Can supplements really make your hair grow faster?

From detox teas to UV teeth whitening kits, there’s no shortage of instant-fix treatments being promoted on Instagram thanks to varying levels of celebrities. The latest product du jour? Hair vitamins like Sugar Bear Hair and Hairfinity which claim to make hair grow faster, thicker and stronger.

Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Vanessa Hudgens are just some of the high-profile celebrities who’ve raved about them on social media (probably for a large fee). But can a supplement really deliver the promise of Rapunzel-esque hair in just a matter of weeks?

Probably unsurprisingly, the answer is no.

Interesting claims.

While it’s hard to find honest online reviews of such products, it pays to look closely at the comments and small print.

“A lot of these things are huge on claims with no strong research to support it and very small on results. The body is too complex and there are so many possible causes of why your hair is falling out or growing slowly for there to be a quick fix,” says trichologist Antony Pearce(Watch: Multiple reasons to love your short hair. Post continues after video.)


“I saw one claim it can make hair grow six inches in two weeks which is absolute rubbish unless you’re using extensions. The optimal of what you want and would expect is one centimetre in a month.”

Some claim quantitive results while others promise to give you everything you need to grow the ‘healthiest, longest hair possible’. Many operate on a subscription basis, charging around US$30 for one month plus delivery to over US$150 for six months worth.

For women who are dealing with more serious problems like the hair falling out or thinning, these grand promises can be very tempting to fall for – even more so when multiple celebrities seem to be using them, although in reality these endorsements are usually paid for, with no guarantee the celebrity has even actually used them, let alone seen the promised results.

“It’s kind of like you’re doing a scattergun approach with these things, and it gets to a bad point which I’ve seen. I’ve had women come in with two shopping bags of supplements that they’re trying to take every day,” he says.


In these situations, Pearce says you’re better off seeking professional medical help to identify the real cause of the problem.

“The problem could be to do with nutrition, metabolic disturbance or the gut, you’ve got to look at those things first. Hair loss with women is so complex and every woman I see has slightly different reaction to treatment, so there’s certainly no one solution fits all.”

The magic ingredients.

‘Effective ingredients’ of the hair vitamins usually include biotin which supports the health of the scalp, alongside Vitamin A, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin C and E.

However what’s missing are some of the key vitamins and minerals for hair health and growth.

“The really important thing for hair is amino acids. The common things that affect a woman’s hair are Vitamin D, iodine, iron and zinc, they’re all really important ones that run your body too,” says Pearce.


“None of those active ingredients listed in the vitamins are the most important things. They’ve got a lot of B and different nutrients in them but they’re all very low dose, and very little iron which is the one that is needed. It’s just nowhere near enough.”


Ingredients list of one option on the market which has been endorsed by Khloe Kardashian. Image: The Long Hair Community Forum

The danger of taking it blindly.

Don't be fooled by the friendly nature of 'vitamins' - it's not for everyone.

"In some of them when you do your research you find that it actually blocks iron in women and women who are pregnant should not take it. You've got to be careful," says Pearce.

Head to the FAQ pages of these products, scroll down and you'll eventually see a disclaimer that states women pregnant or breastfeeding should seek the approval of a medical professional before taking, as should anyone with a medical condition.

Overdoing the recommended dose of two vitamins a day could also have some nasty side effects, warns Pearce.


Image: Sugar Bear Hair

"Too much Vitamin A could actually make your hair fall out if you're toxic or react badly to it," he says.

If you're not affected by any of these and are simply looking to increase your hair length by a bit, there are no serious risks other than potential disappointment.

"They're usually a waste of money and time and stressful for the patient because they know they're not getting better. Common sense advice is if you see something that you think can help you and you really want to try it, take it for three months. If you don't feel better and your hair hasn't stopped falling out or it hasn't grown or doesn't feel healthier, then stop," he says.

What to do instead.

There are ways to improve your hair health, but unfortunately it's not as easy as just taking a pill.

"If the situation is really serious, looking at laser therapy could work to make hair grow quicker in the short term but it's got to be done with combination," says Pearce.


If supplements do make a difference, they take time to show up in the hair. There's also a simpler option - getting all of the 'effective ingredients' from your nutrition. (Post continues after gallery.)

"Hair is 99 per cent protein and needs a constant supply but it gets the last of it. It's a non-essential tissue so it grows continuously and needs high available levels of nutrients. You're absolutely better relying on eating more protein than taking supplements," he says.

Regular haircuts will ensure split ends are taken away and hair will grow better but no faster. A proper haircare routine should not be underestimated, you can pick up sodium laurel sulphate and BPA free shampoos and conditioners at the supermarket.

Really desperate for super long hair quickly? Try extensions.

Use your head.

Ultimately, it's up to you if you want to try them, but use your common sense.

"If you go on a site and see something and it's really expensive, then it's probably a bit of a scam. Reasonably priced and their blurb sounds half-reasonable, you could give it a go for three months but I always suggest to patients do your testing first, find out what's going wrong," says Pearce.

"Your hair is a reflection of disturbance or deficiency. It's your body's way of telling you that there's something going on."

Have you tried hair vitamins before? Did they work?