Hair growth supplements are nothing new. In fact, they are one of the oldest and most established categories of nutritional supplements. Traditionally, their marketing has targeted women, but recently you may have noticed a mushrooming of such supplements aimed at men – and not just those trying to preserve their hairline. Beard supplements are officially a thing, and they're having a moment right now. If you haven't seen one yet, wait a minute.
But this, of course, begs an obvious question. Do any of these supplements work? In this article, we'll look over some of the research on hair growth supplements, and consider whether any of them are worth trying in pursuit of living your best beard life.
And that means that, first, we need to get the bad news out of the way: beard growth is overwhelmingly a matter of genetic endowment, and unlikely to be dramatically affected by taking nutritional supplements. Anyone who tells you otherwise – is probably trying to sell you a supplement.
But there may be hope yet, at least for men who suffer from certain conditions. Let's break down some of the most recent studies on the topic:
- A 2017 metastudy on the effects of biotin on overall hair growth found that, “In cases of acquired and inherited causes of biotin deficiency as well as pathologies, such as brittle nail syndrome or uncombable hair, biotin supplementation may be of benefit. However,” they caution, “these cases are uncommon and that there is lack of sufficient evidence for supplementation in healthy individuals.” Several other authorities parrot this finding. Biotin is perhaps the most widely touted single supplement for hair growth, and shows up in almost all formulas aimed at hair growth, beard growth, or even just general skin health. Note, however, that excessive intake can cause side effects like bloating, acne, and even kidney problems.
- There is some evidence that vitamin D plays a role in hair growth, which may include beard growth; certainly, one well-known symptom of vitamin D deficiency is hair loss. And although, as with biotin, it seems unlikely that supplementation will have much affect on those who are not deficient to begin with, vitamin D deficiency is considerably more common than biotin deficiency. By some estimates, “41.6% of adults in the US are deficient. This number goes up to 69.2% in Hispanics and 82.1% in African-Americans.” If your baseline vitamin D is low enough to cause symptoms, taking a supplement may help in more ways than one – and may boost lackluster hair growth all over the body.
- A 2015 study of women with thinning hair found that taking a marine protein supplement increased their overall scalp hair count “significantly greater than placebo,” and also reduced the amount their hair shed during the study. Given the study's test group, its results may or may not be applicable to men looking to increase beard growth, but it is one of the few studies that shows a demonstrable increase in hair growth from taking a supplement at all. And since it wasn't associated with any side effects, the worst that seems likely to happen from marine protein supplementation is nothing at all.
Ultimately, and unfortunately, there is no hard evidence to support any particular supplement for beard growth, except in cases where a specific deficiency is at play. However, eating well, exercizing regularly, and getting enough sleep are all well indicated for overall health, and may be helpful in maximizing what you've got.
Also important? Establishing a healthy skincare routine, and using beard products that support the natural functions of the skin and beard without causing irritation or breakouts – which Scruffy Jack's just happens to specialize in. Watch this space for future articles on establishing a beard-friendly skincare routine, and in the meantime, you can browse our catalog here.