By the age of 30, male pattern baldness affects approximately one-third of all men. By the age of 50, more than 40 percent of women experience visible hair loss. Effective treatments such as Propecia and Finasteride come with a major price to pay—your sex life—a sacrifice, especially within the LGBTQ community where, like it or not, sex and image play a large role.
For many, the side effects of many treatments are permanent or, at minimum, sexually crippling long-term, even after users stop taking the medication. But not every gain needs to be accompanied by a loss, says supermodel turned CEO and Co-Founder of Nutrafol, Giorgos Tsetis. Regarded by many as a hair loss miracle, over the past several years, Nutrafol sales have exploded, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with users citing hair regrowth, hair thickness, improved skin, and even an improved libido. So, I sat down with Giorgos to discuss hair.
I understand you worked as a model for various luxury brands from Armani to Versace. However, at age 21, you began taking the controversial drug Propecia due to emerging hair loss to avoid it affecting your career. How long did you take Propecia, and what were the consequences?
Giorgos Tsetis: I took the pharmaceutical option for six-years in my early 20s. Unfortunately, the price I had to pay for having a full head of hair while taking a prescription hair loss drug was sexual dysfunction. As a man in my 20s, this is something I never thought I would have to deal with. However, the prescription I was taking led to low libido for many years.
My interest in sex was so scarce that my girlfriend at the time almost broke up with me. I decided that I could no longer prioritize my external beauty over everything else. I decided to stop compromising my overall health, well-being, and relationships. This experience ended up being profound in my journey to establishing Nutrafol. I ultimately realized that the not-so-fun side effects of my prescription hair loss drug were not necessary for the intended results. This realization transformed my approach to hair health and wellness.
Your business partner, Roland Peralta, previously worked in the haircare industry creating products for hair loss. Your other business partner, Dr. Sophia Kogan, is a medical professional. How and when did you all meet and how did Nutrafol come about?
GT: My frustrations with my experience finally pushed me to speak to two of my friends and now business partners, biohacker Roland Peralta and Dr. Sophia Kogan MD, who both had their own personal experiences with hair thinning. We teamed up and launched Nutrafol in 2015 to create a new alternative to what was available in the market. We created hair wellness supplements—an innovative, natural, holistic approach that targets the root causes of hair thinning.
There is a plethora of herbal supplements on the market geared towards hair loss. But in 2015 Nutrafol developed a very stellar reputation for its hair regrowth effects. What is the secret?
GT: As the category creator of hair wellness, Nutrafol believes wellness starts from within. Hair thinning is more than just genetics. Our holistic, multi-factorial approach targets the underlying root causes of hair thinning, like stress, environmental factors, nutrition, and hormones. With three core supplement formulations for men, women, and menopausal women, Nutrafol is clinically shown to improve hair growth, reduce shedding and is recommended by over 3,000 physicians and hair care professionals for trusted, reliable results.
Our patented Synergen Complex contains a unique blend of medical-grade botanicals and standardized ingredients specifically sourced and combined for maximum effectiveness. This means that we apply pharmaceutical standards to the natural botanicals used in Nutrafol, ensuring that every supplement contains a guaranteed dose of bioactive phytonutrients to reduce hair shedding and boost growth.
We also invest in rigorous research and clinical testing to ensure the efficacy and safety of our products. This ongoing commitment to clinical research and self-regulation, ingredient sourcing, and standardization is not typical in the supplement market and truly sets us apart from the wellness industry at large.
Nutrafol has been backed by clinical studies more so than other products, setting it apart from the crowd in an oversaturated industry. Ingredients wise, what differentiates your product?
GT: At Nutrafol, we only source the highest quality ingredients and use patented processes to extract the most potent, bioactive botanicals. That’s why we call them medical grade. It means that we apply pharmaceutical standards to natural botanicals. All of our ingredients are standardized, meaning every supplement contains a guaranteed amount of bioactive phytonutrients. We also invest in rigorous research and clinical testing to ensure the efficacy and safety of our products.
Nutrafol’s core formulations contain a complex of botanicals that were specifically chosen and combined for effectiveness in multi-targeting the underlying causes of hair thinning, with clinical evidence to show for that. We strive to select ingredients with the most therapeutic potential to benefit hair growth, but many have other secondary benefits to the body as well.
Some of the key ingredients in Nutrafol
Sensoril® Ashwagandha: A botanical clinically shown to balance stress hormones and support the hair growth cycle.
Curcumin: Curcumin (the bioactive component of turmeric) is a potent antioxidant clinically shown to modulate the immune system, specifically targeting inflammatory molecules that compromise hair health. The form of curcumin in Nutrafol is bio-optimized to be better absorbed by the body.
Marine Collagen: Sustainably sourced from North Atlantic Cod, marine collagen provides amino acids as building blocks of hair-strengthening keratin.
Saw Palmetto: A botanical that combats thinning hair by helping to prevent testosterone conversion to DHT.
Describe the significance of the personalized Growth Plan?
GT: Each person has their own set of unique stressors, living circumstances, and biochemistry, which can create various challenges for achieving hair wellness. The more precise and targeted the formula, the more effective our products will be for our users. That’s why we created our hair wellness quiz, a tested algorithm with questions that guide you to the right core hair supplements and targeted boosters based on your hair wellness needs. This is the first step for every Nutrafol user. The results from the hair wellness quiz provide us with critical insights and allows us to create an individual Growth Plan for each person based on their unique needs.
All Nutrafol users take one of our three core formulations: Nutrafol Men, Nutrafol Women, or Nutrafol Women’s Balance, a product specifically designed for women in the menopausal transition. These patented products are clinically shown to reduce shedding and encourage hair growth. However, Nutrafol also offers targeted boosters to provide additional support to address barriers preventing optimal hair growth, based on the hair wellness quiz results. We offer a range of boosters, from a Vitamin B-Booster and Stress Adaptogen if stress is a concern, to sugar balance for metabolism support and a probiotic for gut health as it relates to hair health, as well as a DHT inhibitor for balancing hormones.
In conjunction with alleviating hair loss, can the three-step Nutrafol Growth Plan take the place of other vitamins and act as your sole vitamin regimen?
GT: Nutrafol generally does not interfere with other pharmaceutical and supplement products; however, if you are continuing to take other supplements, it is important to ensure you are not taking any nutrient in excessive quantities. As a best practice, Nutrafol always recommends checking in with your physician before altering or starting a new supplement regimen.
Are there any side effects in taking Nutrafol long-term?
GT: Because Nutrafol is a natural supplement, it doesn’t have the risk of scary side effects that can occur with other products. All of Nutrafol’s products are made with standardized ingredients such as Sensoril Ashwagandha, Saw Palmetto, and Marine Collagen, which work naturally in the body to target the underlying causes of hair thinning. There are also some unexpected side benefits that come with daily consumption of Nutrafol’s powerful botanicals, such as reduced stress, clearer skin, and stronger nails, better sleep, and a boosted mood.
Everyone is different, so it is always best to check in with your physician before starting a new supplement regimen. Nutrafol is for adults only. We also recommend that pregnant or breastfeeding women refrain from taking our supplements.
How has COVID-19 affected your business, and me being an asthmatic having just survived the virus, does Nutrafol have any pre or post-covid benefits?
GT: Fortunately, Nutrafol has experienced significant business growth throughout the past year. This growth is partially due to an increasing demand for natural hair wellness products and people’s increased desire to invest in their wellness routines as a means to take back control during a very uncertain time.
There is no doubt that 2020 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on our stress levels, mental health, and overall well-being. Because of these increased physical and emotional stressors, we also received an influx of interest in our brand and inquiries about stress-induced hair thinning from consumers. Many were struggling with hair loss for the first time. Our network of physicians has also been reporting a surge in telogen effluvium, which is the temporary kind of hair loss that occurs due to stress or a trauma shock to the system. Many customers who have experienced COVID-19 or pandemic-stress hair thinning have turned to Nutrafol to take back control of their hair health and prevent future hair shedding.
Do you have any plans to introduce more products to the mix at Nutrafol?
GT: Nutrafol’s in-house research and development team is always testing ingredients and thinking about the next great innovation in hair science. While I cannot speak to any new products at this time, Nutrafol remains committed to providing the highest quality and efficacious products possible both now and in the future.
Nutrafol launched just six years ago. What is next for the brand?
GT: As a brand, we are really focused on increasing awareness of the effects of stress on the hair growth cycle. Many can agree that 2020 was arguably one of the most stressful years in modern history. Chronic stress can directly affect the health of our hair, which ultimately adds additional stress and anxiety into our lives. It becomes a vicious cycle. As we forge ahead in 2021, we’re determined to add value into people’s lives by educating them on the root causes of hair thinning, especially how stress plays a role, and empowering them with information and resources to embrace a safe, holistic approach to hair wellness.
We are also excited to continue fostering relationships with our physician and hairdresser partners who recommend our products to their patients and clients. It is an important channel for us in addition to our DTC business. As a result of the pandemic, we built and launched a new platform that expanded our existing e-commerce capabilities. Nutrafol now offers a direct-to-door platform for physicians and stylists to receive Nutrafol products. This means our professional channel can continue operating uninterrupted.
What are some additional tips or advice to achieving optimal hair regrowth?
GT: We believe wellness from within is imperative for hair growth. With this approach in mind, I always think about the importance of getting outside and moving, maintaining a balanced, colorful diet, and finding ways to relax, especially as we continue to social distance and shelter-in-place.
I personally use physical exercise to maintain a healthy mind and body. I make an effort to perform some kind of activity every day, whether that’s taking my work calls from my bike or running outside. Since we were forced to slow down over the last year, I have used the extra time to refocus on what’s important to me: whole-body health and wellness.