New Line Helps Combat Thinning Hair and Hair Loss

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For women experiencing thinning hair and hair loss, a new line gets to the root of the problem.

In our “swipe right” click-bait culture, “first impressions are very important,” online and off, says sex and relationship guru Dr. Laura Berman. And since hair is often the first trait we notice, then stacking the odds in favour of more good hair days is a good strategy.

Whether worn long or cropped short, it is thickness and health that make hair sexy at any age.

Berman cites a study that shows more than one in four women have cancelled a date or social plans because of a bad hair day.

Berman, New York-impeccable in vertiginous heels and a second-skin pencil skirt, is in a penthouse overlooking Central Park, speaking about the role of hair and dating to a gathering of international beauty press on behalf of Viviscal. She is a brand expert for the oral vitamin hair supplement that has enjoyed unsolicited testimonials from such A-plus-list fans as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Cate Blanchett and Miley Cyrus, to drop just a few names. The supplement is popular with celebrities, for whom hair damage and loss from over-styling is a professional hazard. The rest of us mortals, suffering from more prosaic age-related thinning or loss, are equally passionate about maintaining thicker locks at every length. The new Extra Strength Viviscal, at $60, has 50 per cent more of the key active ingredient, Amino Mar C, as well as biotin, iron and zinc.

And Berman herself was a fan before she worked with the brand. The Chicago-based doctor is an associate professor at the Feinberg school of medicine at Northwestern University in psychiatry and obstetrics-gynecology; she is also a New York Times bestselling author (most recently of Quantum Love); has a syndicated radio show, has had a TV show on the Oprah Winfrey Network and is a frequent Dr. Oz guest expert. She is also a breast cancer survivor.

“From personal experience, I really believe in this product. I was bald from chemo four years ago,” says the 47-year-old. “I seriously underestimated how much my hair was a part of my identity. And now I know I feel sexier with my hair longer.”

Her research work has long examined the link between hair and self-esteem, as well as why we so often try to deal with drastic life changes with drastic hair changes (about the clichéd breakup hair chop, she says just don’t do it!).

“We try to change the inside by changing the outside,” she says. But then, sometimes working on the outside matters. “About 40 per cent of women have visible hair loss by the time they are 40,” says Berman. And this despite the estimated $50,000 a woman will spend on hair maintenance alone during her lifetime. “Women would prefer to have chipped nail polish, smudged mascara, a pimple, a headache, even nothing to wear, all before a bad hair day,” she says.

Women can experience hair loss for many reasons, from the hormonal fluctuations of perimenopause and menopause to nutritional deficits, illness and treatments for it, stress, heredity and over-processing and over-styling. And while Viviscal works to prolong growth cycles, stop shedding and thicken the hair shaft itself, it takes up to six months to fully kick in. So Berman has been brought to town to accompany the announcement of the new “wet line” of Viviscal intended to bolster the appearance of thicker, shinier hair in the interim. The line, which ranges from $20 for the Gorgeous Growth Densifying shampoo and conditioner, to $30 for the elixir, is available at Shoppers Drug Mart across the country.

Berman explains that her support of the brand is about the clinical backup: “Viviscal is the only non-drug supplement that has seven scientific studies backing up its efficacy claims.” The new hair care products, also clinically tested, contain a scalp conditioner and thickening agent called Ana:Tel, a trademarked complex derived from natural ingredients such as pea sprouts and grape seeds.

And I know we can all grow tired of beauty products’ bold claims, but this wet line works pretty impressively: after a week of using the full set, my hair, which is thin though I have a massive amount of it, was big and proud enough for a Miss Texas pageant (middle-aged category). Literally, I had to switch brands of hair elastics as I couldn’t get my regular ones to wrap twice around the increased volume.

In big hair I trust.

Next: We haven’t forgotten the boys! 4 must-have products for men…

While U.S. President Trump is purported to take the prescription drug Propecia to treat his male-pattern baldness, here are our choices of the best hair-thickening products for men—without a doctor’s script.

1. Viviscal Man The best-selling dietary hair-growing supplement for women has been reformulated for the gents with AminoMar marine complex, vitamin C and zinc. $60

2. Dove Men+Care Thick & Strong 2-In-1 Shampoo
Developed specifically to care for fine and thin hair and formulated with caffeine and calcium that leave hair visibly healthier and thicker after each use. $5

3. Head & Shoulders Men Full & Thick
When the hair strands are dirty (with sebum oils, dirt, flakes), they stick together and mat down onto the scalp. The surfactants in Head & Shoulders’ cleaning technology remove the dirt and impurities to allow each hair strand to be separated, leading to fuller-looking hair. $7

4. Aveda Invati Men
This two-step line starts with a nourishing shampoo to exfoliate the scalp and follows up with a scalp revitalizer that thickens hair and invigorates the scalp. $11 and $23

A version of this article appeared in the April 2017 issue with the headline, “In The Thick Of It,” p. 62-63.