Better Not Younger is a women’s hair care brand targeting women over 40. They claim that their products are designed for aging hair.
In this article we’ll review the ingredients in some of the brand’s most popular products based on published medical research to assess whether we believe they’re likely to improve the quality of aging hair, or if we recommend alternatives.
Better Not Younger Hair Serum Review
Better Not Younger’s Hair Serum, called “Superpower,” is their most popular product. It’s to be applied to the scalp and massaged in before washing, and the brand claims this product strengthens and promotes healthier hair.
The first botanical active ingredient in this serum is gotu kola extract. One test tube study found that this compound may support healthy hair growth, but test tube studies don’t necessarily translate to human studies so this is a weak standard of evidence.
Castor oil is the second-listed botanical ingredient in Superpower serum, and a medical review of botanical ingredients for hair loss concluded that there was “no clinical evidence to support” its use. We can’t locate any other medical studies suggesting that castor oil improves hair quality in any way.
Hops extract is one ingredient in this formulation with promising early research backing its efficacy. A study published in the Journal of Society of Cosmetic Chemists of Japan found that hops extract not only repaired damaged hair in human trials but also had promise for anti-balding effect, because it inhibits an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase which is directly associated with balding (especially in men).
Another effective ingredient in this product is licorice extract, which was proven in an interesting medical study to be more effective than standard commercial shampoo at improving hair quality. Specifically, the cleansing ability of the licorice shampoo outperformed the regular shampoo.
Caffeine is an efficacious choice for a shampoo, as a medical review of topical caffeine uses stated the following: “...caffeine to alleviate hair loss may provide a much-needed alternative to drug-based approaches.” The compound has essentially no side effects when used topically at appropriate doses, while pharmaceutical hair loss compounds often have several (see our Keeps review article for more on those side effects).
Niacinamide does not improve hair growth, but it may improve hair thickness according to a medical study that combined it with several other nutraceutical ingredients. Hair diameter increased by 10% in the group using the topical niacinamide solution.
We can’t find strong evidence of efficacy for the remaining ingredients, but they all appear safe and non-toxic. The only ingredient we find somewhat questionable is phenoxyethanol, which is a preservative found to be moderately toxic in medical research. We tend to recommend less harsh preservatives.
We wouldn’t recommend this serum due to the phenoxyethanol inclusion, but this preservative isn’t a huge health concern compared to some other ingredients we commonly analyze in cosmetic formulations like artificial dyes. For the most part, this is an effective and well-formulated product, and certainly better than the industry average in our opinion.
Better Not Younger Shampoo Review
Better Not Younger’s second-best selling product is a shampoo called “Wake Up Call.” It’s quite expensive for a shampoo at $29, so we would expect a highly potent and effective formulation at that price point.
Wake Up Call shampoo has two ingredients we already confirmed to be effective for hair quality in the previous section: caffeine and hops extract.
It contains several other botanical ingredients, such as sage extract and bamboo extract, but we can't identify any medical data backing these compounds for improving hair quality. Put simply, we can’t find any ingredients in this shampoo that didn’t already exist in Better Not Younger’s hair serum that are effective.
Wake Up Call shampoo contains the preservative we discussed in the previous section phenoxyethanol, but it also contains an ingredient we believe to be more of a health risk: fragrance.
Fragrance was described as a “pervasive health risk” in a research paper published in the Medical Hypotheses journal in 2017. It’s a term which encompasses a wide variety of compounds; some of which are likely safe and some of which are likely not.
Without knowing which fragrance chemicals are used, we can’t determine safety, which is why we recommend that consumers choose fragrance-free personal care products.
We find the shampoo formulation overall to be inferior to the hair serum formulation, and would not recommend it.
Fake Social Following?
Engagement rate is a good metric that consumers can use to check whether a brand may have paid for their social following.
Better Not Younger has an absurdly low engagement rate on Instagram. They have 21,700 followers, and their most recent post at the time of writing has 3 comments. That’s an engagement rate of 0.01%. For every 7,000 followers Better Not Younger has, one of them commented on the post.
It’s also notable that the brand’s Twitter only has 156 followers. Such a discrepancy makes no sense.
You can never tell for sure whether a brand has purchased followers online, but engagement rates as low as this indicate they may have, and it would be an ethical red flag if they did. Transparency is important.
We recommend Dr. Bronner’s hair products over Better Not Younger, because they are all effectively formulated with no questionable additive ingredients.
We have no affiliation with this brand.
Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hair Rinse contains thickening and conditioning natural ingredients like coconut oil and shikakai powder, but most importantly it contains no synthetic preservatives or fragrance. It’s naturally fragranced using organic lemon oil and organic orange oil.
This product is also only $9.99, which is less than half of the price of Better Not Younger’s shampoo.
Better Not Younger Pros and Cons
Here are some quick takeaways to consider when evaluating a purchase from Better Not Younger:
- Effective hair serum formulation
- Aesthetically-pleasing products
- Poor shampoo formulation
- Very expensive
- Potentially fake Instagram following
- Uses synthetic preservative phenoxyethanol
Better Not Younger Pricing
Better Not Younger products are available for sale on their website, on Amazon, and on Ulta Beauty.
The prices are slightly worse on their website and slightly better on Amazon at the time of writing. Here are the current prices for the products we reviewed:
Superpower Hair Serum
Wake Up Call Shampoo
We don’t understand why so many eCommerce companies outprice themselves on their own website, but this shows why it’s important to check all authorized retailers before making a purchase.
No Public Team
We generally think it’s a good sign when a health and wellness company has a public team of credentialed medical experts. It takes a lot of expertise to formulate an effective and safe product, and a company with scientists and researchers on their team is more likely to do so in our opinion (and based on our past reviews).
Better Not Younger has a public founder, named Sonsoles, who worked in the beauty industry for 25 years according to the brand’s About page. However there is no mention of any relevant scientific or medical credentials she possesses, and while the page makes vague reference to experts on their team, there are no specific references explaining who they are.
This is a minor red flag in our opinion.
Better Not Younger has favorable user reviews on their Amazon listings. They receive an A grade (which is the highest grade) as a brand on FakeSpot, which is an algorithm that detects likely fake Amazon reviews.
It’s a good sign that Better Not Younger is not trying to game the system with fake reviews, and an ethical green flag.
Their hair serum has a rating of 4.2 stars out of 5, with 48 5-star reviews out of 84 total reviews at the time of writing. The most popular positive review of this product highlights that it’s vegan and paraben-free, and that it left their hair feeling “lustrous.”
The most popular negative review still gave the product 3 out of 5 stars, but complained about the smell and feel:
“I won't go in to details here but just say that between the weird scent and the way my scalp tingled and itched and my hair felt 'dirty' - I can't use it”
The more concerning negative reviews are on the brand’s Facebook page, where the brand doesn't even appear to respond to negative user reviews or try to resolve the stated issues.
Any consumer can complain (accurately or falsely) about anything, but we find it to be a red flag when a brand doesn’t publicly explain their side of the story or try to resolve the issue.