The NHS estimates that eight million women in the UK experience hair loss by the age of 50, a number that then jumps significantly post-menopause. However, it’s not just hair loss, but thinning, breakage and scalp issues that we are having to contend with in increasing numbers. Our hair can be affected by stress, diet, styling practices, genetics, hormones and even as a side effect of covid.
The impact of this can be incredibly distressing, says Dr. Munir Somji, hair restoration surgeon and founder of DrMediSpa. He believes supplements can play a significant role when it comes to hair heath, but that it’s important to understand your hair cycle and what may be causing your hair woes in the first place.
How does the hair growth cycle work?
“There are four main stages of our hair growth cycle. The anagen phase is the active growth phase of your hair, and sees hair grow around half an inch a month for anywhere between three to five years,” explains Somji.
“Following this phase is the catagen phase, a short transitional phase of around 10 days where our hair is cut off from the blood supply and the cells that produce new hair. Then the telogen phase begins, which is a three-month resting phase where our hair remains in place but is no longer growing. And finally, the two-to-five-month exogen phase where hair is released from their follicles and falls out. Then the process starts again.”
It’s normal to shed around 50-100 strands of hair a day, but anything more than that could indicate that there’s another factor involved. “There’s telogen effluvium, a common cause of temporary hair loss that sees shedding ramp up to around three times the normal rate. This generally occurs a few months after a traumatic event like an illness or operation, a period of intense stress, extreme dieting, or childbirth. While with hair thinning or balding thanks to female and male pattern baldness, we see hair become finer and finer with every hair cycle, and this can be genetic, or triggered by hormonal imbalances,” Somji details.
Containing anagain, also known as organic pea shoot powder, Hair Gain claims that two of its capsules taken once a day provides restorative and preventative hair support – a claim that we were keen to put to the test.
How we tested
After contending with ever-present covid stress, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a chronic condition that impacts our hormones, we found that our hair had been getting thinner, and thinner, our hairline had receded, and we’d even developed a bald patch, making the Hair Gain capsules incredibly appealing.
Trichologist Ricardo Vila Nova, explains that vitamins and minerals contained in most hair supplements won’t mainline their way to your hair follicles, but rather they will be used to keep your vital organs healthy before sharing the love with less important bodily functions like hair growth.
So with Vila Nova’s advice in mind, we began our three-month test period with blood tests to garner whether we had any deficiencies that needed to be addressed, and then spent the entirety of the 12 weeks eating a balanced healthy diet. We judged the supplement on its ingredients, ease of use, value for money and the impact it had on our receding hairline.
Hair Gain capsules: £34.99, Hairgainnow.com
Studies have shown that 100mg of anagain (the same amount provided in every serving of Hair Gain capsules) stimulates signal molecules responsible for reactivating hair growth, prolonging the hair growth cycle, making it effective as a preventative measure against hair loss.
“As hair loss happens when the proportion of telogen hair increases compared to the amount of anagen hair,” explains Hair Gain founder Lucy Palmer. The pea shoot powder boosts specific growth factors to encourage the best possible conditions for growth.
The formula also contains a number of essential vitamins and minerals, most notably niacin, which improves blood circulation to the scalp to better supply follicles with oxygen and nutrients. Scalp-friendly selenium kills dandruff-causing fungus, and is an essential component in the production of thyroid hormones that help to regulate hair growth.
Also included are zinc, which plays an important role in hair tissue growth and repair, and biotin, also known as vitamin B7, which is said to stimulate keratin production, a much-needed protein that helps maintain the structure of the hair and helps protect and strengthen strands.
Ease of use
Not the smallest pills we’ve ever seen but also not the biggest either, a large glug of water and both went down pretty easily. We could have opted for the gummy version (£29.99, Hairgainnow.com); however, these contain both glucose syrup and sugar which we personally wanted to avoid.
We chose to take these vegan capsules in the mornings post-breakfast as they have to be taken after a meal, and it meant that we rarely forgot to take them as they became part of our morning routine.
Value for money
As Hair Gain is the only UK company offering a supplement that contains the clinically proven hair growth boosting anagain, we found the price to be reasonable. Each box contains 60 capsules, giving you one month’s worth of supplements at £1.16 per day. However, the brand also offers a monthly subscription that saves you 20 per cent, as well as 10 per cent off for a three-month supply, or 15 per cent off for a six-month supply, which can bring the price down even further.
At the start of the 12 weeks, we had a sensitive scalp, and our hair was dry, fragile, and fine. We had a receding hairline, peppered with baby hairs, plus a bald patch to contend with. And while hormonal issues, paired with stress, seemed to be our hair loss trigger we noticed that some improvements could certainly be seen three months later. Namely, the irritation of the scalp that sometimes saw us experiencing tingling, prickling sensations and itching had subsided, our hair felt thicker and stronger, and had grown substantially.
We were a little concerned that the biotin might trigger acne as this is a condition that we are prone too, and something that biotin has been proven to induce in some people, but thankfully it seems as though the dose was just enough to work its growth and keratin stimulating magic without causing a flare-up. When it came to our receding hairline and bald patch, we’ve grown a few more hairs, but there were no miracles in that department.