Everyone from the Kardashians to former Bachelor stars are praising chewable nutrients for their healthy hair benefits. Here, what a hair expert and nutritionist have to say about them.
Scroll through Instagram and you might notice your fave celebs (the whole Kardashian clan, Vanessa Hudgens, or The Bachelor's Amanda Stanton) posting subtle #sponsored photos about blue-hued gummy vitamins called SugarBears. Popping the sugary edibles is said to help you grow stronger, longer, and shinier hair. The company's website describes the product as "a bear who loves hair." (Creepy...?)
But while there are certainly testimonies from those who aren't being paid to post the praises of the gummies, can these little guys actually work to give you Hollywood-esque hair? "They could possibly help, but no vitamin is ever a silver bullet," reminds Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. "If any supplement you are looking to buy makes huge claims that seem too good to be true, they almost definitely are."
SugarBears do have collagen-building vitamin C, which is important to keep your hair strong; biotin, which helps hair grow; and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help nourish the hair follicle, preventing it from drying out, says Gans. Beyond the healthy hair benefits, biotin is also linked to healthy nails and skin, vitamin C helps to boost the immune system, and omega-3s can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, fight memory loss, and even ward off depression. (Not to mention, vitamin C and omega-3s can also help to increase muscle tone.)
The thing is, you don't need a vitamin to score those nutrients. Vitamin C is in citrus fruits, berries, and broccoli; biotin is in eggs, sweet potatoes, and almonds; and omega-3 fatty acids can be found in foods like salmon, walnuts, and tofu, says Gans.
"If you’re eating a good diet, that’s going to be enough," says Kenneth Anderson, M.D., a board-certified hair restoration and hair loss expert in Atlanta, GA. “You're not going to have trouble growing hair. In fact, lack of hair growth from diet isn't seen much in this country; that's malnutrition."
That said, if your diet's a mess, gummy vitamins (or any vitamins rich in these nutrients, for that matter) could be a convenient and fun way to pack more nutrients in your day-to-day, says Dr. Anderson. The only real difference with the bears and other vitamins is that they’re in gummy form and that you’re getting a mix of vitamins versus, say, just one.
Bottom line: If your hair is healthy already, it’s not going to become next-level by taking one of these. "If someone doesn't have hair loss, it’s not really possible to make your hair dramatically thicker—your hair is what it is," Dr. Anderson says.
If you do have hair loss? First, know this: "Hair loss is hormonal in nature, almost all the time. You were born to have hair loss or to not have hair loss. Vitamins are not going to make a huge difference either way."
Then consider that without doing surgery there are three main levels of what works in terms of stopping hair loss for women. The first (and most effective) method is using devices with lights to penetrate the scalp, which is called low-level light laser therapy, says Dr. Anderson. The second tier: platelet-rich plasma therapy (which works by stimulating new or inactive hair follicles). Then comes the third—and least effective—measure: things like shampoo and vitamins, says Anderson. "Do vitamins help? Conceivably. Are they going to make a 'night and day' difference or even a noticeable difference? That’s not likely at all." (Translation: take those Instagram endorsements of celebs with hair extensions with a grain of salt!)
And if you are going to take the gummy vitamins, keep your portions in check. "Too many vitamins and minerals could potentially have a toxic effect," Gans says. That's a possibility with any kind of supplement—true. It's just that you're more likely to keep popping a vitamin when it, well, tastes a-m-a-z-i-n-g.