5 Women Tried A Controversial Hair Supplement — Here's What Happened

Photo: Courtesy of NaturallyCurly.
Many hair products promise longer, thicker strands, but the fact is, anything applied topically can only create the appearance of a thicker mane. If you want to actually get more volume, you have to make changes from the inside out. 

We often overlook diet and health when it comes to our beauty regimens, but they play a huge role in the look and feel of our hair and skin. One symptom of having a (very rare) biotin deficiency might be thinning hair (or hair loss), so taking biotin in that case might correct that. But, for the average person who isn't deficient, taking extra biotin probably won't do very much. 

Although, so far, there has only been weak scientific evidence to connect vitamin H, commonly known as biotin, with improvements in hair, skin, and nails, many women are declaring it as a wonder drug, claiming supplement consumption has led to faster hair growth, thicker strands, and stronger nails. In fact, there's evidence that it helps with nail growth, but it's inconclusive as far as hair

Supplements and their claims aren’t regulated by the FDA, but anecdotally biotin has been making the rounds with varying results in our curly community for years. In the NaturallyCurly offices, we’ll try just about anything once (some advice: Banana is very difficult to get out of hair), so our team put biotin to the test, and this is what happened.


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Photo: Courtesy of NaturallyCurly.
Priscilla Sodeke

Which biotin product did you take, and for how long?
"I’ve tried biotin on and off for years. Most recently, I bought it from Walmart and it was just plain, generic-brand biotin. I have also taken Hairfinity (2,500 mcg of biotin) and Hair Essentials (350 mcg of biotin) for less than a month each time."

Why did you decide to start taking biotin?
"My goal with biotin was longer and faster hair growth, length retention, and healthier skin and nails. However, I don't think I used any of them long enough to notice any results in terms of hair growth or skin and nail health, because each time I tried it, I began to break out, which made me stop taking it.

"To be fair, Hairfinity and Hair Essentials also have MSM in them, and I'm almost certain that MSM makes me break out. But, I still had similar results with the plain-biotin supplement. If this sounds like your skin and you’re worried about breakouts, I would recommend you drink lots of water throughout the day while you are taking biotin. In my experience, I would need at least nine cups of water; more when I was active or exercising."

What were your results?
"I don't think I stuck with it long enough to see results."
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Photo: Courtesy of NaturallyCurly.
Clare Szabo

Which biotin product did you take, and for how long?
"I took three tablets of Nature's Bounty Extra Strength Hair, Skin, & Nails per day, about 5,000 mcg of biotin. I've done this off and on for about four years now. Each time I do this, I take it consistently for a few months at a time."

Why did you decide to start taking biotin?
"I started taking biotin after noticing I was losing a lot of hair during washing and styling. I talked with my hairdresser about my concerns that I was thinning and the possible reasons for it. This was during college, and we deduced that it was primarily stress-related. She recommended that I take biotin. My goal was just to strengthen my hair, as well as promote growth."

What were your results?
"After about a month of taking biotin, I noticed a decent amount of new growth — at the crown of my head, specifically. There were a lot of baby hairs popping up. I also noticed that I was losing fewer strands after washing and styling, which was really exciting. It was overall a positive experience with my hair, but not so positive with my skin. I didn't have any major problems with my skin, but going from having fairly clear skin to having a few pimples pop up here and there was unwanted.

"Although I may have broken out a little more than usual, it wasn’t enough to deter me from continuing to take it. My hair was becoming stronger and fuller, which was the goal. I didn't notice a real difference with my nails."

How long did it take for you to see results?
"It took me about two to three months to really notice a difference, especially with the thickness of my ponytail. My hair just felt stronger and fuller. I was clearly losing less hair, as well as growing new hair."
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Photo: Courtesy of NaturallyCurly.
Nikki Johnson

Which biotin product did you take, and for how long?
"I took Central Market biotin tablets, one a day at 10,000 mcg. I only took it for about three weeks and it was a mess!"

Why did you decide to start taking biotin?
"I started taking them after hearing reports of better looking skin, and longer, thicker hair. I didn't really need longer hair; my hair was already long enough for me, but I was hoping for fuller hair."

What were your results?
"I didn't notice a positive difference in any category: hair, skin, or nails. My hair didn't grow or become thicker. My skin didn't become clearer or suppler. Actually, my skin broke out in cystic acne, which I've never had before. This terrible side effect is the number-one reason I stopped using it. I hear my results are not atypical. I have a few friends that experienced the same thing. On the other hand, my mother has been taking the same biotin tablets in the same dosage with completely different results (the results I was expecting to see)."

How long did it take for you to see results?
"I was about one-and-a-half weeks into taking them when my skin started to flip out. I took it for a total of three weeks before giving it up."
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Photo: Courtesy of NaturallyCurly.
Amanda Starghill

Which biotin product did you take, and for how long?
"I took Nature Made Biotin, 2,500 mcg twice a day, for three weeks."

Why did you decide to start taking biotin?
"I wanted to stimulate [hair] growth and thicken my strands. My cousin is in her 60s, and when she used biotin she went from low-density to extremely high-density strands, so I’ve seen it work for others — just not for me."

What were your results?
"I had pimples all over my cheeks, and I noticed my body hair was thicker…only my body hair. There was a clear line of demarcation where the new thickness began, so it worked for every part of my body but my scalp. My hair continued to grow at the same rate, with no signs of thickness on my scalp. Just imagine how mad I was."

How long did it take for you to see results?
"I broke out within the first week. I continued to take it for a couple more weeks, but the side effects just weren’t worth it to me."
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Photo: Courtesy of NaturallyCurly.
Devri Velazquez

Which biotin product did you take, and for how long?
"I took one capsule of Nature's Bounty 10,000 mcg daily. I used it consistently for three consecutive months."

Why did you decide to start taking biotin?
"I was on a chemotherapy-like treatment that was causing my edges to thin, so I read up on all of the hair-growth benefits of biotin and checked with my primary-care physician before giving it a try."

What were your results?
"I felt nauseous every day for about a week, but I knew that this reaction is expected when taking a new medication or supplement. However, the feeling didn't get any better with time. Then, I started breaking out in cold sweats, and hives would appear on my chest for minutes at a time. This happened throughout the day with no warning."

How long did it take for you to see results?
"Unfortunately, I did not notice any results as far as hair growth is concerned. However, my nails did become stronger. The negative side effects began within the first week. While biotin deficiency has been linked to hair loss, biotin is found in the food we eat, and the body naturally produces biotin, so it is actually very rare to have this deficiency.

"You only need a small amount of biotin, and if you have a balanced diet, chances are you’re already reaching your daily intake of about 30 to 100 mcg. If you’re considering taking biotin supplements, we recommend checking with your doctor first to make sure it won’t interact with any other medications you may be taking, especially since many people have experienced such challenging and uncomfortable side effects."
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