Last updated on March 22nd, 2022 at 09:11 am
There are many natural hair, skin, and nails vitamins and supplements that can help renew your skin and stimulate hair and nail growth. With so many choices where do you even start? We’ll cover that and so much more with a focus on quality ingredients and results based off of clinical studies. Let’s dive in.
The effectiveness of hair, skin, and nails vitamins or supplements mainly depends on their ingredients and their quality. All supplements and their ingredients are not created equal. A supplement might contain the best vitamins for nails but may lack the vitamins necessary for hair and skin. Likewise, everyone is different, and your vitamin needs may vary from someone else’s. The best supplement for skin might be different for you than for your friends. With this in mind, the typical hair, skin, and nail supplement contains:
- Biotin: Many people use biotin for hair growth as well as for skin and nails. Also known as vitamin B7, this micronutrient helps produce keratin, which promotes strong hair and nails. Biotin is water-soluble, so it can’t be stored – that means a biotin supplement is necessary to maintain proper levels. (8)
- Collagen: This is one of the main proteins found in the nail beds and supports your nails infrastructure. When you lack collagen, your nails appear brittle. One study found that collagen peptides supplementation decreased nail breakage. (9) (10) Collagen also is important for improving skin elasticity.
- Vitamin A, B, and C: These vitamins for nails and skin help reduce acne, lower the risk of nonmelanoma skin growths, and fight free radicals which can result in brighter skin and stimulated collagen for nails. (11) (12) (13)
- Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA): Known as vitamin B10, PABA helps absorb UVB rays associated with sunburn and DNA damage, so it may help protect your skin. There is limited research but PABA may also help with re-pigmentation of graying hair.
- Hyaluronic Acid: This ingredient may help boost moisture in dry skin
- Zinc. This important mineral supports collagen production in your body. Supplementing zinc may also help treat acne, especially if you don’t get enough zinc from your diet
- Fish Oil: Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can nourish your skin. Low omega-3 fatty acid levels can cause dry and irritated skin. Fish oil may also help with acne. A study published in 2014 found fish oil reduced acne lseions after just 10 weeks.
The above micronutrients are proven to play an important role in the health and strength of your hair, skin, and nails. However, some people are more sensitive to some ingredients. For example, a biotin supplement can sometimes cause an acne breakout. While it might improve your hair and nails, it might not be worth the new skin issues. (14) Even one of the best hair skin nails supplements, like Nutridyn’s Hair Skin and Nails, can cause a breakout in sensitive individuals. It all depends on how your body reacts. Ultimately, it’s best to start on a lower-dose biotin supplement or a hair, skin, and nails supplement that has a lower percentage of biotin.
We all have different physiology and the cause for poor hair, skin, and nail health can vary from person to person. The best supplement for skin for you might be different than what is best for another person. For this reason, the amount of time it takes for a hair, skin, and nails supplement to work will vary. With that said, you should start to notice small changes within about eight weeks of taking the supplement consistently. For example, people taking collagen peptides in medical studies report changes in their skin and nails within eight to 12 weeks. They typically notice improved skin elasticity first, then hydration.
To see improvements in hair length takes the longest since even at a healthy rate, you typically only grow half an inch every month. If you’re looking for new hair growth, that could mean years of time before new growth reaches the length of your current hair. Still, you should be able to notice improved thickness and shine within a few months. You may also notice reactivated sebum-producing sebaceous glands, improved natural sebum oil, a more nourished and moisturized scalp, and reduced hair breakage within a few months. (15)
Research suggests that the collagen in hair, skin and nails supplements could provide results within about 5 months. One study has shown that after 24 weeks, people taking oral collagen peptides experienced a 12% increase in nail growth and a 42% decrease in nail breakage. (10) In addition to the other minerals and vitamins for nails in these supplements, collagen should reveal stronger, healthier nails overall.
Interestingly, you might notice results earlier in the skin sooner due to exfoliation. Over time, your body produces new skin cells and sheds old cells. This process occurs every 21 to 90 days, depending on your age. Dead skin cells can sit on your skin’s surface, giving you a dry, dull look and increasing the appearance of wrinkles. When you exfoliate, you remove that layer of dead skin cells on the most external layer of skin. You should give your supplements four to six months of consistent daily use for best results. However, you may notice results a bit sooner because you can physically clear away dead skin cells to review the newer skin underneath. (15) Still, keep in mind that you should only exfoliate a few times per week.
There is some debate as to the best time to take hair skin and nails vitamins. However, doctors generally agree that taking them at night could lead to some issues with absorption since your digestion slows down while you sleep. It’s also worth noting that B vitamins, like a biotin supplement, can stimulate brain function and metabolism. This increased function could keep you up at night, so again, it’s best to take them during the day.
If you can, try taking your vitamins or supplements in the morning with breakfast. Most vitamins are best taken with food, which limits the chance of them upsetting your stomach. Plus, the food stimulates digestion, which could improve absorption. (17) All vitamins have recommended usage labeled on the bottle, so be sure to follow that above all else. A typical hair, skin, and nails supplement will have you break the dosage into servings throughout your day.
For example, Douglas Labs Beauty Essentials recommends taking three tablets per day over one to two meals, in which case you might consume two pills with breakfast and one with lunch. Others, like Douglas Labs Omega Beauty, simply recommend two soft gels with food, in which case you could take both with breakfast. Ultimately, the best supplement is one that you take consistently, so if you have a problem taking your vitamins at multiple meals, it’s best to stick with one that you can take at just one meal.
Do collagen supplements help skin?
Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in your body. It’s a primary component of many of your connective tissues, like your skin, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. However, as you age, your body produces less collagen, and the existing collagen that you do have can become worn out. This is part of the reason your skin loses its elasticity and you start to form fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen helps strengthen the skin, giving it hydration and elasticity. As you age and lose collagen, your skin becomes dry and forms wrinkles more easily. (1)
Supplementing with collagen can help support your collagen loss in many areas, including your skin. There are several studies that showcase collagen’s effectiveness, and researchers continue to study how supplementing collagen works. A review of 11 different studies found consistent results that suggested consuming 3 to 10 grams of collagen each day for 69 days lead to improved skin hydration and elasticity. The studies in the review were predominantly of women and all of the participants consumed oral collagen supplements. (2)
Studies like this show that collagen is a key supplement for the skin. However, it’s important to be mindful of what type of supplement you choose. Collagen is often an ingredient in topical skin serums and creams, but collagen isn’t naturally found on the surface of the skin – it’s in the deeper layers. Plus, collagen fibers are much too large to get through the skin’s outer layers and truly sink in. Your body can actually absorb oral supplements, making them much more effective. (3) It’s also important to consume vitamin C with collagen for proper absorption. The best supplement for skin, like Douglas Labs Hydrolyzed Collagen, will come with a complete formula that includes this vital component.
Collagen supplements can restore the collagen in your skin, providing improved moisture and elasticity. This can, in effect, give skin a more tightened appearance. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the extent of the sagging skin will also come into play. For example, excessive sagging skin that is the result of weight loss will likely not experience many improvements from a collagen supplement. However, skin on the face and neck that has lost elasticity may see some improvements.
Specifically, supplementing collagen hydrolysate or collagen peptides could improve the tightness of the skin. These supplements may improve collagen production, creating stronger collagen networks that can improve the tightness of the skin. They can also improve the skin’s moisture barrier, which decreases the appearance of wrinkles. (6) One study found that women who consumed 10 grams of oral collagen peptides had improved overall skin structure and skin collagen levels after just four weeks, with improved hydration levels occurring at eight weeks. (7)
Do NAC supplements lighten skin?
NAC, or N-acetyl-cysteine, has many uses in dermatology. One of those uses does relate to protecting the skin from dark spots. When you get a zit or other inflammation of the skin, your body responds by healing the trauma. This healing response also produces large amounts of melanin, which can sometimes leave you with a dark spot. If you apply NAC to this spot, it goes straight to the cells that create melanin, in the basal layer of the skin. NAC stops the production of melanin, resulting in fewer dark spots and an even skin tone. (4)
It’s worth noting that skin lighteners can be dangerous and NAC is not intended for overall skin lightening. It can only block more melatonin from being made, not necessarily reverse existing melatonin. Still, NAC has proven useful for preventing acne. In a double-blind study, people using 5% NAC topical gel experienced significantly better results, especially a reduction in acne, than those who got a placebo. (5) Some skin supplements, like Douglas Labs Skin Clarify, contain NAC to help limit breakouts and lessen the likelihood of any dark spots that may result from a breakout.
The best hair, skin, and nails vitamins have two key components: they’re full of the right micronutrients and you’re willing to consistently take them. Even the very best supplement for skin or hair can take months to show real results. If you’re inconsistent about taking the supplements daily, you’ll limit any progress. With that in mind, it’s important to look for key ingredients in your skin and hair supplements. These include biotin and collagen, which are some of the best-studied ingredients for healthy skin and hair. It also includes amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, as well as trace minerals and vitamins.
Additionally, you should also consider the quality of ingredients. It’s best to look for supplements that are free of fillers and additives. These ingredients add bulk to the supplement but do not provide any nutritional value. This includes things like:
- Magnesium stearate
- Stearic acid
- silicon dioxide
- Titanium dioxide
Third Party Testing
You should also consider whether the supplement has undergone third-party testing and whether the brand has a good reputation. ConsumerLab, USP, and NSF are all common third-party organizations that offer testing on supplements. (16) Checking reviews and looking for any negative – or positive – comments about the brand can also help you decipher whether the supplement is worthwhile.
With all of this in mind, we recommend the following hair and skin supplements:
- Douglas Labs Beauty Essentials: Provides cellular support for hair and skin via polyphenols, chelated minerals, biotin, NAC, and vitamins A, C, D3, E, and more. The supplement contains none of the above fillers and is made in an NSF International registered and inspected facility.
- Pure Encapsulations Hair/Skin/Nails Ultra: Supports healthy hair, skin, and nails with collagen, silica, manganese, zinc, copper, folate, vitamin C, and more. Free of unnecessary fillers, preservatives, and binders. Also wheat, soy, dairy, egg, tree nut, peanut and gluten free. Formulated with leading healthcare professionals, this supplement undergoes third-party lab testing to ensure purity and potency.
- Pure Encapsulations MSM Capsules: MSM is a compound found in the body naturally, but supplementing it can improve joint health as well as overall health. MSM specifically helps improve keratin and collagen, both of which are key for strong hair, nails, and skin. This MSM supplement is free of unnecessary fillers and undergoes HPLC and GC-MS lab testing to confirm ingredient purity.
Does Fish Oil Help Your Skin and Hair?
We talked about fish oil in the first section and this is something you can consider adding in addition to hair skin and nails vitamins. For more on fish oil you can check out “The Who, What, When, Where and Why of Omega-3 Fish Oil for Adults”. If you’re plant-based we wrote a piece called “Hey, I’m plant-based but I need EPA and DHA” that’s worth a read.
The benefits you’ll get from fish oil are from the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. These are healthy fats and are associated with fish oil’s heart-healthy benefits. They are also beneficial for your hair and your skin. Low Omega-3 levels can cause you to have dry and irritated skin.
When your skin is nourished your scalp is also nourished which may benefit your hair. A study published in the “Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology” in 2015 reported that a supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids might help with hair thinning. Women that took the supplement for 6 months lost less hair, and their hair also grew thicker, growing thicker individual strands of hair, as well as growing more hair overall. However, more research is needed to better understand exactly what fish oil can do for your hair, and if it has benefits other than fighting hair loss.
Fish oil also offers benefits if you struggle with acne. A study published in “Acta Dermato-Venereologica” in 2014 found that fish oil could reduce acne lesions in people struggling with acne after just 10 weeks. The people who took another oil supplement – one that didn’t have the omega-3s in fish – didn’t get the same benefits.
Yes, a biotin supplement can promote hair growth. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that’s part of the B vitamin family, although it’s also known as vitamin H. A lack of biotin can result in hair loss, as well as a scaly red rash. So, how does biotin impact hair? Biotin is scientifically proven to improve your body’s keratin infrastructure. Keratin is a protein that makes up your hair, nails, and skin. By supplementing biotin, you support healthy keratin infrastructure which, in turn, supports healthy hair. (18)
In one study, women with thinning hair either took a placebo or an oral marine protein supplement that contained biotin. After 90 days, the women taking the supplement experienced significant hair growth in the areas where they had thinning hair, as well as less hair shedding when compared to those who took the placebo. (19) There are several additional studies with similar results. However, it’s important to note that most of these studies involve participants consuming a supplement that contains biotin for hair growth, as well as other nutrients. Further research is needed to determine whether it is the biotin alone impacting hair growth.
Evidence suggests that oral collagen peptides are best for hair growth. Although there are topical collagen treatments, collagen fibers are actually too large for the skin to absorb them. These treatments essentially sit on your skin or scalp and have little to no impact. An oral collagen peptide supplement is small enough that your body can easily absorb the collagen. (3) Collagen’s amino acids can play a key role in helping your body build hair proteins while strengthening the skin containing your hair’s roots. Plus, collagen may help to prevent damage to the hair follicle, which ensures less shedding. Collagen may also help stop the hair follicle from greying and protect the dermis, which encourages less thinning with aging. (20)
Collagen requires vitamin C for full absorption, so a good collagen supplement also contains this micronutrient. For example, Douglas Labs Hydrolyzed Collagen contains vitamin C, as well as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and collagen builders. This supports both strong hair, as well as healthy, moisturized skin. You might also consider taking a hair growth supplement in addition to collagen. Douglas Labs Hair Growth+ contains green tea and grape seed polyphenols, as well as taurine and zinc. These ingredients have been clinically studied and proven to support the natural hair growth cycle while also providing support for your hair follicles, ultimately resulting in improved hair quality, thickness, and volume.
Best Hair, Skin, and Nails Vitamins
The best hair skin nails supplement is one that contains high-quality ingredients and has independent testing. Supplements should also have manufacturing processes that are certified by reputable organizations, like NSF and USP. This testing ensures that raw ingredients receive regular testing to protect against impurities and ensure the best quality. Many of the top-tier supplements also lack fillers and contain non-GMO and hypoallergenic ingredients.
Based on our extensive experience in the industry, we suggest the following as the best hair, skin, and nails supplements. Depending on your needs you may decide you want to focus on your skin and therefore you might choose more of a collagen-based supplement like Nutridyn’s Dynamic Collagen Renew.
For overall Hair, Skin and Nails Douglas Labs Beauty Essentials, Nutridyn’s Hair, Skin and Nails, or Pure Encapsulations Hair, Skin and Nails are all excellent. You could then consider additional support based on what you may need. For example, if you wanted to focus on hair growth you could add on Douglas Labs Hair Growth +. If you wanted to add an Omega-3 supplement to support skin and hair you could consider any of the Omega 3 Supplements listed below.
- Douglas Labs Beauty Essentials
- Nutridyn Hair, Skin and Nails
- Pure Encapsulations Hair/Skin/Nails Ultra
- Douglas Labs Hydrolyzed Collagen
- Dynamic Collagen Renew
- Pure Encapsulations MSM Capsules
Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements
- Douglas Labs Omega Beauty
- Nordic Naturals ProOmega
- OrthoMolecular Orthomega
- Plant Based Omegas (Vegan Option)
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