It seems like every single day there’s a new ad for a hot new supplement promising unbelievable hair growth. The prospect of fuller, more luscious locks can be tempting, especially when there’s a promise of it becoming a reality in just weeks. Not to mention, hair loss is on the rise with last year’s stress levels. It makes you wonder, is it all just marketing, or does Nutrafol really work? Well, the experts have a lot of thoughts.
“Hair thinning and loss is polygenic, meaning there are many genes involved that result in hair loss,” Bridgette Hill, a trichologist and stylist with Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa, tells The Zoe Report. “Due to women’s body systems and functions that are regulated by our hormones and endocrine system, there are a multitude of triggers that lead to hair shedding and hair loss.” The trichologist cites prescription medications, diet, vitamin deficiencies, stress, and even haircare products as potential causes of hormone imbalance, but adds that even experiencing “these triggers alone, without causing hormonal imbalances, can independently be direct causes of hair loss and thinning,” as well.
That being said, recent research has identified one particular hormone that plays a part in hair loss: dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. “An enzyme called 5-alpha reductase converts testosterone into the harmful androgen DHT,” Hill explains. “As more DHT is created in the body, the more testosterone will be converted into DHT, resulting in more hair loss.” She notes that science hasn’t identified why, exactly, DHT causes hair loss. “But we do know that DHT binds to healthy testosterone and negatively affects the cells that impact the hair follicle and the production of hair fiber.”
What does this have to do with Nutrafol, you ask? Well, Nutrafol’s formula zeroes in on ingredients proven to target the negative effects of DHT, including saw palmetto and reishi. “Saw palmetto slows down 5-alpha reductase, which is the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT,” Hill explains. “It could reduce the effects of DHT as we age.” Reishi essentially does the same, reducing 5-alpha reductase and, thus, DHT. Nutrafol's all-natural formula also features ashwagandha (which reduces cortisol and boost circulation, two things that can support a healthy scalp, says Hill), vitamin E (“it gives hair an ideal strong base to support the hair fiber,” according to the trichologist), and horsetail (the herb “doesn’t just promote the structural integrity of the hair, it improves its sheen and texture also”).
With trichologist-approved ingredients like that, it seems that Nutrafol would be a slam-dunk for scalp health — but it’s not that simple, sadly. “As a certified trichologist, our supplement recommendations are based on clinical trials and peer to peer research,” Hill says. “Nutrafol is a newer clinically trialed hair supplement in comparison to the other clinically trialed and clinically proven supplements.” While Hill doesn’t warn against Nutrafol, she personally uses Nourkrin and Viviscal because “both have a trademarked ingredient and are supported by historical performance, data, and clinical trials.” However, there are certain instances when the supplement won’t be of much help. “Nutrafol can help create an environment optimal for hair growth or for functioning of the hair follicles,” Dr. Joshua Zeichner, board-certified dermatologist says. “But not all types of hair will benefit. If the hair loss is attributed to infections or some underlying medical conditions it won’t work.”
To be fair, Nutrafol has done randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, too. And although the data may be on the newer side, it’s pretty compelling: 80 percent of participants saw improved hair growth and improved hair thickness over six months of use, with 73 percent reporting improved growth rate, according to the brand’s website.
It seems the results track in real life. “Nutrafol actually works really well for my skin,” Teona Ostrov, a beauty publicist who isn’t affiliated with Nutrafol, tells The Zoe Report. “I have super thick and very long hair, so it’s honestly hard to say if it has worked on my hair — but I do notice that my skin clears up when I actually stick to using it. I asked my dermatologist if I was just imagining if it was working, and she agreed that there are ingredients in there that are beneficial for your skin.”
The possibility of healthier hair with a bonus of healthier skin? Sounds like a win-win.
Of course, even all-natural supplements may have unexpected side effects — upset stomach and dry mouth are two that Hill notes — so it’s important to consult with your doctor before starting anything new. As the trichologist says, “Communicating with your medical professional is essential to combating your scalp and health conditions and sustaining your overall health and well-being.”
This article was originally published on