By now it’s common knowledge that popping biotin daily won’t guarantee long, lush hair. The truth is that biotin doesn’t make hair grow faster or longer. It can only promote longer hair by strengthening the hair follicle. Stronger hair allows each strand to reach the end of its growth cycle. Your genetics then decide just how far that cycle will take you — to mermaid-like lengths or average, below-the-shoulder ends.
Another sad fact: Unless you’re deficient in biotin (or B vitamins), the supplement won’t make much of a difference. “Most people get enough biotin from foods as well as the biotin our bodies produce,” says dermatologist and scalp expert Dr. Rebecca Kazin. So popping a pill (just like any vitamin supplement you don’t need) won’t do much…or anything at all.
But now there’s a new breed of biotin products, coming in the form of serums, shampoos and even hairspray. Topical biotin offers the same (not-so-reliable) results as ingested biotin, but it guarantees the added benefit of instant fullness. “Applying a hair product that is made with biotin will help strengthen the surface of the strands,” says Schwarzkopf Essence ULTÎME celebrity hairstylist Richard Collins. The formulas coat each strand and thereby increase the diameter of each existing hair.
Schwarzkopf Essence ULTÎME is one of the first to offer a full range of biotin-infused topicals. Biotin+ Volume & Vitality Shampoo ($6.97 at Walmart) promotes less breakage because of the blend of biotin and keratin. The result is overall thicker hair in as little as seven days. Our tester was impressed. (Matrix Biolage FullDensity Thickening Shampoo works similarly to remove follicle clogging impurities and promotes more durable strands.) The other winner in the collection is the Biotin+ Volume & Vitality Daily Serum Spray ($6.97 at Walmart). The lightweight spray doesn’t weigh down even the finest of hair and adds fullness by adding smooth movement to hair’s natural texture. Just don’t brush after spraying on damp, just-washed hair for better volume.
For a boosted blowout, try Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Volumizer ($18 at Sephora) — a blowdry spray. Hair instantly has more height at the root and over time, it can even promote hair growth. While biotin adds strength, the formula’s ginseng root and ginger root are the ones that really promote growth. Ginseng stimulates blood flow to the scalp and follicles, while ginger, a natural oil, helps energize the follicle.
Bosley Healthy Hair Follicle Energizer ($18.99 at Bosley) also helps thinning hair. The leave-in serum contains biotinyl-GHK that protects hair follicles, while scalp activators help to increase the energy levels of the follicles and promote healthy growth. Just dab a few drops where thinning occurs most.
While instant results are common, how much difference you’ll see over time is debatable. “Topical biotin has been reported to improve the appearance of skin and hair, but it is difficult to know how much is able to penetrate the skin, scalp and hair cuticle barrier,” says Kazin. All of the formulas are formulated for thin, fine hair (read: lightweight and won’t weigh down hair), so they automatically promote fuller-looking hair with or without biotin’s help.
But what about the fact that our tester’s ponytail felt thicker after a month of testing biotin-infused formulas? Is that the result of magic B vitamins or merely a coincidence? While we wait for more studies and concrete evidence on topical biotin benefits, we’ll be dosing our hair with the seemingly miracle formulas just in case.