I knew hair wellness supplements were having a major moment when my 70-year-old father texted me to ask my thoughts on Nutrafol. After an uptick in hair loss caused by COVID-19 stress, more and more people want to figure out how to get their hair back to looking its best—which explains why ads for "miracle-working" ingestibles may be clogging your social feeds of late. But according to Jessica Cho, MD, an integrative medicine doctor and hair restoration specialist, if you need to regrow hair from the follicle, pills, powders, and gummies aren't going to cut it.
"Hair vitamins are going to address the hair shaft problems like the hair texture, brittleness, and dryness—they can actually make the hair enriched and shinier," says Dr. Cho. But if you're experiencing hair loss at the follicle and need to restart growth, a supplement won't help.
- Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, board-certified dermatologic surgeon based in New York City
- Jessica Cho, MD, Los Angeles-based internal medicine physician
- Mona Gohara, MD, board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale University
- Rita Linkner, MD, board-certified dermatologist
- Sharleen St. Surin-Lord, MD, board-certified dermatologist and hair specialist at Visage Dermatology
"When I talk about hair loss, I'm talking about how we can make more hair follicles regenerate to give you more hair on your head," says Dr. Cho. "To do that, we need to actually go more to the root of the problem and find out why you lost the hair rather than the hair just being dry or brittle. They are two different issues that come from two different reasons."
The one time supplements can aid in promoting growth is when shedding and thinning are related to a nutritional deficiency. “Deficiencies in iron, zinc, and biotin, to name a few, have been associated with hair loss,” Maria Marlowe, an NYC-based integrative nutrition health coach, previously told Well+Good. “The good news is hair loss related to nutrient deficiencies generally isn’t permanent and can be rectified by adding in the nutrient.” So if you're lacking in one of these vitamins, adding it into your routine via a supplement may help.
If you're dealing with alopecia, which is a big umbrella term for hair loss that can range from excessive shedding to bald patches, you're going want to look at topical, minoxidil-based solutions, like Rogaine, or in-office treatments that you can get from a board-certified dermatologist or hair restoration doctor. But if you're simply looking to improve the health of the hair that's currently on your head, hair wellness supplements are the perfect approach. "When people are using collagen and peptides and Nutrafol and hair vitamins and all that conditioning, it is more for your hair shaft of existing hairs," says Dr. Cho.
Hair wellness supplements use ingredients like biotin, collagen, omega fatty acids, and more to strengthen hair to prevent breakage, nourish the scalp to promote healthy growth, and moisturize from the inside out to promote shiny hair. Shop some of our favorite hair wellness supplements and vitamins below—just know that their powers are likely limited to enhancing the hair you've already got.
Available in separate formulas for women and men, Nutrafol works by giving your hair the nutrients it needs to thrive while also blocking DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, a hormone that can shorten the hair’s growth cycle and shrink its follicle.
“Nutrafol is a great hair supplement with just the right amount of biotin to avoid acne along with turmeric, ashwagandha, and saw palmetto,” says Rita Linkner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. Saw palmetto is thought to be a natural DHT blocker.
Nioxin has 16 essential nutrients, including biotin, zinc, iron, and vitamins A, B, and C that work to lengthen and strengthen your hair. “The hair is made up of protein; and we need fats, vitamin B, vitamin A, and iron to support growth and strength,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC.
This supplement “works by targeting the root causes of an unhealthy scalp and weak, unhealthy hair, which ultimately results in an optimal environment for healthy hair,” says Charles Rosier, the brand’s CEO and co-founder. It uses fenugreek seed extract and moringa-derived amino acids to clear cellular waste from the follicle; vitamin K to regulate calcium buildup in your scalp; and millet extract, which increases the blood supply to hair follicles.
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is an ingredient turned to time to time again for hair growth. And luckily, it does actually work. “There is some soft science that says things like biotin does help, says Mona Gohara, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New Haven, Connecticut. This gummy also includes vitamins B5, 6, 9 (AKA folic acid), and 12. Dr. Gohara says vitamin B complexes support hair health by stimulating keratin production in hair, as well as increasing follicle growth.
Support healthy hair growth along with healthy skin and nails with this blend from Naturalicious. It includes biotin and folic acid as well as vitamins A, C, and E which all support healthy growth. These gummies also contain collagen which provides amino acids needed to keep hair strong. “Amino acids are super important because they’re the building blocks of protein,” says You need amino acids to come together and make proteins you need protein for healthy hair growth.”
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