spokesperson for Viviscal. I assume that means she’s a paid spokesperson.
according to the Viviscal website, customer support can be reached at 877-333-4581. The Better Business Bureau also provides this number: 312-454-6167. The address for Viviscal is 355 N Canal St, Chicago, IL 60606-1207. The product website states that Viviscal is made in Ireland.
How Much Does Viviscal Cost?
Viviscal extra strength costs $99 per bottle according to the Viviscal website. There is a Viviscal scalp lotion which is $19.99 but it doesn't have the same ingredients as the pill form of Viviscal – and there is no good proof that the scalp lotion helps re-grow hair. The same thing is true for Viviscal shampoo and other Viviscal products. Interestingly, the Viviscal shampoo does not contain caffeine, which is part of Thicker Fuller Hair, that I reviewed previously. If you decide to try Viviscal, check online for Viviscal coupon codes which may make it a little cheaper.
Here is Viviscal on Amazon for those who are interested.
There is also a Viviscal supplement for men but I wonder how this product is different than the regular Viviscal? Here is the Mens Viviscal on Amazon for those who are interested.
Other Hair Products
Several people have told me that they have gotten good results using a product called Toppix. This is not a hair growth supplement but rather a fine powder that binds to existing hair, making it look fuller and thicker. It's for both women and men. I have met people with thinning hair who have used this product and they give it high marks.
During my research, I also found a shampo0 called Pura D'orwhich had some very interesting reviews on Amazon. One was a before and after picture depecting hair growth.
Does ViviScal Work?
This, of course, is the $64,000 question. Viviscal does appear to have various studies to “prove” that it grows hair or slows hair loss, however only two of those studies appears to be peer reviewed. While those studies appear to be well done, I'd like to see a bit more. I'm honestly not sure if Viviscal works or not although from the comments below, some people are saying it does work. If Viviscal is going to work, it seems that at least 3-6 months of treatment will be needed before you can know for sure.