Do Hair, Skin, and Nail Supplements Actually Do Anything? Experts Aren’t Convinced

Do Hair, Skin, and Nail Supplements Actually Do Anything? Experts Aren’t Convinced

If you haven’t purchased a beauty supplement yet, chances are you’ve seen an ad for one. Thanks to celebrity endorsements, influencers, and social media marketing, demand for hair, skin, and nail vitamins has exploded. In 2016, the industry was worth $3.5 billion, according to a report from Goldstein Research; by the end of 2024, it’s expected to be valued at $6.8 billion.

But will one bottle of powder-filled pills or fruit-flavored gummies, over time, deliver a glowing complexion, shiny strands, and invincible nails? It seems too good to be true­—and according to some experts, it might be.

There’s a lack of standardized dosing and regulation in beauty supplements, and these products aren’t tracked by a centralized database or repository. In fact, one 2020 study looked into this lack of regulation by surveying seven stores within a three mile radius, finding 176 separate supplements that contained 225 distinct ingredients including “vitamins, minerals, food extracts, botanicals, animal products (collagen, fish oils), amino acids, a hormone, and distinct microbial strains.” These findings raised concerns about a lack of knowledge around long-term efficacy in beauty supplements as well as nutrient “overdosing”—because if you’re not deficient in a vitamin or mineral, taking more of it could cause more harm than good.

“The doses in many supplements are many multiples beyond the daily recommended amount,” says Ranella Hirsch, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of Atolla Skin Lab. If you are deficient in a particular vitamin—which a doctor should confirm with bloodwork, Dr. Hirsch says—supplementing it may be beneficial for you. But the reality of it is, the need for that is rare and “most supplements in dermatology are loaded with ingredients that have no data proving them effective,” Dr. Hirsch explains.

Alicia Zalka, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Surface Deep, uses supplements in her practice because she has seen improvement in patients with specific needs. “But if skin, hair and nails do improve, is it from the supplements or some other positive change? Hard to tell,” she says. Plus, she always under promises when it comes to results.

While certain vitamins (like biotin) may aid in hair growth and others (like zinc) may improve skin, loading those claims into one bottle can be confusing, which is why it’s important to understand which vitamins—if any—are linked to specific hair, skin, and nail benefits. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular beauty supplements and their claims.

Some might work while others are a total waste of money.