When it comes to our skin and hair, we’re willing to spend the money to make them look good. In fact, it’s estimated that us women spend over £250 a year on skin, hair and makeup products!
While most of us think nothing of slathering on an expensive moisturiser or slapping on a pricey hair mask, there are other ways to ensure your skin is glowing and your hair has that glossy, just stepped out of a salon feel.
In fact, what we put into our bodies can impact on both of these things as much as what we put on them, and while most of our diets are full of the vitamins and minerals our skin and hair need, sometimes they may need a little boost. That’s where supplements come in.
How long do hair and skin supplements take to work?
Good things come to those that wait – and it’s no different with supplements to boost your skin and hair health!
With hair supplements, it can take years to transform your entire head of hair, as hair only grows at about half an inch per month, so persistence is key.
The same goes for skin supplements – although you should see the benefits a bit quicker, perhaps four to six months. In fact, vitamins on the whole only work for as long as you take them, so this is a long-term solution. As soon as you stop, you’ll stop reaping those benefits as well.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is some debate about whether taking supplements, such as collagen, can improve skin on their own.
Dr Shaaira Nasir, a Consultant Dermatologist at sk:n says that while there is evidence that collage supplements can increase elasticity and collagen density, more research is needed in this area.
“Collagen supplements are generally safe and have no adverse effects,” she says.
“Amino acids are the building block of collagen, therefore a diet rich in protein will provide amino acids needed for collagen production. This can be found in food such as meat, nuts, beans, egg and dairy products.”
Dr Nasir says that topical treatments such as dermal fillers, micro-needling, retinol and products containing antioxidants will all help the condition of the skin, however, it’s also important to remember sunscreen.
She recommends choosing one containing SPF30 and covering both UVA and UVB.
“This will prevent photo-ageing from the sun,” she says. “I would recommend Heliocare 360 Sunscreen Gel.”
And with that in mind, here are some of the supplements we’ve tried and tested in 2020.
As the number one beauty supplement brand in the UK, these were an obvious choice to try. They’re packed full of skin and hair loving vitamins and minerals such as zinc, which helps with the growth of healthy hair and nails, and Riboflavin, which contributes to the maintenance of your skin.
Our verdict: These are a great all-rounder, however, while our tester noticed a bit of a difference to their skin (less dull, more glow), they had little to no effect on their nails and hair.
Turmeric has long been a buzz word in health and beauty – and in fact has been used for centuries has a weapon in the search for glowing skin. It’s packed full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that contribute to healthy, glowing skin and help fight acne.
Our verdict: Our tester definitely saw the difference in taking these herby wonders. She reported that she had lots of comments on her glowy skin and that her dull lockdown skin had been transformed into that healthy, just got back from holiday skin.
Biotin is a vitamin B that is found in foods such as pulses, nuts and fish and supports the maintenance of hair and skin. It’s especially useful to take a supplement like this if you don’t use those Vitamin B boosting foods or if you take HRT or the contraceptive pill as these can both be depleted by those medicines.
Our verdict: Our tester didn’t initially notice a difference until she finally went for a much-needed manicure and her beautician commented on the length and strength of her normally weak nails. She also saw a difference in her chemically treated hair, which was much shinier than normal.
While not actually a supplement or anything to do with beauty, getting a good night’s sleep is essential if you want gorgeous skin. If you have disrupted sleep, this can raise your cortisol level, which in turn depletes essential collagen. These patches, which contain a blend of essential oils known for helping relaxation, are worn on the feet overnight.
Our verdict: These were a bit of a pain to use and our tester had to wear socks to keep them on – not ideal during a heatwave! While she said they didn’t take immediate effect, and she took a while to get to sleep, once she was asleep, she didn’t wake once and felt instantly refreshed on waking. The only downside is the cost – at £4.99 for one night’s worth of patches, it would be expensive to use these every night.
5 Boots Adaptogens Maca, £8
If you suffer from hormonal breakouts, then it may be time to reach for some Maca root. Added to smoothies or baking, it works to regulator your hormones, which will hopefully put an end to spots. One study also found it can help protect the skin from UV rays, which makes it a great anti-ageing choice as well.
Our verdict: Our tester added the supplement to her breakfast smoothie about a week before her period and reported that she definitely saw an improvement to her monthly breakouts. While she still got the odd spot, they were less ‘angry looking’ than usual and also went quicker.
6 Collagen Peptides, £16
Many skin products contain collagen as it has known benefits for keeping skin plump and healthy looking. It can also help improve hair condition, especially thinning hair, and may even slow down the greying process. While there has been much debate as to whether it helps when taken as a supplement, if you go down this route it’s better to choose a grass-fed variety to ensure it’s clean and free and of any anti-biotics.
Our verdict: This supplement got the instant thumbs down from our tester because it was so disgusting when mixed with water – eventually she worked out that it’s best taken with smoothies or used in baking such as pancakes! However, after taking for a couple of months, she saw little or no difference in her complexion, so is sticking to a less yucky collagen moisturiser from now on!
A more palatable way to take your collagen is in a tablet form! These capsules by skin expert Marie Reynolds, not only contain collagen but also a huge variety of skin-loving extras including Vitamin C, zinc, copper and biotin. The collagen in these tablets come from marine sources, so isn’t suitable for those with fish allergies.
Our verdict: Our tester said their nails were much stronger and their thinning hair seemed much thicker after taken these tablets. They didn’t make much difference to her skin, however, she felt less tired than normal and attributes these with giving her a boost!
Philip Kingsley is the doyenne of all things hair. A tub of his infamous hair repair Elasticizer is sold every two minutes worldwide and what he doesn’t know about follicles isn’t worth knowing. This supplement has been created by trichologists and contains soya, which provides hair follicles with a concentrated protein boost and is especially helpful if you’re on a low-protein diet.
Our verdict: After taking these for a couple of months, our tester found their very chemically damaged hair to be much softer and shinier. The new hair that was growing in also seemed thicker. Her only negative comment was on the price and that it would be too expensive to continue taking these in the long-term.
9 Ancient and Brave Cacao and Collagen, £20.99
If you want a tasty collagen drink, try this delicious chocolate drink, which contains skin-boosting collagen, as well as Siberian ginseng, beetroot and vitamin C rich baobab. It’s the healthiest hot chocolate you’ll ever drink.
Our verdict: This was a great alternative to coffee and helped our tester wean herself off her eight cups of coffee a day! While she didn’t notice a huge difference to her skin, she did notice a big difference to her mood – thanks to the ginseng – and also her dodgy knee joint, meaning she could exercise once more
Is it worth splashing the cash on hair and skin supplements? We’ve tested a whole load for you…