Free shipping on all domestic orders over $39

Viviscal supplements and shampoo- reviewed and rejected

Viviscal supplements
March 30, 2013 Reviewed by Marta 12 Comments
Several members of the Truth In Aging community have reported that taking vitamin B supplements has helped them with hair growth. I personally tried biotin-packed Follicle Fuel and thought it might be helping my hair’s overall condition and thickness, so when a reader asked me about Viviscal’s supplements and shampoo and conditioner I was all set to give them a try. Until I saw what was in them, that is.

Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Nutrient Tablets (30 tablets/$50) are positioned as vitamins that promote hair growth; they do have biotin (a form of vitamin B), but the main active is an unexplained “proprietary marine complex.” There’s horsetail, a natural source of silica, millet seed (which has two amino acids) and vitamin C. Since none of these are scientifically associated with hair growth, I’d have to be putting a lot of faith in the unidentified marine complex.

Still, I was game to give it a try  until I saw the last ingredient, shark. Perhaps shark is the mysterious marine complex... Now I agree that sharks aren’t a lovable beast, and to most people, are a menacing subject for large screen (Jaws) and small screen (Discovery Channel’s Shark Week) entertainment. Sharks are also, depending on the type, extremely endangered  or what conservationists call “vulnerable.”  I am not going to knowingly buy an endangered species.

Out of curiosity, I glanced over at Viviscal Gentle Shampoo (6.7oz/$10) and noted that it goes out of its way to say there are no nasties such as “SLES, SLS and parabens.” While this may be true, there are several others that I prefer to avoid, such as sodium lauroyl sarcosinate. Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate is a little controversial, primarily because of its potential to be contaminated with nitrosamine (a known carcinogen) and its classification as a penetration enhancer, which may alter skin structure and allow other chemicals to penetrate deeper into the skin.

Then there is the surfactant ammonium lauryl sulphate, classified as an irritant at concentrations of 2% or higher. The longer this ingredient stays in contact with the skin, the greater the chance of irritation. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel has assessed this ingredient as safe to use in cosmetics, but only in formulations designed for brief use and followed by a thorough rinsing of the skin. Then there’s sodium benzoate, which may increase the production of free radicals that cause damage to cells.

It isn’t all bad though. Viviscal Gentle Shampoo also has bilberry extract, panthenol (a form of vitamin B) and a couple of sugars, presumably for scalp exfoliation. But there isn’t enough good to outweigh the bad or the indifferent. I decided not to buy Viviscal.

Ingredients in tablets: Amino Mar™ Marine Complex, Horsetail (stern) Extract Silica, Millet Seed Extract, Vitamin C, Niacin, Biotin, Iron, Zinc (as Zinc Oxide); Other ingredients: Microcrystalline Cellulose, Maltodestrin, Film Coating Powder Blend Clear 01 (Hydroxypropyl Methyl Cellulose, Glycerol), Magnesium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose, Artificial Orange Flavoring, Modified Starch; Contains Fish Ingredients (shark)

Ingredients in shampoo: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Coco-glucoside, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Citric Acid, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Glycerin, Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, Panthenol, Sugar Cane (Saccharum Officinarum) Extract, Sodium Benzoate, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Sugar Maple (Acer Saccharum) Extract, Orange (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis) Fruit Extract, Lemon (Citrus Medica Limonum) Fruit Extract, Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) Flower Oil, Linalool, Benzoic Acid
  • March 30, 2018

    by Frankie

    This is the only double-blind study I can find of Viviscal.:
    A reader will have to decide for themselves how seriously to take this study, since it is clearly stated that the study was paid for by the manufacturers of Viviscal.

  • March 17, 2018

    by Naomi

    I am skeptical of all things I read on the Internet, especially reviews. I trust this website and so I was curious to see what you had to say about Viviscal tablets because it is one of the few supplements I have tried that REALLY work for me. I was having massive hairloss and it was starting to really freak me out so I searched high and low for tablets (tried sugar bear hair, total BS) and then tried Viviscal and have had almost zero hairloss since then. It's one of the few products I feel the need to actually rave about because of my positive experience. I totally agree with Joan, we all experience hairloss for different reasons and for me I think part of it was nutritional so these tablets have really done the trick. I saw the bit about shark recently on the label and am not to happy to hear about that :( :( would be so sad to have to stop taking this! Have just ordered my second batch after taking them successfully for 3 months.

  • August 16, 2016

    by christine

    I JUST started taking Viviscal tablets about a week ago. For some reason, my hair is just really thinning bad and shedding. Not sure why. I'm 46 1/2 and in peri-menopause so that may or may not have something to do with it. That and the fact that I had to change styling products because they don't make anything I used for years anymore. Could be the 25 different things I've tried from the salong and Ulta and everywhere else that are nothing but crap but I digress. Still searching for someting similar to Lasting Curls or Sebastian Shaper Clean Gel.

    I'm not sure why but Viviscal makes me sick at my stomach and feel lightheaded. I totally feel AWFUL about 10 minutes after I take one. Just putrid and like I have to lie down, short of breath,
    I used to take a CVS multi-vitamin that made me sick at my stomach --to the point of vomiting every time I took them so I stopped. They did not make me feel short of breath or lightheaded though.

    I was taking a One a Day Petite Multi Vitamin which has been GREAT for a few months along with Krill Oil (two a day) Had NO side effects from taking that combo for over 6 months. Though, it did nothing to stop my hair loss. I compared ingredients in the One a Day Petites with the Viviscal and they're basically the same except the marine (shark) complex, millet seed and horsetail.

    I think I'm going to go back to my One a Day Petites and Krill. The Viviscal makes me so sick, it actually scares me. I feel God awful after I take it. It happened more than once so I know it isn't me. I got to work this morning and made myself throw it up the one I had taken 20 minutes earlier before I left the house. Feel better already. Sorry. Was really hoping it would help me.

  • April 18, 2016

    by Sammy

    I haven't tried the shampoo but I've tried the tablets after reading a review here - I've had some success with it but it might just be that my diet is much better now than it used to be. I have to admit my diet wasn't as good as it should be. My health has caught up with me now along with my vanity so I'm trying everything to get my hair and looks in better shape and I'm having some success so I'm really happy with it. Health is wealth.

  • January 6, 2015

    by Karen

    As I finish my first month of Viviscal, I am wondering if anyone else has experienced increased hot flashes from it? The ingredients as individuals didn't raise any red flags (except as some have noted, not keen on "shark powder" and whatever else might be contained in the Aminomar). Two other supplements I've tried contained warning that they could interfere with estrogen receptors, and they sure did. Made me miserable until I quit.

    I can't even use saw palmetto oil topically without feeling like I've got a bad sunburn on my face. So despite believing Viviscal is helping (I've continued with high doses of biotin that I started 2 years ago and thats resulted in new but very fine growth at hairline; Viviscal seems to have started up the shedding again which I take as a good sign), I can't take constantly feeling like I'm cooking from the neck up.

    Before I stop using V, thought I'd ask. I'm 60 and 5 yrs into menopause. Been using bio identical hormones for years for hot flash relief, plus vita E, black cohosh, evening primrose oil. Thanks.

  • April 30, 2013

    by Sally W.

    Sorry to burst anyone's bubble but Viviscal is total nonsense. This website is an oasis of science in a world of BS when it comes to cosmetics reviews. I simply do not believe anyone has any decent results from Viviscal supplements. I'll be charitable Joan and assume you are a real user and i am happy for you but the truth is you've probably experienced something called the placebo effect (mind over matter) and 'regression to the mean' which is where one attributes positive things that were going to happen anyway to an activity, in your case taking fish paste.

    Please people. There is a lot of good science being done on follicle stimulation - it's usually a topical application that shows the best results in women. I have read loads on this as i am a sufferer.

    This Viviscal gentle shampoo is classic green washing. They claim SLS free but load it up with similar surfate ingredients. The movement (unfounded in my view) is against sulfates not necessarily against SLS. The fact this company does this shows me they are sneaky and disingenuous. Adjust cashing in on the market not wanting SLS but not having the integrity to switch for non sulfate ingredients.

    Save yourself some money and avoid Viviscal.

    Ps. LLLT is also total junk. At least unless you are using the super high power salon systems for hours a day. The FDA clearance of Hairmax is an utter scam. Just google it and see. I wasted money on the hair comb before I realised it was junk and decided to search too late. I feel emotionally robbed. The makers even have their own website now to try to debunk the debunkers.

  • April 3, 2013

    by Joan

    Hi Emma. I'm really sorry it didn't work for you. The truth is, not everything works for everyone. Women's hair loss is a multi-causal problem - birth control pills, thyroid, diet, postpartum, menopausal, scalp inflammation, etc … and one solution doesn't fit all. More importantly, it almost always take more than one treatment to tackle it. The kitchen-sink approach.

    I've tried (among many, many other things) copper peptides - Folligen, Hair Signals and HVC, emu oil and "hair vitamin formulas" for years with no success. For me, it's has been a difficult and expensive 5-year journey.

    Two or three years ago, I began LLLT (low level laser therapy) treatments and after 3-4 months, it stopped the excessive loss and helped with regrowth, but not enough regrowth to make me happy. I kept searching. Viviscal has been the most positive addition to my hair loss/regrowth regimine recently. But like anything else, it doesn't work for everyone.

    Recently (1-2 months) I've started using products that have Capixyl (red clover extract) as the primary active ingredient. There are a few good organic products on an Australian website. It's too soon to tell if they're really working, but I've noticed in the last week or so that my hair has a bit more body at the roots. Could be my imagination ... we'll see in a few months. Capixyl has some good preliminary buzz but it's a new product and hard to find. So that might be something for you to look into.

    Keep trying everything out there, and give it time. You never know what'll work for you. A positive attitude - not easy - helps too. Here's to happy hair. Good luck!

  • April 3, 2013

    by Emma

    It may be a poor review (and sorry, but it is) but having tried Viviscal I agree with the conclusions:

    The shampoo is expensive and full of stuff you don't want, and
    The supplements are expensive and basically contain fish paste!

    Glad you had good results Joan, unfortunately I noticed no difference even after 6 months so I gave up.

  • April 1, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Joan, that's really interesting. Thank you for sharing your good experience. Sounds as if the supplements could be worth a shot. The shampoo doesn't tempt me at all though

  • April 1, 2013

    by Joan

    I've been taking Viviscal tablets since last September and it's absolutely worked for me. But it's a slow process and you have to stick with it.

    The first time I tried it, I gave up after two months. Five years (and a lot less hair) later, I tried it again. Since my first trial, I've learned about hair cycles and understand that most treatments will take a minimum of 3 months and more likely close to 6 months before you can truly tell if they're effective.

    Unfortunately, if a treatment really is working, there's often a "dread shed" - where the new, stronger anagen hairs push the old, dormant telogen hairs from the follicle - occurring 6 weeks to 2 months into treatment. Sticking with it during that phase is the hardest part and it's easy to give up. This is true for any hair loss treatment, not just Viviscal tablets.

    Today - seven months later, I have hundreds if not thousands of new hairs … all between 1-2" long, which means they've been growing for 2-3 months. They're clearly visible around my hairline and temples and when the light's behind me, they're visible all over my head, poking straight through the rest of my hair.

    At this point, the new hairs aren't all that cosmetically useful and my overall length is still scrawny and see-through, but the bare patches on the back of my head are filling in and my scalp isn't nearly as visible around my part and temples. It'll take about a year for those new hairs to reach my shoulders (10"-12"), but patience and persistence is my new motto and I'll continue taking Viviscal. For me, it works.

    By the way, it's available at a number of websites for less than the $50/month price tag. I've found it for around $35 on a couple of sites. And I've never tried the shampoo ... the ingredients didn't really appeal to me.

  • March 31, 2013

    by Pam

    So, we still don't know if the Viviscal tablets work or not?

  • March 30, 2013

    by Marisa

    You really shouldn't have called this a review.

Join the discussion! Leave a comment below.

My Comment

Add a comment...

-or- Cancel Comment
* Required Fields
truth in aging's five best

Truth In Aging's Five Best

The very best to choose from for your skin concerns.

Read More

truth in aging videos

Truth In Aging Videos

Helpful how-tos and reviews from Marta and friends.

Watch Now

meet our contributors

Meet Our Contributors

The TIA community consists of our trusted reviewers.

Meet Them

be inspired

Be Inspired

Inspiring thoughts and women who are aging gracefully.

Read More