Biotin for Hair
Biotin, also known as vitamin H, is a member of the vitamin B family and can be found in foods such as egg yolks, brewer’s yeast, sardines, soybeans, and nuts. B vitamins are associated with the healthy metabolizing of fats and amino acids, making them essential to the maintenance and growth of hair, fingernails, liver cells, eyes, and skin.1 Because the human body uses biotin to encourage protein production, a common question is, “is biotin good for hair?”
Studies have shown that biotin deficiencies can cause hair loss, which has been successfully treated with biotin supplements.2 This is why biotin is one of the most commonly known vitamins for hair. Biotin deficiency is rare, and usually occurs in cases of intravenous nutrition or diseases, such as Crohn’s, which can cause nutrition absorption problems.1
There has been plenty of research into the subject of biotin benefits for hair, but exactly what does biotin do for hair, and how could it be used as part of your daily routine? Biotin supplements for hair are backed by years of anecdotal evidence which support its use to treat brittle and damaged hair follicles, as well as hair loss. Read on for a closer look at the science behind biotin, and whether it really works.
Biotin for Hair Growth
Now that you know what biotin is, where to find it, and the effects of deficiency on your hair, you may be wondering, “does biotin help hair growth?” There are very few biotin hair growth studies including humans, however, one study published in 2015 did find success with a combination of a marine complex, silica, zinc, vitamin C, and biotin.
A group of 30 subjects received the biotin supplement orally over a period of 3-months, while a second group of 30 received a placebo. The biotin group saw less hair shedding during washing and routine care, faster hair growth, and thicker, stronger hair.3 Although further human research is necessary, and this study used a combination of ingredients to induce hair growth, the results do suggest that biotin pills for hair growth could be successful.
Biotin was first discovered in 1916 by W.G. Bateman, although it wasn’t named Biotin until 1940. The accidental discovery was stumbled upon when a diet high in egg white caused hair loss in subjects, and supplementation with biotin was found to restore natural hair growth.4 Its use as a hair growth supplement didn’t become popular until the 1980’s, when screening for biotin deficiency became available in hospitals.
In reviews which focus on biotin pills for hair growth, before and after photos are often available. Many of these reviews have positive messages and show significant visual improvements in the appearance of hair.
Biotin for Facial Hair
There are no scientific studies which have focused on the successful use of biotin for facial hair growth, but anecdotal evidence supports its use as a beard growth supplement. Some users have reported noticing thicker hair on the head, face, and other regions of the body because of taking biotin. Due to the lack of information on human reactions to biotin regarding facial and body hair, it is unconfirmed whether it would cause unwanted facial hair growth in women.
How Much Biotin for Hair Growth?
If you’re wondering, “how much biotin should I take for hair growth?” you’re not alone. The biotin dosage for hair growth is difficult to determine, as the amount used in most human studies exceeds the daily recommended dosage of 30 mcg by medical and government standards.6 For example, one study using biotin for the treatment of irregular hair growth set the dosage at 5mg daily, or 5000mcg.5
Does Biotin Work for Black Hair Growth?
Human studies revolving around biotin and any color of hair growth are few. However, one study which focused on the restoration of health and hair in an African American child did see success with biotin. The child became sick very early in life and required hospitalization due to seizures and other medical concerns. During treatment, the child’s hair became sparse and a scalp rash occurred; tests showed that she had a deficiency in biotin. After receiving a 10mg supplement, many symptoms subsided, and healthy hair growth resumed. These results suggest that biotin would work the same on black hair as it does on other hair pigmentations.7
Some anecdotal evidence also supports this hypothesis, with reviewers who have naturally black and curly hair reporting results of stronger and healthier looking hair. Other reviews by users with black and curly hair report no results, and negative side effects such as skin rash.
How Long Does It Take for Biotin to Grow Hair?
This is another grey area, as the usage time during human studies has varied from months to years. Personal reviews by biotin supplement users suggest 3 or more months of continued use before results are physically apparent.
Biotin for Hair Loss
There is certainly potential for taking biotin for hair growth, but does biotin help hair loss? Studies in animals and humans show promise in this area, particularly when baldness is caused by biotin deficiency.
One study, in which patients suffered from extreme hair loss due to biotin deficiency caused by parenteral nutrition, saw success when treated daily with oral biotin. The hair began to regrow, and patients saw no relapse in hair loss following treatment.2
Another case where biotin hair loss treatments were successful involved a 10-month old boy who suffered from dermatitis and alopecia. After taking biotin treatments orally, symptoms of both dermatitis and alopecia were resolved, and normal hair growth commenced.9
Oral and topical products are available that use biotin for hair loss; reviews for both types of application can be found online, and are primarily mixed.
How Much Biotin for Hair loss?
As with hair growth, the question, “how much biotin should I take for hair loss?” is difficult to answer. Scientific data uses dosages far exceeding the 30mcg daily recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. One study, which focused on the regrowth of hair due to biotin deficiency, supplied patients with oral supplements containing a 200mcg biotin dosage for hair loss.2 When using biotin for thinning hair, the best place to seek advice on dosage amounts is through a medical practitioner.
Will Biotin Shampoo for Hair Growth Work?
While there is currently no scientific data to confirm the use of biotin shampoo for hair loss, there are studies which reflect the ability of human skin to absorb biotin topically. One study issued ointment to twenty patients with atopic dermatitis and 11 other healthy subjects. The ointment contained 0.3%biotin and a steroid. Following treatment, biotin levels were tested in all subjects, and both healthy and dermatitis patients saw a significant increase in biotin levels.8
Compared to oral dosages of biotin, the amount of topical treatment required for successful results is much higher. The above study used 21mg of biotin daily in the ointment treatment, while studies mentioned using oral doses gave patients 0.2mg (200mcg) or less.
So, does biotin shampoo work for hair growth? More research is required to confirm the use of shampoos with the biotin supplement for hair growth, however, it is possible for biotin to be absorbed through the scalp. Personal reviews of shampoos using biotin vitamins for hair are mixed, with some positive reviews reporting faster hair growth. Popular brands of biotin shampoo include Live Clean Biotin Shamoo, Biotene H-24, OGX Thick & Full Biotin and Collagen Shampoo, and Vitamins Hair Loss Shampoo.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Ehrlich, S. (2013) Vitamin h (biotin). University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved on October 24, 3017 from – View Reference
- Innis, S. M. & Allardyce, D. B. (1983) Possible biotin deficiency in adults receiving long-term total parenteral nutrition. The American Society for Clinical Nutrition Inc. 37(2), 185-187. Retrieved on October 24, 2017 from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/37/2/185.short
- Ablon, G. (2015)A 3-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the ability of an extra-strength marine protein supplement to promote hair growth and decrease shedding in women with self-perceived thinning hair. Dermatology Research and Practice. DOI: 1155/2015/841570
- Kalz, F., Kral, V. A. & Forsey, R. R. (1951) Observations on biotin. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 16(2), 111-117. DOI: 1038/jid.1951.17
- Boccaletti, V., Zendri, E., Giordano, G., Gnetti, L. & DePanfilis, G. (2007) Family uncombable hair syndrome: Ultrastructural hair study and response to biotin. Pediatric Dermatology. 24(3), 14-16. DOI: 1111/j.1525-1470.2007.00385.x
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017) Biotin. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved on October 24, 2017 from – View Reference
- Lara, E., Sansaricq, C., Wolf, B. & Snyderman, S. E. (1990) Biotinidase deficiency in black children. The Journal of Pediatrics. DOI: 1016/S0022-3476(05)82666-6
- Makino, Y., Osada, K., Sone, H., Sugiyama, K., Komai, M., Ito, M., … & Furukawa, Y. (1999) Percutaneous absorption of biotin in healthy subjects and in atopic dermatitis patients. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. 45(3), 347-352. DOI: 3177/jnsv.45.347
- Charles, B. M., Hosking, G., Green, A., Pollitt, R., Bartlett, K. & Taitz, L. S. (1979) Biotin-responsive alopecia and developmental regression. The Lancet. 314(8134), 118-120. DOI: 1016/S0140-6736(79)90003-5