Medically reviewed by Angela Sheddan, DNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 9/3/2021
It would be quite the understatement to say that collagen is having a major moment. There are collagen powders, capsules, gummies, protein bars and even bottled water made with the buzzy ingredient.
These collagen products boast a wide array of benefits. Some people claim collagen can make you more effective at the gym, while others say it has a host of beauty benefits.
One of the biggest claims is that collagen is great for promoting strong hair or thicker hair.
Wondering how true that is? We’ll dive into that exact question. But first, let’s cover some collagen basics.
Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that all mammals make. It is actually the most abundant protein in humans and is a key component in skin, hair, muscles, connective tissue and nail growth. In fact, it makes up 30 percent of a human body’s protein mass.
Another helpful thing to know: Amino acids (mostly glycine, proline and hydroxyproline) are what make up collagen.
But if your body is already in the collagen production game, why would you need more of it? Well, as you age, your body starts to produce less collagen.
This is part of the reason you start to see signs of aging like sagging skin.
Sun damage can also impact the collagen your body naturally creates.
Collagen isn’t just in your body — it can also be found in certain foods like poultry, seafood, bone broth and beans.
Supplements are another way some people try to replace the collagen they naturally lose.
Often these supplements are made using parts from animals or fish. Though there are some vegan options on the market.
The truth is: More research is needed before anyone can definitely say whether or not collagen supplements can help hair health.
One small study focused on 15 women who self-identified as having thinning hair. The women were randomly assigned to take a collagen supplement or a placebo twice a day for half a year.
At the end of that time, the women who took the collagen supplement said they had shinier hair and that they noticed skin improvements, too.
Here’s another reason some people think collagen can boost hair health: Your strands are mostly made up of the protein keratin.
The human body uses amino acids to build keratin, including proline.
As mentioned above, proline is an amino acid that contributes to collagen. So, some people make the leap that consuming collagen can help build up the keratin found in your hair.
Again, it’s important to note that the research behind these statements is limited.
Now that you understand the limited research that exists around collagen and hair health, it’s up to you to decide if you want to try taking a supplement.
If you are interested in trying one, here are some of the forms of collagen supplements you’ll find:
Capsules: If you don’t mind swallowing pills, there are collagen capsules you can take. Dosages depend on the brand you go with. Just be aware that with most, you have to take multiple pills, multiple times a day.
Powder: Collagen powder (containing collagen peptides) has become very popular in the past few years. There are unflavored versions that can be mixed into coffee, water or any other beverage, as well as flavored types.
Gummies: If capsules are difficult for you to swallow, a collagen gummy could be a good alternative.
In addition to the above, collagen can be found in some protein bars and bottled waters.
Collagen is something our body naturally produces and it contributes to the health of your hair, skin, nails and muscles.
As we age, our natural collagen production diminishes. Sun damage also affects collagen levels in the body.
This contributes to some of the physical signs of aging, like loss of skin elasticity.
It is thought that consuming supplements containing collagen can help boost collagen in the body, and lead to healthier hair and nails.
Unfortunately, there is just not enough research on the benefits of collagen supplements to back them up.
Whether or not collagen actually boosts hair growth or gives you healthier hair might involve a test of trial and error on your part.
The good news is that collagen is a fairly easy and safe dietary supplement to take. Before taking collagen for hair growth, however, it’s not a bad idea to run it by a healthcare professional.