A disgruntled reviewer on Amazon grumbled that Nisim's shampoo for men and women with thinning hair merely makes "follicles swell" and doesn't prevent hair loss. I wondered if this was likely. Are there really things that make follicles "appear" bigger? And even if there was someone on Amazon perpetuating an urban myth, would Nisim be worth trying? I decided to take a closer look at Nisim's NewHair BioFactors Shampoo ($27).

It turns out that Nisim's thang is amino acids - there a fistful in most products in its range. Starting with cystine, there seems to evidence that Nisim knows what it is doing. As a conditioning agent, cystine is greatly valued for not only hydrating the hair, but also protecting it from external irritants. Because its structure and function resembles that of hair, it’s classified as a Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF). As an NMF, it helps keep the intercellular structure of the hair intact, protects it from breakage and binds moisture to the shaft. Another is the similarly named cysteine, an amino acid that makes up 5% of the composition of hair. I have read that it can make the hair shaft bigger, but I can’t find any scientific evidence of that.

There are some tests to vouch for the role of methionine. This is a sulfur-containing amino acid that has been shown in animal tests to strengthen hair cells. On the other hand, biotin does not look all that credible. In actuality, not one scientific study has yet to prove this particular function, and topical application of biotin is most likely ineffective considering the fact that it cannot penetrate the skin. Thus far, studies have mostly demonstrated its ability to make the hair more pliable and easy to comb.

Inositol is not amino acid, but in the vitamin B family. While high levels of inositol can lead to healthy hair and and aid in hair growth, low levels can lead to hair loss and skin dryness, even eczema.

With wheat and a few plant extracts - castanea sativa (sweet chestnut) and hedera helix (ivy) - that have been used for centuries for hair care, Nisim could be worth a try. At least the formula looks as if it may do a little more than "swell follicles".

Ingredients

Distilled water, ammonimum laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamide DEA, hydrolyzed wheat protein, glycol stearate, dimethicone, glycine soja, panax ginseng, castanea sativa, arnica montana, hedera helix, geranium maculatum, inositol, panthenol, cystine, cysteine, methionine, biotin, parfum, citric acid, methychloroisothiazolinone