There is nothing easy about losing your hair. It is a very stressful process that will often leave people looking for any and every solution they can get their hands on. Unfortunately, this also means that companies are going to use marketing strategies to try and take advantage of these desperate people. Disgraceful.
This is exactly why there are hundreds, if not thousands of hair loss products out there. Peoepl want a solution, and fast. But there is one in particular that has risen to the top that has millions of people around the world fooled into thinking it is going to cure their hair loss. It’s called biotin, and it’s quite possibly the most misunderstood vitamin of them all.
Biotin has taken the hair loss world by storm over the last decade. Oddly enough though, the chances of it doing anything, anything at all, for your hair loss are slim-to-none.
In this article, we are going to break down what biotin is, why it gained unfounded popularity, and how clever marketing has allowed it to rise to the top when it really shouldn’t be there.
What is biotin?
Biotin, or vitamin B7, is one of several essential b-vitamins. It helps enzymes throughout your body break down carbohydrates, fat, amino acids, and other substances, all to provide you with the energy you need to get through the day (in other words it helps with metabolism).
While that is biotins main function, it also plays a role in hair, skin, and nail health, which, as you may have guessed by now, is the primary reason it was able to gain traction as a hair loss treatment.
How biotin gained popularity as a hair loss treatment
Like stated above, biotin plays a role in your hairs health, but it is only when levels throughout the body are low that you might see changes in your hair.
Biotin is only one of four (including folate, riboflavin, and B12) of the b-vitamins that has a deficiency linked to hair loss (1). If you have a biotin deficiency there is a chance that you could experience hair thinning, which is the exact narrative that marketers love to exploit, example: “taking biotin can help your hair loss”.
Although the notion that taking biotin can help your hair loss is technically true, it only applies if you are biotin deficient.
“Well maybe I am biotin deficient” you might be thinking to yourself. Well, the chances are slim. Only about 1 in every 135,000 people is biotin deficient (0.000007%). This is because, according to the National Institute Of Health, the adequate biotin intake for people 19+ (the same demographic likely to experience male/female pattern hair loss) is 30 mcg (2), to which they state “the average biotin intake from foods in other western populations is about 30-75 mcg/day, indicating that most people in these countries consume adequate amounts of biotin”.
So the problem isn’t with biotin deficiency, it’s with the marketers.
But marketers are smart. They know how to twist the narrative in a way that cleverly tricks people into thinking that taking biotin will help cure their androgenic alopecia (AGA; male/female pattern hair loss), which newsflash, it won’t. By using generic terms like “hair loss” instead of “pattern hair loss”, implementing clever marketing strategies that promise a quick fix, and playing to people’s emotions, its wasn’t difficult for marketers to get people on board with biotin.
You would think that surely there must be some research they can use to back their claims?
Well, when you actually look at the research… there is none.
What the research says
There have been zero studies done that show biotin can help reverse pattern hair loss. This is because pattern hair loss is caused by several completely different factors unrelated to biotin (read all about it here).
Though there are many studies on biotin for hair, all of them are focused on how it effects deficiency, not on pattern hair loss. Some data (3) even inadvertently found biotin to have negligible effects on pattern hair loss. But because it affects “hair loss” (again, that of which is caused by deficiency only) marketers can legally make the claim that it “helps regrow hair”.
What’s worse? Not only are people who are not biotin deficient taking it hoping to cure their hair loss, but they are taking way too much of it.
Another thing that marketers have tricked people into thinking is “the more biotin the better”. Let’s dig into that.
Like stated above, the recommended biotin intake is around 30 mcg/day for adults, which most people easily consume through their diet. But, even if they had to get their biotin through supplementation, they would only need to take a small amount (likely between 30-50 mcg/day max). So why are there 10,000 mcg biotin supplements for sale?
One could speculate that companies figure they can charge more for more biotin while still pushing the agenda “the more biotin the better”. It is ironic that research has shown that many biotin supplements greatly exceed the recommended daily intake (4), isn’t it? But what happens to the excess biotin?
Biotin is water soluble, which means that any excess biotin our body doesn’t use will be excreted in our urine (5). In fact, there is a running joke throughout the healthcare industry that Americans have the most expensive pee in the world.
In short, any biotin that you take that exceeds what your body needs will be lost. Not only is it a waste of biotin, but it’s a huge waste of money and it won’t even help your hair loss.
Unless you are biotin deficient do not take a biotin supplement. If you suspect you are look for these symptoms:
-red rash around the eyes, nose, and mouth
Also, always make sure you talk to your doctor first.
If you are suffering from male/female pattern hair loss biotin is not going to be effective, but you will be effectively wasting your money. There is no scientific research showing that it helps, so don’t fall victim to any more marketing ploys!