Maybe your recent dramatic chop was a little shorter than you had envisioned, or perhaps you're hoping to give your naturally thin hair a volume boost. While smart lifestyle strategies can help keep your hair in top shape so it's less prone to breakage (think: eating a healthy diet, not over-washing, applying a heat protectant before using hot tools, and keeping strands moisturized with a hair growth serum), you may want to invest in a hair growth vitamin or supplement that will give your mane a little extra oomph.
Vitamins for hair growth "can help provide the hair follicles with the necessary building blocks for healthy activity," says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "This means that hair follicles can function to the best of their ability."
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And believe it or not, hair growth pills can make a noticeable difference, experts say. Hair contains some of the fastest-dividing cells in the body, but they are non-essential for living, explains dermatologist Lamees Hamdan, MD, founder and CEO of Shiffa. As a result, "what usually happens is that hair cells are the last to get nutrition," she adds.
Another benefit? Hair vitamins can make hair healthier and stronger in addition to longer. "There will be an increase in hair production, yes, but more importantly, there will be an increase in hair quality," says Julie Russak, MD, dermatologist and founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic in New York City. "You can have a lot of hair, but if it's thin and brittle, what good does that do?"
In other words, while hair growth vitamins are no substitute for a healthy diet, they may help ensure that your strands are getting everything they need to look their best.
The 7 best vitamins for hair growth
- Best Thinning Hair: Nutrafol Capsules for Hair Growth
- Best Nourishing: Viviscal Hair Growth Supplements for Women
- Best Powder: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder
- Best for Fast Results: Ouai Hair Supplement for Thinning Hair
- Best Budget: Sports Research Biotin with Coconut Oil
- Best Gummy: Nature's Bounty Advanced Hair Gummies
- Best Prenatal: Pink Stork Total Prenatal Vitamin
What vitamins are good for hair?
Experts say that over-the-counter vitamins for hair growth and thickness often contain B complex vitamins, iron, protein, and vitamin D. "We know that low levels of these vitamins are associated with hair thinning," Dr. Zeichner tells Health.
If you have already experienced hair loss, Amy Lee, MD, doctor of internal medicine and head of nutrition for Nuciific, recommends B12 vitamins because they help "produce new hair cells and promote growth."
As with any supplement, you should be mindful of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of each ingredient. This is especially important if you're taking vitamins that contain iron or vitamin A, both of which can trigger adverse side effects if taken in excess. When in doubt, the National Institutes of Health has a handy guide for dietary supplements.
How long does it take hair growth vitamins to work?
Hair vitamins can live up to their claims to give you long, lush locks, but you shouldn't expect overnight results. "As we all know, it takes time to grow hair," says Lilly-Rose Paraskevas, MD, director of Rose Dermatology in New York City.
Dr. Hamdan tells us that if you're consistently taking a hair growth vitamin (and don't have any underlying hormonal or medical issues) you should notice that you're losing less hair within two months. By month six, "you should be able to feel your hair becoming thicker," she adds.
Here, dermatologists share the seven best hair vitamins on the market that will help you achieve longer, thicker strands.
Nearly every dermatologist we polled cited Nutrafol supplements as a winning choice for hair growth. New York City dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, raves about the ingredient list of these hair growth pills, which boasts a slew of beneficial vitamins and antioxidants like vitamin A, biotin, keratin, resveratrol, and biologically active compounds derived from food and botanicals. "The special blend of all these ingredients make this a very good product," she says. "It has components that many other hair growth supplements do not have."
More than 4,000 shoppers left the supplements a five-star rating on Amazon, with many raving over the effectiveness of the formula. One person said: "I bought this for my thinning hair. I have used it for 2 months. I was completely caught off guard as I noticed not only new hair growth but a REMARKABLE change in my color coming back! I have 50% less grey using this product. My hair is growing back and coming out brown...NOT GREY."
Best Nourishing: Viviscal Hair Growth Supplements for Women
Dr. Zeichner is a fan of Viviscal, which is clinically proven to nourish hair so it grows thicker and longer. The product is formulated with the brand's signature marine complex, plus vitamin C, horsetail extract, and zinc, which has been shown to improve hair loss (Horsetail extract also gets Dr. Hamdan's vote, since "it's very silica-rich").
Even dubious customers were impressed by the results. "I love this product! I had been losing my hair and thinning due to a thyroid issue..I was hesitant if [this] really works. Three weeks after I started taking it, my hair feels thicker and softer, and it looks fuller," one wrote.
You probably have heard of people who drink collagen for better skin, but the ingredient may also benefit your hair, says Dr. Jaliman. "Some think that eating more collagen may transfer to hair and scalp health," she tells Health. "The more collagen we have, the more youthful our skin will feel and appear, and the healthier our hair will be."
There are many different collagen supplements on the market, but this one from Vital Proteins is rated as the number one best-seller in its category on Amazon.
For those who don't fancy swallowing large pills, this powder is a great option because it's tasteless and will blend nicely into your morning coffee or smoothie. "I struggled all my life with taking large pills, powders and elixirs, basically anything that has a medicinal or bitter taste. I kept hearing about this powdered collagen and decided to do my research ( it took me 3 months), to become an informed participant...decided to give it a try," a reviewer wrote. "Results...joint pain gone! Hair growth one inch in one month, nails are stronger (I like short natural nails), skin—bye bye fine lines and fine wrinkles (the ones you see in the 5x magnifying mirror)."
Best for Fast Results: Ouai Hair Supplement for Thinning Hair
"These supplements have all you need," says Dr. Hamdan. "They contain all the important vitamins and minerals, as well as amino acids and silica." Also good? You just need to take one of these hair growth pills a day, and the packaging is convenient for travel.
One Sephora shopper said they noticed major growth after just 17 days of use. "My hair started thinning when I hit my 21st birthday, and I've always been complimented for my thick long hair so it made me really insecure. Luckily, this product has actually been making a difference," they wrote. "I can see baby hairs growing in some of my bald spots. The length of my hair has grown longer, too."
A great budget-friendly choice, these vegan soft gel supplements are infused with organic coconut oil to prevent hair breakage from the inside out. They also contain 5,000 micrograms of growth-promoting biotin, which was recommended by some of our dermatologists and has been clinically shown to improve hair and nail growth in individuals who have an underlying condition that prevents normal growth.
The $15 product has a whopping 37,000 perfect ratings from Amazon shoppers, many of whom included before and after photos of their hair growth to show that the product lives up to its claims. One user said they were "amazed at how well this worked" after suffering from thinning hair for six months, while another said it "really helps with thin hair" and continued: "I could not believe the difference in my hair. It was thicker and fuller. My hairdresser noticed without [me] saying anything. She is now recommending to all who complain of thin hair."
Best Gummy: Nature's Bounty Advanced Hair Gummies
These dermatologist-approved gummy vitamins contain a myriad of strengthening ingredients, like biotin and vitamins A, C, and E, to stimulate hair cells. "Our cells need vitamin A for growth. [It]helps your glands make something called sebum, which is an oily substance. This keeps your scalp healthy and can help your hair grow if your body is producing enough," explains Dr. Lee.
One user called them the "best vitamin gummies" and said, "Helped my hair grow from the bottom of my ears to the tip of my shoulders in about 4 months." Another person said they've made a "noticeable difference in hair and nail growth," while others called out the "delicious" strawberry flavor and how easy they are to chew.
You likely know that prenatal vitamins help provide the building blocks for optimal growth and function for both mom and baby, but you might not realize that they also could be beneficial to your hair. "Most contain a complement of iron, B complex vitamins, and minerals that support your hair follicles," Dr. Zeichner notes. He recommends prenatal vitamins for hair growth, especially those that contain biotin, a B complex vitamin that's great for hair and nail health. Luckily, Pink Stork Total Prenatal Vitamins are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, B complex vitamins, and biotin to satisfy Dr. Zeichner's criteria.
Amazon shoppers say the supplements are "easier to swallow" than other pre-natal vitamins and don't make them feel sick after. Another customer said: "The prenatal's are high-quality and the only prenatal I've taken where I've felt a difference, like nail and hair growth."
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