Korean skincare is known for its innovation and forward-thinking products, leading to it becoming a growing beauty trend around the world. Now, a new hair tonic from Korean brand Vitabrid C¹², claims to be able to treat hair loss with a vitamin C solution.
But can vitamin C really help to regrow hair? And, if so, is applying it directly to the scalp better than ingesting it? We asked Belgravia superintendent pharmacist, Christina Chikaher, for her thoughts on this new product as well as how vitamin C can affect hair growth.
Vitamin C and hair growth
Christina explains, “Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin. The human body cannot manufacture or store it, therefore it must be consumed on a daily basis. In addition to being taken orally via food sources such as oranges, strawberries, kale and bell peppers, or through nutritional support supplements, vitamin C is essential for collagen biosynthesis and is available in a variety of topical creams, lotions and transdermal patches.”
The anti-oxidant is also used in topical cosmetic skincare products for its ‘anti-ageing’ properties and alleged skin brightening effects.
“Vitamin C is needed for a wide range of bodily functions, including wound healing, tissue support, bone health and collagen production. It also offers protection from free radical damage, also known as oxidative stress, which is important where hair loss is concerned,” advises Christina.
Oxidative stress is described by the Department of Medicine at the Sir Jules Thorn Institute in London’s The Middlesex Hospital, as ‘a disturbance in the balance between the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) and antioxidant defenses’. Essentially, it is a damaging form of internal stress caused by an excess of free radicals. These free radicals can be formed as a reaction to various lifestyle issues, including physical and emotional stress, excessive alcohol intake, smoking and/or an unbalanced diet, as well as environmental issues such as air pollution.
The reason this is important is because oxidative stress has been linked to premature hair loss in two recent clinical studies.
“Additionally, vitamin C is vital for the absorption of iron. An iron deficiency can cause chronic hair loss from anaemia-related Diffuse Thinning, though an excess of iron can also lead to this same hair loss condition,” notes Christina. “How effective Vitamin C would be in aiding iron absorption as a topical preparation is unclear.”
Topical vitamin C as a hair loss treatment
Having looked into the new Korean hair tonic, we asked Christina, pictured, for her opinion on whether this vitamin C ‘hair loss treatment’ could work.
“In principle the theory behind this preparation seems very logical. However, I am always of the belief that if it seems too good to be true then it’s likely to be just that,” she tells us. “Perhaps I would have had more confidence if it was an oral and not a topical preparation as topical vitamin C is usually quite unstable. Because it is unstable and difficult to deliver into the dermis in the optimum dosage, research is constantly being done to find stable compounds of Vitamin C and newer methods of delivery of Vitamin C into the dermis.”
The hair tonic is the brand’s latest beauty product to use the Vitabrid C12 ingredient which was developed by Dr. Jinho Choy, a chemist working at Seoul’s Ewha Womans University. It is also used in skin brightening products and acne treatments. The tonic comprises a powder element which the user mixes in to a liquid spray bottle containing another solution, is sold by high-end department store Barney’s New York in the US, which states on its product information: “Through proprietary biotechnology, vitamin C is mixed with stabilizing zinc, a combination designed to capture the nutrient’s potency and allow it to penetrate the skin and scalp over the course of 12 hours.”
Despite zinc and vitamin C both having beneficial properties for hair health – hence their inclusion in Belgravia’s exclusive range of hair supplements for men and women, Hair Vitalics – Christina is still sceptical as to their topical benefits in relation to treating hair loss.
Cosmetic hair boosters
“This tonic claims stability and increased scalp penetration over 12 hours. It also claims – or rather hopes – that ‘because hair growth is a function of epidermal stem cells, the use of vitamin C may be able to trick the cells into behaving like they did when they were younger’, in order to generate hair from the follicles. However, I cannot find any published scientific research to reliably substantiate these claims.”
“Also, there is the question as to which hairloss conditions it is meant to benefit as, for example, vitamins cannot treat androgenetic alopecia as they do not address the DHT issue. This is why we included saw palmetto in Belgravia’s Hair Vitalics for Men supplements and the soy isoflavones genistein and daidzen in the Hair Vitalics for Women – because research has shown that these can lower the levels of DHT in the bloodstream.”
In fact, it may be media coverage that is misconstruing the product’s actual purpose – which, thanks to cleverly worded marketing material, is easy to do. Though the brand’s website is still under construction, the available marketing information from vendors clearly states that the hair tonic is a ‘beauty treatment’ – meaning a product designed to cosmetically enhance the look of the hair, not a hair loss treatment, meaning a medical regime used to stabilise hair fall, promote hair growth and prevent baldness.
This sentiment is backed by various claims stating that the product is, in fact, “specifically formulated for intensive care of hair and scalp to promote the look and feel of thicker, fuller hair” and to “diminish the appearance of hair loss”. ‘Promoting the look and feel’ of thicker hair and ‘diminishing the appearance of hair loss’ infers a beauty product that works on a cosmetic level. For instance, a wig or microscopic hair fibres can make the same claims as they can temporarily make the hair appear thicker and reduce the appearance of hair loss. What these types of products do not do – unlike clinically-proven medications – is actually treat hair loss. With this in mind, whilst we do not doubt that this product may be useful to some, we believe it should be considered as a cosmetic concealant, or may possibly fall into the category of hair growth boosters, rather than be classed – as media reports have done – as any kind of hair loss treatment.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.