Splitting Hairs is our monthlong exploration of hair based on a survey of women across America. It’s like you brought a photo to the salon — we’re giving you exactly what you want.

By Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
Updated: Aug 29, 2018 @ 2:57 pm
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I’d be lying if I said I haven’t typed “how to make my hair grow” into Google more than a couple of times. And if you’ve ever accidentally gotten a very extreme haircut, you probably have, too. (Maybe it's what brought you to this article.) For me, it was just that my hair grows really slowly.

Perhaps I'm genetically predisposed to have sluggish follicles, or maybe all those years of straightening finally caught up with me, but I noticed about a year ago that my hair no longer grew as steadily as it did when I was younger. It has always been on the thinner side, but it was staying on the shorter side, too. It didn't seem to get any longer, regardless of how much time passed, as if the ends just evaporated into thin air. For a while, I didn't even bother getting it cut anymore.

And I tried everything the internet tells you will make your hair grow: I took biotin; I tried prenatal vitamins. After a few months, I couldn't tell any difference. I even tried massaging my scalp to stimulate blood circulation (late-night scrolling brings you to some interesting places). A nice way to unwind after a long day? Sure. The secret to longer hair? At least not for me.

I regaled my hair stylist with the tale of my non-growing hair woes, around October, while I was in getting a color refresh and a mostly unnecessary trim, and she mentioned hair growth pills that one of her coworkers had used and found success with. And what do you know, they happened to be available for sale right there in the salon.

RELATED: Why Are Hair Brands So Obsessed With Scalp Care Right Now?

One box of Viviscal Professional cost $60 in the salon, for a month's supply of twice-daily pills, and my stylist let me know that it would take at least three months to see results. (I have since found the pills on Amazon for less.) To be honest, at first thought, the hair growth pills seemed like the kind of product that a Kardashian would promote on Instagram. The bottle promised to "nourish" my hair follicles and "promote growth from within." I wasn't convinced, but I knew I'd be back in the salon in six months for another trim (because this kind of maintenance is also crucial for healthy hair growth), and if the pills worked, I could have longer, thicker hair by then. The purchase was made and that was that.

RELATED: What Women Across American Really Think About Their Hair

Like the Hair, Skin, and Nails pills you've probably already tried, Viviscal supplements contain Biotin. But there are other ingredients mixed in, like vitamin C, apple extract, and a marine complex they call AminoMar (there's more of this in the Viviscal Professional line than the Viviscal Extra Strength version). 

Viviscal's literature says it's been clinically tested for 25 years, but the majority of its trials focus on older men who are balding, or women who experience hair loss and are looking to increase their number of hair strands. But even if that’s not your profile (it isn’t mine), the supplements should help existing hair, too. There are a lot of reasons for wanting to give your hair some help. In an exclusive survey of women across America this spring, InStyle found that 60% of women are concerned about hair breakage; 56% worry about a lack of volume. Hair loss is a common concern, too, most of all among Latina women, 47% of whom list it as one of their top hair frustrations. No matter the issue, a staggering 81% of women said they feel most confident when their hair looks great. And if that's not worth a supplemental boost, then I don't know what is.

RELATED: Gabrielle Union Says Hollywood's Doing Textured Hair All Wrong

I started noticing a difference around two and a half months into my twice-daily hair growth pills. When I would grab my hair to throw in a ponytail, it felt thicker to me. I also noticed it looked better after my usual morning shower and styling, like it was sturdier, or livelier. So I pressed on and continued to buy more supplements when I ran out.

I am about nine months in now, and I can say that I have noticed a change, but these pills aren't miracle-workers. I notice the biggest length difference in the back. I imagine that's because I favor the front part of my hair when straightening, so my face-framing hair endures more heat. Thus far, Viviscal hasn't solved for that. But after months of my hair stopping just above my breasts, no matter what, it is starting to go farther down my back. A few additional inches is undeniable. I have also been keeping up with regular trims, which I'm sure helps.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is consistency is key. If I forget to pick up a new box and miss a couple days of pills, I pretty quickly notice that my hair feels less thick, and is less likely to cooperate when I style it. When I'm extremely loyal to the pills, and focused on maintaining the twice-a-day regimen, my hair rewards me with some growth, a more bountiful feel and appearance — and I swear it's better behaved and better looking, too. I'm not sure if this means I have to keep taking them forever.

So did these supplements give me the mermaid-meets-Rapunzel hair of my dreams? No. Did they make a difference instantly, like before that big date you have coming up this weekend? Sadly, no. But if you are willing to make a big commitment, for a result that may only be noticeable to you, then go for it. Like I thought when I first swiped my credit card to buy a box: I'll be getting another hair trim in six months regardless; it would be cool if there was actually some more hair to trim. And, for me at least, there has been.

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