By Chris D. Meletis, N.D.
No matter your age, you probably feel most self-confident when you look your best. Two nutrients that can help with that goal are biotin and collagen. They contribute to thick, healthy hair, smooth skin, and strong nails.
Collagen for Hair, Skin, and Nails
Collagen supplements can be used to build thick, luxurious hair. The reasoning behind collagen’s ability to promote healthy hair is in part because collagen is rich in the amino acid proline, which is needed to create the main building block for hair known as keratin. As an antioxidant, collagen may also protect hair follicles from free radical damage.1
Seventy percent of your dermis is made up of collagen. The dermis is the middle layer of skin, which contains hair roots. One of collagen’s primary jobs is to keep the dermis healthy and strong. However, with aging, the body makes less collagen and isn’t as good at nourishing cells in the dermis, which may be why our hair gets thinner as we grow older. Replenishing your collagen with supplements may keep the dermis healthy and your hair thicker as you age.
Can Collagen Slow Down Hair Graying?
Although there are no studies specifically on whether collagen can slow down gray hair, there is a valid mechanism of action regarding why collagen might fend off this age-related problem. Much of hair graying is determined by genetics. However, free radicals can damage cells responsible for hair color.2 Aging itself can damage these same cells, as can free radicals from stress, environmental toxins, and eating a poor diet.3
Collagen nourishes the body with antioxidants,4 which protect against free radicals. This is important since scientists have found that the antioxidant activity of gray hair follicles is much less than follicles that still contain pigment.5 By providing antioxidants, collagen may protect cells responsible for hair color.
Collagen for Skin
There’s also evidence to suggest collagen is as good for the skin as it is for the hair. Skin aging from the sun and the aging that occurs naturally decrease levels of collagen in the body.6 The drop in collagen causes skin to become thinner, less elastic and less flexible.7
Collagen supplements can delay skin aging. They improve skin moisture, elasticity, hydration, and roughness of skin.8 For example, in one double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 69 women aged 35-55 years, participants were randomly divided to receive 2.5 g or 5 g of collagen or a placebo once daily.9 At the end of the 8-week study, skin elasticity in both collagen dosage groups significantly improved compared to placebo.
Collagen for Wrinkles
Collagen for Nails
Collagen may make your nails stronger and less cracked and brittle, as well as helping nails grow longer. In one study, collagen peptides caused a 12% increase in nail growth and a 42% decrease in the frequency of broken nails.10 The study found that 64% of participants experienced clinical improvement in brittle nails, while 88% of participants still experienced improvement four weeks after treatment.
Biotin supplements are often used for hair growth, strong nails, and healthy skin. Biotin is a B vitamin that helps convert food into energy. Biotin also helps the body make keratin, a protein important for thick hair, strong nails, and healthy skin. Biotin deficiency is common in women who have hair loss. One study found that 38% of women with hair loss had biotin deficiency.11
In some studies, biotin improved firmness, hardness, and thickness of brittle nails.12 In one trial, 45 patients with brittle nails were given oral biotin supplements daily (2.5 mg).13 Scientists observed improved firmness and hardness of the fingernails in 41 of the participants given biotin for an average of 5.5 months.
From that initial study, 22 patients with 23 brittle nails participated in a second study.14 Nail thickness increased by 25% after the participants were given biotin. Fragile, splitting nails resolved in about half of the patients who were taking biotin.
Some research also indicates that biotin may be good for healthy skin.12,15 Biotin’s role in skin health is partly due to its ability to ramp up production of keratin, which helps build the outer layer of your skin. Biotin also boosts your body’s production of fatty acids, which transfer critical nutrients to your skin. Fatty acids have been widely studied in skin health.
Biotin and Collagen for Hair, Skin, and Nails
Trace Minerals Research offers an Ionic Biotin + Collagen liquid supplement, which provides high-potency support for hair growth, youthful skin, and strong nails. It contains not only 50,000 mcg of biotin and collagen, but also boasts 25,000 mcg of a full spectrum complex of ionic trace minerals. This biotin and collagen liquid supplement is a delicious strawberry and mango flavor.
- Wang B, Wang YM, Chi CF, Luo HY, Deng SG, Ma JY. Isolation and characterization of collagen and antioxidant collagen peptides from scales of croceine croaker (Pseudosciaena crocea). Mar Drugs. 2013;11(11):4641-4661.
- Van Neste D, Tobin DJ. Hair cycle and hair pigmentation: dynamic interactions and changes associated with aging. Micron. 2004;35(3):193-200.
- Seiberg M. Age-induced hair greying - the multiple effects of oxidative stress. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2013;35(6):532-538.
- Abedin MZ, Karim AA, Latiff AA, et al. Biochemical and radical-scavenging properties of sea cucumber (Stichopus vastus) collagen hydrolysates. Nat Prod Res. 2014;28(16):1302-1305.
- Shi Y, Luo LF, Liu XM, Zhou Q, Xu SZ, Lei TC. Premature graying as a consequence of compromised antioxidant activity in hair bulb melanocytes and their precursors. PLoS One. 2014;9(4):e93589.
- Cho BA, Yoo SK, Seo JS. Signatures of photo-aging and intrinsic aging in skin were revealed by transcriptome network analysis. Aging (Albany NY). 2018;10(7):1609-1626.
- McCabe MC, Hill RC, Calderone K, et al. Alterations in extracellular matrix composition during aging and photoaging of the skin. Matrix Biol Plus. 2020;8:100041.
- Al-Atif H. Collagen Supplements for Aging and Wrinkles: A Paradigm Shift in the Fields of Dermatology and Cosmetics. Dermatol Pract Concept. 2022;12(1):e2022018.
- Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(1):47-55.
- Hexsel D, Zague V, Schunck M, Siega C, Camozzato FO, Oesser S. Oral supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017;16(4):520-526.
- Trüeb RM. Serum Biotin Levels in Women Complaining of Hair Loss. Int J Trichology. 2016;8(2):73-77.
- Lipner SR, Scher RK. Biotin for the treatment of nail disease: what is the evidence? J Dermatolog Treat. 2018;29(4):411-414.
- Floersheim GL. [Treatment of brittle fingernails with biotin]. Z Hautkr. 1989;64(1):41-48.
- Colombo VE, Gerber F, Bronhofer M, Floersheim GL. Treatment of brittle fingernails and onychoschizia with biotin: scanning electron microscopy. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1990;23(6 Pt 1):1127-1132.
- Iikura Y, Odajima Y, Nagakura T, Iinuma K, Hayakawa K, Oizumi J. Oral biotin treatment is effective for atopic dermatitis in children with low biotinidase activity. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1988;77(5):762-763.