5 Best Collagen Supplements for Hair Growth
First of all: collagen does not form hair.
Collagen is a protein found in the skin, intestines, joints, and throughout the body to provide structure and strength. Hair, on the other hand, is mostly made up of another protein, keratin. (Keratin is also found in the epidermis and nails.) Keratin is a protective protein that acts as a barrier. All proteins are made up of amino acids, often referred to as the “building blocks” of proteins.
So why is collagen often touted for hair health? Supplements like collagen powder are not actually a whole collagen molecule (which would be too large to digest), but rather broken down and hydrolyzed collagen. In this form, these are actually digestible amino acids!
Bottom Line: The amino acids in collagen supplements can be used by the body to make other proteins, such as keratin.
Board certified trichologist and founder of Advanced Trichology, William Haunitz, FWTS, told mbg that the basic amino acid that is most beneficial is called proline1. Many collagen supplements clearly describe the amino acid profile in their formula, so you can even find options that contain this amino acid and are likely to be better for hair health.
But it’s not just about the hair fiber itself, collagen can actually support the hair follicle and the area around it. Rachel Mayman, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical, notes that studies have shown that collagen levels around the hair follicle and bulb increase during Hair growth phase 2 (otherwise called the anagen phase).* Then, as they move into the maintenance and shedding phase, the collagen disappears.
So, if the body can produce more collagen, it can keep the hair in the growth phase longer. “As our body produces more collagen, the layers regenerate. It supports our hair follicles, helping them re-enter the anagen phase and support the hair growth cycle,” says Mayman.*
Indeed, we often say that you cannot have healthy hair without a healthy scalp. “Collagen keeps the scalp thick,” Mayman says. “Thin scalp with insufficient collagen is less strong and unable to hold hair follicle bulbs.”