With male-pattern baldness effecting more than 65 percent of men over 35, and 80 percent of men over 50, it’s no surprise men talk about hair loss. But what about women?

Female-pattern baldness affects almost 50 percent of women as they age – and studies say that number is going up. Women over 35 report hair-thinning, receding hairlines, and increased shedding, but for growing numbers of women, the trouble starts much earlier than that. Some experts are suggesting that our increased use of wigs, weaves, chemicals, and heat-styling products might be contributing to many women worrying about hair loss at an early age, whereas others have pointed to hormonal changes like those brought on by the contraceptive pill. Whatever the cause, more and more women are looking for solutions to aid their declining hairlines, and Viviscal for hair loss has come to answer our prayers. But is it really all it’s cracked up to be? We deep-dive into the trendiest treatment for male and female hair loss to help you make an informed decision.

Does Viviscal work on all forms of hair loss?

The causes of hair loss are complex, so it’s important to consult an expert before starting any new product, including Viviscal. Hair loss is known as alopecia, but there are many types, and not all are treatable.

Tension alopecia, for instance, occurs when hair is repeatedly pulled in the same direction (think Jojo Sewa’s high pony, or years of tightly-pulled braids, weaves and hair extensions). The tension causes breakage and can eventually discourage new growth in those areas altogether. In this case, styling locks in a different way can be much more effective than any supplement.

There are other types of alopecia that can be caused by genetics, hormonal changes, or even a traumatic event, but the most common forms are male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness. This is the type of alopecia that Viviscal targets.

How does viviscal for hair loss work?

As we age, our hair thins. Thinning occurs when we a) produce new hair at a diminished rate, b) shed hair increasingly quickly, or usually c) both. Male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness usually refer to the natural decline in hair density due to these factors. This may lead to a receding hairline, or areas of the scalp where hair is sparser; for men, it’s often the crown of the head, and for women, it’s more often the temples or centre-part line.

This is where Viviscal enters the scene, promising to combat pattern baldness, resulting in longer, thicker, healthier looking tresses.

In the 80’s, Viviscal trademarked a unique blend of Amino-acids and fish oils to create AminoMar C™. Over the years they have continued to work with this blend, experimenting with different application methods, and their current range includes both topical treatments (shampoo and conditioner) and a dietary supplement. While the topical treatments might amplify results a bit, the supplement is the real star-child of the Viviscal line.

Key ingredients

Their women’s dietary supplement includes shark cartilage (sorry vegans), fruit powder, horsetail extract (not a real horse, it’s a herb), millet extract, Vitamin C, Zinc, Biotin, Vitamin B3 and Iron. This blend of fatty acids, and vitamins are said to nourish the scalp, improve collagen production, encourage blood-flow and regulate hormones – all important factors in improving hair growth. As these are all naturally-occurring minerals, vitamins and biological substances, Viviscal is not a drug: it is a dietary supplement that can give you the boost of good stuff that helps your locks grow long and strong.

Does it actually work?

It may not be a miracle cure, but the results are promising. Three key clinical studies referenced on the Viviscal website, all double-blinded and placebo-controlled, have claimed positive results. After six months of Viviscal use, the 2012 reported “significant self-perceived improvements” in Viviscal users, while the 2013 study found an 18.3 percent reduction in shedding, and a 7.4 percent increase in hair thickness. The numbers may seem small, but regrowth is a slow process, taking many months or even years until significant results can be seen. To see the results of longer term users, we studied the reviews.

Reviews on the Viviscal website were overwhelmingly positive. They have several case studies of women who have achieved great results, as well as endorsements from doctors and beauty professionals who all claim to have witnessed it working. Reviews on other websites are more mixed. There are many glowing reviews from women who claim it worked wonders, but others report no effect whatsoever. It seems to be a treatment that works for some women and not others, which is consistent with most alopecia treatments to date. Growing hair is complicated, and with so many potential causes of thinning, it can be hard to get the individual treatment right. It did seem that the longer people used Viviscal, the more likely they were to see positive results – many of the negative reviews came from people who used it for around three months, but it can take up to six months or a year to begin to see significant new regrowth..

Side effects

Most people who take Viviscal don’t see any side effects, but some users may experience nausea and/or skeletal discomfort. If this occurs, stop use immediately, and see a doctor. Also note that as the supplement contains shark cartilage and fish oils, people with seafood allergies should not take Viviscal.

The main things to remember

Female pattern baldness affects nearly half of us, so if you’re suffering, you’re not alone. Losing your hair can be gut-wrenching, but there are options available, and one of them may work for you. Despite mixed reviews on Viviscal, it does seem to work for some women, and you might be one of the lucky ones. If Viviscal is not right for you, consult your doctor or dermatologist about other options that may be available, such as prescription medication. In case you wear your hair pulled back or use weaves and extensions, consider letting it grow out, or experimenting with different hairstyles. If you’re embarrassed about your hair loss, play around with hats, scarves or a fringe to mask the areas that make you self-conscious. And if all else fails, rock it out just as you are! All the more focus on your beautiful face.