The Evolution of Hair Beauty Supplements

Nutrafol researchers explain the important role of micronutrients and standardized phytochemicals in the formulation of effective products.

The beauty supplement industry has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, as consumers are conscious of their overall well-being and the desire for healthier skin and hair. According to Grand View Research, the market saw a significant surge in demand for hair beauty supplements, as described in the June 2023 report on the hair beauty supplement market growth: “the capsule segment [of hair supplements] dominated the global industry with a revenue share of 50.3% in 2022 and it is also projected to register the fastest CAGR during 2023-2030.”1 The growth of capsule-based, multi-ingredient hair supplements, has been attributed to factors such as the unlocking of the powers of botanical extracts, enhanced stability of vitamins and minerals, and the increased importance of sourcing standardized, high quality raw materials. Supplements must meet FDA regulations even though there isn’t a prior-approval process; it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to follow the requirements, which has implications for both consumer perception and the claims made by manufacturers.

A novel generation of hair beauty supplements harnesses the potential of botanical extracts, utilizing their micro- and macro-nutrient profiles to promote healthy hair. The inclusion of these extracts in supplements has been supported by scientific research, highlighting their efficacy in nourishing the hair follicles for a healthy hair cycle.

Ingredients Trends

Consumers are increasingly conscious of the origin and quality of the ingredients used in their products. The quality of raw material sourcing plays a vital role in the overall efficacy of hair beauty supplements. The stability of botanicals, vitamins and minerals in these supplements is also crucial for their effectiveness. Proper formulation and manufacturing processes ensure that these ingredients retain their potency throughout the product’s shelf life, allowing consumers to consistently reap their benefits.

In addition to botanicals and trace minerals, key ingredients in hair beauty supplements include biotin, collagen and trace minerals. Let’s take a closer look at these ingredients.

Historically, a common trend in hair beauty supplements is the use of biotin, a water-soluble B vitamin. Many hair beauty supplements include biotin as a key ingredient, as it is believed to enhance hair strength and thickness. Biotin is an important cofactor for metabolic processes including fatty acid production, gluconeogenesis and amino acid metabolism. However, biotin as a singular intervention has not been shown to influence hair growth in controlled trials.2-4 A recent case-control study found no significant difference in serum biotin levels between healthy control subjects and patients diagnosed with acute or chronic telogen effluvium.5 Although biotin is one of the most popular ingredients for hair, skin and nail formulations, it has not been clinically shown to improve hair quality and hair density as a singular intervention. Multi-ingredient products designed for hair health benefits include biotin as an essential nutrient in combination with other ingredients to improve hair quality and decrease hair shedding. Nutrafol Women includes Biotin in combination with essential vitamins, minerals and standardized botanicals for hair health benefits. 

Collagen, Micronutrients & Minerals

Another common trend in hair beauty supplements is the inclusion of collagen. Collagen supplements are typically sourced as hydrolyzed peptides from marine or bovine sources, which differ in quality, molecular weight distribution and bioavailability.2 “Vegan Collagen” supplements often provide similar profiles of individual amino acids that make up about 50% of collagen: proline, glycine and hydroxyproline. Collagen is a protein that provides structural support to various tissues, including hair follicles. A recent publication underscores the importance of type XVII collagen in protecting hair follicle stem cells, showing that a deficiency in collagen (Col17a1 depletion) can trigger hair follicle stem cell aging via the disruption of the maintenance and differentiation of hair follicle stem cells in vivo.6 Through collagen supplementation, it is hypothesized that by providing the building blocks for collagen synthesis, hair follicle growth can be expedited and quality improved (strength, shine, etc.). Some hair beauty supplements also contain specific amino acids, such as cysteine and methionine, which provide sulfur groups that are essential for the synthesis of keratin, the protein that makes up hair strands.

Nutrafol offers an extensive line of clinically studied hair nutraceuticals.

The role of micronutrients and trace minerals associated with hair-shedding conditions is an expanding field of interest. The hair follicle growth cycle is a highly metabolic process, requiring a series of signaling cascades to activate hair follicle stem cell differentiation and proliferation. The hair follicle is a site of immune privilege; collapse of anagen hair follicle immune privilege has been studied in the pathology of hair shedding conditions. To support these molecular signaling cascades, the hair follicle niche is provided with nutrients, growth factors, metabolites, hormones, oxygen, etc. to the localized dermal papillae at the stem cell niche.7,8

Zinc, iron, tocotrienols and vitamin A, B and D, have all been implicated as micronutrients for supporting hair growth cycling. Vitamin A and derivatives are fat-soluble retinoids that play a critical role in cellular growth and differentiation. Vitamin D has strong anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory effects. Vitamin D correlation to hair growth has been studied in participants experiencing hair shedding; it has been hypothesized that the immunoregulatory effects of vitamin D can play a role in hair follicle cycling mechanisms. Other immunoregulatory and antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamins C and E, are implicated in hair follicle functions, as lipid peroxidation and reactive oxygen species can disrupt the normal functioning of the hair follicle bulb, which is a site of immune privilege. B vitamins aid in cell metabolism; recall that biotin has been implicated in hair growth pathways due to its role in amino acid metabolism.9

Standardized Botanicals

The recent introduction of botanicals standardized to specific bioactive molecules has created a revolution in hair beauty supplements, which were previously dominated by vitamin and micronutrient combinations. Saw palmetto oil, rich in free fatty acids and phytosterols, is a known inhibitor of 5-alpha reductase-induced transformation of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).10 Ashwagandha root and leaf extracts, rich in withanolides and flavonoids and known for stress relief activities,11 has been used as an effective ingredient in formulations to reduce stress-induced hair shedding.12 Turmeric root extract is rich in curcuminoids and is a known antioxidant and immune-support botanical; in vitro studies have pointed to a correlation between hair growth mechanisms and oxidative stress and immune responses.13,14 Tocotrienols, a concentrated form of vitamin E, is a strong antioxidant that protects against oxidative stress, which impacts scalp and hair health. In a clinical study, participants received 100mg of mixed tocotrienols once daily for eight months and showed significant improvements in hair counts.15 Apple extract, rich in polyphenols, protected murine hair follicles from taxane-induced dystrophy16 and when tested clinically as a supplement, significantly increased hair growth, density and keratin content in a 250 patients suffering from pattern baldness.17 The power of standardized botanicals as an intervention for hair thinning has prompted their use in complex formulations for hair beauty supplements at clinically effective doses.12

Delivery Systems

Technology advancements also impacted the hair growth supplement industry. Manufacturers are using innovative delivery systems, such as encapsulation and nanotechnology, to enhance the absorption and bioavailability of key ingredients. There are two main areas for improvement of therapeutic vitamin delivery: physical and chemical. Chemical delivery systems encapsulate unstable or low-absorption vitamins and minerals to improve the delivery of active molecules; encapsulation systems facilitate absorption of vitamins and therapeutic agents in the GI tract (ingestible delivery) as well as transdermally (topical delivery). Physical methods such as lasers, abrasion, microneedles, etc. have been studied and used to improve permeation of topically delivered vitamins and minerals through the skin.18 These advancements facilitate the delivery of nutrients to the hair follicles, potentially maximizing their benefits.

Importance of Clinical Evidence

The beauty supplement industry has witnessed significant advancements in clinically studied hair beauty supplements, which have had a notable impact on consumer perception of these products. As consumers become more discerning and informed about the effectiveness of beauty supplements, the demand for evidence-based and scientifically-supported hair beauty supplements has grown rapidly.

Clinically-studied hair growth supplements are a subcategory of beauty supplements that have undergone rigorous scientific research and testing to validate their efficacy. These studies typically involve placebo-controlled trials, and robust protocols to ensure accurate and reliable results. The inclusion of clinically-studied ingredients in hair growth supplements has provided consumers with a sense of confidence and trust in the product’s efficacy.

Nutrafol, a popular hair beauty supplement, has undergone several clinical studies to evaluate its effectiveness in improving hair health. These studies provided valuable insights into the product’s impact on various hair-related concerns.

A six-month randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted on women with thinning hair showed that a Nutrafol formula significantly improved hair growth and quality after six months of use. The study found that daily intake of the nutraceuticals resulted in a significant increase in the number of terminal and vellus hairs after three months and six months compared to placebo. Significant improvements in hair quality parameters were assessed by a blinded investigator using Global Hair Assessments.19

Furthermore, a prospective, six-month, single-blind clinical trial evaluated the effects of a Nutrafol formula on hair growth and quality in multicultural healthy men (20-45 years) and pre-menopausal women (20-45 years) with self-perceived, mild-moderate hair thinning. The trial included subjects of African American, Asian, Hispanic Caucasian and Non-Hispanic Caucasian descent. The study demonstrated that the Nutrafol formula not only promoted hair growth but also improved the overall quality of the hair, including appearance/quality, scalp coverage, thickness and shedding over one year.20

The impact of clinically studied hair beauty supplements extends beyond consumer perception. It also influences the industry by setting higher standards and encouraging other manufacturers to invest in research and development. As more companies conduct clinical studies and demonstrate the efficacy of their products, the overall quality and reputation of the beauty supplement industry will improve.

In conclusion, hair beauty supplements are designed to provide a nutritional intervention for the support of hair growth and improvement of the overall quality of hair. These supplements typically contain a blend of vitamins, minerals, and botanical extracts that are believed to support hair health. While there is no magic solution for instant hair beauty and health, the innovations in hair beauty supplements aim to provide a holistic approach to nourishing hair follicles. 


1. Grand View Research Report 2023. Hair growth supplements market to reach $1.92Bn by 2030. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-hair-growth-supplements-market
2. Farris PK, Engelman D, Day D, Hazan A, Raymond I. Natural hair supplements: trends and myths untangled. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol 16: S4-S11, 2023
3. Patel DM, Swink SM, Castelo-Soccio L. A review of the use of biotin for hair loss. Skin Appendage Disord 3(3): 166-169, 2017
4. Soleymani T, Lo Sicco K, Shapiro J. The infatuation with biotin supplementation: is there truth behind its rising popularity? A comparative analysis of clinical efficacy vs social popularity. J Drugs Dermatol 16(5): 496-500, 2017
5. Abdel Rahman SH, Salem RM, Sabry JH. Biotin deficiency in telogen effluvium: fact or fiction? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol 13(3): 37-40, 2020
6. Matsumura H, Mohri Y, Binh NT, Morinaga H, Fukuda M, Ito M, Kurata S, Hoejimakers J, Nishimura E. Hair follicle aging is driven by transepidermal elimination of stem cells via COL17A1 proteolysis. Science 351(6273): aad4395, 2016
7. Bertolini M, McElwee K, Gilhar A, Bulfone-Paus S, Paus R. Hair follicle immune privilege and its collapse in alopecia areata. Exp Dermatol 28(8): 703-725, 2020
8. Zhang B, Chen T. Local and systemic mechanisms that control the hair follicle stem cell niche. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol online Oct 30, 2023
9. Almohanna H, Ahmed A, Tsatalis J, Tosti A. The role of vitamins and minerals in hair loss: a review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb) 9(1): 51-70, 2019
10. Rossi A, Mari E, Scarno M, Garelli, V, Maxia, C, Scali, E, Iorio A, Carlesimo M. Comparative effectiveness of finasteride vs Serenoa repens in male androgenetic alopecia: a two-year study. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol 25(4): 1167-1173, 2012
11. Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med 34(3): 255-262, 2012
12. Farris PK, Rogers N, McMichael A, Kogan S. A novel multi-targeting approach to treating hair loss, using standardized nutraceuticals. J Drugs Dermatol 16(11): S141-S148, 2017
13. Kahkhaie K, Mirhosseini A, Aliabadi A, Mohammadi A, Mosavi, M., Haftcheshmeh, S., Sathyapalan, T., & Sahebkar, A. Curcumin: a modulator of inflammatory signaling pathways in the immune system Inflammopharmacology 27(5): 885-900, 2019
14. Muneeb F, Hardman JA, Paus R. Hair growth control by innate immunocytes: Perifollicular macrophages revisited. Exp Dermatol. 2019; 28: 425–431.
15. Beoy, L. A., Woei, W. J., & Hay, Y. K. (2010). Effects of tocotrienol supplementation on hair growth in human volunteers. Tropical life sciences research, 21(2), 91.
16. ARiccio G, Sommella E, Badolati N, Salviati E, Bottone S, Campiglia P, Dentice M, Tenore GC, Stornaiuolo M, Novellino E. Annurca apple polyphenols protect murine hair follicles from taxane induced dystrophy and hijacks polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism toward β-Oxidation. Nutrients 10(11):1808, 2018
17. Tenore GC, Caruso D, Buonomo G, D’Avino M, Santamaria R, Irace C, Piccolo M, Maisto M, Novellino E. Annurca Apple nutraceutical formulation enhances keratin expression in a human model of skin and promotes hair growth and tropism in a randomized clinical trial. J Med Food 21(1): 90-103, 2018
18. Rejinold NS, Kim HK, Isakovic AF, Gater DL, Kim YC. Therapeutic vitamin delivery: chemical and physical methods with future directions. J Control Release 298: 83-98, 2019
19. Ablon G, Kogan S. A six-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the safety and efficacy of a nutraceutical supplement for promoting hair growth in women with self-perceived thinning hair. J Drugs Dermatol 17(5): 558-565, 2018
20. Stephens T, Berkowitz S, Marshall T, Kogan S, Raymond I. A prospective six-month single-blind study evaluating changes in hair growth and quality using a nutraceutical supplement in men and women of diverse ethnicities. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol 15(1): 21-26, 2022

About the Authors
Nicole Townsend is R&D Manager for Nutrafol. She received her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Columbia University with American Chemical Society recognition. Townsend has specialized expertise in hair and skin biology, microbiology, integrative health and nutrition. In her 3+ years at Nutrafol, she has helped develop two ingestible formulas and four topical formulations, currently on market.

Giorgio Dell’Acqua is Chief Science Officer for Nutrafol. After obtaining his PhD in Cell Biology in 1989, Dell’Acqua worked for 15 years as an academic scientist in applied medical research. Moving to the private sector in 2000, he has spent the past 20+ years as an executive and cosmetic scientist in the personal care industry. During his career, he directed R&D, science and product development at multiple companies. He helped bring more than 200 successful active ingredients and finished products to market, authored more than 80 publications in medicine and cosmetic science, holds three patents and has been a keynote speaker on clean beauty, natural ingredients and sustainability. 

More info: [email protected]; www.nutrafol.com


Keep up with the story. Subscribe to the Happi free daily

Related Posts