A quick search on google for "vitamins for hair growth" yields countless results and brands, all promising to help usher in strong, vibrant, and growing hair. Amid proprietary blends and secret formulas, there is one ingredient at the core of every hair boosting vitamin: biotin.
Biotin, formally known as Vitamin H, is technically a complex B vitamin with a coenzyme. It supports healthy hair, nails, skin, nerves, digestion, and metabolism. It is even believed to help regulate blood sugar (when paired with chromium), and decrease insulin resistance (on its own) - both great news for those with type 2 diabetes. As far as hair and nails are concerned, it is believed that biotin improves the infrastructure of keratin -- the protein that they're made of, particularly for those individuals deficient in Biotin.
Although most vitamin blends contain 500mcg or more of biotin (and some supplements alone go upwards of 1000 or 5000mcg), the daily recommended dose of biotin is about 2.5mg (2500mcg) for adults. You don't necessarily need to take a special supplement to get the beauty benefits of this vitamin though -- there are plenty of food sources such as wheat germ, whole wheat bread, swiss chard, salmon, chicken, eggs, and dairy that contain biotin. Deficiencies in biotin (although somewhat rare) can lead to brittle nails and hair loss.
With all the information out there, how can you be certain that a hair growth vitamin or biotin supplement is for you? Let's take a look at some of the more definitive pros and cons:
-Affordable and widely available
-Helps the body process energy and and transport carbon dioxide from cells
-Can help strengthen nail cuticles and hair, warding off thinning and breakage of both
-Supports skin health, and can help ward off psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, and other rashes
-Believed to aid in weight loss- when paired with chromium the vitamin supports a quicker breakdown of fats and carbohydrates, leading to a higher resting metabolic rate
-Improves blood sugar regulation
-Can lead to skin breakouts, acne, and rashes (if overdosed)
-Raw eggs interfere with the absorption of biotin
-Interacts with some drugs, specifically those for cholesterol and antibiotics
By and large, it appears the benefits outweigh to potential consequences (of course, unless you are taking a specific drug known to adversely interact) of taking biotin. If you are concerned with acne outbreaks and rashes, here are a few tips on how to help keep your skin clear:
- Start out at low doses. Anywhere under 500mcg is ideal. If your body tolerates it well, you can move up as far as you feel comfortable doing.
- Try taking biotin alone at first, instead of as a part of a multivitamin. This can be difficult to do, but it will help you better assess how your body tolerates biotin. If you feel all is well after a few weeks, it should be safe to incorporate biotin into a multivitamin regimen.
- Be sure to get adequate levels of vitamins A, C, E, and Zinc. All these vitamins and minerals assist in the production of healthy skin cells, collagen, and acne treatment.
- Drink Apple Cider Vinegar. This is a personal anecdotal piece of advice from me -- I drink a 1-2 tablespoons of diluted ACV every night before bed. It has helped keep breakouts at bay, and even got rid of some pesky bumps I had along my jawline before I began taking the vitamin.
- At the end of the day, biotin can be beneficial for a number of health and beauty-related reasons. However, this vitamin isn't for everyone and the pros and cons should carefully be examined before trying it out for yourself.
-4 oz. brown rice noodles (like Tinkyada or King Soba)
-1 cucumber, spiralized or chopped into matchsticks
-1 red pepper, chopped into matchsticks
-1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
-2 carrots, minced
-1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
-10 oz. extra firm tofu, drained then cubed
-1 tablespoon sesame oil
-1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
-1 tablespoons white miso
-1 tablespoons reduced sodium tamari
-1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
-1/2 inch of ginger
1. Blend the dressing ingredients together in a mini food processor. You can double the dressing and use it on steamed veggies and salads later in the week. (If you do not have a food processor, finely mince the ginger and then whisk ingredients together.)
2. Wrap tofu in paper towels and let sit for 15 minutes to remove excess liquid. Bring pan to medium-high heat and add a teaspoon of oil. Place drained and cubed tofu in pan. Allow to cook a couple minutes per side until the tofu turns slightly golden.
3. Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water.
4. Place noodles in a large mixing bowl along with the cucumber, pepper, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and tofu. Toss with about half of the dressing.
5. Add more cilantro and dressing to taste. Top with sriracha if desired.
Lily Kunin is the voice behind the NYC-based food blog Clean Food Dirty City. Inspired by the chefs in her family as well as her friends who are looking for easy recipes, her mission is to create food that is simple, clean, and flavorful.
Everybody wants a natural glow, even if no one actually knows what that means because it's just two nice-sounding words that some marketing department stuck together. I mean, does anything objectively constitute a "glow"? Insane hydration levels? Circulation so good it's like you live in a Bikram studio? Literally sticking salad bits to your face until you're one with The Great Kale? I don't claim to have the answer; everyone has to approach glow-ification his/her/zir own way. One thing I do know, though, is that brightening products exist, and they make your skin look good, which is probably the same thing as "glowing" for most of us. So if you're interested in a little over-the-counter help, I got your back—and your front.
Before we get started, one caveat: There are no bleaching or whitening products in this story. I strongly object to anything or anyone trying to make you ashamed of your skin tone, so if you're looking for a fairness cream I would say A) whoever is telling you that your natural shade isn't beautiful is wrong, and B) this article isn't about those. Now, who's ready to hear about how a variety of acids and tiny pieces of metal can make your skin look amazing?
Active Ingredient: Crystals
Results RX Eye Doctor says it contains 'liquid crystals,' like it's the big-screen TV of brightening serums or something. I don't know how it actually works, but it's so cool-looking that I don't care. The opalescent finish is what makes this a standout, and also what produces the immediate, miraculous "glow." It's ingenious—because it's pearly instead of shimmery, you don't look like you have microscopic glitter everywhere, you just look hot. I put it on my lips, under my eyes, and on top of my cheekbones for maximum "Hey, Girl." When Ryan Gosling wanders by me at the MoMA and becomes transfixed by my perfect, suspiciously television-like skin, it'll be straight from Bauhaus to my house.
Active Ingredient: Vitamin C
If you've ever thought Fruit Roll-Ups were healthy because they have 100% of your daily value of Vitamin C, congratulations—you're awesome. Also, I found a couple products you might like. Paula's Choice Resist C15 Super Booster is a verrry potent Vitamin C and ferulic acid serum that's as effective as some glycolic peels I've had. If your skin loves being chemically exfoliated, then you and this product will be very happy together. Start off using it once a week if you decide to try it, because this is tough stuff is not for sensitive skin at all.
There's a gentler alternative, of course: Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment. It's supposed to treat dehydration, fine lines, and dark under-eye circles, but I find that it makes a nice all-over enhancer, too. It has a little bit of Vitamin C to slough off dull skin, a lot of hydrators like mango seed oil, and a couple of minerals like mica and titanium dioxide to refract light and make you look literally more luminous.
Active Ingredient: Daisies
Acid is pretty direct—it just removes damaged skin cells—but other brightening ingredients work differently, like the daisy extract in L'Occitane Immortelle Brightening Essence. Instead of eating away at cells, this serum is supposed to block additional melanin production so you don't end up with hyperpigmentation. If sun damage, uneven skin tone, or acne discoloration are your main worries, give this one a try. It's gentle and did (slightly) fade a couple of my freckles. Plus, it's in a sheer, hydrating serum base that's inoffensive and layers really well under moisturizer.
Active Ingredient: Mystery
Lancôme Visionnaire Advanced Skin Corrector has a proprietary compound in it called "LR 2412" that supposedly helps reduce lines, pores, and unevenness, which initially seems like lies. BUT from reading the bottle, there's a lot of dimethicone, which makes your skin look smoother, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump it up. Instead of skincare, I regard this as the ultimate hydrating primer, because it goes on so well and multitasks really beautifully. The best option for filling in fine lines and layering under foundation.
Photos by Lacey Gattis.
It's a bit of a running joke around the office that there are two women I am in love with/who turn me into a gawky teenage boy: the model Constance Jablonski (she is a living, breathing angel) and Caroline de Maigret, who, in case you are unaware, is a music producer and model in Paris. She is also super fucking cool, and the quintessential Parisian woman in that she eats butter and croissants, stays out "too late" sometimes, smokes cigarettes sometimes, wears practically zero makeup—especially none to hide her under-eye circles; they're 'life badges'!—and doesn't own a hair brush, and yet somehow manages to look as if she's stepped out of an Isabel Marant campaign 100% of the time. Anyway, I say all of this to set the scene: coffee at the Bowery Hotel a few weeks ago, this exemplar of French cool—fringe covering tired eyes, dressed in a slouchy white sweater and jeans—telling me she recently hired a personal trainer. That's like Christy Turlington saying she's just 'over' working out. "It was time," de Maigret explained. "But I still hate it!" She promised to write me a postcard about her new fitness regimen when she got back to Paris. Here it is.
I hate sport. I don't like watching it, I don't like doing it. Yes, I like to swim in the sea in the summer or play tennis with friends during my holidays. But that's not "sport." That's leisure once a year, for an hour. See, I've had this great chance in life of being born with good genes. I was born tall, with a pretty face (not to everyone's taste, I concede), and a thin body.
What I mean by "thin" is that whatever I would eat until the age of 30 had no effect on my weight. I could do whatever I want; I'd stay in shape without dieting or exercising. By the age of 31, my man and I decided to have a baby. One year later, Anton was born and I had gained 53 pounds. (Believe me, it's not easy to have nine months straight of chili con carne cravings!) I lost the weight very fast, and the last few pounds were finally gone nine months later. All fine.
One morning, I'd say around my 37th birthday, I saw myself in the mirror and was stunned: my body had changed! I had not seen, at all, the evolution happen, but it was there. That body, with more curves around the waist, the belly, the hips, and thighs. The skin not as toned as it used to be: I had aged.
It wasn't the easiest thing to accept, and it brought other life anxieties along the way. But once it was finally digested and understood, it was OK, and life went on. It goes on because I feel like a teenager in an adult body. I breathe young.
So here I was, having to face my new reality. I had to start exercising. (I am not going to tell you about the different membership gym cards I went through—the ones I never attended and cost me a fortune.) I hated it. Hate hate hate. "What do I care what my body looks like?"; "I'm not a Barbie doll"; "I'd rather be reading books anyway than wasting time at the gym" were going through my mind...
I then realized I was not being honest with myself. I could do both: nurture my mind and take care of my body! I just needed someone to push me because obviously I was not able to do it alone. So I met Bruno, a coach who now comes to my house twice a week. (It's a big luxury, believe me, I realize every day how lucky I am in life—this is Bruno, by the way). And it all changed. Exercising is hard, but it makes me feel so right. My mind feels so alive and sharp; my body feels toned.
That's all I'm asking for: to feel good about myself. I don't feel tired anymore although my schedule is crazy. I wake up better, I climb up stairs faster, I have less anxieties. It's quite magical, really, how good it is for the soul to feel OK in your body. (Oh please, what a cliché! But I had never guessed it was so true.)
I still pray the night before our session that Bruno's gonna call in sick in the morning, and I still have adrenaline rushes when he's five minutes late, thinking that, by chance, he might not show up. But I'm so happy at the end of the hour, to have worked so hard and to feel so good.
—Caroline de Maigret
Caroline de Maigret is a Paris-based music producer and model. Photos courtesy of the author. Read her Top Shelf here. Want to work out in Paris? Contact Caroline's trainer, Bruno, at firstname.lastname@example.org.