Hair loss is a fact of life – it’s considered normal to lose anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs a day! By age 35, 40% of men will have noticeable hair loss. Women experience increasing hair loss with age as well.
While some of this is caused by genetics and general aging, there are several other medical reasons for hair loss. These include thyroid problems, autoimmune diseases, nutritional deficiencies, fungal infections, and drug side effects.
For this reason, before choosing over-the-counter products to address your hair loss, please visit your health care provider. They’ll be able to rule out any of the reasons listed above or provide treatment if it is a medical issue.
If you’ve done that and are still experiencing hair loss, there are multiple treatments to try to stop it and encourage new growth.
In this article, we’ll be examining a newer contender – carbonic acid shampoo. Too often people are desperate for a cure and quick to buy a product promising amazing results, so we are going to turn a critical eye to carbonic acid shampoo.
We will go over what it is and what it claims to do, as well as side effects and how to use it if you decide it’s a product for you. We will also analyze a couple of the most popular brands to help with your decision.
What is Carbonic Acid Shampoo?
Carbonic acid shampoo contains carbonic acid – a compound of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. It’s the same substance that adds bubbles to soft drinks and sparkling wines.
What are the benefits?
According to the manufacturers of Vanidox, one of the more popular carbonic acid shampoos on Amazon, the benefits are as follows:
“Provide nutrients to the scalp and helps it to keep clean and fresh, helps to unclog hair pores, increase blood circulation in hair follicles and repairs damage, retain the moisture in hair and keep it healthy and glossy. It works on a cellular level to produce positive results by revitalizing hair cells.”
That would be amazing if it was true, but unfortunately, we could not find any scientific studies to verify these claims.
The FDA regulates personal care products in the US “if the product is intended for a therapeutic use, such as treating or preventing disease, or to affect the structure or function of the body”. This would cause the product to fall under the category of “drug”, such as toothpaste with fluoride or shampoo that treats dandruff.
It appears this product falls purely under the “cosmetic” designation as we found the following disclaimer “This product is not intended to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure or prevent any disease”.
A Japanese brand, Simfort is also popular on Amazon. Their website says that carbonic acid shampoo will “stop men’s hair loss, correct male pattern baldness and revitalize your hair. You don’t need to fight Genetics”. Again, we could find no studies to back this up and no FDA approval.
The general assertion by these two companies is that hair follicles are clogged by an overproduction of sebum (a sebum plug) and that their product can clean these plugs more effectively than regular shampoos.
You may be more familiar with sebum plugs on your face rather than scalp in the form of whiteheads and blackheads.
If you do have sebum plugs in the hair follicles on your scalp, it may be contributing to hair loss. This would be easy to verify by visiting a dermatologist.
Are there any side effects?
In general, there shouldn’t be side effects from using carbonic acid shampoo. Since these products aren’t drugs intended to treat or prevent disease, there aren’t side effects in the usual sense of the word. Of course, you can always have an allergic reaction to the ingredients. If you have a sensitive scalp, you can perform a patch test by applying the product to a quarter-sized patch of skin behind your ear. Let it sit for as long as you’d let the shampoo stay in contact with your scalp normally. Then wash it off and examine the skin for signs of an allergic reaction like redness, swelling, itching, and other irritation.
Does carbonated shampoo work?
There is no evidence that carbonic acid in shampoo works to stop or reverse male pattern baldness. There also does not appear to be any evidence that it can clear sebum plugs more effectively than other products.
You can treat excess sebum and scalp build-up by washing your scalp with a 3% salicylic acid shampoo. Salicylic acid is the same substance found in popular acne products and is proven to help unclog pores. Try this every 2-3 days, and adjust from there. Use warm, not hot water to avoid drying your skin and hair out. Give your scalp a massage by rubbing with your fingertips in a gentle, circular motion. Avoid scratching with your nails and resist the urge to pick. Once a week, rinse your hair and scalp with a 50/50 apple cider vinegar/water solution.
After contacting Simfort, we did receive a link to a “study” they performed. They used a “laser blood flow meter” to measure the blood flow to a subject’s forearm before and after the application of the product. The product was massaged into the skin for 1 minute and there appeared to be increased blood flow. Of course, massage by itself increases blood flow. There is no way of telling if it was the product that helped increase this and by how much since the study didn’t test for these conditions.
Massage is a proven way to increase circulation, so we do recommend this as a method to encourage hair growth. There are several tutorials on sites such as YouTube to perform a scalp massage. Manual and electric scalp massagers are available to purchase as well.
There is no cure for male pattern baldness. There are FDA treatments, such as Minoxidil, that can slow the rate of loss and may help grow hair.
How often should you use it?
While carbonic acid shampoos won’t magically regrow your hair, they do still contain cleansers to remove dirt and oils on the scalp. If you purchase this product, you can use it with the frequency of any other shampoo.
What are the most popular brands of shampoo?
The two most popular brands of carbonic acid shampoo are Simfort, the Japanese brand we mentioned previously, and Vanidox, an American product. They’re both available to purchase on Amazon.
The reviews on this product are mixed. Some people question the effectiveness of carbonic acid. A popular critical review says that carbonic acid is “completely unstable at room temperature, so how can I buy a product with what appears to be false advertising?”. Others say it’s a scam, it’s not worth it, and that it doesn’t work.
One customer’s scathing review states “Anyone who bought this snake oil foam should’ve known better, but that doesn’t change the fact that this product was very deliberately marketed to a specific demographic of vulnerable people with the intent to leave them disappointed, angry, and without recourse.”
There are positive reviews that praise the shampoo’s scent, cleansing ability, and the way it left their hair feeling. Many positive reviews mention massaging the product, which is what may be causing hair growth.
Most of the positive reviews are in Japanese and received the product for free.
The reviews on this product are mostly positive. Although many say they haven’t used it long enough to notice hair regrowth, they enjoy how it cleanses and smells. As one reviewer says, “Great shampoo .. I don’t know if it regrows hair but good shampoo”. Another sentiment expressed by many of the positive reviews is the hope that it will work. One customer left the following 4-star review “Hopefully it’s 100% effective this time? Tried a lot of hair growers with no effect”.
The glowingly positive, 5-star reviews mostly received the product for free, as with Simfort. Many of them repeat the manufacturer’s claims and acknowledge that they need more time to accurately assess whether the product works or not. Canyonguy updated their review by “lowering my rating from my former optimistic 5 stars to a very disillusioned 2 stars”.
Hair loss is distressing and there are often no simple and guaranteed solutions. It may be a matter of trial and error to find a product or treatment that works. It’s good to stay skeptical with new products that have grand, too good to be true type of promises.