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 supplements as well as castor oil and hair growth for more info.
According to the Supplement Facts label, 1 tablet of Viviscal Extra Strength has the following ingredients:
|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 (shark cartilage)
- Mollusk Powder (from Oysters)
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 comes from when this stuff 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 the 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:
- Microcrystaline cellulose
- Hydroxypropyl Methyl Cellulose
- Silicon dioxide
- Magnesium mstearate
- Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose
- Artificial orange flavoring
- Modified starch
Ingredients are listed in order as they occur as they appear on the label. These ingredients play any hair growth effects of Viviscal.
There are some studies on Viviscal and hair growth. Let’s briefly review them here.
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. It's possible they felt better because the new hair growth helped their confidence and outlook on life. While this study was supported by a grant from Lifes2Good, the researchers report no conflicts of interest so that is good.
Summary of Research
Here is a quick summary of the research. Refer to the studies above to see specifics on them.
|Pilot Study (unpublished)||Viviscal works|
|1992 study||Viviscal works|
|1997 study||Viviscal works|
|2012 study||Viviscal works|
|2015 study||Viviscal works|
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 Viviscal Professional (Viviscal Pro) is to be not sold to the public but rather only available through doctors or salons. That said, I did find Viviscal Pro on both Amazon and Ebay
Viviscal For Men
I get a lot of questions about which hair growth supplements for men work. 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, both are very similar. They both have the same key 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 Men's 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 think both Viviscal Extra Strength and Viviscal For Men will work the same. In other words, I believe men could take the women‘s' version of Viviscal and have the same results as if they took the mens‘ version. Since the Viviscal for Men may be more expensive, this is something for men to consider.
Viviscal vs. The Competition
Let's now take a look at how Viviscal stacks up to other hair popular supplements
Viviscal vs. Nutrafol
Nutrafol is another very popular hair supplement. Like Viviscal, there is a version for men and women. Nutrafol is said to work by reducing inflammation and inhibiting a hormone called DHT. Nutrafol has more ingredients than Viviscal but, what I don't see are clinical studies on Nutrafol itself. I see testimonials but no research. There is a study in the works but its not yet completed. So which is better? I'll update this section when their clinical study is published.
Here's Nutrafol on Amazon
Viviscal vs. Provillus
The Provillus website (Provillus.com) states that it is “Clinically Proven and FDA Approved.” And they are correct. It is. This is because Provillus is minoxidil (Rogaine), the hair growth drug we've all heard of. Provillus is not a supplement. Provillus is a 5% solution of minoxidil that's applied topically to the scalp. It's no different than any other kind of minoxidil you've seen.
In theory Viviscal might work better with minoxidil. They both have studies showing they can help men and women. Fortunately Rogaine (minoxidil) is available without a prescription and its not too expensive.
Viviscal vs. Keranique
Keranique is touted as a hair growth system. There is Keranique shampoo, conditioner, Keranique Regrowth Treatment and hair spray. The Keranique Regrowth Treatment contains “the only FDA approved and clinically proven non-prescription ingredient to regrow hair and revitalize hair follicles.” It does – because it's minoxidil (Rogaine). Keranique may be fine products that can help support hair growth, but its the minoxidil that regrows hair.
While there are no head-to-head studies comparing Viviscal to Keranique, in theory, they may work better together when combined with minoxidil in Keranique's Regrowth Treatment serum.
Viviscal vs. Halo Beauty
Halo Beauty is a skin, nails and hair supplement by YouTube star Tatai Westbrook (GlamLifeGuru on Youtube). Halo Beauty is a combination of various vitamins, herbs and other compounds. While there is a little crossover between these two supplements (Halo Beauty has vitamin C and horsetail too), it doesn't have the Amino Mar complex in Viviscal. So, how they stack up to each other is unknown until research is conducted.
Viviscal vs. Joyome
Joyome is an anti-wrinkle cream developed by the makers of Plexus Slim. As far as can be determined Joyome has no effects on hair growth or hair loss. As such, I don't think these products are comparable to each other.
Viviscal Side Effects
I believe Viviscal is safe in healthy people. Here is a brief list of things to consider when taking this supplement. This list is not complete:
- Start with less than is recommended for the first week. This is to see how you respond.
- Speak to your doctor first if you are pregnant or breast feeding
- Stop taking Viviscal at least 2 weeks before having surgery
- Show Viviscal to your pharmacist if you take any prescription medications like blood thinners.
- Speak to your doctor first if you are allergic to fish. Viviscal contains shark cartilage.
- Viviscal has iron. Speak to your doctor if you have hemochromatosis (iron overload disease)
In “scientific study #1” mentioned above, 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.
Viviscal And Sleep Problems
If you read the comments below, you'll notice several people reporting Viviscal has been interfering with sleeping. I saw no mention of this side effect in any of the Viviscal clinical studies so its hard to say how common this is. 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. For more on this topic, read the comments section below.
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. Looking at the ingredients, I can't see any reason why any of them would cause someone to gain weight. I am not sure how common weight gain side effect is or if it might just be a fluke. See the comments for more on this.
Who Makes Viviscal?
Viviscal is sold by Lifes2good (Lifes2Good.com), a company that markets many health and beauty products. While the global corporate office is located in Ireland, in the US, they can be found at 355 N Canal Street
Chicago IL 60606. They also have an office in London as well.
Lifes2Good seems to be part of larger company called Church & Dwight Co., Inc. This organization has several familiar brands including OxyClean, Kaboom, Orajel, and even Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and is a publicly traded company (stock symbol CHD).
The Lifes2good company has been in business since 1997 according to the Better Business Bureau. The BBB gave this company a rating of B- at the time this review was created. See the BBB file for updates and more information.
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.
Finola Hughes And ViviScal
Previously, actress Finola Hughes has appeared in Viviscal ads. She is listed on the Viviscal website as a spokesperson for Viviscal. I assume this means she’s a paid spokesperson.
Viviscal And Molly Sims
Actress and model and author, Molly Sims is also a spokesperson. She is listed as a 20 year user of Viviscal. Her story of how she started losing her hair in her 20s is on the product website.
Where To Buy Viviscal?
Viviscal is popular and can be purchased at a wide range of stores like Walgreens, Costco, BJs, Sams Club, Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, Ulta and Target as well as on Amazon.
Here is Viviscal on Amazon
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– 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. My advice is just use Viviscal and don't worry about the shampoo or scalp lotion.
Interestingly, the Viviscal shampoo does not contain caffeine, which is part of Thicker Fuller Hair, that I reviewed previously. Tip: If you decide to try Viviscal, check online for Viviscal coupon codes which may make it less expensive.
Here is Viviscal on Amazon
Viviscal Elite is an autoship program where they send you a 90 day supply every 3 months (90 days) so you don't run out. Shipping is free with the Elite program and some free gifts are included also. It looks like the Elite program is for combo products. In other words, Viviscal + Viviscal shampoo + other products. I dont believe you can be in the Elite program if you just want autoshipments of only Viviscal. When in doubt call the company to ask about this.
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 depicting hair growth.
Does ViviScal Work?
This, of course, is the $64,000 question. Viviscal does appear to have various studies to prove it grows hair or slows hair loss. 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, several people are saying it does work. If Viviscal is going to work, it seems that at least 3-6 months of use will be needed before you can know for sure.