6 Supplements That Will Make Your Hair Grow
So you’ve noticed that your hair could use a little extra TLC. Maybe your tresses are sparse, fall flat, or it’s taking forever to grow out your current style. Whatever your worry, supplements designed with your mane in mind may be more useful than you think.
“Hair growth supplements are helpful for anyone who is experiencing hair loss, hair thinning, or for those who just want thicker or longer hair,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, board-certified dermatologic surgeon at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City.
When you take an oral supplement, it is absorbed in the bloodstream where it nourishes all cells, including your hair follicles. “Hair thrives on protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, which support hair structure and growth and moisturize the scalp, among other functions. If you are not getting enough nutrients from your diet, supplements can increase low levels,” says Dr. Engelman.
However, if you’ve ever tried to shop for a hair supplement, you know there are tons of bottles to wade through. “That’s why it’s best to read labels and check for ingredients we really want,” says dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules. Dietary supplements aren’t regulated the same way as drugs are by the FDA, so it’s important to scan the ingredients carefully. And, you should always talk to your doctor before taking one to ensure it won’t interact with any medications you’re taking.
Now that you have the basics down, here are six stellar options that will help you grow healthy, shiny locks.
Dr. Engelman favors this supplement to target thinning. “This uses highly concentrated botanicals to address every stage of the growth cycle,” she says, such as vitamin E, ashwagandha (a type of herb), anti-inflammatory biocurcumin, and others. “It has excellent clinical studies to support its efficacy. I recommend it daily to my patients.” In fact, one peer-reviewed study (which was funded by Nutrafol) published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, found that women who said their hair was thinning reported improved growth and thickness after taking it for six months. The researchers also found an increase in hair density after three months.
This B vitamin is an ingredient in many different hair supplements—for good reason. “Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that supports the growth of hair, skin, and nails by helping to break down fats and carbohydrates,” says Dr. Engelman. Run low and you may notice your hair is weak, or you may start to lose it. You can expect the vitamin to increase the speed of hair growth, but it won’t increase thickness, she says. However, it is far cheaper than other supplements, making it a good starting point. For one good biotin supplement, Dr. Jaliman recommends Nature’s Bounty Biotin.
3. Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Nutrient Tablets
Containing a marine complex, as well as biotin, zinc, vitamin C, iron, and horsetail extract, Viviscal “uses vitamins to extend the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle,” says Dr. Engelman. In a 2015 study published in Dermatology Research and Practice found that after 90 days, adult women taking Viviscal had an increase in hair volume and lost significantly fewer hairs after washing compared to a placebo.
4. Ouai Hair Supplement for Thinning Hair
This supplement contains ashwagandha to help control the production of the stress hormone cortisol, a factor that may spur hair shedding. Biotin also speeds growth, while amino acids provide the building blocks for keratin production, a protein that makes up the bulk of your hair. Vitamins C and E also act on antioxidant defenses to stop premature loss.
5. Keranique KeraViatin Hair & Scalp Health Supplements
This supplement packs a range of B vitamins to help the body break down nutrients to nourish hair growth, plus zinc, antioxidant curcuminoids, and amino acids like L-cysteine. “Cystine (which is formed by two cysteine molecules) is an amino acid, which is a protein building block that helps to maintain the structure of proteins in the body and is one of the most crucial amino acids for hair growth,” says Dr. Jaliman.
6. OLLY Undeniable Beauty Gummy Supplement
This supplement wins for its blend of biotin, vitamin C, E, and keratin protein. Biotin encourages hair growth, while antioxidant vitamins C and E helps cells fight off free radicals, which are damaging to hair follicles, says Dr. Jaliman. “When you combine these vitamins with others such as biotin, you give the body some of the nutrients it needs for healthy hair,” she says.