Ask The Expert
Do hair vitamins actually work?
This article is by Devri Velazquez, Naturally Curly’s content editor. Follow Devri on IG @devrivelazquez!
While I am a self-proclaimed anti hype beast, admittedly, I have found myself succumbing to the pressures of jumping on a bandwagon or two when it comes to hair growth.
Enter: the beauty vitamin craze.
Time and time again, the whole thing has betrayed me. And yet, for years I was on the search for a vitamin that would promise me hair that appears and feels even thicker and longer than my own homegrown coif. Then I realized what the real problem was.
Two years ago, the biotin hype took the spotlight in the world of natural hair and health, so I hopped on board. Every day for three months I took 10,000 mcg and recorded the experience in a journal. The past two months, I’ve been gobbling two delicious cotton candy-flavored hair gummy vitamins every night before bed. Nearing the end of my bottle, I decided to compare notes and figure out if another order would be necessary. There were some striking similarities in the two.
Since I don’t have a vitamin deficiency, most medical professionals would likely recommend against me adding a hair vitamin to my normal diet. I do have an autoimmune disease, but it is unrelated, as it does not affect my nutrient retention. The food and water I consume daily are meant to naturally supplement a well-balanced diet that will show longer, stronger, and thicker hair on their own. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate gummy supplements, leaving the window for package label deception wide open and up for interpretation.
The gummies I have been taking are marked ‘vegetarian’, meaning they should be free of animal-byproduct like gelatin.
Despite a step up from chewing a regular gelatin-filled gummy, there still tends to be a plethora of ingredients that end up causing more harm than good as far as health is concerned.
Glucose syrup and sugar can, over time, cause tooth decay. Biotin has been trademarked in the beauty world as the miracle worker for thicker, longer hair. However, little research actually proves this to be true. For me, taking my gummy vitamin before bedtime probably hasn’t been the smartest idea if a good night’s sleep is the goal. The crazy amounts of sugar essentially feel like a jolt of caffeine has entered my bloodstream, causing my heart to race and my mind to stay awake for hours on end.
According to MD-Health, someone without a biotin deficiency who consumes a beauty supplement daily on top of a regular balanced diet can lead to major hormonal imbalances that result in acne and excessive body hair. Some people realize that they have allergies, as well—I get heat rashes on my chest, pimples on my usually clear skin, and a left eyelid that has been puffy for a month.
Folic acid is a B-vitamin that is not naturally occurring, despite popular belief. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, folic acid is also linked to cancer. With long-term use, most beauty vitamin consumers feel uncontrollable mood swings or perhaps a change in sex drive. Recently, I have experienced many changes in mood that were difficult to understand.
Pantothenic acid—also known as vitamin B5—has been said to cause an increased risk for nerve pain, premenstrual cramps, and mental stress. As mentioned before, a person shouldn’t have to worry about receiving enough of this ingredient due to it literally being everywhere in foods. The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine says that the first adverse side effect of excessive pantothenic acid intake is diarrhea. When I am always on the go and have things to do in my day, I don’t have time for the frequent bathroom stops.
As far as my hair was concerned, I noticed no difference whatsoever with either beauty vitamin trial, then and now.
My head of hair is naturally coarse and each strand is thick. I have tight curls that, when pull taut, reach just below my collarbone. After sixty days, its appearance and feeling remains unchanged. The only results are ones I am desperately and patiently waiting to give back: face and chest acne, heat rashes, puffy eyelids, stress and anxiety.