There is a new kid on the block supplement-wise, nutricosmetics. Think ingestible cosmetics — a totally modern take on the old saying that beauty lies within. These supplements claim to improve skin and hair from the inside, and they are quickly becoming a booming business thanks, in large part, to their widespread promotion on Instagram and YouTube. The nutricosmetics industry is projected to bring in a whopping $7.5 billion dollars a year by 2020.
New frontier or fad?
Scrolling through social media it is not hard to see how these products are racking up billions in sales.
The Kardashian-Jenners, with their enormous reach as influencers, have promoted gummies that claim to “support hair growth.” And while these ladies all have beautiful hair, they also have stylists at their beck and call, may use apps that modify appearance, have far better lighting than my bathroom, and it is quite literally their job to look good. When I spend two hours on my hair I get a different outcome then when I am running late, rushing my kids to school, and have negative five minutes to spend on hair care.
Tati Westbrook, also known as @GlamLifeGuru, has a line of pink capsules that also claim to promote luxurious hair growth. Sign up (I mean don’t) for $39.95 a month.
The trend is fascinating — a perfect storm of buzzwords, our societal desire to just pop a pill, a growing obsession with the idea of “biohacking” (not that I really know what that means) and the amazing power of social media influencers.
The ingredients in these nutricosmetics that promise Rapunzel-like hair vary — most have multiple ingredients — although a common ingredient found in most aimed at hair is biotin.
Can biotin help hair?
Biotin is vitamin B7. It is an essential nutrient. It is a water-soluble vitamin, so is not stored in the body. You can get biotin from your diet, from foods like salmon, egg yolks and sweet potato. It is also made by intestinal bacteria, so diet-related deficiency is really rare in otherwise healthy individuals. The recommended daily intake is 30 mcg a day.
Like most snake oil there is a science-ish aspect to biotin. Biotin is involved in the production of hair and nails and when biotin is deficient, due to diet, medication that affects absorption of biotin or medical conditions where biotin is not absorbed or metabolized properly, supplementation can be helpful. However, that doesn’t mean that excess biotin beyond what you get in your diet can give you stronger or more luxurious hair. In fact it doesn’t.
One should never extrapolate what happens with a medical deficiency to the outcome of excessive pharmaceutical supplementation in otherwise healthy individuals with a typical diet.
What about topical applications, such as shampoo or conditioners? There is no evidence biotin is absorbed in any significant amount or that topical application is beneficial. So unlikely.
Are there risks?
Overdosing on biotin is not typically a concern. The biggest issue is you have no idea what you are actually taking as supplements often do not contain what they claim or may be adulterated with other ingredients. When the New York Attorney General commissioned testing, the results indicated that 79 percent of supplements didn’t contain the primary ingredient on the label. So it is all buyer beware.
Some dermatologists report that biotin can actually worsen acne, although this is anecdotal.
Biotin is bullocks. Don’t waste your money.
As for the celebrities selling these products? Give their other health and wellness product recommendations a pass as well.
Dr. Jen Gunter is a Marin resident and an ob/gyn in San Francisco. Her column appears every fourth week.
Source : https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/03/04/are-the-kardashian-jenners-right-about-how-to-get-beautiful-hair/