Biotin for Hair: Benefits and How to Use It

Meet the Expert

Keep on reading to find out what they had to say about what biotin can—and can not—do for your hair.

What Is Biotin?

Biotin, also known as vitamin B-7, is an essential nutrient that is most often found naturally in food; biotin-rich foods include cereals (wheat and oats), vegetables (like spinach and mushrooms), and rice. "Biotin converts glucose from carbohydrates into energy for the body and aids amino acids in carrying out normal bodily functions," says Phipps. It plays an important part in a balanced diet and hair health.

Biotin for Hair

  • Type of ingredient: A water-soluble B vitamin
  • Main benefits: Enhances shine, strengthens, and protects.
  • Who should use it: Those with dull and/or damaged hair
  • How often can you use it: Daily
  • Works well with: Shampoos
  • Don’t use with: No ingredients are known to interfere with biotin.

Hair Type Considerations

Biotin can potentially make strands stronger and shinier, which is why those with dull, damaged locks could most benefit from using it for their hair. And despite being marketed as a "hair loss treatment," there isn't much proven scientific data to suggest that biotin supplementation can help with hair regrowth. "If you’re experiencing hair thinning or hair loss, it is best to see a hair loss specialist," advises Phipps. However, it's worth noting that making sure you're getting enough biotin in your diet can potentially help prevent thinning in the first place. (Though again, deficiencies are pretty rare.) "Biotin can help maintain the health of your nervous system, which is important for healthy hair growth and prevention of hair loss," says Friese.

How to Use Biotin for Hair

Biotin can be used topically—most commonly as an ingredient in shampoo—or taken orally as a supplement. But keep in mind that taking supplements should only be done if you're not getting all of the vitamins you need from your diet. "You can maintain a healthy biotin level by eating meat, eggs, fish, seeds, nuts, and some vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and sweet potatoes," says Friese.

And while most people can take biotin supplements without any adverse reactions, Phipps says that it's best to pay a visit to your doctor before adding any supplements to your daily routine. Again, "You may already be getting the biotin you need through your diet, so talk with your doctor about the best option for you. They may recommend certain dietary changes or a biotin supplement. Be sure to follow any dosage guidelines that they provide." If you have any unusual symptoms while taking a supplement, stop using it immediately and be sure to make an appointment with your doctor ASAP.

"Most people can take biotin supplements without any negative effects, but minor side effects are possible," says Phipps, including nausea, diarrhea, and cramping. (Though "You may be able to reduce your risk for side effects by taking your supplement with food," she says.)

You can find pure biotin at most drug stores and almost all vitamin stores. However, "Although the Food and Drug Administration regulates dietary supplements, it’s important to read the packaging carefully and only purchase from a supplier you trust," stresses Phipps. And always make sure to follow the doctor's orders.

"Increasing your biotin intake between 2mg and 5mg per day may improve the strength and thickness of your hair," says Friese. But always check with your doctor first before taking a supplement.

StatPearls. "Biotin Deficiency." 2021.

Skin Appendage Disord. "A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair Loss." 2017.

Read more on: hair