A Quartet of Scalp/Hair Tonics

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I promised I would have a hair/scalp tonic blog review and I kept putting it off… To recap ~ I love using hair tonics as they help give my scalp an extra boost of nutrition, while keeping my scalp healthy, clear and also feeling really refreshed!  As I get older, I want to make sure my hair doesn’t get too thin, as it is already fine.  Hair loss is something that women get to look forward to as they age or even just stress from daily life, abusing hair styling tools and products, such as dyes, perms and straightening formulas.  Hair tonics are products that you just target spray onto your scalp, not your hair ~ you can put spray it whether your hair is wet or dry and then massage the product into your scalp.  I use them mainly in the warmer months, as that is when my scalp is the most oiliest and needs more help.   The key ingredient to look for in a hair/scalp tonic is biotin.

Biotin is an important vitamin (B7) for building up strength in hair and nails.   It helps with producing more hair as it biotin, along with cell enzymes, create amino acids, which make protein.  Your hair is made from a protein called keratin and it will help aid in the process of hair growth.  The more hair you have, the more thicker it will look and biotin will help strengthen your hair, so there will be less breakage.  Biotin adds body to make your hair look fuller.

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Scalp/Hair tonics are different from hair scalers ~ hair scalers are just to remove excess buildup, not add thickness to your hair.  They unclog pores, allowing for your scalp to “breath” and new hair growth can occur. A scalp tonic can do the same thing as a scaler, depending on the ingredient list, but it also is formulated not just to allow new hair growth, but to actually promote new hair growth, making your hair thicker and fuller looking.

I Fell In Love (it’s all your fault)

Innisfree Green Ginseng Scalp Tonic  I started using this tonic a couple of years ago and alas, I discovered about a year ago that it has been discontinued.  I have been hording my last few drops to keep as a comparison and it is almost gone.  Since I discovered it was discontinued, I decided that I should be looking for a replacement.  I tried to get the ingredients list, even emailing InnisfreeWorld, but with no success.  They could not even tell me what was in this product!  Oy… There is no list on the bottle nor on any of the websites, so I can only go by what Innisfree’s description states online:  “Contains green ginseng for clean and healthy scalp. Provides nutrition and moisture to the scalp with an energizing cooling sensation“   There is some Korean text on the bottle and roughly translated by me, I figure it has at least 100 mg of green ginseng along with menthol, salicylic acid and panthenol and no biotin.  Now, it might contain biotin, but I don’t know for sure. It  smells like ginseng, warm, spicy, very herbal, very hanbang and the applicator is a short nozzle so I could spray this with pin point accuracy onto my scalp and then massage it in.  This made my scalp feel cool and refreshed and it did help make my hair look thicker and fuller, with no residue. In fact, it didn’t matter how much I put in my hair ~ it didn’t make it oily or greasy.

  • Ginseng extract has been used in Asian skincare and hair care products for centuries and it is thought to help stop hair loss and to promote hair growth, by stimulating and energizing your scalp.  It contains saponins, which help thicken hair, while aiding in new hair growth. There is a study that has been done that shows that it can help with hair growth,  conducted by Korea University College (study)
  • Panthenol is an effective moisturizer and humectant, which attracts and retains moisture in your hair. It is derived from plants and this ingredient comes from Vitamin B5.  It also provides thickness and body to your hair, as it coats each hair strand, making your hair smooth and silky.  It does not cause build-up as it is water soluble, so it rinses off the next time you wash your hair.

I love love love this product.  And I am sad it is discontinued.  Damn you, Innisfree ~ you also had a Green Ginseng Shampoo too!  Weeps in her coffee….bitter salty tears.  100 mL 

Description: This scalp fluid, composed of anti-inflammatory and circulation function of Jeju dolwoe ingredients which are fully enriched with saponin, helps to create a healty scalp. The complex herbal extracts and panthenol ingredients alleviate hair loss by providing nutrients and moisture and instantly present a feeling of refreshment to your scalp

Now, I had started with just one product to try and was supposed to have this review up months ago… but as fate had it, I found additional tonics to try, so it did take me longer to test.

My Mamma Told Me (…ya better shop around)

Aubrey Men’s Stock Ginseng Biotin Scalp Tonic   This was the first tonic that I thought I would try ~ it had biotin AND ginseng.  Now, the all-natural, vegan and cruelty-free ingredient list is really interesting ~ it has so many botanical extracts in here, that I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. This is has traditional spray pump applicator and I feel like I should use it like hair spray!  But don’t.  Seriously, do not use it like hair spray.  If you over spray, this product will leave your hair greasy and oily with its residue .. but your hair will look thicker!  haha.  I do believe this is caused by the soybean oil in this product. This has a lavender scent to it, which I think is kinda strange for a man’s product.  I just imagined this would be more herbal than floral as this has so many herbal ingredients in it, it makes my head spin. Thankfully, I don’t like this scalp tonic that much. I find it ironically funny that Aubrey promoted 3 ingredients that are at the end of their herbal kitchen sink ~ he shou wu, ginseng and biotin. 

  • Polygonum multiflorum (he shou wu) is supposed to help with hair growth and also, in some cases, grey hairs will go back to their original color.  Huh.  I think it is better to view this as an ingredient that can prevent premature greying, but I am skeptical about the claims of eradicating grey hair.  It does help prevent hair loss and improves overall scalp health.

I have discovered that this product is hard to find now, but I learned that Aubrey went thru a company transition, so it could just be stock shortages and out of stock items. Honestly, I didn’t like this one that much.  My hair had an oily thick texture if I wasn’t careful, the spray bottle created a mist that went all over my hair, not just on my scalp and I was disappointed that this didn’t smell like ginseng.  8 oz

Description: If you’ve got brittle, thinning hair and a problematic scalp, the solution may be closer than you think. Men’s Stock Ginseng Biotin Energizing Scalp Tonic from Aubrey Organics naturally nourishes your scalp for better hair and less irritation! Great hair starts at the source and if you scalp is dry, you’re going to have problems. Aubrey Organics Men’s Stock Ginseng Biotin Energizing Scalp Tonic gets deep in your scalp’s skin to hydrate and nourish for less dryness and irritation. Meaning no more flakes and itch! And a healthy scalp can help with healthier hair.

Ingredients: Aqua, alcohol denat. (38b, lavender), hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, glycerin, chamomilla recutita (organic camomile) leaf, calendula officinalis (organic calendula) flower, lavandula angustifolia (organic lavender) flower, mentha piperita (organic peppermint) leaf, tussilago farfara (organic coltsfoot) leaf, urtica dioica (organic nettle) leaf, anthemis nobilis (Roman camomile) extract, tilia americana (linden) extract, salvia officinalis (sage) extract, clematis vitalba extract, echinacea purpurea (coneflower) extract, hypericum perforatum (St. John’s wort) extract, nasturtium officinale (watercress) extract, arctium lappa (burdock) extract, citrus limonum (lemon) extract, hedera helix (ivy) extract, quillaja saponaria (soapwort) extract, spiraea ulmaria (meadowsweet) extract, fucus vesiculosus (bladderwrack) extract, equisetum arvense (horsetail) extract, malva sylvestris (mallow) extract, parietaria officinalis (pellitory) extract, cucumis sativus (cucumber) extract, sambucus nigra (elder) extract, arnica montana (arnica) extract, citrus grandis (grapefruit) seed extract, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), glycine soja (soybean) oil, daucus carota sativa (carrot) root extract, beta-carotene, citrus limonum (organic lemon) extract, organic aloe barbadensis leaf juice, foeniculum vulgare (fennel) extract, humulus lupulus (hops) extract, melissa officinalis (balm mint) extract, viscum album (mistletoe) extract, achillea millefolium (yarrow) extract, polygonum multiflorum (he shou wu) extract, niacinamide (niacin), inositol, panax ginseng extract, biotin, organic eucalyptus globulus oil, cinnamomum camphora (camphor) oil, menthol, rosmarinus officinalis (organic rosemary) oil, salvia officinalis (organic sage) oil cosDNA analysis



La’dor Scalp Helper Hair Tonic      So, when I saw that La’dor came out with this product, I had to purchase it.  It contains both ginseng and peppermint with ginseng being one of the top ingredients!

  • Peppermint oil is a centuries old hair treatment remedy and it can help with dry scalp and reduce dandruff.  It can also promote hair growth, by increasing blood circulation, which stimulates the hair follicle.  Plus it is refreshing and cooling on your scalp as well!
  • Vitamin B3 is nicotinic acid amide or niacinamide. This helps with a healthy scalp which promotes hair growth and boosts circulation.
  • Cnidium extract is used to help treat itchy scalop, rashes and eczema

This doesn’t contain biotin, but it has hinokitiol, which is anti-bacterial compound from certain cypress and cedar trees and is used as a hair growth agent. I do like the scent ~ it isn’t as ginseng-y as Innisfree Green Ginseng, but it is very herbal and it is just as cooling as Innisfree.  The formula is more intense, hence the long targeted nozzle piece.  I made the mistake of putting too much of this product in my hair, as I removed the long nozzle, and my hair was very thick and greasy ~ it has the same issue as the Aubrey product.  It is a very nourishing treatment, so a little goes a long way and only target your scalp.  It does, when I apply the proper (little) amount to my scalp, gives my hair fullness and body.  I do like the La’dor product over the Aubrey version, but it isn’t the same as my Innisfree Green Ginseng.  120 mL

Description: Having problems with hair loss and weak scalp? This tonic is the ultimate solution to your stressful hair and scalp dilemma. This tonic contains natural herbal ingredients that fully nourishes the scalp to help with healthy hair growth. This tonic also eliminates residues on the scalp while also strengthening its layers to prevent further irritation and damage.

Ingredients: Purified Water, Tocopheryl Acetate, Nicotinic Acid Amide, Green Tea Extract, Ginseng Extract, Cnidium Extract, Aloe Vera Gel, Licorice Extract, Iris Extract, Grape Extract, Hinokitiol, Butylene Glycol, Peppermint Oil, Polyoxyethylene Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethanol  cosDNA analysis

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At this point, I was resigned to using the La’dor product, even though I disliked the fact that I had to be very careful not to spray too much onto my hair and it didn’t contain biotin.  And then… I saw it… Innisfree came to the rescue!

Mon Amour (let me count the ways…)

Innisfree Green Tea Mint Scalp Tonic Essence  Now, it isn’t the Green Ginseng version ~ however, I was hoping that Innisfree would produce a product similar to the original one.  I also am in love the Green Tea Mint line at Innisfree (see my reviews here)  ~ the scent alone would be worth it, but it also has a refreshing effect on my scalp and hair.  I saw this at W2Beauty and promptly purchased it back in August. Now this does have biotin, which I couldn’t confirm in the Green Ginseng version, along with panthanol, menthol, salicylic acid, rosemary and peppermint oils, just to name a few.

  • Salicylic Acid helps reduce flaking and is also an astringent that will help control oil. Salicylic acid is fat soluble, so it can really get to the oil that is inside your pores.  It is a BHA so it will gently exfoliate and remove dead skin cells, excess sebum and debris, unclogging your hair follicles.
  • Rosemary contains antioxidants and helps prevent hair loss.  As it also stimulates blood circulation, it will promote hair growth.  It is an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti fungal, so again, it helps prevent infections that can led to hair loss. It also helps reduce excess sebum (oil) production which means your hair follicles won’t get clogged and promotes new hair growth

Glycerin and sodium hyaluronate will also help to attract and lock in moisture in your hair and scalp, so it will be healthy and hydrated.   Since this claims that it has a subacid formula and will help restore pH balance to my scalp, I did do a pH test on this tonic.  None of the other tonics had this claim, so I didn’t bother doing a pH test on them.  This has a good level of 4.5 to 5 so is it acidic.

This has the same bright and sassy scent from the Green Tea Mint line and it is so refreshing and cooling on my scalp. Just like its buddy, Green Ginseng, it does not leave any oily or greasy residue on my hair even if I over do it. It also has the same type of short nozzle ~ which you cannot see that well in the photo, as it is clear, but it is the same nozzle ~ and quite frankly, the packaging is very similar ~ only the colors are different. And yes, it had the same benefits as its buddy ~ refreshing, cooling, relieved itchiness, reduced flaking (if I had them) and it really helped with body and thickness. The only thing that I regret is the Green Ginseng scent is lost ~ it truly smelled like ginseng. I do love the scent of the Green Tea Mint, but I will confess that I will miss that warm spicy scent. 100 mL

Description: Mint Complex (mint oil + mint extract) controls excessive sebum on the scalp and helps balance oil-moisture level. Subacid formula restores pH balance in the scalp while nourishing and revitalizing it.  It is a mist type that is ideal for massage, leaving the scalp feeling cool and refreshed.

Ingredients: Water, Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Coceth-7, PPG-1-PEG-9 Lauryl Glycol Ether, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glycereth-26, Menthol, Sodium PCA, Salicylic Acid, Panthenol, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Glycerin, Sodium Benzoate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Disodium EDTA, Allantoin, Potassium Sorbate, Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Phenoxyethanol, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Orchid Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Camellia Japonica Leaf Extract, Opuntia Coccinellifera Fruit Extract, Mentha Arvensis Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Biotin, Ethylhexylglycerin  cosDNA analysis

Final Thoughts

I am perplexed on why La’dor and Aubrey’s hair tonics left such an oily residue on my hair if I used a bit too much but Innisfree did not.  They all contain some form of oils. I originally thought it might be because Innisfree has alcohol in it, but so do the others.  Perhaps it is just the proportions of the ingredients.  I do rate them in this order

  1. Innisfree Green Ginseng/Innisfree Green Tea Mint (tied)
  2. La’dor Scalp Helper
  3. Aubrey Men’s Stock Ginseng Biotin

I would recommend the Innisfree product over all of them for sure, but if you have dry hair, you might prefer La’dor, as that will add more oil back into your hair. However, since I have oily hair, the new Innisfree Green Tea Mint Scalp Tonic is the best fit for my hair and scalp type. I hope that Innisfree doesn’t discontinue this version!! The Green Tea Mint line is popular, so I am crossing my fingers that they give this tonic a chance, unlike their Green Ginseng line.

Have you tried any scalp/hair tonics?  If you do, which ones and why do you use them? If you don’t, are you interested in trying them out?  Let me know in the comments below!  I am always nervous that Innisfree will rip my world apart (haha) and discontinue this new version that I love ~ so I need more options!

Where to  Purchase

All shops are global unless noted otherwise.

Innisfree Green Ginseng Scalp Tonic ~ This is discontinued. I have only found it at Amazon  at an absurd price. USA only

Aubrey Men’s Stock Ginseng Biotin Scalp Tonic ~ This product is hard to find ~ I am not sure if it is discontinued or just the transition of the company has caused production issues. 

Lador Scalp Helper Hair Tonic

Innisfree Green Tea Mint Scalp Tonic Essence 

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