Biotin is the beauty industry’s hottest commodity. The vitamin promises to support your metabolism, improve skin and nail health, all while strengthening and lengthening your hair. But is this miracle product too good to be true?
As it turns out, that depends on your definition of a miracle. Let’s dive into the science surrounding biotin and discuss exactly what it can (and can’t) do for your locks.
What Is Biotin?
Biotin, also known as B7, is a water-soluble B complex vitamin. Many foods naturally contain biotin. This includes meat, fish, eggs, seeds, nuts, sweet potatoes, and green, leafy vegetables.
Biotin’s main role is to aid in forming fatty acids and glucose, which the body then uses as fuel. In addition, it assists in the metabolism of amino acids and carbs.
A true biotin deficiency is rare, given how many common foods contain the nutrient. Moreover, the body doesn’t need excessive amounts of biotin to survive. According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended dose for adults is from 30 to 100 mg of biotin per day.
Still, biotin deficiencies do occur. The symptoms include skin rash, hair loss, high cholesterol, and heart problems. Certain individuals are more susceptible to deficiencies. Risk factors include malnourishment, pregnancy, alcohol dependency, and certain medications.
Despite the rarity of deficiencies, many individuals take up to 1,000 mg of biotin a day with one goal in mind: to have longer hair.
Biotin’s Role In Hair Growth
To understand biotin’s role in hair growth, one must look much deeper than the root. Biotin is a required cofactor for protein production—namely, keratin. While keratin is another beauty buzzword, it’s not a nutrient like biotin. Keratin is the fibrous protein of hair and nails.
Keratin is also the main ingredient in keratin hair treatments. These treatments straighten and add shine to hair, making them a favorite among celebs.
In theory, increasing biotin intake will increase keratin. Additional keratin thickens the hair shaft, making hair appear fuller. Keratin also softens and smooths rough, dry split ends.
So, it’s no surprise that hundreds of products now contain biotin. But beauty products offering empty promises is nothing new. Is all the buzz around biotin worth it?
Choosing The Right Brand
Ultimately, that depends on several factors. To begin, it’s important to find hair care brands that don’t use harsh sulfates, parabens, or other chemicals.
While this usually means paying an arm and a leg, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Drugstore brand Hask is affordable and contains no harsh additives.
Hask’s shampoo and conditioner set is infused with a biotin boost that “transforms fine, flat strands.” The set features a clean eucalyptus scent that lasts all day.
If you’re willing to invest a few extra dollars, then Briogeo’s Blossom & Bloom is a great choice. Like Hask, Briogeo’s shampoo contains biotin and other B vitamins to promote strong, healthy hair.
Briogeo’s shampoo also uses maltodextrin, a natural sugar starch, to thicken and separate hair strands to create more volume. This product is safe to use on all hair types, including color-treated hair.
Biotin is a favorite ingredient for leave-in conditioners, too. Redken’s Extreme Length treatment uses a biotin and soy combo that reduces the appearance of split ends after one use.
Anecdotal evidence proves that biotin products improve the appearance and feel of hair. But is it making hair grow?
Does It Make It Grow? Yes And No
If we’re going off of user experience, then yes. If we’re going off scientific data, then no.
“For something to be ‘proven,’ you need to have controlled clinical testing done where one-half of the subjects receive biotin, and the other half doesn’t,” dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross told Allure.
Researchers haven’t collected enough data to prove biotin’s efficacy either way. The vitamin’s superficial results of smoother hair can be misleading, too.
While biotin products provide volume and texture, “they will not grow new hairs,” explained hair surgeon Dr. Gary Linkov to MarthaStewart.com. In fact, biotin “doesn’t affect the hair at a follicular level at all.”
To truly combat hair loss, it’s important to look at potential causation. “You could have hypothyroidism, lupus, iron, zinc, or vitamin D deficiency,” Nancy Samolitis told Allure. Smoking or eating too few calories can also cause hair loss.
Biotin allows hair to keep doing its thing—naturally. Hair shafts are less likely to break by sealing and smoothing split ends. Preventing breakage is a major key in growing out long locks.
And since biotin makes the hair appear thicker, you’re less likely to use styling tools to boost your ‘do. Less heat and teasing mean less breakage and longer hair.
So, no, biotin won’t add a few extra inches to your locks overnight. But it will make the length you have look and feel better.
Biotin might not be a miracle product, but it’s certainly the next best thing.