Biotin’s benefits: More than skin deep

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New areas of growth and more scientific research are on the horizon for biotin.

Photo © AdobeStock.com/Лилия Захарчук

Photo © AdobeStock.com/Лилия Захарчук

Biotin equals beauty in the minds of many, particularly American women. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, self-reported use of biotin among American adults is on the rise.

Why does biotin continue to be a bestseller? Does science back its effectiveness? And is consuming or applying biotin most likely to get the best results?

Why Is Biotin a Bestseller?

Biotin continues to be a strong seller in North America because it’s able to bring about noticeable changes in hair and nails relatively quickly, says nutricosmetic and natural-beauty product expert Paula Simpson, founder of Nutribloom Consulting. “While all these substances effectively contribute to our aesthetic well-being, it’s the tangible results that typically sway consumers,” Simpson says.

Biotin has historical significance for the beauty market, especially when it comes to hair, skin, and nail formulations, says Katie Emerson, MS, RD, LDN, manager of scientific affairs at ingredient supplier Nutrition21 (Saddle Brook, NJ). “Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin, also known as vitamin B7, that plays a key role in several biological functions, including the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins,” Emerson explains.

While biotin has long been popular in the beauty space, it’s recently picked up steam in another area: the grocery department. According to Haleigh Resetar, corporate communications specialist at SPINS (Chicago), “Biotin as a functional ingredient is growing in energy and sports drinks at 114.4% in dollar sales and 124.9% unit sales.”

Biotin hasn’t experienced the same level of popularity in other areas, however. “While biotin has typically experienced the most growth in beauty supplements, its usage in this subcategory is slightly declining at -15.1% in dollar sales and -21.1.% in unit sales,” Resetar explains.1

Science and Biotin

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, while there is an increased interest in biotin by American adults in recent years, there is only “limited evidence” that supports biotin supplements are effective for hair and nail growth.2

Simpson agrees. “The quality of science is small when compared to other nutricosmetic ingredients, but is steadily improving in our understanding of how it works for nails or hair, for example,” she says. She adds: “Micronutrients such as biotin are crucial in the regular growth of hair follicles. Insufficient levels of these micronutrients could potentially serve as a modifiable risk factor linked to the onset, prevention, and management of alopecia,” Simpson explains.3

At SPINS, Resetar agrees that the research around biotin isn’t prolific. In fact, she states, “According to NIH, many claims supporting biotin come from only a few case studies and reports.”4

Emerson points to a study published in the Journal of Clinical & Experimental Dermatology Research, focused on a clinical trial on Nutrition21’s ingredient, Lustriva, a complex of bonded arginine silicate and magnesium biotinate that the company describes as “a new and superior form of biotin and silicon to promote healthier-looking skin and hair.”5

“The research on the benefits of biotin for hair and skin is stronger than some other nutrients, but the data overall is equivocal, with some studies showing benefits while others do not,” she says.

Is Biotin Becoming More Sophisticated?

“Based on the most recent data, it seems that biotin as an ingredient is being integrated into other categories, including food and beverage,” Resetar says, “whereas it was originally seeing success in VMS [vitamins, minerals, supplements] and body care.” Since biotin is in an overall decline, Resetar says, witnessing this innovation and entrance into other categories is to be expected. A similar pattern was seen with hemp cannabidiol (CBD), she points out. “When it started to decline in body care, brands started integrating it into beverages, where it is seeing growth.”

Simpson, too, has noticed biotin being used in conjunction with other ingredients. “You’re starting to see it combined with other ingredients to ‘amplify’ or work synergistically for aesthetic results,” she notes.

And Emerson says, “The popularity surrounding biotin for hair and skin health is paving the way for more sophistication around its delivery in particular.”

The Biotin Debate: Most Useful to Apply or Consume?

“According to SPINS data, biotin is more popular in ingestibles, specifically in grocery,” says Resetar. Simpson, too, believes that more people reach for ingestible forms of biotin than topical ones. This, she says, is because it’s still widely known as the “hair and nails” supplement.

Emerson agrees. “Biotin is popular in both ingestible and topical products, but it seems to be more prevalent in ingestible forms, like supplements and fortified foods,” she says.

References

  1. SPINS data. Sales in the multioutlet and natural enhanced channels in the 52 weeks ending September 10, 2023.
  2. Heymann, W. R. Biotin supplementation for hair and nail health: Does it pass the test? American Academy of Dermatology Association website. November 17, 2021. https://www.aad.org/dw/dw-insights-and-inquiries/archive/2021/biotin-supplementation-hair-nails#:~:text=Among%20U.S.%20adults%2C%20the%20prevalence,at%20least%205%20mg%20daily
  3. Almohanna, H. M.; Ahmed, A. A.; Tsatalis, J. P.; Tosti A. The role of vitamins and minerals in hair loss: a review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019, 9 (1): 51-70. DOI: 10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6
  4. National Institutes of Health. Dietary supplement fact sheets. Biotin. Updated January 10, 2022. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/#:~:text=of%20these%20findings.-,Biotin%20and%20Health,might%20improve%20hair%2C%20nail%2C%20and%20skin%20health%2C%20especially%20among%20healthy%20individuals.,-Health%20Risks%20from
  5. Kalman, D. S.; Hewlings, S. J. A randomized double-blind evaluation of a novel biotin and silicon ingredient complex on the hair and skin of healthy women. J Clin Exp Dermatol Res. 2021, 12 (1). https://www.longdom.org/open-access/a-randomized-doubleblind-evaluation-of-a-novel-biotin-and-silicon-ingredient-complex-on-the-hair-and-skin-of-healthy-wom.pdf
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