This post was originally published as part of an informational series on hair vitamins on NaturallyCurly.com, one of the largest online hair communities.
You’ve probably seen promotions for hair growth vitamins, gummies, and even elixirs and might have wondered if these products can help you achieve your hair goals. NaturallyCurly consulted six experts to understand what professionals think about hair vitamins, whether or not they work, and what you should know before trying them.
What do the experts think about hair vitamins?
The experts agree that hair vitamins can promote hair health, including strengthening hair and reducing breakage, by addressing vitamin deficiencies. Several mentioned Biotin as a helpful vitamin that can promote hair health by increasing elasticity and reducing dryness. Dr. William Yates, M.D., a hair loss medical doctor, says “Vitamin supplements are effective if someone has a deficiency. Taking Biotin or other vitamins typically found in ‘hair vitamins’ certainly won’t hurt you because they are water soluble [meaning they are not stored in your body.]” He also noted that “A Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to hair loss and you should definitely supplement at a dose recommended by your physician.” Deborah O’Donohue, a Registered Dietitian, suggested taking vitamins that contain Iron, “as frequently thinning hair or hair loss [can be] a result of low Iron status” in addition to Biotin and Vitamin D.
Addressing protein deficiencies can improve hair health as well. Dr. Robert Nettles, M.D. of Stop and reGrow, says that, “Separate from vitamins, the number one factor we see in our clinic which causes thin and breaking hair in women is lack of protein.” Furthermore, Dr. Phoenyx Austin, M.D., a certified nutrition specialist and creator of Beauty Protein, emphasizes a protein-rich diet as “not getting ample protein in your diet will make it very difficult to grow healthy, stronger, and longer hair – even if you take hair vitamins!”
Beyond addressing vitamin and protein deficiencies, Dr. Austin told us that your diet and exercise affect your hair health, as “how you look on the outside is a direct reflection of how healthy and nourished your body is on the inside.” How you treat your hair on a daily basis is also important according to Dr. Chidimma Kalu, M.D., a Postdoctoral research fellow at City of Hope National Medical Center. She mentions that “Excessive heat styling and chemical processing are drying and damaging to the hair after long periods of time, leaving the ends of your hair susceptible to breakage.”
Will hair vitamins help your hair grow faster?
Unfortunately, the answer from most of the professionals is, “No.” NaturallyCurly writer Sophia Emmanuel Powell, Licensed Cosmetologist and IAT Certified Trichologist (hair loss expert) says that, “Taking hair vitamins will not make your hair grow faster because each individual follicle on your head goes through a natural cycle of hair growth, resting and shedding. Hair grows about a half an inch a month. Taking hair vitamins can help enhance the strength and health of the hair, but there is nothing you can do to speed up the growth process.
There are factors that can slow down hair growth, such as stress, poor nutrition, and diet. In this case, hair vitamins can help energize hair follicles so hair growth is not delayed.” Dr. Kalu believes that the “majority of people who notice a significant, positive difference after starting a hair vitamin will have had some kind of scalp, skin, or nail issue beforehand. Those without vitamin deficiencies might notice a difference in the thickness of their hair, for example… That being said, many people will note absolutely no change at all.” Dr. Yates sums it up saying, “Realistically, vitamin supplements will not regrow your hair unless you have a deficiency.”
What you should know before trying hair vitamins
Sophia Emmanuel Powell tells her “clients not to expect fast hair growth because it is stressful and disappointing when they do not see the length they were expecting.” She cautions consumers to be wary of claims such as, “stop hair loss now” or get “longer hair in three months” and instead “look for studies or science based materials that prove the ingredients do what they promise and keep in mind vitamins that work for one person may not work for another person.”
Dr. Kalu advises consumers to consult their doctors before starting hair vitamins as “combining medications may result in dangerous side effects. Provided that there is no contraindication to trying these supplements, anyone who wants to try them can do so safely, see how the supplements affect them, and make sure to pay attention to potential side effects (e.g., allergic reactions, rash, worsening acne, headaches etc.).”
Overall, the experts believe that while there is no miracle pill that can make your hair grow faster, taking hair vitamins can play an important role in your hair’s health.