Medically reviewed by Jill Johnson, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/13/2021
Let’s talk about the beauty industry’s favorite protein: Collagen. As proteins go, this one is big business — and it’s the most abundant protein in your body.
Collagen supports your skin elasticity (among many other functions in the body), and helps it look healthier.
But what about hair? Can a collagen supplement do anything for your mane?
Truth be told, this is a good time to be skeptical, because as hair supplements go, collagen might not be your strongest bet.
Hair growth and hair loss are complicated bodily processes — and while it would be great to hear that collagen is your hair's BFF, life isn't a rom com.
Collagen supplement benefits might include hair growth — that’s a possibility. But there’s not a lot of substantiated evidence to support that.
Whether you apply collagen by injection or consume another form of collagen daily, it may offer plenty of benefits.
Thicker hair might be one of them, but if that is your primary goal, you may want to consider additional or alternative options, like minoxidil.
Read on to learn more about collagen, and how it might relate to hair health and hair growth.
The best place to start talking about collagen’s role in your body is with your skin health.
Healthy skin is a thick and complicated web of many moving parts, including structural proteins. There are three that arguably matter the most: collagen, elastin and keratin.
Keratin is basically your body’s equivalent of armor — it’s a hard, barrier protein that functions like a mesh weave for the purpose of protecting you.
Elastin is more like a mesh that fastens your cells together, and returns them to their original positions so they don’t get “stuck” when your skin stretches.
Collagen, meanwhile, is the most plentiful protein within your skin (and elsewhere), and it is the largest connective tissue component in your skin (generally speaking).
The purpose of connective tissue is to keep your skin firm and protect it from all forms of damage. These might include fine or deep lines, otherwise known (and not typically loved) as wrinkles.
The sun can also contribute to skin damage, as can air quality and an unbalanced diet. Even sleeping with your face down on the pillow can lead to wrinkles.
You get collagen from a variety of sources, including your own collagen production and the food you eat.
Foods that contain a source of natural collagen like veal, lamb, beef, pork, certain game meats, bone broth and poultry are great ways to support your dietary intake.
But how much does this affect your cosmetic collagen levels? It’s unclear.
Scientists haven’t fully established how the link works between what you eat and how your skin looks.
However there is research showing that increased collagen intake can help support joint health.
If you’re wondering about the benefits of collagen for hair growth because you’ve been seeing hair loss (say in the shower drain in each morning) — worry not.
Your hair’s growth cycle is broken into three phases, and while they can be interrupted by a number of conditions and factors, collagen deficiency is not typically one of them, nor a reason why a hair follicle fails to produce.
If anything is going wrong with your hair, it’s likely not because of a collagen deficiency. And in the same way, there’s little information to suggest a link between collagen and benefits to your hair.
While there’s not much of a science-backed link between healthy hair and collagen to discuss now, some early research has shown benefits worth exploring.
One study found that sixteen weeks of consuming daily collagen supplements helped study participants increase hair thickness and cell growth — the latter by more than 30 percent.
But this study hasn’t been replicated, so the jury is out on whether or not the results would be consistent.
There are plenty of benefits with collagen, yet if you need to address hair loss concerns, there are better ways to do it.
Collagen may benefit many parts of your body but it’s not a treatment for hair loss. In fact, there are much better, dedicated hair loss treatment options for women on the market right now.
Take minoxidil, for example. Topical minoxidil can be prescribed for hair regrowth to increase the blood flow to your hair follicles, which can encourage them to grow hair again.
A study of minoxidil for men revealed that some people experienced as much as an 18 percent increase in growth over a 48-week period. The same benefits are just as likely for women.
Nutritional deficiencies can also cause some types of hair loss.
These are generally best addressed by dietary changes and the inclusion of a multivitamin (like hers’ Biotin Gummy Multivitamins) in your daily routine.
If you’re experiencing hair loss, your best bet is to consult with a healthcare professional about your hair issues.
You may have an underlying health condition causing your hair to thin. It could also be due to stress.
It’s also a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any type of supplement.
And when it comes to hair growth, they might suggest changes to your diet, exercise and quitting any habits like smoking which could be contributing to the state of your mane.
Hair loss can be a lot to handle, so a healthcare professional can be your first line of defense.