Home Tips & Trends Skin & Hair Everything You Need to Know About Biotin, According to Experts

Everything You Need to Know About Biotin, According to Experts

Can biotin (aka vitamin B7) supplements really strengthen your hair and nails? Experts weigh in.

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Creating a suitable skincare routine can be many things; a welcome relief to years of struggling with annoying and often emotionally-draining skin issues, a peaceful time to meditate while you apply your daily lotions and potions, but it can also be a headache to actually attain it. The world of skincare and especially product formulation can be intimidating for those without a specialized degree in cosmetic science. 

One of the most talked about ingredients in the world of beauty is a little B-word known as biotin. For those of you who may not be so familiar with this particular ingredient, we reached out to several experts in the beauty industry to learn more about the ins-and-outs of this intriguing ingredient. 

What is Biotin?

Cosmetic chemist and adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnatti Kelly Dobos explains, “Biotin is a water soluble vitamin and part of the B complex of vitamins that help the body convert food into energy. Because our bodies can’t make biotin, so we have to obtain it from the foods we eat or supplements.”

Potential Beauty Benefits of Biotin

One of the reasons the beauty industry is so hyped around biotin as an ingredient in product formulation is for the potential restoration slash regrowth of damaged hair and nails. 

Laura Lam-Phuare, Research Development Director at Product Sociey, points out that biotin “when formulated properly it can improve the quality of keratin structures, which can strengthen fine and brittle hair and nails. Biotin can be challenging to formulate with as it is only soluble in high alkaline water… Biotin is an incredibly expensive ingredient that’s use level is often incredibly low. It is often times used at a marketing level just to make claims [of efficacy] due to the high cost of the material.”

According to Zobia Ahmed, a cosmetic chemist, biotin’s efficacy as a ingredient in beauty products is there, is not one hundred percent guaranteed .

“Some research shows that biotin has positive effects on hair, skin, and nails. It is commonly known for improving the shine and volume in hair, as well as improving hair growth for those experiencing hair thinning,” he says. “ Some research indicates that Biotin can help improve skin hydration by assisting in the production of fatty acids. One thing to note is that Biotin has been studied for its benefits on hair, skin, and nails, but there is very limited research available to support its effectiveness.”

Potential Risks of Biotin

While there are some great potential benefits to adding in extra biotin into your beauty routine, as with anything else in life, there is a truth to too much of a good thing. 

As Dobos clarifies, “Because biotin is water soluble, excess will eventually be excreted in urine. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning statement that high levels of biotin can interfere with certain laboratory tests used to detect heart attacks so it is important to discuss supplementation with healthcare providers.”

Ahmed elaborated, “The National Institute of Health suggests the following daily recommended micrograms of Biotin based on your age:

Birth to 6 month: 5 mcg

Infants 7-12 months: 6 mcg

Children 1-3 years: 8 mcg

Children 4-8 years: 12 mcg

Children 9-13 years: 20 mcg

Teens 14-18 years: 25 mcg

Adults 19+ years: 30 mcg

Pregnant teens and women: 30 mcg

Breastfeeding teens and women: 35 mcg

As per the NIH, biotin hasn’t been shown to cause any harmful effects. The body tolerates biotin very well. In the rare case that there are side effects, people might experience breakouts and digestive issues.”

Best Way To Ingest Biotin 

For the most part, as Dobos mentioned, the best way to add biotin into your beauty routine is just by maintaining a balanced diet. 

“The most biotin rich foods include eggs – specifically the yolk, fish, mushrooms, and nuts are good sources of dietary biotin. One egg has about a third of daily biotin need, which is 30 micrograms for adults. But biotin is included in many daily multivitamins. There are also supplements that claim skin, hair, and nail benefits but the excessive levels of biotin in these just aren’t worth it,” Dobos says.

So, versus adding a hair and nail strengthening gummy into your daily routine, you can easily ingest the recommended amount of biotin in your diet and use biotin-infused products topically as a little bonus.

It is important to obtain an adequate amount of biotin through your diet. Here are some natural food sources of biotin:

  1. Egg Yolks: Egg yolks are one of the best sources of biotin. One large egg yolk can contain around 10 micrograms of biotin.
  2. Organ Meats: Liver and kidney from animals like beef, pork, and chicken are rich in biotin. These meats can provide a significant amount of biotin when included in your diet.
  3. Nuts and Seeds: Many nuts and seeds contain biotin. Almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are good choices.
  4. Legumes: Legumes like peanuts, soybeans, and lentils are good sources of biotin.
  5. Whole Grains: Whole grains, such as wheat germ, whole wheat bread, and oats, contain biotin. However, the biotin in grains may be less bioavailable than in other foods due to the presence of compounds that bind to it.
  6. Mushrooms: Some varieties of mushrooms, especially shiitake mushrooms, contain biotin.
  7. Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are a good source of biotin, and they are also packed with other beneficial nutrients.
  8. Dairy Products: Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt contain biotin, although the amounts can vary.
  9. Spinach: Leafy greens like spinach contain biotin, albeit in smaller quantities compared to some other foods.
  10. Fish: Certain types of fish, such as salmon, are good sources of biotin.
  11. Avocado: Avocado is a source of biotin and is also rich in healthy fats and other nutrients.
  12. Cauliflower: Cauliflower contains a modest amount of biotin.

Remember that cooking food can reduce its biotin content, as biotin is sensitive to heat. However, the reduction is usually not significant. Biotin is also produced by the beneficial bacteria in your gut, so maintaining a healthy gut microbiome can contribute to your biotin intake.

The recommended daily intake of biotin varies but is generally around 30 micrograms for adults. If you have specific dietary concerns or conditions that may affect biotin absorption, consult a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized guidance.

Several Biotin-infused products Dobos recommended include:

Kelly Dobos is a cosmetic chemist with over a decade’s worth of experience in the beauty and skincare realm. In addition to her work as a consultant cosmetic chemist, Dobos is also an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnatti, from which she also complete the college’s esteemed Masters of Pharmacetical Science program. 

Laura Lam-Phuare is Research Development Director at Product Sociey and is an ongoing columnist for beauty publication Cosmetics & Toiletries. 

Zobia Ahmed is a cosmetic chemist with a Master’s degree in Cosmetic Science from the University of Cincinnati, and was most previously Research and Development Manager at Mario Badescu Skin Care.

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Nicole Kirichanskaya
Nicole Kirichanskaya is a born-and-raised Brooklynite with a passion for fashion, feminism, and the fanciful. Her love of beauty stems from when she was taught the importance of a good manicure at an early age from her Ukrainian babushka. She has written for a number of publications including Global Glam Magazine, CEW, Footwear News, and more.