Why biotin isn't always the best vitamin for hair growth (and what to try instead), according to experts

Here’s what you need to know.

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When you've tried trims, masks, or scalp-stimulating products and your hair simply doesn't seem to want to grow, the best hair vitamins for faster hair growth can help to nourish strands from the inside out. Still, it's important that you choose one that's well-suited to your needs and contains high-quality ingredients. That's why I got in touch with two experts for more guidance: Andrea Paul, M.D., a medical advisor to the brand Illuminate Labs, and Kasey Nichols, N.M.D., a licensed naturopathic doctor and medical contributor to RaveReviews.org.

"Vitamin and mineral intake affects biological processes like hair follicle growth and shedding," Dr. Paul writes in an email to Mic. "For people with a documented vitamin deficiency, fixing the deficiency through supplementation may normalize processes like the hair follicle cycle."

It's worth noting that over-the-counter supplements are not interchangeable with a prescription medication you might get from your doctor for the same concern, and what works for one person may produce no results for another. For example, you may have noticed that many hair growth products are loaded with biotin (also known as vitamin B7), but according to Dr. Nichols, it's likely not the most effective ingredient for most people. "Unfortunately, many studies have shown that biotin is not that useful in hair growth in most kinds of hair loss [...] For the most part, biotin is only beneficial for increasing hair growth in those with a biotin deficiency (which is rare)." Instead, it's best to look for a supplement that features a wide variety of active ingredients and, ideally, is backed by clinical testing.

"When it comes to finding a hair growth supplement that will be effective for you, it’s important to remember that the right supplements will be dependent on the underlying cause of your hair loss," Dr. Nichols says. "If you are deficient in certain nutrients such as iron, zinc, or omega fatty acids, supplementing to restore your nutrient levels is essential. If your hair loss is hormone related, you have to address the hormone imbalances to get the hair growth [you're] looking to achieve."

For this reason, it's always important to talk with your own doctor before taking a new supplement. With all of that in mind, read on for more guidance from the experts along with four of the best vitamins for hair.

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The basic one

  • Vitamins per bottle: 60
  • Vitamins per serving: 2

Dr. Nichols specifically notes several ingredients that are effective for hair growth: Vitamin C is "essential in the formation of collagen and other proteins;" B vitamins are necessary "for many cellular processes in the body, including cell division and reproduction" and niacin, also known as vitamin B3, can help to prevent a "deficiency [that's] known to cause a condition called pellagra, which includes hair loss." There's also zinc (which "is shown to positively impact hair growth") and bamboo (which is "rich in silica and other minerals. Silica is one of the structural components of hair and is responsible for hair’s integrity").

Naturenetics HairAnew contains all of the aforementioned — for just $30 a bottle. It's also sugar-free and vegan. Plus, it undergoes testing by six independent laboratories before it gets to Amazon. Currently, it has a 4.3-star overall rating on the site and more than 10,000 reviews.

One reviewer wrote: "I've had thinning spots at my temples that wouldn't grow back for the longest, and my hair has been in a short cut for about five years now. I'm just starting to try to grow it out, and with the help of Naturenetics, it's been growing at a good rate. The thin spots have filled in completely, and my hair has grown between one to two inches since I've started using the supplements. I'm on the beginning of my second bottle now, my hair is growing in healthy and much stronger; I experience much less shedding."


The one that’s customized to you

  • Vitamins per bottle: 30
  • Vitamins per serving: 1

If you’re unsure of where to start, opting for a subscription that comes with your own dermatologist consultation can be a great way to go. That’s where Happy Head comes in. You fill out a questionnaire about your specific history and needs, and they’ll connect you with a dermatologist for a consultation. They also produce your vitamins (or topical treatment) so that the active ingredients can be customized to your needs. Their oral SuperCapsule™ vitamin is a once-daily pill that is formulated with with vitamin D3, dutasteride, and minoxidil to powerfully treat hair loss. They even offer ongoing support should you want it from doctors, and discreet packaging delivered to your door every month.


The one for hormonal imbalances & scalp health

  • Vitamins per bottle: 60
  • Vitamins per serving: 2

If you're looking to address underlying factors like hormonal imbalances or scalp health, Dr. Nichols recommends Keranique's KeraViatin: "The omega mix and curcumin are anti-inflammatory, and omega fatty acids support cellular membranes that are needed for oil production. This option also includes saw palmetto, which benefits hormone balance." The formula also features keratin, bamboo, and amino acids, which Dr. Nichols refers to as the "building blocks of hair."

This supplement skips the GMOs and synthetic additives and instead focuses on sustainably sourced, clinically tested ingredients. Each soft-gel also contains a naturally derived enhancer that helps your body more effectively absorb the nutrients.

One reviewer wrote: "I love this product! I’m in my third month taking this supplement, and I have seen so many changes in my hair. It’s growing so fast, and much thicker.


The one that's specifically designed for men

  • Vitamins per bottle: 120
  • Vitamins per serving: 4

This Nutrafol formula is a hair-growth supplement developed with men in mind to target loss and thinning. It was formulated by physicians with the aim to encourage growth holistically to boost strength, shine, texture, and density simultaneously. It even won an accolade in Esquire's Grooming Awards in 2018.

This one is another direct recommendation from Dr. Nichols for it's inclusion of key hair healthy minerals and vitamins like zinc and vitamins A, C, and E. "There is also collagen, keratin, L-cystine, as well as herbs including curcumin and resveratrol which are wonderful antioxidants/anti-inflammatory ingredients," Dr. Nichols say. "Plus, this supplement includes saw palmetto to address hormone causes of hair loss."

One reviewer wrote: "I’ve definitely noticed change in hair that falls out, this is month 4 for me and I love this product. Yea it’s expensive and you don’t notice much at first. If you stick with it you’ll notice thicker hair that doesn’t fall out and I feel less oily all together for some reason.”

Studies referenced:

Castelo-Soccio, L., Patel, D. P., Swink, S. M. (2017) A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair Loss. Skin Appendage Discord, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/


Andrea Paul, M.D., medical advisor to Illuminate Labs

Kasey Nichols, N.M.D, licensed naturopathic doctor and RaveReviews.org writer