Viviscal for hair loss: misleading and ineffective

Marine extract and silica is available under the brand name Viviscal. A self-proclaimed hair loss supplement that supposedly nourishes thinning hair and promotes existing hair growth from within. The ingredient responsible is AminoMar: a ground-breaking, clinically proven marine complex available exclusively in Viviscal supplements.

As you will soon find out however these statements sound a lot more spectacular than they actually are. Simply because they are straight-up nonsense. Based on studies which were either paid for by the manufacturer or carried out by its own employees.

Viviscal and DHT

Hereditary hair loss is caused by a male androgen called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).[1] A hormone resulting from the interaction between testosterone and the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase. Hair follicles that come into contact with DHT produce thinner and smaller hair over time. It is this process that leads to what we call Male Pattern Baldness or Male Hair Loss.

Finasteride, a hair loss medicine, stops this process by reducing the amount of DHT by about 70%.<[2] It does so by inhibiting the enzyme that’s responsible for converting testosterone to DHT; the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase.

Viviscal on the other hand is useless in reducing DHT. Its effect on DHT is non-existent. The probabilty that Viviscal is able to save you hair is therefore close to zero.

Viviscal and hair growth

If the advertisements are to be believed, Viviscal also promotes hair growth. How it does so however is unknown. The manufacturer only claims to know that it works, but says it does not know how it works. This has been the case since 1992, when the first study on Viviscal was published.[3]

The studies often referred to are those from 1997, 2011 and 2012.[4] [5] [6] Studies that were paid for by the manufacturer and in which the efficacy on hair growth was measured by means of a survey. A survey by which the study participants were asked whether their hair felt stronger, looked shinier and whether they felt their eyebrow hair grew faster than before. To show what kind of nonsense procedure this is, you should know that eyebrow hair grows at a rate of up to 0.16 mm a day. That is less than 1.5 cm in 90 days. You can imagine how unlikely it is that participants were able to identify a difference of 0.1cm over the course of 90 days with 100% accuracy.

Instead, If you really want to know whether the product has an effect on hair growth, you should measure hair length. The fact that the researchers chose to ask their participants about the growth instead of measuring it, questions their intentions and objectivity. Nonetheless, due to the subjectivity of the results, the study is basically useless. Its so called “evidence “unreliable.

Viviscal and the scientific facade refers to 12 clinical studies that supposedly prove the efficacy of its product. Studies of which at least(!) 7 were paid for by the manufacturer.[7] This is not a supposition, but is clearly stated in the studies themselves: this study was sponsored by Lifes2good.

The other 5 studies do not have this mention, but this does not mean that they were independent. Thus we doubt the independence of the studies from 1992 and 1994.[8] [9] [10] The first three studies published on Viviscal. What is interesting about these studies tough is that the author A. Lassus was involved in all three of the studies, but was also involved in a study on Vivida.[11] An anti-wrinkle cream supplied by the same company as Viviscal, namely Lifes2Good. It is very rare for an independent researcher to conduct multiple studies for 2 commercial products from the same company.

We have seen this only once before and that was in the studies of Alpecin Caffeine shampoo. Studies of which - as is the case with Viviscal - the majority were paid for by the manufacturer or carried out by its own employees.

In this case, it seems that companies misuse scientific “evidence” in order to develop credibility for their products. Study results are fabricated and then used as promotional material to generate sales.

As is also the case for the studies related to caffeine shampoo, it cannot be proven that fraud was deliberately committed. That researchers were bribed or that data was falsified. You, the reader, can be the judge of that.