- Viviscal is a celebrity-backed line of hair growth supplements containing a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids said to combat hair thinning.
- The key ingredient in Viviscal is the AminoMar® Marine Complex, which contains shark cartilage and oyster extract powder.
- Viviscal sponsored a range of clinical studies, all of which proved the supplement’s efficacy, but the treatment isn’t a magic pill or cure.
- Most people report positive results after taking one or two Viviscal tablets a day for approximately three to six months.
Touted in Vogue by Gwyneth Paltrow—who told the magazine “it beyond works” and that she wants to buy stock in the company—Viviscal Professional is the latest hair growth treatment pill on the scene that claims to completely revamp and nourish thinning hair.
This dietary supplement is jam-packed with fortifying ingredients inspired by its Scandinavian founder’s observations of the fish-heavy diet of the Inuit people. The company claims it brings an increase of 110% in terminal hairs (fully matured hairs) after just three months, and a 12% increase in hair diameter in just six months.
So while clinically proven, is it all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Viviscal?
Viviscal is a drug-free, dietary supplement that claims to promote hair growth and correct thinning caused by aging, everyday stress, heredity, over-styling, or medication.
Each tablet of Viviscal Professional or Viviscal Extra Strength contains a range of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and a proprietary complex called AminoMar® Marine Complex that together encourage “hair growth from within.”
Along with the aforementioned ingredients, Viviscal also contains fish (shark powder), so it is not recommended for people with seafood allergies.
Let’s break down exactly how the ingredients in Viviscal promote healthy hair growth.
- AminoMar extracts – According to Viviscal, their proprietary marine complex is derived from marine proteins, horsetail stem extract, and silica. Sustainably-sourced shark powder and oyster act as the primary proteins in this blend.
- Biotin – Every tablet contains a strong dose of biotin, a compound that is part of the B complex group of vitamins. It’s believed that biotin helps the body metabolize fats and proteins, which is needed for healthy hair, but there is very little evidence to suggest biotin supplements can improve thin or brittle hair.
- Vitamins and minerals – The final piece of the Viviscal hair growth puzzle is a blend of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and iron. Iron helps the body produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen to hair follicles. It also helps treat thinning hair or hair loss caused by anemia. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to help the body absorb more iron.
Note: Viviscal Extra Strength and Viviscal Professional supplements are available in two strengths. Review the product labels to learn the differences between these products. For example, while Viviscal Extra Strength seems like it would be stronger than Viviscal Professional, it actually contains only 450 milligrams of AminoMar® Marine Complex, compared to Viviscal Professional Strength, which has 475 milligrams.
What does Viviscal do?
How Viviscal works is somewhat complex, but it involves providing nutrients at key phases of hair’s growth cycle.
According to the manufacturer, the hair growth cycle contains four stages—their dietary supplements are designed to provide essential nutrients during the growing phase, called the anagen phase. This lasts between two and seven years. As we age, the anagen stage decreases, which causes hair to become weaker and thinner at each new cycle.
The ingredients in Viviscal are said to help support the hair during this phase so that it doesn’t become thinner over time.
Does Viviscal really work?
There is promising evidence to suggest that Viviscal is the great product it claims to be, but there are some caveats.
In one study, women with self-perceived thinning hair reported an increase in terminal hairs over 180 days, and another showed a 50% increase in terminal hairs over three months. Terminal hairs are the thick, long, dark hairs that have fully matured. The opposite of terminal hair is baby hair, which is technically known as vellus hair.
The caveat? These studies were commissioned by Viviscal’s parent company, so take these findings with a grain of salt. However, we can look to some anecdotal evidence provided by beauty editors and bloggers for some additional information.
In one self-reported trial, a user found her hair shed less and became softer; her nails became stronger. In another, the user concluded Viviscal was effective at making her hair thicker and stronger, but that it’s not a magic cure. It won’t help you “grow Rapunzel length hair in a matter of weeks.”
What are the known side effects?
Overall, Viviscal is considered a safe treatment, but there are some side effects to consider.
While some people believe the supplements triggered acne and weight gain, Viviscal reports that, during the last five clinical trials, no subjects reported skin-related issues.
According to the manufacturer, Viviscal isn’t safe for people with fish or shellfish allergies, nor is it safe for people with gluten allergies or sensitivities. Pregnant and breastfeeding women shouldn’t take Viviscal.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t endorse any dietary supplements for the treatment of a specific disease or disorder. The manufacturers do claim that the supplement conforms to FDA requirements for dietary supplements, however.
Where can Viviscal be bought?
You can buy Viviscal Extra Strength online at a number of retailers, including directly from the manufacturer, and at various drug stores, pharmacies, and online marketplaces.
Viviscal Professional supplements and hair care products are sold exclusively at hair salons, physicians’ offices, and clinics. You do not need a prescription for either supplement.
How much does it cost?
Viviscal Extra Strength costs between $30 and $40 for a 60-count supply. Viviscal Professional is slightly more expensive, at $150 for a 180-count supply.
How long does it take to work?
Viviscal recommends taking one or two tablets a day. Although you won’t likely see the full effect of your treatment for about six months, some users report results within the first month.
You can maximize the benefits of the treatment by including other hair growth boosters, such as quality hair care products that prevent breakage and damage, and cutting down on excessive styling.
Is Viviscal better than other hair growth treatments?
Indeed, it seems that Viviscal does what it claims to do for the most part: it helps improve thinning hair. But whether it’s better than other hair growth treatments has not been determined.
In general, the gold standard for hair loss treatment is a hair transplant. No other procedure is permanent or as well-researched. However, hair transplants are costly and invasive. Another popular thinning hair treatment that’s worth considering is laser hair growth therapy, however it can be time-consuming, costly, and not as effective for late-stage thinning.
Viviscal requires a significantly lower investment when taken for the recommended period of six months, but can be as costly as lasers or medications if taken for longer intervals. Viviscal appears to rank equally as high as Spironolactone—the androgen-blocking hair growth pill—and comes with fewer side effects.
The bottom line is that you need to do a comparison for yourself and talk to your doctor to see which hair loss treatment is most appropriate for your specific expectations, budget, and health profile.
- Glynis, A. (2012). A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 5(11), 28–34. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin H (2013) e-lactancia.org/media/papers/Vitamin_H_Biotin_University_Maryland_Medical_Center-2013.pdf