You’ve been growing your beard for a time and now have a healthy face of manly hair developing. But after a while, the growth just lags. The bushy beard you want so badly is stuck somewhere between stubble and a briar patch. You may be tempted to try one of the new beard formulas that contain the vitamin biotin. But what does biotin do, and how well do biotin beard products work?
What is biotin?
First, let’s talk about what the alleged wonder supplement actually is. Biotin is a form of Vitamin B. It is commonly called B7, or sometimes Vitamin H. It is often found in foods such as eggs, fish, milk, nuts, and whole grains with yeast. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, so the body will absorb what it needs and then flush the rest out.
Where does biotin come from?
The human body generally produces enough of the small amount of needed biotin. Foods rich in protein such as nuts and beans give the body biotin.
How much do I need?
Because such food sources contain biotin in such small amounts, they alone are not enough to produce drastic changes. Most people already have enough vitamins from their daily diet. There is no known dose for biotin. Therefore, it is difficult to determine an effective daily recommendation.
How does biotin work?
Simply put, biotin is responsible for breaking down fat and carbohydrates and changing them into energy the cells can use. This energy is then used to provide support for bodily systems, including the keratin in hair and nails as well as the skin and possibly the nerves. According to dermatologist Dr. Richard Scher, biotin can enhance keratin, which makes your hair and fingernails grow and thicken.
For a fuller explanation, see our full run-down of biotin.
Medical biotin treatment reverses the effects of a true deficiency, which is extremely rare. Symptoms of a lack of biotin may include itchy, red skin on the face, loss or thinning of hair, and neurological pain, including numbness and soreness in the extremities. Depression or diabetes may also be related to biotin deficiency.
You may still have questions about biotin and its safety. See our Biotin Q&A section.
Will biotin work wonders on my beard?
The answer depends on who you ask. So far, the scientific consensus of the efficacy of biotin is uncertain. But many people have reported success in growing beard hair with the vitamin.
What does science say?
Biotin produces a small number of positive results for certain areas of the body. As previously stated, we know that biotin works together with keratin, the enzyme that helps encourage the hardening of nails. So a few studies have demonstrated that Vitamin B7 is effective in repairing brittle nails. However, the scientific evidence for biotin as a hair growth stimulator is still lacking. One study found that the vitamin enhanced follicle growth for women with balding spots. But tellingly, the study was paid for by a manufacturer and the accuracy of the results is dubious. So in general, no substantial evidence exists that positively confirms biotin’s efficacy.
While biotin may not directly cause hair to grow, it may be safe to say that biotin can support healthy nails and hair. The European Food Safety Division permits biotin manufacturers to label the product as helpful in maintaining normal skin, hair, nail, and metabolic functions in adults. The assumption is that those functions are already working well and biotin will maintain the existing level of health. EFSA Journal 2010;8(10):1728
What do people say?
So why is the vitamin so popular? The idea is that since biotin can maintain healthy hair and nails and restore brittle or dull hair in people with a deficiency, then it should increase beard hair growth in people who already obtain a sufficient amount of the dietary biotin. The idea has gained popularity because one of the causes of alopecia, or hair loss, is a lack of biotin and zinc. Therefore, some users assume adding a supplement of biotin to the diet will increase facial hair.
If most people get enough biotin from their bodies from eating a normal diet, why the push for biotin compounds? For one, many people do not maintain the proper diet and lifestyle that provide adequate intake of the vitamin. The main source of biotin should come from foods. Also, sleeping sufficiently, about 7-8 hours per night, enables the body to be at peak performance to perform the metabolizing function that releases biotin. Stress damages biotin production also. All these factors combined can leave people lacking biotin (although not a true clinical insufficiency).
Therefore, many people believe a biotin supplement will restore the balance lacking from their busy but unhealthy lifestyle. However, an artificial supplement will never be as good as the natural source, which the body easily uptakes.
Should I try biotin?
The biotin debate continues between the scientific community and the avid proponents of the vitamin. While the scientific support for biotin as an enhancer of beard growth is sketchy at best; online product reviews, blogs, and YouTube videos swear biotin can work for increasing facial hair, so it is worth the time to consider those experiences too. What could be the discrepancy in opinion between scientists and biotin vitamin customers? First, the user’s results could be a perceived placebo effect. You’ve heard that if you think it, then it will come true? One possibility could be that the limited scientific study samples simply did not account for the diversity of people using biotin. Or simply, individual results vary.
Whatever the reason, you have nothing to lose, only something to gain, through biotin use.
An overdose of biotin is almost impossible like in most other water-soluble vitamins–excess vitamins should pass out from the body. As in any substance, avoid massive quantities (i.e., don’t down an entire bottle at dinner to grow out your beard before a date).
So if you want to consume biotin for your beard, it shouldn’t hurt it. It may even help it, but don’t expect miracles overnight. Growing a beard takes time, patience, diligence, and proper body care to look good. Make sure to brush and condition it to maintain healthy hair.
How should I choose a good biotin beard vitamin?
If you are looking to see how well biotin beard products work, then try them for yourself! In order to find an effective biotin beard formula, there are a few tips to pay attention to:
1. Is the biotin supplement alone or in conjunction with other vitamins?
A multivitamin contains many of the nutrients needed for cell growth, so the addition of biotin can give a more complete formula. (Multivitamins may not provide as much nutrition as natural sources though.) A thin beard could be related to a deficiency in other vitamins like zinc or iron. The nutrients work together with biotin to strengthen and grow hair at a consistent rate. Vitamin D is lacking in most people. It is one of the few supplements that may be necessary for most people because they do not get it from their diet but rather the sun, which people are not exposed to as much in industrial societies.
2. What are the product ingredients?
You want as few ingredients as possible. Some formulas contain filler ingredients that may cause interactions with the actual vitamin or with other drugs. Several vitamins were pulled from shelves last year due to improper labeling. Consumer Research has tested several popular biotin vitamin supplements to see which are effective. Their list shows the benefits and recommendations of each.
3. What form does it come in?
Does the vitamin come in capsule or tablet form? While either form will work, capsules absorb into the body quicker and more easily than tablets that need more time to dissolve. Also, check the size of the pill to make sure you can swallow it. Nothing is worse than getting a “horse pill” stuck in your throat!
4. What is the dosage?
The FDA does not test vitamin supplements, but it does issue general allowances. The general minimum for most people is 30 micrograms. A test by Consumer Research determined that the minimum dosage should be 10,000 cmg to efficiently get into the body and make a difference. The intestines process food. Some nutrients get lost and don’t end up at their destination, so proponents say 20,000 cmg is better. Either way, it should not hurt you; you just don’t want to pay more for a dosage higher than that because the body simply won’t use it all.
5. Where is the product manufactured?
Is it made in a laboratory approved by a government or industry organization? Some countries regulate ingredients in vitamin supplements, while others do not check. The filler ingredients could be harmful. A lab should verify that the amount given on the bottle is the same amount available for use in the pill.
6. What is the popular opinion?
Reading reviews and listening to the experiences of your friends often gives the most information about a vitamin beard product. While everyone experiences different effects, a large percentage of positive reviews may mean more success in growing a beard with biotin vitamins. Read the reviews to look for benefits to growing your bread and any potential side effects to look for. A new supplement in the market is quickly growing a massive following. Check out Legendary Beard Company and see what people are talking about.
While some reviewers of biotin products claimed to see growth success within a week, most reviewers said it took about three weeks on average to see results. During this time, it is important to maintain your beard with brushing and using a conditioner and beard oil. Take the supplements every day at the same time; it may help to take it with food too.
So the final question is…
How well do biotin beard products work?
It may help your beard grow, but science doesn’t know. It has shown limited efficacy for a small number of medical issues, but evidence for aiding in beard growth hasn’t been found–yet. However, blog sites and thousands of people tout the benefits of biotin beard vitamins. So in the meantime, feel free to try formulas that contain biotin and other elements you need to make your beard fuller, thicker, and more lustrous. You have only a better beard to gain.
What is your experience with biotin beard vitamins? Did it make your beard fill out more than normal? If so, tell us what type vitamin you used and how long it took for you to see results. If not, tell us what happened. Either way, we’d love to hear your stories.