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Is Biotin for Hair Growth a Myth?

A woman brushes her hair in the mirror.

We all want luscious locks that we can toss around like a model in a shampoo commercial, but with so many hair growth products on the market, it can be tough to know what actually works. Of course, most people will point to biotin as the solution, but is it?

To get to the bottom of things, LifeSavvy spoke with Dr. Andy Goren,  chief medical officer at Daniel Alain, researcher, and hair loss technology developer, about how biotin affects hair growth, if it really works, and what are some other ways to help hair growth.

What Is Biotin and What Does It Do For the Body?

With people constantly recommending biotin for hair growth, it might be beneficial to actually understand what biotin is. 

According to Goren, biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that is crucial for several bodily functions. Biotin plays a key role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which are all important for providing the body with energy.

Biotin supports the growth and maintenance of healthy skin, hair, and nails… but that doesn’t necessarily mean we need biotin supplements to accomplish this. Whether or not biotin supplements help hair growth depends on a few important factors.

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Does Biotin Help Hair Growth?

A woman examines her scalp.

Biotin supplementation has been touted as a miracle supplement for promoting hair growth, but the evidence for its effectiveness is mixed.

Yes, biotin is an important nutrient for the health of the hair and scalp, but there is limited scientific evidence to support the claim that adding more biotin to your system via supplementation can promote hair growth in individuals who are not already deficient in the vitamin.

According to Goren, biotin is important in growing healthy, happy hair. But there’s a caveat.

“However, biotin supplementation has not been demonstrated to improve hair growth in people that are not biotin deficient,” Goren says.

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Why is that? Most of us get plenty of biotin from our normal, everyday diets. Plus, when you consume excess biotin, since it’s water-soluble, your body gets rid of any excess via water waste. Essentially, you can’t absorb any extra even if you wanted to do so.

For anyone facing a biotin deficiency, though, biotin supplements may be beneficial for promoting hair growth according to Goren. But remember, this is usually for people specifically dealing with biotin deficiency or conditions that affect biotin absorption, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease.

Does Biotin Have Side Effects?

For those who are biotin deficient and might require supplementation, biotin is generally safe when taken in recommended doses. According to Goren, adults can take up to 30 micrograms per day.

High doses of biotin, however, can lead to a number of potential side effects.

Acne is one of the most common side effects of biotin supplementation. Biotin can increase the production of sebum, which is the oily substance that can clog pores and lead to breakouts. While anyone can experience breakouts, this side effect is more common in individuals who are already prone to acne.

Goren explained that skin rashes and potential interference with other medications such as antibiotics are also possible side effects of consuming too much biotin. Some individuals may also be sensitive or allergic to biotin, which can cause a rash or hives to develop on the skin.

Of course, before introducing any supplement into your routine, talk to your doctor, and if you experience any skin reactions after taking biotin supplements, call them immediately.

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What Are Other Ways to Help Hair Growth?

A woman brushes the ends of her hair.

While biotin supplementation may play a role in promoting healthy hair growth for those who are deficient, there are a variety of other factors that can also influence the health and growth of your hair.

Your diet is a great place to start. Eating foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals is important for overall health, including the health of the hair. Foods that are particularly beneficial for hair growth include those that are high in protein, iron, and vitamin C.

You should also consider how you use heat tools on your hair, particularly your styling tools. Hair dryers, straighteners, and curling irons can take a serious toll on your hair. Limiting the use of these tools or significantly lowering the can help to protect your hair.

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When wanting to grow healthy hair, you should also pay attention to your stress levels. The National Institute of Health says long-term stress can take a toll on the body in a variety of ways, including the health and growth of hair. Finding ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, meditation, or deep breathing, can help.

Ensuring you use good, quality products on your scalp and hair that work for your personal needs is also vital. If you’re dealing with hair loss and are concerned it may have something to do with your hair products, working with experts like Goren can help.

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While biotin is a beneficial nutrient for promoting healthy hair, most of us already get enough via our diets. Even in those with a biotin deficiency, the jury is still out on if supplementation actually promotes hair growth. There are so many factors that influence the health of your hair so be sure you look at the full picture when growing out your gorgeous locks.

Abbey Ryan Abbey Ryan
Abbey Ryan is a storyteller, preferably of stories in written form. Across the 5 years of her professional writing career, her work has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, Amazon, The Medical News Today, and more. When she's not writing (which is rare), she's likely traveling, painting, or on the hunt for a good snack. Read Full Bio »
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