On Tuesday, beauty YouTuber Tati Westbrook posted a video to address previous comments she made about fellow YouTuber James Charles a year prior.
Originally, Westbrook had said she felt betrayed by Charles because he promoted a beauty supplement company while knowing Westbrook had her own line of hair and skin supplements.
Drama aside, Westbrook and Charles' initial falling out and Westbrook's new apology video brought the value of supplements into question. Research into these vitamins is generally inconclusive.
In May 2019, longtime beauty YouTuber Tati Westbrook posted a video that publicly ended her friendship with fellow beauty vlogger James Charles. In the video, Westbrook outlined her thoughts on how Charles acted inappropriately and betrayed her since they became friends in 2017.
The feud began when Charles posted an advertisement for Sugar Bear Hair, a beauty supplement company Kylie Jenner and other celebrities have created sponsored posts for in the past. Westbrook shared an Instagram video soon after, where she cried and said she felt betrayed. Westbrook has her own brand of beauty supplements called Halo Beauty that Charles supported prior to his Sugar Bear Hair post.
The furor had an enormous impact on Charles' follower count (he lost more than 3 million subscribers in the few days following Westbrook's video), and former fans destroyed makeup they bought from his Morphe collaboration. Westbrook's video also sparked a broader debate about how effective supplements really are, or if they're just a waste of money.
A year on, Westbrook has shared a new video called "Breaking My Silence," saying fellow YouTubers Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson manipulated her into posting the original vitamin-feud video, and that it was a cover-up for a bigger plot Star and Dawson had to take down Charles.
But it's a belated clarification, and the feud brought the value of their hair and skin supplements into question, impacting both Charles' and Westbrook's businesses. Now that the argument has been brought back into the spotlight, Westbrook's new assertion that beauty vitamins were a non-issue in her relationship with Charles is once again highlighting their dubious value.
Supplements aren't federally regulated
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) leaves supplement companies to determine the manufacturing and packaging practices for products on their own. The government also considers all supplements safe until proven unsafe.
These loose guidelines allow supplement companies to claim their products can help customers achieve certain health goals, even if research doesn't entirely back up their claims.
On the Halo Beauty website, the brand's Kiwi Seed Booster supplement is described as "clinically proven to firm, hydrate, rejuvenate, and moisturize skin & reduce fine lines." It contains 14 ingredients including vitamin C, biotin, and vitamin D.
Similarly, Sugar Bear Hair wrote that its gummies are made with "only the best ingredients available to ensure an effective product that looks great, smells great and tastes great too! Most importantly, everyone is saying 'It works!'" The brand's popular gummies contain 13 active ingredients, including vitamin C, biotin, vitamin D, vitamin B.
Research suggests consuming these nutrients in supplement form is ineffective and in some cases, harmful. In a study published in April, researchers looked at vitamin D supplements and found that the majority of the people taking them weren't actually deficient in the vitamin. The researchers also found that these people had a greater risk of developing cancer or dying than people who didn't take vitamin D supplements.
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Another study found vitamin C and calcium supplements had no added health benefits for the people who reported using them, and a 2014 study of people who used vitamin B3 supplements to help them build up more "good" cholesterol ended up having higher risks for infection, liver problems, and internal bleeding than people who didn't take vitamin B3.
Biotin, or vitamin B7, has become a buzzy beauty ingredient in recent years, but the FDA has warned against using the ingredient in supplement form. In November 2017, the FDA said that taking biotin could skew blood tests, which could make it difficult for doctors to correctly diagnose a patient. Biotin deficiency is also rare, so most people don't need to consume extra biotin outside of their normal diets to reap its benefits.
Both companies also said their products are made in FDA-approved facilities, but this doesn't mean the supplements themselves are FDA-approved. A disclaimer about this differentiation is at the bottom of both companies' websites.
"Consumers should expect nothing from [supplements] because we don't have any clear evidence that they're beneficial, and they should be leery that they could be putting themselves at risk," S. Bryn Austin, a professor of behavioral sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, previously told Business Insider. "Whether it's on the bottle or not, there can be ingredients in there that can do harm."
A balanced diet is the best way to get all of your recommended vitamins
The best way to achieve long shiny hair, strong nails, and glowing skin is to eat foods where the relevant vitamins occur naturally.
"In the absence of significant positive data — apart from folic acid's potential reduction in the risk of stroke and heart disease — it's most beneficial to rely on a healthy diet to get your fill of vitamins and minerals," Dr. David Jenkins, the author of a study that found most vitamin supplements ineffective, previously told Insider. "So far, no research on supplements has shown us anything better than healthy servings of less processed plant foods, including vegetables, fruits, and nuts."
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