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The Best Hair Vitamins for Longer, Thicker Strands

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These dermatologist-approved hair growth vitamins will give you the best hair of your life.

Maybe your recent dramatic chop was a little shorter than you had envisioned. Or, perhaps you're hoping to give your naturally thin hair a volume boost. While smart lifestyle strategies can help keep your hair in top shape so it's less prone to breakage (think: eating a healthy diet, not over-washing, applying a heat protectant before using hot tools, and keeping strands moisturized with a protein treatment), you may want to invest in a hair growth vitamin or supplement that will give your mane a little extra oomph.

Vitamins for hair growth "can help provide the hair follicles with the necessary building blocks for healthy activity," says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "This means that hair follicles can function to the best of their ability."

And believe it or not, hair growth pills can make a noticeable difference, experts say. Hair contains some of the fastest-dividing cells in the body, but they are non-essential for living, explains dermatologist Lamees Hamdan, MD, founder and CEO of Shiffa. As a result, "what usually happens is that hair cells are the last to get nutrition," she says.

Another benefit? Hair vitamins can make hair healthier and stronger in addition to longer. "There will be an increase in hair production, yes, but more importantly, there will be an increase in hair quality," says Julie Russak, MD, a dermatologist and founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic in New York City. "You can have a lot of hair, but if it's thin and brittle, what good does that do?"

In other words, while hair growth vitamins are no substitute for a healthy diet, they may help ensure that your strands are getting everything they need to look their best.

What vitamins are good for hair?

Experts say that over-the-counter vitamins for hair growth and thickness often contain B complex vitamins, iron, protein, and vitamin D. "We know that low levels of these vitamins are associated with hair thinning," Dr. Zeichner explains.

As with any supplement, you should be mindful of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of each ingredient. This is especially important if you're taking vitamins that contain iron or vitamin A, both of which can trigger adverse side effects if taken in excess. When in doubt, the National Institutes of Health has a handy guide for dietary supplements.

How long does it take hair growth vitamins to work?

Hair vitamins can live up to their claims to give you long, lush locks, but you shouldn't expect overnight results. "As we all know, it takes time to grow hair," says Lilly-Rose Paraskevas, MD, CEO and director of Rose Dermatology in New York City.

Dr. Hamdan tells us that if you're consistently taking a hair growth vitamin (and don't have any underlying hormonal or medical issues) you should notice that you're losing less hair within two months. By month six, "you should be able to feel your hair becoming thicker," she says.

Here, dermatologists share the best hair vitamins on the market that will help you achieve longer, thicker strands.

1. Nutrafol

Nearly every dermatologist we polled cited these supplements as a winning choice for hair growth. New York City dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, raves about the ingredient list of these hair growth pills, which boasts a slew of beneficial vitamins and antioxidants, as well as keratin, resveratrol, and biologically active compounds derived from food and botanicals. "The special blend of all these ingredients make this a very good product," she says. "It has components that many other hair growth supplements do not have."

2. Viviscal

Dr. Zeichner is a fan of this brand, which is clinically proven to nourish hair so it grows thicker and longer. Viviscal contains an exclusive marine complex, zinc, vitamin C, and horsetail extract (this last ingredient also gets Dr. Hamdan's vote, since "it's very silica-rich").

3. Collagen

You probably have heard of people who drink collagen for better skin, but the ingredient may also benefit your hair, says Dr. Jaliman. "Some think that eating more collagen may transfer to hair and scalp health," she tells us. "The more collagen we have, the more youthful our skin will feel and appear, and the healthier our hair will be." 

There are many different collagen supplements on the market, but we love Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides; a scoop of this unflavored variety completely disappears into your morning smoothie.

4. OUAI Hair Supplement for Thinning Hair

"These supplements have all you need," says Dr. Hamdan. "They contain all the important vitamins and minerals, as well as amino acids and silica." Also good? You just need to take one of these hair growth pills a day, and the packaging is convenient for travel.

5. NeoCell Keratin Hair Volumizer

"I personally like NeoCell," says Dr. Russak. She recommends this formulation, which is specifically designed to increase keratin production for stronger, healthier strands. Also good: The supplements are gluten-free and non-GMO at an affordable price point.

6. Dandruff shampoo

No, it's not a supplement—but a good dandruff shampoo is essential when trying to grow your hair out. "It is not enough to supplement the body if the scalp is inflamed or the hair follicle is compromised with dandruff," explains Dr. Russak. "I recommend using a shampoo regularly that cleans and exfoliates the scalp with the aid of salicylic acid or mild fruit acids." Our pick: L'Oreal Professional Serie Expert Volumetry Shampoo will hydrate, add volume and shine, and reduce oil and scalp build-up, thanks to salicylic acid in the formula.

7. Prenatal Vitamins

You know prenatal vitamins help provide the building blocks for optimal growth and function for both mom and baby, but you might not realize that they also could be beneficial to your hair. "Most contain a complement of iron, B complex vitamins, and minerals that support your hair follicles," Dr. Zeichner notes. He recommends prenatal vitamins for hair growth, especially those that contain biotin, a B complex vitamin that's great for hair and nail health.

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