Walk down the vitamin aisle of any drugstore (or, let’s be real, peruse the pages of Amazon), and you’ll see approximately one-zillion hair supplements, all promising to grow your hair hella long, hella fast. And though I’m the resident skeptic of all the beauty editors in the world, even I have to admit that the five-star reviews and the celebrity Instagram endorsements are somewhat convincing. Like, do hair-growth vitamins really work? Are they the secret to long, shiny, strong hair? Or have we all been taken in by a very convincing, very confusing LIE?! WHAT IS THE TRUTH?!
Since I’m clearly not the only person having this internal crisis, I went ahead and chatted with experts and dermatologists to find whether or not hair vitamins actually do anything—or, even more important, whether they’re even safe to take at all.
- Will hair supplements actually grow my hair faster?
- Do hair-growth vitamins work at all?
- How do I know if vitamin deficiency is affecting my hair?
- The 4 Best-Selling Hair Gummies
- How can I speed up hair growth if I’m healthy?
- How long do hair supplements take to work?
- What about biotin—does biotin really help hair grow?
- What are the best hair growth pills?
- The 4 Best-Selling Hair Supplement Tablets
- The Beauty Supplements That Actually Work According To A Dermatologist
- Should you choose supplements with good skincare ingredients?
- What vitamins should you take for your skin?
- Can you “drink” your retinol?
- What other supplements should you take?
- Vitamins for your hair, nails, and skin are everywhere on Instagram. Don’t fall for them.
- 4 Best-Selling Skincare Supplements
Will hair supplements actually grow my hair faster?
So here’s what hair vitamins are supposed to do: Revamp your hair from the inside out with a mix of “hair-friendly” ingredients, like biotin, folic acid, vitamins D, A, C, E, and/or virtually anything else they want to throw in there (supplements and vitamins are not FDA-regulated, meaning brands can kinda say and do whatever they want). Then, after a few months of taking them, your hair is supposed too look longer, healthier, shinier, and stronger, and your scalp’s oil production can speed up or slow down, depending on which brand and type you try.
The thing is, because these pills aren’t backed by government-approved data, and there isn’t really a uniform set of ingredients, strengths, or formulations across brands, there’s never going to be a straight yes or no answer to whether or not hair supplements work. But, if you ask experts (or me, who tried taking them for two months and all I got was zits), their answer is pretty much a big ol’ “NOPE.”
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Do hair-growth vitamins work at all?
Okay, so even though vitamins are absolutely necessary and beneficial for your hair, they won’t do much if your body is already stocked with them—which it probably already is. “Most people get all the vitamins they need to manage their hair growth just from their diet alone,” says trichologist Dominic Burg, chief scientist at Evolis Professional.
BUT shouldn’t I take them just in case?! I hear you ask. Sadly, more isn’t merrier here. Even if you ingest triple the vitamins your body needs (don’t), you won’t actually reap triple, or even double, the hair-growth rewards. “Your body only keeps the vitamins it needs, and then it gets rid of the rest,” says Burg. Kind of like pouring water into a glass that’s already 100 percent full. So unless you’re actually missing some key nutrients, you’ll likely end up peeing out the excess pretty soon after you ingest them.
How do I know if vitamin deficiency is affecting my hair?
“There are lot of women running around who are deficient and don’t realize it, because of either dieting, poor nutrition, or intense stress,” says Burg. And when you’re super stressed or not eating enough, “your body will shut down your hair growth first and redirect nutrients and energy to the organs that need it most,” he says, thus leaving you vitamin deficient.
And if you’ve ever experienced a severe bout of physical or emotional stress, you might have noticed a sudden shedding of your hair a few months after (or, if not, congrats! You just figured out WTF was going on with your hair). “It’s a delayed reaction to the stress or diet that usually occurs three months later,” says Burg.
Of course, the only way to know for sure if your body is deficient is to have your levels tested by your doctor, but if you’re, you know, mourning a death in the family while also on a diet, there’s a good chance you’re lacking some nutrients, in which case you’ll likely see some benefits from taking vitamins.
The 4 Best-Selling Hair Gummies
SugarBearHair Hair Gummies amazon.com $29.98 HUM Nutrition Hair Sweet Hair Gummies sephora.com $25.00 Vitafusion Gorgeous Hair, Skin & Nails amazon.com $11.89 Hairfinity Candilocks Chewable Hair Vitamins amazon.com $29.99
How can I speed up hair growth if I’m healthy?
If you’re not vitamin deficient but still want longer, healthier, stronger hair, then sadly, “supplements will probably do very little for you,” says Burg. That’s not to say they won’t work at all, and maybe you’ll be the lucky wild card (again, there are no mass studies definitively saying yes or no), but, if we’re talkin’ from a point of science here, your odds aren’t great. Not sure what to do? Talk to your doctor. Really. They can give you the thumbs up (or down) before you waste your money—or, worse, mess with your health.
How long do hair supplements take to work?
Regardless of whether you’re vitamin deficient or you’re just a healthy person who somehow magically benefits from hair supplements, you still won’t see results overnight. Or even in a year. Or in five years. Why? “Your hair is dead, and nothing you do internally can affect its density, strength, or health,” says Burg. “Sure, vitamins will help the new hair that you’re growing, but because it grows only half an inch a month, it’ll take 6 to 7 years of taking supplements before your new, healthy hair even reaches your shoulders.” Perspective, huh?
But that’s not to say you won’t see any changes before 2026. “If you’re vitamin deficient, supplements may help reactivate your oil glands after a few months, which can make your hair look shinier and more moisturized,” says Burg. And hey, you might even get the tiniest bit of additional hair growth, but that’s about it.
What about biotin—does biotin really help hair grow?
Sorry (again), but there isn’t a definitive answer as to whether biotin is actually beneficial in helping hair loss or hair growth. According dermatologist to Vivian Bucay, MD, clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center, if you’re taking a stand-alone biotin supplement, you’d need to take at least 5 milligrams to notice a difference—but even then, there’s no guarantees it’ll do anything.
But REMEMBER *waves red flags*: Just because something is available without a prescription or talked about on your IG feed, doesn’t mean it’s 100 percent safe. “People often over-supplement with biotin for their hair, skin, or nails, and that excess biotin can actually affect major medical tests, like an ECG—a test that looks at your heart,” says dermatologist Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, founder of Entiere Dermatology and clinical instructor at NYU Langone.
Basically, unless you yourself are a doctor (which, hi, why you here?!), talk things over with an actual MD before trying any supplement.
What are the best hair growth pills?
Okay, so you’ve gotten the green light from your doctor, you’ve gotten your blood tests, you’ve made a deal with your god, and you’re ready to try some hair supplements. Cool. Do not go overboard. Doubling up on supplements can be incredibly dangerous over time—some vitamins get peed out by your system, but others can build up to toxic levels—so only test one supplement at a time, and make sure whatever you ingest is a reputable, well-reviewed formula, like one of these best-selling pills.
The 4 Best-Selling Hair Supplement Tablets
Viviscal Advanced Hair Health Supplement dermstore.com $134.99 Nutrafol Core for Women Supplement amazon.com $88.00 Ouai Thin Hair Supplements sephora.com $28.00 Klorane KeratinCaps Hair Supplements amazon.com $38.00
And most important, don’t get your hopes up—not everything you see or read on social media is real, even if the hair looks really, really, ridiculously good.
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Chloe Metzger Senior Beauty Editor Chloe Metzger is the senior beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, obsessively writing about new makeup launches, the best hair products (curly girl here; whattup), and the skincare formulas that really work for every skin type (follow her on Instagram to see behind-the-scenes pics of that magazine life).
The Beauty Supplements That Actually Work According To A Dermatologist
UNITED KINGDOM – NOVEMBER 27: By the 1920s links had been made between vitamins in foods and diseases, demonstrating the need for a balanced diet. Food supplements were developed to make it easier for people to get their essential vitamins and minerals. In recent years there has been debate about the benefits of taking food supplements. Vitamins A, C and E are thought to prevent a number of disorders including cancer and heart disease, and vitamin C is also taken to ward off colds. Vitamin D and calcium are believed to be essential in the formation of healthy skin and bones, while B vitamins and folic acid are thought to regulate mood and prevent depression and dementia. The manufacture of vitamins and food supplements is now a multi-million pound industry. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Collagen or Co-Enzyme Q10? Vitamin B12 injection, or Vitamin C powder in your first glass of water of the day? Maybe you’re more of the spirulina smoothie type, or perhaps you’re into probiotics. In the last few years, “nutricosmetics” have exploded in popularity, and moved the market away from garden variety multivitamins to a multi-multi-billion dollar industry – in fact, Net-A-Porter reported that last year, shoppers were spending more on supplements than they were on skincare.
Supplements are also becoming ever more seamless, with no more need to palm a cocktail of pills when you can spritz under your tongue or add to food – in many workplaces, it’s now utterly commonplace to hear a vitamin shake being mixed up in the kitchenette.
Vogue spoke to Cadogan Clinic consultant dermatologist Dr Catherine Borysiewicz and aesthetic doctor and Integrative Beauty founder Dr David Jack about how to navigate the buzzwords and choose the right supplement for you…
Should you choose supplements with good skincare ingredients?
Californication, fashion feature. Model wears red tie dye tulle long-sleeve top and bikini bottoms, outdoors, hill, sunset, sunrise.
© Oliver Hadlee Pearch
The first thing to understand is that the potency of an ingredient topically doesn’t guarantee the same result orally. Of course, a powder or pill labelled with ingredients you recognise might suggest it’ll offer similar benefits to your favorite serum, but your digestive system doesn’t metabolise ingredients in the same way your skin does. “Collagen supplements are a fairly good example of this,” noted Dr Borysiewicz. “Collagen is essentially a protein complex. When that reaches your GI tract, your body will break it down into amino acids, just like any other protein. It’s very hard to establish whether the collagen you ingest will actually reach the skin as collagen – it may be converted into something else.”
Collagen supplements were originally designed for injury recovery, not for aesthetics. “They’re a bulk meal of amino acids,” added Dr Borysiewicz. However, there are other theories about how they may be beneficial. For example, there’s a school of thought that they may work by your body noticing a sudden influx of collagen, which it perceives as the result of an injury, and so produces more.
That being said, they do offer other benefits. Plenty of collagen supplements are formulated with other skin-friendly extracts and vitamins, making the amino acid boost an added bonus. “Likewise, for anyone suffering with an inflammatory disease like eczema or psoriasis, they could be helpful,” said Dr Borysiewicz. Collagen is also fairly hard to get into your diet (unless you’re a big fan of chicken livers), and so a supplement may well be just that – a supplement to your dietary intake. “If I was going through a really hectic period and not eating as well as I may like, I might consider taking one,” concluded Dr Borysiewicz. Anyone living off late-night Deliveroo sushi and harried handfuls of snacks between meetings, take note.
Vogue recommends Rejuvenate Veggiecol (£34.89, available at Facethefuture.com), which includes a vegetarian collagen peptide, alongside hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C & B, and zinc.
Read more: Finer Things: How Hormone Shifts Really Impact Your Hair
What vitamins should you take for your skin?
Californication, fashion feature. Model wears tie-dye swimsuit, necklace, knee-height gladiator sandals, bandeau bikini top, blue trousers, drop earrings, golden rings, pendant, choker necklace, standing amongst rocks.
© Oliver Hadlee Pearch
“Vitamin C and E are some of the ultimate skin supplements,” said Dr Jack (you can hear the sound of countless tubes of Berocca being picked up, but hang in there). “They work in synergy really well together, and they’re powerful antioxidants.” Vitamin D is another seemingly-humble addition that packs serious benefits: “There are so many studies that show the myriad of benefits of Vitamin D, and in order to get enough through sun exposure alone, you’d have to lay out until you were burnt, which obviously would be terrible!” explained Dr Borysiewicz. “I also really like the options we have now with powdered varieties that you can add to water or a juice. They’re far easier on the stomach, and these antioxidants like Vitamins C & E really do help safeguard against environmental damage, which can cause both skin ageing and acne.”
Vogue recommends BetterYou Vegan Health Spray with Vitamin D3 and B12 (£14.95, available at Betteryou.com), and Sarah Chapman Skinesis Omega Booster, which provides a vegetarian source of Vitamin E, and fatty acids derived from sea buckthorn oil (£64, available at Lookfantastic.com)
Read more: The Skincare Ingredients To Know In 2019
Can you “drink” your retinol?
Eighties inspired swimwear shoot, model with long ginger hair wearing
© Alasdair McLellan
Just when you thought you had your daily retinol managed to a T, there’s now a drinkable edition. “We actually have a lot of research about how retinol, or Vitamin A, works when ingested,” explained Dr Jack. “Prescription medications like isotretinoin are super high-dose concentrations of a Vitamin A, and can have impressive results.” Of course, a standard drinkable retinol won’t be anywhere nearly as potent as isotretinoin, but the regenerating and skin-replenishing benefits would still be there – albeit less pronounced. While Dr Borysiewicz noted that even at a very low dose, care should be taken to avoid Vitamin A supplementation if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or could be soon, a drinkable retinol could be a good alternative for anyone who finds the topical version too aggressive to tolerate.
Vogue recommends Integrative Beauty SkinFusion, with Vitamin A, zinc, and iron (£65, available at Spacenk.com)
Read more: The 5 Worst Skincare Tips On The Internet
What other supplements should you take?
Catch the sun – fashion feature, summer looks, sharp cuts, bold colour. Model wears pink embellished top, matching satin skirt with pleat detail, earrings, sea in the background, standing on cliff edge.
© Angelo Pennetta
Some of the most effective skin supplements may sound a little pedestrian, but both Dr Borysiewicz and Dr Jack stressed the importance of some of the industry’s most reliable workhorses: “I do recommend taking zinc, because the immune system and skin have a very strong interplay and daily interaction,” explained Dr Borysiewicz. Which makes complete sense – think how sallow and drawn your complexion can look when you’re battling a cold. “Iron is also really beneficial, especially if you’re prone to eczema or psoriasis, as low iron levels can really exacerbate that. I actually recommend Pregnacare to a lot of women, even if they’re not pregnant – it’s got a great mix of ingredients and if it’s safe in pregnancy, you know it’s really safe!” Dr Jack also name-checked Omega 3 for the high fatty-acid content which can help repair the skin barrier and improve the texture. “I’m also a fan of glutathione, which can be really brightening on the skin, and has really incredible antioxidant properties (which are good for your overall skin health either way), but really good if you’re prone to hyper-pigmentation.”
Vogue recommends WelleCo The Super Elixir, with Omega 3, Vitamin D3, and probiotics (£96, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk)
Always consult your GP before making changes to your diet or starting a new regime of supplements.
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Vitamins for your hair, nails, and skin are everywhere on Instagram. Don’t fall for them.
The natural progression is that stores that sell fashion and beauty, like Sephora, Barneys, Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Ulta have hopped on board. Prices range anywhere from $28 to $88 for a 30-day supply from these various brands. All of these are marketed on the brands’ Instagram feeds, often pictured nestled among offerings like moisturizers and hairspray.
The ultimate sign that they’ve found mainstream acceptance? They’re now common on Instagram shelfies, a popular type of aspirational image in the social media beauty realm wherein people post pictures of their carefully arranged, color-coordinated medicine cabinets.
But do beauty supplements do anything?
For all the modern, social media-savvy marketing, the claims these supplements are making are as dubious as ever. Companies will cite a study to validate one or several of their ingredients, but the truth is that very few supplement ingredients have been thoroughly studied in humans. Many products have no data at all to substantively support their claims.
If there are studies, they often involve only a small number of subjects, explains Boston dermatologist Dr. Ranella Hirsch in an email. “It is always important to assess who is doing the study,” she continues, since some are done by the companies selling the supplements.
Biotin, a supplement ingredient long promoted as an aid in hair growth, probably won’t do anything unless you’re deficient in the nutrient, which is rare.
Collagen is the substance that keeps your skin looking springy and elastic, so it would seem to follow that taking a collagen supplement would keep your face looking youthful. But a supplement probably doesn’t do much, according to an analysis by the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
Turmeric, which is present in a lot of these supplements and has been hyped as a food ingredient for its anti-inflammatory effect, was dismissed as “much ado about nothing,” according to a group of scientists who analyzed multiple studies involving curcumin, which is thought to be the beneficial compound in turmeric.
While ingredients like probiotics show some promise for atopic dermatitis and acne according to Hooper, the data for their use for things like preventing wrinkles is still far from conclusive.
A bigger issue is that these supplements often contain multiple ingredients, and while one or two may have small studies supporting a benefit, there are no large, well-designed studies to demonstrate how they all work in tandem.
Beauty supplement marketing copy also usually attempts to simplify issues such as thinning hair when, in reality, conditions like these are usually multifactorial and can reflect a combination of diet, medications, medical conditions, hormones, nutrient deficiency, age, gender, and a host of other factors that rarely lend themselves to a one-pill-fits-all fix. Indeed, a lot of the common ingredients in these products are only helpful if someone is actually deficient in them.
Dr. Pieter Cohen, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, has studied dietary supplements and is a noted critic of the industry. He pulled no punches when it came to his opinion on the efficacy of beauty supplements: “It’s just magical thinking. It’s taking advantage of people who will spend money.”
Safety is definitely a concern
As Vox’s health reporter Julia Belluz has written, the safety, efficacy, and even contents of supplements cannot be trusted. We’ve seen this play out in multiple categories across the supplement industry. It’s an issue in beauty too.
In 2016, BuzzFeed reported that an independent lab that analyzed Sugarbear Hair supplements found they contained small quantities of lead, a heavy metal that’s a neurotoxin for children and is linked to cardiovascular disease in adults. Plus, the ingredient amounts differed by 20 percent or more compared to what was on the label, including containing 70 percent more biotin than claimed. The recommended daily amount of biotin needed for adults is 30 to 100 micrograms, an amount that’s easy to get from diet. Sugarbear Hair contains 5,000 micrograms.
Additionally, biotin is not as harmless as has been presumed. In fall 2017, JAMA published a small study indicating that taking 10 milligrams (10,000 micrograms) of biotin daily was associated with false lab results. Two months later, the Food and Drug Administration posted a safety alert about the risk of high doses of biotin, which it designated as a dose over the recommended daily allowance. It noted that the ingredient can “significantly” interfere with some lab tests, producing both false negative and false positive results. The agency attributed one death to the phenomenon, in a patient who was tested for the blood marker that can indicate you’re having a heart attack. Lab results are obviously an important part of the data a health care provider collects to determine diagnosis and treatment, so the risk of inaccurate results is concerning.
The CRN, the supplement industry trade group, issued a press release that patients should stop biotin supplements temporarily before having lab tests. “It’s something we really don’t have good studies on, it’s probably not going to benefit you, and it has potential problems, so maybe we should get away from taking biotin,” says Hooper.
Cohen said that while he recommends single-ingredient vitamin or mineral supplements to patients with deficiencies, he is wary of anything that contains multiple ingredients, has proprietary blends without specific amounts of ingredients listed, or claims any sort of outcome — which is pretty much every single supplement discussed here. “These are more likely to act like drugs in the body and more likely to have side effects or have potential downsides,” he says.
How many bears can you count?! A school of SugarBears forming together in the name of luscious hair! @nikipilkington #sugarbearhair
Some of the downsides are scary. Saw palmetto, which is in both Tati Westbrook’s new supplement and Nutrafol, could possibly affect the efficacy of estrogen-containing birth control pills. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center warns that ashwagandha, an ayurvedic herb used in Moon Dusts and a Hum formula, has a variety of potential side effects, possibly including miscarriage. Too much vitamin A and E can actually cause hair loss. Hooper says anecdotally she sees liver function variations in her patients who take a lot of supplements. The bottom line is that we don’t really know conclusively what these supplements can do, in terms of risks or benefits.
But the FDA must be keeping tabs on these companies, right? Nope.
Unlike prescription drugs, which are heavily regulated by the FDA and whose claims and safety have to be proven before they can be sold, supplements are barely subjected to government scrutiny. Due to a law pushed through in the mid-1990s by Sen. Orrin Hatch, whose home state of Utah is home to a big chunk of the supplement industry, supplement manufacturers pretty much have free rein to say anything and do anything. (Read more in Belluz’s explainer.) The FDA can’t force companies to remove products or ingredients until it can prove that they are really harmful, resulting in potential injury and even deaths in the meantime.
This also explains the vague wording like “promotes,” “maintains,” and “supports” that you often see on these supplements. This is called a structure/function claim, and it’s perfectly legal, as long as manufacturers also attach a disclaimer that says: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Our product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
Supplement brands seem to expect consumers to just trust them. Rose-Marie Swift, the founder of RMS Beauty, told the fashion trade publication WWD at the time of her supplement launch, “But are exactly like the cocaine industry — there’s s–tty cocaine, s–tty acidophilus. And then there’s movie star cocaine, Hollywood movie star acidophilus.” She actually makes a good point that can be extrapolated to the whole supplement industry: There’s no way of knowing which is the shitty stuff.
Tati Westbrook, the beauty guru, faced backlash about her supplement line from skeptical fans who challenged her on pretty much every single claim and ingredient. At one point, she had to disable her comments because things got very heated. She eventually posted a 50-minute YouTube video to rebut the “haters” and explain the line, though she started out with the assertion, “This is not snake oil.” Her commenters pointed out that she really didn’t provide the proof of efficacy they were asking for.
While the popularity of these types of products is on the rise, aided and abetted by weak regulations and a beauty industry eager to make money, it is heartening to see that some target consumers are starting to become more educated, and to care enough to be loud about it. Cohen does think the regulations will change in the next decade or two, but consumers will ultimately need to be the catalyst.
So many of the bloggers I follow start their day with a big ol’ cup of coffee and a scoop of collagen powder. I, personally, take my coffee black, but it gets me thinking: Do I need to be adding supplements into my diet? Do I, too, need to be taking a midday skincare gummy?!
If you also lie in bed at night, questioning if you’re doing everything you can to get the skin of your dreams, then you’ve come to the right article. Because I went to the experts to find out if this who supplement trend is for real, or if people are just drinking the Kool-Aid (or in this case, the ingestible collagen). So before you go popping gummy vitamins like they’re fruit snacks, read this, first.
4 Best-Selling Skincare Supplements
Daily Use Antioxidant Formula Capsules Heliocare walgreens.com $29.99 Anti-Aging Collagen Elixir Sampler Pack Crushed Tonic sephora.com $15.00 Antioxidant Water Booster Dr. Brandt Skincare sephora.com $39.00 Daily Cleanse Clear Skin and Breakout Supplement HUM Nutrition sephora.com $25.00
First: WTF Is A Skincare Supplement?
“Supplements aren’t just your basic vitamins, which I think a lot of people misconstrue,” says Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology in NYC. “Dietary ingredients can be vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs or botanicals, as well as any other substances that can be used to supplement a diet.”
But even though they sound harmless, know this: “Nutricosmetics, which is when you try to take nutritional supplements for the purpose of skin health and beauty, is super popular in the states, but I’d like consumers to understand that this is not at all reviewed or approved by the FDA,” says Dr. Levin. In other words, there’s no regulation on the claims made on supplement packaging, so there’s no real proof that they would work in an average, healthy person.
So Are They Really Necessary?
In an ideal world, supplements would give your body an extra dose of all of the important, “beautifying” vitamins necessary for clear, smooth, filter-perfect skin. But in reality, your body already has a pretty specific method for regulating its vitamin levels, so even if you take a supplement, those nutrients won’t automatically go to your skin (sadly).
In fact, if you already have a balanced, relatively healthy diet, skincare supplements will likely do nothing for your skin, because you’re getting everything you need from your food, according to Dr. Levin and Dr. Vivian Bucay, M.D., clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center. That is, unless you have a vitamin deficiency, in which case a supplement could be beneficial (but more on that later).
And even if you eat straight trash all day, “Taking supplements is not going to replace a healthy diet,” says Dr. Bucay. So, sorry, but if you want your skin to look healthier, you need to eat healthier, first.
Still, Some Might Actually Work
Despite all of these prefaces and skepticisms, there are, actually, some science-backed supplements on the market that have been proven to be effective. Both Dr. Levin and Dr. Bucay recommend Heliocare, a supplement that contains an extract from a fern plant called polypodium leucotomos (an incredibly potent antioxidant). This supplement is well-studied and shown to improve pigmentation from melasma as well as decrease the effects of UVA, UVB, infrared, and visible light on the skin.
As for the trendy ingestible collagen? Well, the jury is still out. “There isn’t any evidence at this time that consuming whole collagen will actually survive the metabolism and digestion process, then travel to the bloodstream, and then, in turn, increase collagen production in your skin,” says Dr. Levin. Plus, both Dr. Levin and Dr. Bucay agree that if you have a normal or high protein-based diet, you are already getting enough collagen, so skip the supplements.
Will It Hurt to Try Them Anyway?
If you’re thinking to yourself, I hear you, but I’m probs gonna try them anyway, then by all means, give one a go!* (*After checking with your doctor). Just promise me you’ll stay away from experimenting with fat-soluble vitamins, like A, D, E, and K. While some supplements are harmless to try, because you’ll pee out the excess that your body doesn’t need, fat-soluble vitamins can accumulate in your system and lead to serious issues.
Which is why you should always, always chat with your derm or physician before trying any supplements, even if they seem harmless. “You need to see if your levels are actually high or low before trying them out, because you could hurt yourself by taking too much,” says Dr. Bucay.
Blah, Blah, Blah—When Will I See Results?
Okay, if you promise me that you chatted with your derm and got the green light for whichever supplement you wanted to try, then yes—you may go ahead and lead your best Instagram life, popping collagen and gummies. Just don’t expect to see miracle results overnight.
At best, Dr. Bucay says that if you stick with a consistent routine (no forgetting or skipping), you could see slight results after three months. But considering there’s an even higher chance you might not see any results at all, and since supplements aren’t exactly cheap, your money will be better spent on something known to be effective—like a trip to your dermatologist for retinoids, microneedling, or lasers.
The SparkNotes Summary
If you scrolled to the bottom for the tl;dr, here’s the recap:
1. Skincare supplements are not necessary for someone who has a healthy, balanced diet and doesn’t have any vitamin deficiencies. How do you know if you have any vitamin deficiencies? Get tested by a doctor.
2. Curious about which type of vitamin to try? Or how much (the dosage) of a supplement you should be taking? Or whether or not you’re using the dangerous supplements instead of the “safe” supplements? Or what the meaning of life is? Consult your doctor.
3. Know that you probably won’t see big results from using supplements, but, hey, there’s a small chance you might. And in the end, after you’ve gotten explicit approval from your dermatologist, maybe, just maybe (but probably not), you’ll finally have the skin of your dreams. Easy, right?
Related Story Brooke Shunatona Brooke Shunatona is a contributing writer for Cosmopolitan.com.