biotin and collagen for hair thinning
Written by
Morgan German
Medically approved by
Amy Revene M.B.B.S

If you’re looking for supplements and ingredients that can make a difference in your hair’s health and rate of growth, you’ve most probably come across biotin and collagen.

These two have become buzzwords in the beauty industry, with more and more hair products and supplements featuring them as miracle ingredients.

The whole industry is talking about the benefits of biotin and collagen, and it seems that everyone’s including them as an integral part of their hair health routines. But are either of them going to make a palpable difference in alleviating your hair health concerns?

Today we’re removing the ambiguity and diving into the science behind both of these ingredients. Starting with what they are, how they differ from each other, and what hair concerns each of them target best, we’ve got you covered if you’re trying to figure out which one to choose - or whether to choose at all.

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What is biotin?

biotin shampoo

Biotin is another name for vitamin B7 or Vitamin H. This vitamin’s most important function is that it helps your body convert food into energy, but it also helps with the health of your hair, skin, nails, eyes, nervous system, and with pregnancies. Most people get enough biotin through their diets, as it’s rife in common foods such as organ meats, eggs, legumes, nuts, or seeds.

If you’re eating a varied, balanced diet, you most probably don’t need to worry about not getting enough of it. In fact, Biotin supplements aren’t targeting people with a biotin deficiency, as there are very few of those. The theory is that a surplus of biotin in your body is desirable, as it’s speculated that it will get your hair, skin, and nails to be even healthier.

What does biotin do for hair?

Biotin is the essential building block of keratin, the primary protein in hair, and a deficiency of biotin undoubtedly negatively affects hair growth.

Although there is some evidence to support the claim, it can’t be stated that biotin supplements are 100% verified and effective for hair growth - unless if they’re helping remove a biotin deficiency, in which case they are indeed effective.

There are a lot of supplements that claim to improve hair health, and although biotin is one of them, there doesn’t seem to be enough research about the role of supplementing biotin in hair growth and overall texture. For people experiencing hair loss, however, it’s been proven that 40% of them have a serious biotin deficiency - in such cases, people will absolutely benefit from a biotin supplement, and it will help with their hair growth.

In some studies, biotin supplements have even been reported to reverse hair loss, but they’ve failed to be successfully isolated from other ingredients, so it’s hard to say if it was biotin that had the biggest impact. If you’d like to read more about these studies and what they found, feel free to go ahead and read our other article on biotin for hair.

While biotin’s crucial role in keratin seems reason enough for making sure that we have appropriate levels of it in our bodies, we should approach supplements with care.

What is collagen?

collagen supplements in lab coat

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. Just like biotin, it plays a crucial role in the functioning of our bodies, as it provides them with structural support. It might be easier for you to imagine collagen as the springs in a mattress - if your body is the metaphorical mattress, collagen is the internal structure that keeps it in place, firm, and bouncy.

You can find collagen all over your body, but most of it is within your skin, bones, tendons, and cartilages. When we’re younger, we have plenty of collagen reserves that we build through our varied diets (great foods for collagen are fish, chicken, egg whites, but also citrus, berries, and some vegetables more suitable for vegan people).

What does collagen do for hair?

As we grow older, our collagen reserves dwindle, making those springs a little bit less bouncy and the support less sturdy. Think about how older people’s skin sags; that’s because, amongst other things, they’re missing collagen. A shortage of collagen also affects hair, making it sparse, thin, and brittle.

What’s the link? Simple. Collagen and keratin are both proteins, and all proteins are made out of smaller building blocks called amino acids. Proline happens to be one of the main amino acids in both collagen and keratin; when your hair is in its growth phase, there is naturally more proline in your scalp.

Low collagen means low proline levels, which means impeded hair growth. You can find out more in our separate deep dive into collagen for hair growth.

What’s the best way to take biotin and collagen for hair?

woman reading magazine after shampoo

Biotin and collagen seem to both have the same effect: they help hair growth. By supporting keratin, the primary protein in the structure of hair, they are doing their part in boosting its overall health.

But when it comes to taking supplements or applying topical treatments for either of these in the form of shampoos or serums, the story becomes a little bit different.

Biotin and collagen supplements work in a similar way. Your body breaks them down into its building blocks. If everything goes according to plan and your body absorbs it properly as well as directs it towards the area that you’d like for it to help with (in our case, your scalp), then you’re bound to reap the benefits of your biotin and collagen supplement.

Topical application, however, is different.

Collagen is an easy one to explain: a collagen molecule is simply too big to penetrate the skin (your scalp). So, even if you’ve got the highest quality collagen-boosted shampoo or treatment, chances are that your shower water will wash it right off your hair and into the drain, along with your money. Collagen in topical application doesn’t work.

Biotin, on the other hand, does well when applied directly to your hair. Unlike collagen, biotin can be successfully absorbed through the skin and scalp, and if applied regularly, it will increase the levels of biotin present in your hair, rehydrating the scalp and unclogging the pores of the dead skin cells. This will help your hair with its natural growth cycle.

Biotin and collagen: which supplement should you take?

If you would like to increase the levels of biotin and collagen in your body, the best thing to do is to have a healthy, varied, balanced diet. If you can, also avoid engaging in behaviors that deplete the biotin and collagen in your body, such as stress, erratic sleeping patterns, or smoking.

This ensures that your body will keep producing biotin as well as collagen on its own for as long as possible without the need for external supplementation.

For biotin specifically, it’s very easy for you to get it naturally, through the foods that we’ve already mentioned because it’s a vitamin. When it comes to collagen, however, it’s a different story. Just like any other protein, when you eat collagen, your body breaks it down into amino acids.

You can’t ‘eat’ collagen to increase the collagen levels in your body - even if you take it in the supposedly superior hydrolyzed form, your body still breaks it down into peptides, leaving you to hope that your body will then turn all the pieces into collagen, but it often doesn’t.

Again, our solution is: a whole, varied, balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are the best ways to keep your biotin and collagen levels high.

Collagen supplements in oral or topical applications are, in our opinion, mostly a waste of time and money - there simply is too much guesswork involved when it comes to increasing its levels artificially.

Biotin supplements, on the other hand, are worthwhile in topical applications. We’d skip the oral supplements and just eat foods high in biotin instead.

Biotin and collagen: a comparison table

 

Biotin

Collagen

Hair concerns addressed

Hair thinning, hair growth, brittle hair.

Overall benefits

Hair growth, skin health, regulating blood sugar.

Better skin, hair, nails, helps with joint health.

Topical effectiveness

High

None

Oral effectiveness

High

Low

Foods high in the substance

Egg yolks, legumes, nuts and seeds, liver, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, bananas, broccoli, avocados.

Fish, chicken, egg whites, citrus fruits, berries, red and yellow vegetables, garlic.

Factors that affect levels

Generally a lack of food with biotin; in severe cases: certain medications, intravenous feeding, intestinal problems, long-term dieting, biotinidase deficiency.

Processed meats, exposure to ultraviolet light, tobacco, excessive intake of sugar, stress, aging.

Conclusion: biotin and collagen battle

If you’re looking for the best treatment for thinning hair and maintaining your hair health, we strongly recommend biotin over collagen. It’s far superior in terms of topical absorption and can be absorbed from many foods as part of a healthy, varied diet.

Collagen levels are difficult if not impossible to boost artificially, and even the most expensive supplements will be hard-pressed to show proof of effectiveness; furthermore, collagen is simply ineffective topically.

So there it is, the main differences between biotin and collagen.

What can you do then?

Chances are if you are looking at this, you are considering which one will help you regain that amazing mane you had. What can biotin and collagen do?

If you are on the lookout for biotin products that do work, why not try our Hair Growth Routine? We guarantee hair growth within 150 days, if it doesn't grow, we'll refund everything.

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