Hair is our crowning glory. Whichever way we style it, whether it's intricate braids, beach waves, or a messy topknot, hair is one of our defining features. That's why seeing a little too much hair in a brush after combing through our manes is frustrating, especially because of all the work we put into maintaining every follicle's health with masks and leave-in conditioners.
Could a pill be a solution to this problem? Celebrities like Karlie Kloss and Hailey Bieber have turned to Viviscal, a vitamin that also has a hair care line that includes hair thickening products like shampoo, conditioner, elixir, and hair filler fibers. Since it's been on the market, Viviscal has been recommended by doctors and salon experts for clients who are experiencing significant hair shedding. Keep reading to get insight from experts about Viviscal.
Meet the Expert
What Is Viviscal?
Viviscal is designed to be a two-part hair care system that promotes hair growth inside and out with its Extra Strength Dietary Supplements, Gorgeous Growth Densifying Elixir, Densifying Shampoo, Densifying Conditioner, and Conceal & Densify Volumizing Fibers. According to the brand, these topical products are composed of hair thickening botanicals and proteins and are meant to be used in conjunction with the Viviscal supplements—however, Michele S. Green, MD, tells her patients that they can go without them if they have a cleansing regimen they already love.
Aside from celebrity promotion and glowing customer reviews, Viviscal claims its products have performed well in several clinical trials. On the brand website, they state that, in one such trial, 75.3% of participating patients experienced a “significant decrease in hair loss.”
"Viviscal works with amino acid-rich protein that treats hair loss and accelerates hair growth. Taking these is like giving your scalp 'food' so that it grows new, healthy hair," says Shari Sperling, MD. According to Green, the star ingredient that makes Viviscal supplements so successful is its trademarked AminoMar marine complex, which is a blend of sustainably sourced shark cartilage and mollusk powder, fish oil, and silica. It also contains a number of potentially hair-boosting vitamins and minerals such as biotin, niacin, and zinc.
There are a number of other ingredients in Viviscal supplements, however, the below ingredients are some of the strongest key players meant to help bring hair back to life.
- Shark Cartilage & Mollusk Powder: These marine-based protein sources aid in the reduction of hair loss.
- Fish Oil: Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may nourish a parched scalp and deliver nutrients to hair follicles, which in turn may help to minimize hair thinning.
- Silica: May help strengthen hair strands and help to reduce hair thinning.
- Niacin: A vitamin that transforms carbohydrates into energy, maintains the structure of blood cells, and improves blood circulation, all of which might encourage blood flow to the scalp and its hair follicles.
- Vitamin C: Rich in antioxidants and helps the body absorb iron into the blood while also boosting collagen production.
- Zinc: Balances hormone levels and, when used topically, minimizes dandruff on the scalp, so hair may have a clear path for growth. Adequate amounts of zinc in the body may also prevent protein deterioration.
Is It Effective?
Although Viviscal can reduce hair loss, it's not a magic pill that can make hair grow to Rapunzel-lengths overnight. However, Green notes that it is effective and most people see an increase in hair length while taking the supplement.
When it comes to competing supplements on the market, Green adds that there hasn’t been a definitive comparative study that puts one brand over another. “Some patients see success with Viviscal while others see success with other vitamins on the market—it’s all up to preference,” she says.
How to Use Viviscal
Sperling says you should take Viviscal twice daily, once in the morning and once at night with food and water. Green recommends patients use Viviscal consistently for at least six months, which means committing to three packages since Viviscal recommends taking one tablet twice a day.
When You'll See Results
“Since hair grows at approximately a quarter- to a half-inch per month, it will take some patience to see results,” Green explains. “Most people see a difference between two to four months of use.” It is important to remain consistent with taking Viviscal in order to get these results.
Using Viviscal With Other Hair Supplements
According to Green, Viviscal can be used with other hair treatments. "It can be used in conjunction with platelet-rich plasma treatments, laser therapy, and hair transplants. You can usually see enhanced results when you use more than one hair restoration method,” says Green. Just make sure to consult a board-certified dermatologist, physician, or licensed trichologist before administering Viviscal if you have had one of these treatments done.
Potential Side Effects
Sperling says that potential side effects are nausea and skeletal stiffness. If you experience either of these side effects you should contact a doctor immediately.
Viviscal is generally safe, but like any other ingestible, you should be wary of any ingredients that will be hazardous to your health. Individuals with fish or shellfish allergies should certainly stay away from Viviscal supplements and opt for one of its non-marine topical products instead. You should also not take Viviscal if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, according to the brand.
Those who are sensitive or allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts, wheat, or gluten should also be careful since Viviscal cannot confirm whether there is cross-contamination at its manufacturing facilities.
The price for Viviscal typically varies from $30 to $40. Each packet comes with 60 tablets, which should last you about one month. As mentioned, it's recommended that you commit to about three packets to see results, which means you'll spend around $120 for a full treatment. Viviscal's website offers a subscription discount if you order directly through them, which can bring the cost down from $120 to $96.
Pros and Cons
Before you try Viviscal for yourself, it's important to consider the pros and cons of the supplement to see if it's a good fit for you.
- Suitable for all hair types
- Drug-free supplement made with natural ingredients
- 10 published clinical studies which show proven results
- Oral supplement
- Not suitable for those with fish or shellfish allergies
- Not suitable for those who are pregnant
- Higher price point
- While Viviscal meets FDA requirements, it is not FDA-approved
Viviscal may be an excellent choice to add to your hair care regime if you are looking for help with hair growth. “Take Viviscal as long as you feel that you need it,” says Green, as it is a product line that requires continuous use for visible results.
For those who already have a full head of hair, Green notes that "they can take whatever vitamin they want," as there have been no studies thus far that shows Viviscal helping people with thick hair achieve additional thickening or growth.
Similar to Viviscal, Nutrafol is another popular hair growth supplement. The clinically-proven formula is made with natural, medical-grade ingredients and is formulated without gluten, dairy, soy, hormones, drugs, and artificial additives. Like Viviscal, Nutraful contains fish-derived ingredients making it not suitable for those with fish or shellfish allergies. A downside is that it's much more expensive than Viviscal.
Vegamore's Gro Biotin Gummies are another supplement that promotes hair growth. It is formulated with biotin; Vitamins B-5, 6, and 12; and Vitamin A, C, and E. Unlike Viviscal, these are gummies as opposed to tablets.
These Hum vitamins are formulated with biotin, fo-ti, and zinc. It is an affordable hair supplement option compared to others that are similar.
Ablon G. A 3-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the ability of an extra-strength marine protein supplement to promote hair growth and decrease shedding in women with self-perceived thinning hair. Dermatol Res Pract. 2015;2015:841570. doi:10.1155/2015/841570
Kang JI, Yoon HS, Kim SM, et al. Mackerel-derived fermented fish oil promotes hair growth by anagen-stimulating pathways. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(9):2770. doi:10.3390/ijms19092770
Araújo LA, Addor F, Campos PM. Use of silicon for skin and hair care: an approach of chemical forms available and efficacy. An Bras Dermatol. 2016;91(3):331-335. doi:10.1590/abd1806-4841.20163986
Mount Sinai. Vitamin B3 (niacin).
Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The roles of vitamin C in skin health. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):866. doi:10.3390/nu9080866
Gupta M, Mahajan VK, Mehta KS, Chauhan PS. Zinc therapy in dermatology: a review. Dermatol Res Pract. 2014;2014:709152. doi:10.1155/2014/709152