I Stopped My Stress-Related Hair Loss in Its Tracks With This Vitamin C Tonic

A doctor explains the science behind it.

Jazmine Ortiz

Byrdie / Jazmine Ortiz

I’ve always been one to shed lots of hair, but when my hair started falling out in handfuls, I knew something was up. I began wracking my brain, trying to find the cause. After some much-needed self-reflection, I realized that I was stressed. We were six months into the pandemic, and I had just started a new job. Upon research, I discovered doctors were seeing a rise in "shock hair loss" cases due to pandemic stress and reports of hair loss product sales were soaring. According to the report, when we experience extreme stress, it can sometimes take a few months to manifest as hair loss. It was clear I was among those affected. Now what? Since I was able to pinpoint the cause of my hair loss, I wanted an equally specific treatment. Coincidentally, I was introduced to Vitabrid C12 around my epiphany. 

The brand promotes the idea of scalp care as skincare, using a stabilized form of active vitamin C to get to the root of hair loss caused by stress. Its Hair Tonic Professional ($80) particularly has been my saving grace over the past few months. My now full, healthy head of locks is a testament to that—and something that I’ve received countless compliments on in the past couple of weeks.

Understanding Stress-Related Hair Loss

Before testing out solutions, it’s always best to understand the problem first. So, I spoke with Hyundai Bioscience's (parent company of Vitabrid C12) Chief Scientist Dr. Jin-ho Choy. Choy broke down the science behind stress-related hair loss, which involves the hair growth phases. "During the Anagen phase, hairs are actively growing, by around 1cm every 28 days. During the Catagen phase, the hair growth starts to transition, readying itself to the last phase: The Telogen phase. This is the phase where hairs are completely formed and will fall out easily," he explains. "When you are stressed, be it mentally or physically, a lot of your hairs are suddenly pushed into the Telogen phase, causing large quantities of hair to fall out all at once."

This response doesn’t mean you're suffering from premature balding (yet!). However, an overwhelming amount of stress will cause the level of oxidative stress in your body to increase. "Oxidative stress in your scalp damages hair follicle stem cells and, when prolonged over a long period, can even cause their complete disappearance," Dr. Choy says. To paraphrase the cult-classic film, Mean Girls: Please raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimized by oxidative stress. *Raises hand*

Oxidative stress is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body. This can damage cells and tissue, thus leading to scalp irritation.

 How It Works

Hair Tonic Professional Intensive Scalp Tonic
Vitabrid C12 Hair Tonic Professional Intensive Scalp Tonic $80.00

What I loved about Vitabrid C12's Hair Tonic Professional was how easy it was to use. It comes in a spray bottle which I prefer over nozzle style scalp treatments that, in my opinion, are messier. Included with the tonic is a stabilized active vitamin C powder that you mix into your spray bottle. The powder, coined VitaCG, is formulated by Dr. Choy and gives the product its potency. Once spritzed onto the scalp, it releases active vitamin C continuously for over 12 hours when applied twice a day. 

"As your skin is under constant attack of free radicals, it needs long-lasting antioxidant protection to ward off any damage to the hair follicles," Dr. Choy elaborated. "Hair Tonic Professional’s Vitabrid CG protects the hair follicles from free radical damage while also boosting collagen production all day long." I admit, usually, a product that required multiple applications daily would feel like a chore, but this hair cocktail instantly feels refreshing. I’m a big fan of misting my face throughout the day to look alive for Zoom calls, so this product feels like that but for your scalp. I use a wide-tooth comb to part my hair and make sure my spritz is head-on (pun intended). If I have time, I indulge in a mini head massage for even better absorption.

Why It Works

Jaz Before and After

Byrdie / Jazmine Ortiz

For three months, I’ve been using Vitabrid C12 Hair Tonic Professional twice a day as instructed. And it's safe to say I’m a fan. While I wasn’t too keen on taking selfies that captured my hair's sparse areas during my high-stress period, the ones I did take put my growth on full display. Vitabrid C12 also has scalp shampoo and shampoo "shots" formulated with Vitabrid CG that I’m excited to test alongside the tonic. These days, I’m paying more attention to signs that my body is in distress. When I asked Dr. Choy why it works so well compared to other products on the market, his answer was simple: "It’s not medicine, it’s vitamin C."

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