It seems every day we get a new claim about a vitamin doing this or supplement doing that, and no two segments of beauty see more of these claims than the hair and nail industries. We all crave stronger, shinier hair and seemingly indestructible nails that grow longer by the minute, so the question is simple: can oral supplements really help you get fantastic hair and stronger nails? If so, which ones do you take?
For the answers to our burning questions, we went straight to two of the industry’s top experts on hair and nails. Here’s what you need to know about which vitamins and supplements you should be taking for stronger nails and a serious head of hair.
Beauty High: Why would you recommend vitamins and/or supplements to a hair client?
Devin Toth, Senior Stylist and Director of Education for Ted Gibson Beauty: Usually we would recommend vitamins for hair growth, but to understand it you need to know that vitamins and supplements fall under three categories:
Vitamins that are always good for hair: These are vitamin A (needed by all your cells for growth), and B vitamins (B6, B9, B12, and B complex/Folic Acid, needed to help create iron so cells work properly).
Vitamins that prevent hair loss: vitamins C, E and zinc help repair damage to the body on a cellular level since they’re high in antioxidants. Besides repairing obvious damage you can see (cuts and bruises), they help repair the damage created by the digestive process of turning food into energy. Repairing damage from the inside out helps with overall body healthy and, by default, healthy hair growth.
Vitamins that are lost from a deficiency/poor diet: If your diet contains too much salt, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages, you’re probably poor in iron and magnesium, which can lead to hair loss. You can take iron quite easily, but magnesium is a bit tricky; it has to be absorbed with equal parts calcium and potassium. The great news is that magnesium doesn’t have be taken as a supplement. You can add more nuts to your diet as a great way to take in more. Also, if you take it right before you go to bed, magnesium is a great muscle relaxant, so it will help you sleep, which is great because hair grows fastest at night.
Which supplements work best for which types of hair/hair issues? Biotin increases the density of your hair and it helps you produce more hair. Fish oil just makes hair really shiny and smooth by collapsing the cuticle to make it shinier from the inside out the way some conditioners coat from the outside. Even if you’re not into supplements, if you get more and better sleep, eat more nuts and vegetables and cut out processed and damaging foods, you should see an improvement in the condition of your hair growth. Really, anything that helps your cells work more efficiently will help the condition of your body, which will help the health of your hair.
How long does it take to see results? Vitamins work immediately, which is why you take them. You’ll feel differently immediately, but you’ll see the effects in 2-3 months. Supplements are called supplements for a reason: they supplement the nutrients you should be taking in from your regular diet. If you supplement your vitamin intake and have an exemplary diet, you’ll look and feel stronger and your hair will respond in kind by growing stronger and healthier.
Beauty High: What are the telltale signs that someone should be taking vitamins or supplements when it comes to their nails? Skyy Hadley, Celebrity manicurist and Owner of As U Wish Nail Spa: Ridges, dents and discoloration or an unusual nail shape can be a telltale sign that something is wrong with your nail health. Also, If your hands are regularly exposed to water, soap or harsh chemicals, your nails may become soft or brittle, and break or chip easily.
What type of vitamins and supplements are most effective for nail growth and health? What do they do?
Biotin, or vitamin B7, is crucial to maintain protein production and can help strengthen weak or brittle nails. Since your nails are made of protein, L-Lysine supplements can be taken to help build healthy proteins and help maintain healthy nails.
How long does it take to see the effects of taking vitamins and/or supplements? These supplements begin to work on your growing nails, not your currently visible nails, so it could take a few months to see results. It all depends on how quickly your nails grow.
Are there things that one can do diet/fitness related to help with nail growth and health? What else can someone do if they feel their nails are weak, brittle or thin?
Try adding protein rich foods like red meat, chicken breast, nuts and sunflower seeds to your diet. Also, keeping your body hydrated is extremely important to nail health. If you are dehydrated, your nails can become brittle and ridged, so be sure to drink enough water.