Whether you got a haircut you think is a little too short, are dealing with damage from bleach and hair dye, or your hair has just thinned with age, you might be looking for ways to boost hair growth. Biotin has been promised to help with hair loss, thinning hair, and all around hair health. But what is it and what does it do? And is it really as magical as everyone thinks? Let us help you separate fact from fiction so you achieve healthier hair right at home.
To help us get to the bottom of biotin and hair growth, we enlisted Annie Chiu, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of The Derm Institute. Los Angeles-based Dr. Chiu specializes in overall skin health (and just so happens to have great hair!) Here’s everything you’ve wanted to know about biotin for hair growth.
Sometimes called vitamin H, biotin is one of the B complex vitamins that helps metabolize carbohydrates and amino acids. “Biotin (vitamin B7) contributes to healthy metabolic, nerve, digestive, and cardiovascular functions,” says Dr. Chiu. “It is essential for metabolizing fats and carbohydrates, and it works synergistically with pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) to strengthen hair, increase nail thickness, and prevent split ends and thinning hair.” It is possible to be deficient in the vitamin, and if you are, there are key signs to look out for.
“People with true biotin deficiency show signs of hair loss, skin rashes, and brittle nails, but it should be noted that most people are not truly biotin deficient,” says Dr. Chiu. Talk to your doctor if you think you could have a biotin deficiency, but keep in mind that most people that take biotin don’t do it because they don’t have enough biotin. They take biotin supplements because they want more of the stuff for healthier hair and nails.
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to biotin for hair growth and its scientific evidence. Unfortunately, biotin is not likely to add inches to your healthy hair, especially any faster than it would grow without. The good news is, studies of those with brittle nails and poor hair and nail growth taking biotin supplements did see improvement in hair and nail health, especially thickness. Dr. Chiu agrees with these findings.
“B vitamins help create amino acids that produce a form of keratin,” she explains. “Our hair is mostly made of keratin. Taking a biotin supplement or eating biotin-rich foods may help maintain hair’s health and slightly improve its strength. However, as of now, there is no large-scale study showing evidence that biotin will help hair grow longer in normal, healthy individuals.”
Take biotin for stronger, healthier hair (even if you don’t become Rapunzel!), but especially take biotin supplements to treat brittle nails. “Biotin definitely helps nail growth and strength,” says Dr. Chiu. “A Swiss study showed a 25 percent increase in nail plate thickness in those with brittle nails who took daily biotin pills.”
This is great news, but as with many vitamins, you can take too much of a good thing. There can be side effects. “It is very important to note that if you are taking any biotin supplements, you must let your healthcare professionals know,” says Dr. Chiu. “Biotin supplements can affect various blood results, leading to false negatives or false positives, and that can be very dangerous.” Chat with your dermatologist before starting any new vitamin regimen. They can talk to you about any possible medical conditions causing hair loss, thinning hair, or just your overall hair health. They’ll also help you get the correct amount of biotin to reap its benefits so side effects aren’t a concern.
Sure, you can take biotin supplements, but Dr. Chiu prefers to get most of her nutrition from food. “Biotin is found in Brewer’s yeast, egg yolk, whole wheat bread, avocado, salmon, cheese, bananas, and nuts,” she says. “Most people who eat a normal diet don’t suffer from biotin deficiency unless it’s genetic.” In addition to your diet, you can also use haircare that has biotin right in it for stronger strands. R+CO Dallas Biotin Thickening Shampoo + Conditioner Set contains biotin assists to help increase hair strength and vitality, pro vitamin B5 for hydration, Saw Palmetto berry extract for Dallas-style body and thickness, coconut oil to help strengthen and condition, and Loquat fruit extract for a boost of vital healthy-hair nutrients.
There’s a good reason you constantly hear about biotin. Whether in food, a pill or hair care, it can seriously strengthen brittle hair and nails. Don’t expect to wake up to longer hair overnight, but biotin can give you stronger strands that don’t just look healthy but actually are healthier. If you dye your hair, use hot tools like hair dryers and curling irons, or get other types of chemical treatments, it might be worth adding biotin to your routine. It’s time to make that banana bread you keep talking about for a biotin boost.
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