Do Hair Growth Supplements Really Work?

Hair Growth Supplements

Walk down the vitamin aisle of any drugstore, and you’ll see approximately one-zillion hair supplements, all promising to grow your hair hella long, hella fast. And though I’m the resident skeptic of all the beauty editors in the world, even I have to admit that the five-star reviews and the celebrity Instagram endorsements are somewhat convincing. Like, do hair-growth vitamins really work? Are they the secret to long, shiny, strong hair? Or have we all been taken in by a very convincing, very confusing LIE?! WHAT IS THE TRUTH?!

Since I’m clearly not the only person having this internal crisis, I went ahead and chatted with experts and dermatologists to find whether or not hair vitamins actually do anything—or, even more important, whether they’re even safe to take at all.

Will hair growth supplements actually grow my hair faster?
So here’s what hair vitamins are supposed to do: Revamp your hair from the inside out with a mix of “hair-friendly” ingredients, like biotin, folic acid, vitamins D, A, C, E, and/or virtually anything else they want to throw in there (supplements and vitamins are not FDA-regulated, meaning brands can kinda say and do whatever they want). Then, after a few months of taking them, your hair is supposed too look longer, healthier, shinier, and stronger, and your scalp’s oil production can speed up or slow down, depending on which brand and type you try.

The thing is, because these pills aren’t backed by government-approved data, and there isn’t really a uniform set of ingredients, strengths, or formulations across brands, there’s never going to be a straight yes or no answer to whether or not hair supplements work. But, if you ask experts, their answer is pretty much a big ol’ “NOPE.”

Do hair-growth vitamins work at all?
Okay, so even though vitamins are absolutely necessary and beneficial for your hair, they won’t do much if your body is already stocked with them—which it probably already is. “Most people get all the vitamins they need to manage their hair growth just from their diet alone,” says trichologist Dominic Burg, chief scientist at Evolis Professional.

BUT shouldn’t I take them just in case?! I hear you ask. Sadly, more isn’t merrier here. Even if you ingest triple the vitamins your body needs (don’t), you won’t actually reap triple, or even double, the hair-growth rewards. “Your body only keeps the vitamins it needs, and then it gets rid of the rest,” says Burg. Kind of like pouring water into a glass that’s already 100 percent full. So unless you’re actually missing some key nutrients, you’ll likely end up peeing out the excess pretty soon after you ingest them.

How do I know if vitamin deficiency is affecting my hair?
“There are lot of women running around who are deficient and don’t realize it, because of either dieting, poor nutrition, or intense stress,” says Burg. And when you’re super stressed or not eating enough, “your body will shut down your hair growth first and redirect nutrients and energy to the organs that need it most,” he says, thus leaving you vitamin deficient.

And if you’ve ever experienced a severe bout of physical or emotional stress, you might have noticed a sudden shedding of your hair a few months after (or, if not, congrats! You just figured out WTF was going on with your hair). “It’s a delayed reaction to the stress or diet that usually occurs three months later,” says Burg.

Of course, the only way to know for sure if your body is deficient is to have your levels tested by your doctor, but if you’re, you know, mourning a death in the family while also on a diet, there’s a good chance you’re lacking some nutrients, in which case you’ll likely see some benefits from taking vitamins.

How can I speed up hair growth if I’m healthy?
If you’re not vitamin deficient but still want longer, healthier, stronger hair, then sadly, “hair growth supplements will probably do very little for you,” says Burg. That’s not to say they won’t work at all, and maybe you’ll be the lucky wild card (again, there are no mass studies definitively saying yes or no), but, if we’re talkin’ from a point of science here, your odds aren’t great. Not sure what to do? Talk to your doctor. Really. They can give you the thumbs up (or down) before you waste your money—or, worse, mess with your health.

How long do hair growth supplements take to work?
Regardless of whether you’re vitamin deficient or you’re just a healthy person who somehow magically benefits from hair growth supplements, you still won’t see results overnight. Or even in a year. Or in five years. Why? “Your hair is dead, and nothing you do internally can affect its density, strength, or health,” says Burg. “Sure, vitamins will help the new hair that you’re growing, but because it grows only half an inch a month, it’ll take 6 to 7 years of taking supplements before your new, healthy hair even reaches your shoulders.” Perspective, huh?

But that’s not to say you won’t see any changes before 2026. “If you’re vitamin deficient, supplements may help reactivate your oil glands after a few months, which can make your hair look shinier and more moisturized,” says Burg. And hey, you might even get the tiniest bit of additional hair growth, but that’s about it.

What about biotin—does biotin really help hair grow?
Sorry (again), but there isn’t a definitive answer as to whether biotin is actually beneficial in helping hair loss or hair growth. According dermatologist to Vivian Bucay, MD, clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center, if you’re taking a stand-alone biotin supplement, you’d need to take at least 5 milligrams to notice a difference—but even then, there’s no guarantees it’ll do anything.

But REMEMBER *waves red flags*: Just because something is available without a prescription or talked about on your IG feed, doesn’t mean it’s 100 percent safe. “People often over-supplement with biotin for their hair, skin, or nails, and that excess biotin can actually affect major medical tests, like an ECG—a test that looks at your heart,” says dermatologist Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, founder of Entiere Dermatology and clinical instructor at NYU Langone.

Basically, unless you yourself are a doctor (which, hi, why you here?!), talk things over with an actual MD before trying any supplement.

What are the best hair growth pills?
Okay, so you’ve gotten the green light from your doctor, you’ve gotten your blood tests, you’ve made a deal with your god, and you’re ready to try some hair supplements. Cool. Do not go overboard. Doubling up on supplements can be incredibly dangerous over time—some vitamins get peed out by your system, but others can build up to toxic levels—so only test one supplement at a time, and make sure whatever you ingest is a reputable, well-reviewed formula, like one of these best-selling pills.

And most important, don’t get your hopes up—not everything you see or read on social media is real, even if the hair looks really, really, ridiculously good.

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