Supplements for Hair Growth: What Works, What Doesn’t

Maybe your hair has always been on the thin side. Or maybe it’s lost its fullness as you’ve gotten older. (Yes, hair ages, too. Sigh.) Either way, there’s only so much that backcombing and volumizers can do. More and more, women are turning to hair supplements to give their roots a boost from the inside. Some experts recommend certain vitamins and targeted oral treatments supported by promising research and positive real-world results.

Can you really get gorgeous hair by popping a pill? We looked at five popular options to see what works and what may leave you—and your hair—flat.


This Scandinavian supplement contains silica (horsetail plant extract), vitamin C and a fish protein, and is one of the only ones that Doris Day, M.D., a celebrity dermatologist in New York City, recommends to her patients. “I’ve observed it help with hair thickness and regrowth, especially around the temple area,” she says. You take it twice a day for the first three months and then once a day after that.

David Babaii, a celebrity hair stylist, is a fan of the product, too, and often recommends it to his high-profile clients. He first noticed that it worked after seeing promising results on a client. “Within a month, I noticed growth of new hair and after six months, her hair was even thicker than before she started taking it,” says Babaii, who started taking the supplements himself after a major surgery caused his hair to thin out.


Some research suggests that biotin (part of the B complex vitamins) may improve brittle nails and thinning hair. Many experts recommend a biotin supplement for hair health because it’s water-soluble (meaning your body excretes what it doesn’t need) and doesn’t have any side effects. In other words: Why not? “I have some very happy patients taking biotin right now,” says Day. “Even though the data is mixed, there’s at least enough to support trying it out.”


Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin is important for a number of body functions (like aiding in calcium absorption), but experts are exploring the role it may play in hair health as well. “The vitamin D receptor helps regulate your hair cycle,” says Paradi Mirmirani, M.D., a dermatologist at the Permanente Medical Group in Vallejo, California, who recommends a supplement to her patients if their levels are low. (Your doc can give you a quick blood test to assess.) Experts aren’t sure exactly how the level of vitamin D in your body directly influences your hair growth, but many still think it’s a good idea to take vitamin D to ensure that your body has what it needs to sprout healthy, strong strands. “It’s very hard to get enough vitamin D through natural exposure if you apply sunscreen daily, so I often suggest a supplement just to be safe,” Day agrees.

Saw Palmetto Extract

This herbal remedy is processed from fruit of the American dwarf pine tree and may have some benefit for your hair, says Mirmirani. A small study found that 60 percent of patients who took a saw palmetto extract supplement said that their hair growth improved compared to just 10 percent of people taking a placebo.

Vitamin A

This antioxidant is often used in general hair, skin and nail supplement formulas because it is involved in skin regeneration, and is included in multivitamins for its benefits to vision and immunity. While it’s important to get enough vitamin A, too much can be dangerous. It is fat-soluble, which means that whatever your body doesn’t use each day builds up in your tissues. Going over the recommended daily intake can be harmful to your liver, cause fatigue and nausea as well as—ironically—hair loss. Make sure you read your vitamin labels and avoid taking multiple doses so you don’t overdo it.At the end of the day, no supplement can beat getting what you need the natural way. “Eating a healthy diet filled with wholesome foods is your best bet for gorgeous hair,” says Katherine Brooking, R.D., co-founder of

“Certain vitamins, like B6, B12 and folate, help with the creation of red blood cells, which in turn carry oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells and can help the scalp and growing hair,” she says. Iron (from lean beef, turkey, chicken, pork, shrimp, egg yolks and beans) helps those red blood cells do their job.You can get your B12 from shellfish, salmon, and low-fat and fat-free dairy. Whole grains, lean protein, beans, nuts, lentils and leafy greens are great sources of vitamin B6. For folate, go for lentils, soybeans and many leafy greens. And don’t forget to eat enough protein. This macronutrient is important for cell growth and also provides structure for the hair.

Just remember: You can’t replace a bad diet with supplements. So it’s better to use a combo approach. Focus on improving your diet and talk to your doctor or dermatologist about vitamins and supplements that may be right for you.

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  • Vanessa Stim

    Nice article. You hit on a lot of the stuff my trichologist said. He doesnt recommend most vitamins including viviscal because of all the artifical stuff in it. He has me just drinking a lot of water and taking a more natural thing. So far it’s really helping. My nails are growing like crazy.

    • Cinnamon Girl

      lt really depends on your personal ‘state of health’ and your age. Some of us take meds for, eg, chronic disorders/deseases, battle with hormones, or have a diet that isn’t various enough, to having a one-sided one..

    • Alisa

      Can you please tell what your dr has you taking? Thanks

  • LIza Fernandez

    Please help. My hair has always been my
    pride and fucking joy. I figured since it is pretty damn healthy, it could deal
    with some bleach damage. And I figured the master stylist who did all the
    color-corrections would know how much would be too much. I was wrong, and now I
    want to burst into tears every time I look at my hair or touch it. I just don’t
    know what to do. my hair has also NEVER been shorter than this and it breaks
    and falls out. What should i do to regrow hair?

    • YouBeauty

      Hi Liza! That sounds horrible, you poor girl.

      First off, make sure you aren’t washing your damaged hair every day, at most 2 times a week. We also would recommend some kind of deep conditioner (we like Morroccanoil Restorative Hair Mask, link below). Apply to towel-dried hair and leave in for 10 minutes.

      Also, watch out for heat treatments. A flat iron might be too strong. Instead, try using a blow dryer on low heat.

      Finish off with a wet detangling brush (a regular brush will damage the hair further) and maybe try some leave-in conditioner (again, a link to our recommendation is below).

      Please let us know if this helps! We love hearing from our readers what works and what doesn’t. You can email us anytime at

      • Cinnamon Girl

        l never comb/brush my hair when it’s still wet, l give it a good brush before shampooing, detangle with fingers during conditioning, use a cool(!) dryer or leave to dry naturally..

    • Cinnamon Girl

      oO “Regrow your hair”? 🙂 Don’t worry, that part takes care of itself. Hair, like nails, is dead matter, the longer it is, the older, and needs additional care, especially if it’s treated (like most female manes). A household remedy which isn’t just good but very affordable too, is a weekly (twice weekly when extremely damaged) mask of warm olive oil, with or without adding a yoke (make sure the oil isn’t too warm, or you get scrambled egg), cover with clingfilm and a warm towel, leave in for half an hour and shampoo>condition>leave-in conditioner spray or hair-end serum. Since your hair is already short, you could consider a keratine treatment, but you better go to an experienced salon for a serious Q&A session. Other than that you’ll just have to bite the bullet and wait for your hair to grow out, and take gentle care of your scalp, oil masks, soft (alcohol and paraben free) shampoo, conditioners. Imo so called “high-end” brands aren’t per se better, just cost a lot more, it’s not so much about what’s in a hair-cleaning/treating product, but what is not; oils and moisterizers are esential, and l would go as ‘natural’ as possible, Palmers is very good.
      Next year you’ll be laughing again! 😉

    • Lucia

      Hi Liza, just wanted to say I have had the same problem….I used to bleach my hair with drugstore bleach kits and on occasion if I could afford it, get it done at a salon. The bleach literally killed my hair in the end and decided to put a dark, oil based dye on it and just leave it to grow out as my natural colour is dark anyway. I had some hair extensions put in until it started to grow a bit longer then a few months ago finally had them taken out. My hair had grown a bit longer and I started using treatments to Give it a bit more moisture and thickness. Raw organic coconut oil (vita coco) warmed in palms and massaged into scalp for at least ten minutes then wash off after an hour..or longer if you like. Daily scalp massages will help as it increases blood flow to hair follicles. Also viviscal I have found works very well and noticed results after about 2/3 months of use.these are pricey but worth it. Use a leave in conditioner after shampooing and conditioning , Loreal full restore leave in concentrate & john frieda frizz ease miracle daily conditioning spray with added vitamins are 2 of my faves. And lastly, avoid using straightening irons. A blow dry might take longer but will be kinder for your hair. It took 4 years for my hair to start getting back to normal but one thing I will never use again is bleach.

  • Maha

    Hi , im really confused and i cannot trust all those who produce hair supplements everyone said im the best , i know the nature is the best but for me i need some help of that supplements , so i want your help , what is the best and trusted hair supplements ❤️ . Thanks

    • Cinnamon Girl

      l usually have a look at the ingredients of the ‘best sellers’, look the up the content for defenitions and purpose, and then go looking for the same main ingredients in a normal(!) price range of supplementaries brand, ones you don’t just pay extra for their costly advertising and trendy name. lt’ll save you a lot of money, which can be spent on treating yourself to a day of wellness at the spa, or reatail-therapy, or…. (or save up for the holidays/vacation).

  • happy

    i have very thin hair.. and in the last month i had so much hair damage due to hair color might be that the volume of my hair have reduced to one third of its original and every time i comb my hair they fall too much.
    i consulted a specialist but that doesnt seem to help me either.
    Kindly tell how to regrow or what to do to get back some normal hair as i cant even make a pony tail properly. 🙁

    • Caroline Anne Catmur

      hi ive been using biotin tablets 1 per day of 10000mcg. I’ve been using for about 5 months now ..
      my hair was thinking frizzy and dry and when I combed in the morning I had so much hair in the sink from breakage. I honestly swear by this my hair growth per month is a good 2cm it’s shiny strong and I hardly have any split damaged ends it’s also thickened up a bit . it’s the growth and shine I can’t get over….give it a try. they’re cheap to buy too. I do use heat spray and a smoothing serum as straighten every day but before my hair just wouldn’t grow at all … does now.

      • happy

        hi caroline.
        thanks for your suggestion.. i will try and lets see if it works. 🙂

  • Lynn Colyer

    I had a serious problem with my hair because of bleaching, straightening and repeated pregnancy. I once stumbled upon a natural remedy that made my hair grow again and became so healthy and long. Also I followed its nutrition program and tips. Those things made very good results and treated my hair.

    • Amanda Archer

      What did you try?

  • betty boop

    Beware-reviews for Viviscal on various sites state it causes oily skin and acne on the face and back.

    • Appollonia

      I Noticed since I started taking this my face has broke out extremely bad and I can’t take this so I will be going for a refund not good for me

  • Cristina Sulzener

    I have struggled with my hair for a long time now. I am quickly approaching my 30s and I have bad hair quality. Recently, I have also noticed that my hair has stopped growing as it used to. A few years ago I went to the salon on a monthly basis. Now, it takes me almost two months before I even need to cut my hair! I am desperate and I really need help right now. Hair is one of the most important parts of a woman and I don’t want to give up on this one. I went to the doctors but they didn’t found anything wrong with me. The exams I took showed that I am healthy and there’s no reason for this to even happen to me. Please, I really need hair advice urgently!!!!!!!!!!!!