What to Know About Nutrafol for Women

This supplement supposedly combats hair thinning and hair loss, but you need to take four pills a day for multiple months. Still, hair stylists, experts, and customers are raving. Here's what to know.

a container of nutrafol for women hair loss supplement
Photo: Karl Tapales/Getty Images/Nutrafol

From shampoos to scalp treatments, there are tons of different products available to combat hair thinning and hair loss. But among the many, many options out there, there's one oral supplement that seems to be a standout star. It's Nutrafol — particularly the Nutrafol for Women variety — a supplement that claims to improve hair growth and quality, particularly in women with thinning hair. So, how exactly does Nutrafol work? And, the million-dollar Q: does it actually work? Here's the scoop.

The Basics on Nutrafol for Women

There are four different varieties of Nutrafol supplements available: Nutrafol for Women, which is what this article is covering; Nutrafol Women's Balance, which is specially formulated for women dealing with hair thinning or loss before, during, and after menopause; Nutrafol Postpartum, a breastfeeding-friendly formula which is made to be used in the year after giving birth or breastfeeding; and Nutrafol Men. Each variety costs $88 for a 30-day supply (one bottle) available on Amazon and Nutrafol.com or you can choose to sign up for one of the brand's monthly subscriptions for $79, available on the Nutrafol website.

Nutrafol capsules of all varieties contain a mix of ingredients that work to address some of the key culprits that can trigger and exacerbate hair thinning and loss in women: stress, a hormone known as DHT, micro-inflammation, and poor nutrition. According to the brand, all three Nutrafol formulations have been created for and clinically shown to improve hair growth and thickness and reduce shedding.

And yes, there is a difference between hair thinning and hair loss, says Bridgette Hill, a trichologist and founder of Root Cause Scalp Analysis. Thinning occurs when hair fibers become damaged and break due to overprocessing, heat styling, or even too much tension from tight ponytails, explains Hill. A disturbance in the hair growth cycle — be that due to hormonal changes, diet, or lifestyle — can lead to excessive shedding, which would also be considered hair thinning if it occurs all over the head, she adds. On the flip side, hair loss occurs when the hair follicles shrink so much that they ultimately disappear and hair stops growing entirely. This is usually concentrated in one specific area.

Nutrafol for Women Ingredients

The brand's proprietary Synergen Complex is at the core of all Nutrafol varieties (except Nutrafol Postpartum, which contains a different proprietary blend). The Synergen Complex is a blend of five ingredients that have been shown to help address some of the underlying causes of hair thinning and hair loss. More specifically, the ingredients and their specific benefits are as follows:

  • Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb, helps decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, says Hill. Elevated cortisol levels have been shown to shorten the hair growth cycle, which in turn can lead to premature shedding. (

Along with that complex, there's also a blend of other vitamins and nutrients in the Nutrafol formula, and each has special skills that can help combat hair loss, according to nutrition and diet expert Nicole Avena, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. This includes vitamin A, required for all cell growth and repair; vitamin C, which compacts the oxidative stress that can damage cells leading to hair loss; and zinc, which "helps with cell reproduction, tissue growth and repair, and protein synthesis, which are needed for proper hair growth," says Avena.

Nutrafol varieties also contain vitamin D, which stimulates hair follicles to promote growth. What's more, a vitamin D deficiency has been linked to hair loss or slowed hair growth, adds Avena. Finally, the ingredients lists include biotin, a form of vitamin B which has been shown to help strengthen the keratin protein found in hair, as well as selenium, which may help the body utilize hormones and proteins to promote hair growth, says Avena. More specifically, biotin is important for thyroid function and the hormones it produces. Plus, hair loss can be a symptom of thyroid disease. (

It's worth noting that the recommended daily dosage for Nutrafol is four pills per day — which is definitely a literal mouthful — and it's recommended to take them after a meal containing healthy fats (as some of the individual vitamins in the formula are fat-soluble) to boost the absorption of the supplement. Also worth noting: Nutrafol isn't recommended for anyone taking blood thinners or anyone who is pregnant or nursing. And, as with any other supplement, you may want to check with your doctor beforehand, particularly if you're already taking any of the vitamins in Nutrafol already.

Research on the Effectiveness of Nutrafol for Women

The Nutrafol brand has conducted a study on the Nutrafol for Women supplement variety, which produced some interesting results — though it's worth pointing out that the study had a smaller sample size of only 40 women, and the research was financed by the brand (aka not third party-tested). That said, the research found that women with self-perceived thinning hair who took Nutrafol for six months reported a 15.7 percent increase in vellus hair (superfine hair) growth and a 10.4 percent increase in terminal hair (thicker hair) growth, according to analysis via phototrichogram, a tool used to quantify various phases of hair growth.

A physician also assessed all participants in the study (including a second group of women with self-reported hair thinning, who took a placebo of six months) and saw a notable improvement in hair quality — namely factors such as brittleness, dryness, texture, shine, scalp coverage, and overall appearance — in the group taking Nutrafol. Plus, more than 80 percent of those taking Nutrafol reported an improvement in overall hair growth and thickness.

The six-month duration of this study is a good amount of time to see these types of changes, specifically a reduction in hair shedding, and an increase in hair density and volume, confirms Hill. The other nice thing? Once you do start to see the results you want, they shouldn't disappear once you stop taking the supplement: Unlike a prescription drug, the impact a supplement such as Nutrafol has on the cells and tissue generally has long-lasting, positive residual effects that will prevent an extreme reversal — such as sudden hair loss — from occurring once you stop taking it, says Hill.

Nutrafol for Women Customer Reviews

All this being said, the customer reviews for Nutrafol on Amazon are a little mixed. Some people love it: Reviews such as, "I'm on my second bottle and have seen lots of baby hairs and more volume, and will keep taking it," and, "Nutrafol works, my hair has stopped falling and is growing slowly," are common sentiments. The supplements also count doctors as fans: "I've been taking the product for almost five years and my hair has grown about three and a half inches and a lot thicker. I feel more confident about my hair now than ever before," says Jeanine Downie, M.D. a dermatologist in Montclair, New Jersey.

Still, some customers don't seem as satisfied with some reviews saying, "I didn't see any difference," and "no changes in hair growth." Nutrafol also comes with a hefty price tag and a long-term commitment — two noted drawbacks for some reviewers.

The bottom line on Nutrafol for Women? As with any supplement, you'll want to first check with your doctor before taking it. But as long as you get their okay, you can feel free to take it for a test run and see if it could work for you. The big caveat: Give it some time — there's no quick fix for hair loss and thinning. So while you may see some positive changes in your hair after a month, you may have to give it a solid six months to really see any major results in hair growth or thickness, as the brand recommends.

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