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8 supplements for thicker, fuller hair

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Hair supplements for thick hairBlame it on the Disney princesses, the Kardashians, whomever you want—almost every woman wants thicker, fuller hair. And it's often the case that your shampoo and conditioner just don't move the needle.

That's where healthy beauty foods come in, and a spate of healthy supplements—turbo loaded with horsetail and biotin to iodine—aimed at giving you the hair-tossing power you've seen on TV. Just note "hair supplements have not been independently scientifically studied, and results from companies' own studies are dubious," explains cosmetic dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD.

Even so, health coach and Eat Pretty author Jolene Hart has seen improvements in women who've taken hair supplements over six months (the time it takes your hair to grow out). We got her take on eight top-of-the-market hair supplements. And while none will make you go from limp to lush overnight, in time you might just get a little bit closer. —Jamie McKillop

(Photo: Kristine Ullebo)

 
Hair Essentials supplementHair Essentials, $37

Hair Essentials acts almost like a multivitamin for your hair, with a wide range of ingredients from zinc and iodine to Chinese herbs like han lian cao (said to stall premature loss of hair color and graying). "Zinc is necessary to produce carotene in the body, which boosts hair growth," Hart says. "Bamboo and horsetail are sources of silica, which builds hair strength and elasticity. It also has vitamins A and C, which are general beauty vitamins great for repair and renewal. "

(Photo: Natural Wellbeing)

 
Neal's Yard Beauty Boost supplementNeal's Yard Beauty Boost, $28.50

With vitamins A and C, Neal's Yard Beauty Boost is a carefully sourced supplement for skin and nails in addition to hair. "The copper in here is wonderful for producing pigment in your hair, which is important for vibrant color," Hart says. There's also selenium added for hair elasticity, and a pinch hitter—boswellic acid, AKA frankincense, which can strengthen hair roots, she adds.

(Photo: Neal's Yard Remedies)

 
Frank Lipman hair supplementBe Well by Dr. Frank Lipman Hair, Skin, and Nails Formula, $39

Be Well's hair supplement by Dr. Frank Lipman contains a list of B vitamins. Why? "All of the Bs are important for hair growth," Hart explains. "Each contributes in little ways for color or strength or both." It also has a surprising ingredient, green tea extract, "which is probably because caffeine can decrease levels of a hormone that stalls the growth of hair follicles."

(Photo: Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman)

 
Aviva hair supplementsAviva Hair Revitalizer, $50

With vitamin B-5 (or pantothenic acid, where the shampoo Pantene gets its name), plus iron, the Aviva Hair Revitalizer "helps prevent thinning hair," Hart says. Plus, "it has pumpkin seed oil, which is a healthy fat for a healthy scalp." Another ingredient is iodine, which promotes a healthy thyroid function. One of the signs of a deficient thyroid in women is early hair loss, Hart says.

(Photo: Aviva)

 
Nourage hair supplementNourage, $60

Unlike most other hair supplements on the market, Nourage contains hydrolysated keratin, a form of the protein that sounds a lot like the one your body makes for skin, nails, and hair—but this one's made in the lab. (And it may not be vegan.) It has key backup minerals in "silicon, particularly great for hair thickness, and carotene, which is an important protein for hair in your diet, as well as cellulose, which can make your hair stronger," Hart says.

(Photo: Nourage)

 
Youtheory Collagen Hair SupplementYoutheory Collagen Advanced Formula, $20

This collagen-based hair supplement contains vitamin C, which is widely believed to help boost your own collagen production, plus collagens 1 and 3 (not vegan). "Collagen protein, the building blocks of hair and skin, will structurally reinforce your hair," Hart explains. Though the idea of whether your body uses it in the same way is still hotly debated.

(Photo: Youtheory)

 
Country Life Biotin hair supplementCountry Life Biotin, $15

Biotin, or vitamin H, is perhaps the most well-known supplement for hair. "The drawback is, it's not the only B vitamin you need for hair and nails," Hart warns. However, cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Tanzi argues that biotin is one of few ingredients to have scientifically been shown to help hair health. "The reason it helps is not entirely known, but it's speculated that it improves some of the proteins in the hair shaft itself," Dr. Tanzi explains.

(Photo: Country Life)

 
Healthy Hair & NailsMaharishi Ayurveda Healthy Hair and Nails, $39.95

The Ayurvedic apothecary contains herbs and spices used for healing, medicinal, and beautifying purposes for more than 5,000 years. A handful come together in this formula to address stress—such as Eclipta or false daisy (a detoxing liver tonic),  Ashwagandha (an amazing adaptogen like turmeric), and Indian tinospora, a "divine herb" used for all over well-being—which can wreak havoc on your youthfulness, like anyone working 12 hour days knows.

(Photo: Maharishi Ayurveda)

 

15 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. August 4th, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Overall, these are pretty expensive supplements and the article doesn’t tell you how a multi-vitamin is same or different and what’s actually marketing.

  2. August 4th, 2014 at 10:56 am

    My sisters use biotin, I should give it a try.

    I also like how these supplementals help your nails. Mine are SOO weak. Thanks for the recommendations!

  3. August 4th, 2014 at 11:11 am

    i take prenatal pills biotin collagen fish oil and my hair grows like crazy ! you dont have to get the most expensive brands either ! and if you can get ovation hair cell therapy that works great to !

  4. August 4th, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I used to take Hair Essentials, and it actually worked just fabulous! I have thin fine hair and in a couple of months it was a huuuuuge difference. I stopped taking it because it’s actually pretty expensive and I thought I fixed my problem, but well… I have to admit that one has to take it on a regular basis to have constantly full shiny hair. It’s worth it after all as I was taking all popular cheaper supplements but nothing worked.

  5. August 4th, 2014 at 11:30 am

    A lot of women also take a daily multi-vitamin. Does taking a hair supplement along with a daily multi-vitamin increase your chances of toxicity?

  6. August 4th, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Taking supplements is nonsense. Eat a balanced diet. Your hair is mostly controlled by your genes, age and certain health conditions like stress, cancer, etc. You could stop washing your hair every day, that might be more helpful, and using a filter for your shower head if you have hard water.

  7. August 4th, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Sometimes skin, hair, and nails are not as healthy and strong as we would like them to be and are not able to benefit from excellent supplements because we are not able to absorb them. If none of these supplements work, we should investigate why we’re not absorbing nutrients properly; seeing a functional medicine doctor would probably be helpful.

  8. August 4th, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Biotin is available from pharmacies at a fraction of the cost. And anyone taking vitamin or herbal supplements must keep in mind the potential for drug interactions if they are taking any other medications.

  9. August 4th, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    I take a Multi-vitamin with Iron because although I find that eating a balanced diet supplies me with most of my nutritional needs, I am and have been for certain periods of my life, iron deficient. And iron deficiency will affect your hair growth.
    So I wouldn’t say that that supplements are nonsense. I was not getting enough iron and I was eating and drinking Kale and Spinach everyday and abstaining from anything that might block absorption and it was still not enough until I began taking liquid iron supplements.

  10. August 4th, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Would love to see some scientific evidence that any of these supplements work. This is modern snake-oil.

  11. August 7th, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    I know, it’s funny how this article’s author cites the MD saying these supplements are dubious and then promptly disregards this in favor of listening to a “health coach” who wrote a book called “Eat Pretty.”

  12. August 7th, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Also, Indian women have used coconut oil for centuries for thick, black hair; and also they have (until perhaps among the middle class recently) avoided the hair dryer, dying hair, perms, and all the other heat and chemical things that Western women do for decades that take a real toll on the quality of the hair.

  13. September 1st, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    GNC has a hair &nail supplement that are great and cheap! And sales you can get BOGO too…

  14. September 1st, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Coconut oil rubbed into hair gives great shine and should be good for you, as is coconut oil for cooking, for your skin; i also use coconut milk in fruit shakes.

  15. September 26th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I have been taking the NYR Beauty Boost Supplement for six months now. I have a large bald spot on my crown. New hair is growing all over my head including my bald spot! This supplement is worth every penny I have spent on it. I take two capsules a day – 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening. My hair was very thin and is much thicker now. It looks so much better. I am 68 years old. My hair is very shiny now. Try it.

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