If you caught my hair consultation with Bill Angst, then you already know how much I aspire to have Victoria's Secret Angel-style hair. So when Michelle asked me if I'd like to test-drive Viviscal—the over-the-counter wonder-supplement for hair growth—I pretty much jumped off my chair.
Ugh, I have thinning hair
So like I told Bill, I started life with pretty good hair. However, my Indian genes and poor stress-management techniques set me up for an unfortunate double whammy. Over the last two years, I've noticed a dramatic reduction in my hair's thickness. It's thinned out so much that I switched to using smaller hair elastics because the thick-hair ones became too loose.
Having less hair didn't upset me that much... until I started noticing that I could see my scalp through my hair. The thought of spending hundreds of dollars annually on body-hair removal while the hair on my head becomes increasingly sparse gives me nightmares.
As a twenty-something woman, the word balding has no place in my vocabulary. I panicked over a future full of beanies and strategic backcombing. I REALLY hoped Viviscal would work.
What is Viviscal?
Most of us here in Canada first heard about Viviscal, a daily nutritional supplement targeted at hair health, from American magazines. I used to longingly read about how it transformed practically every celebrity's hair (the current roster of famous—unpaid—fans includes Cate Blanchett, Miley Cyrus, Kate Hudson, Cynthia Nixon and Christina Aguilera). A-list hairstylists like Orlando Pita offered up their own unsolicited endorsements, too.
The claim is that it strengthens hair and encourages growth when taken twice a day for at least half a year. It's designed for anyone seeking to slow hair thinning and to reduce hair loss. (Causes of hair loss include genetics, stress, certain oral contraceptives, a poor diet and hormonal influences.) Celebrities, of course, are all over it because they're constantly undergoing damaging hair changes and styling; plus, a role can demand short hair one year and long hair the next, so Viviscal helps speed up the process.
Even before I had to deal with hair thinning, it sounded like the ultimate cult beauty product, and I wanted in. The only hitch was that it wasn't available in Canada—until now. Viviscal recently launched in Canada, and I've been using it for the last six months (hooray!).
But before we get into the results of my trial, let's talk about what's in it.
Viviscal is 100 percent drug-free and encourages hair growth primarily using a proprietary marine complex. Known as AminoMar C, it contains a combination of marine protein, minerals and vitamins that help regenerate new cells and feed existing cells. A Scandinavian professor developed AminoMar C after isolating the key protein molecules of the Inuit's protein-rich fish diet—pretty cool, eh? Viviscal also contains vitamin C and silica, which further support healthy hair.
Of note, Viviscal does not have dairy, soya, nuts, eggs, gluten, or wheat—but since it uses fish and shellfish, it's unsuitable for vegans, non-pescatarian vegetarians, and those with allergies or intolerances.
My experience with Viviscal
I took Viviscal twice daily for the recommended six-month course. The Skittle-sized tablets are relatively flavourless (thankfully, with no fishy taste!), which makes them easy to take with food or on their own, always with plenty of water. I took no other vitamins during my trial, and my diet remained the typical young professional menu of overpriced salads by day and fast food by night.
The hardest part was remembering to take the tablets, although at least the compact packaging meant I could tuck a strip in my clutch for a weekend away. (Viviscal is packaged in foil-backed sheets, 20 per sheet and three sheets per box, with one box lasting one month.) To ensure I remembered to take them, I took one at breakfast and one as I was brushing my teeth at night. It may be because I was either eating or sleeping while the pill digested, but I never once felt queasy. This was a huge plus for me, as my weak stomach can barely handle warm milk.
Over the six months that I took Viviscal (including an unplanned three-week break while moving cities), I was amazed to see the changes in my hair and nails.
After Two Months: By the end of the first two months, fewer strands were stuck in my Tangle Teezer each time I brushed my hair.
After Four Months: My shedding rate continued to improve, and by the end of the first four months, my hair no longer came out in clumps while washing. This was a big plus, as it was during autumn, the season when women tend to lose the most hair. By this time, my hair texture had also become noticeably softer, and brushing became a pleasant task.
Here's my hair at 10 weeks:
And at 16 weeks:
After Six Months: Throughout the final two months, I had to look closer and closer in the mirror to inspect if my scalp was visible through my hair. It was a joyful day when my small elastics couldn't wrap around my ponytail. As an added bonus, my flimsy fingernails became rock solid. Somewhere along the way, they stopped being brittle and no longer split and tear—I can't remember the last time I broke a nail.
My hair now
Since finishing my six-month course, I can honestly say my hair hasn't looked this good since childhood. It is thick, shiny, nourished and long—literally everything I hoped to get from my Viviscal experience and more.
Pre-Viviscal, it took an agonizing two years to grow out an asymmetrical chin-length cut to even, shoulder-length hair. Now, my hair is growing faster than I can keep up with. Since early September (the time my 10-week photo was taken), I've had two haircuts and my hair still reaches the bottom of my shoulder blades. Even at this length, my hair seems to have a renewed shine and softness on its own—I no longer reach for my trusty Moroccanoil straight out of the shower.
As an incredible bonus, my eyelashes have stopped falling out every time I remove my mascara. Even if I didn't need it for my scalp, I'd take Viviscal for the side effects on my nails and lashes!
That said, not all side effects are wonderful. The big issue I had with Viviscal is that my hair seems to get greasy faster. Even without any product in it, within a day of washing, my hair begins to look greasy (hellooo dry shampoo!). The other issue, and this one I anticipated, is that all of my hair grows faster—not just on my head. Despite these drawbacks, I'm happy to double up on the leg waxes in exchange for what I see in the mirror: my hair, gloriously all there, no scalp peeking through.
Where to buy
See here for where to purchase Viviscal in Canada. You can also order it online at these stores:
Have your say
Do you struggle with thinning hair or hair loss?
Have you tried Viviscal?
Found anything else that helps with this annoying problem?