Skin, Hair & Nails Supplement Guide

    Medical disclaimer

    This guide is a general-health document for adults 18 or over. Its aim is strictly educational. It does not constitute medical advice. Please consult a medical or health professional before you begin any exercise-, nutrition-, or supplementation-related program, or if you have questions about your health.

    This guide is based on scientific studies, but individual results do vary. If you engage in any activity or take any product mentioned herein, you do so of your own free will, and you knowingly and voluntarily accept the risks. While we mention major known interactions, it is possible for any supplement to interact with other supplements, with foods and pharmaceuticals, and with particular health conditions. does not assume liability for any actions undertaken after visiting these pages, and does not assume liability if one misuses supplements. and its Editors do not ensure that unforeseen side effects will not occur even at the proper dosages, and thereby does not assume liability for any side effects from supplements or practices hosted under the domain of does not make any representations, recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the website. Reliance on any information provided by, employees, guest writers, editors, and invitees of, or other visitors to is solely at your own risk.

    How to use

    The Examine team has been publishing research on nutrition and supplementation since March 2011. Drawing from all we’ve learned, we’ve designed this Supplement Guide with two aims in mind: helping you decide which supplements are right for you, based on the scientific evidence, and helping you integrate these supplements into synergistic combos.

    Primary supplements have the best safety-efficacy profile. When used responsibly, they are the supplements most likely to help and not cause side effects.

    Secondary supplements may provide substantial benefits, but only in the right context. A secondary option is not for everyone and not a first pick, but if you read the entry and find that you meet the criteria, consider adding the supplement to your combo.

    Promising supplements have less evidence for their effects. They could work or be a waste of money. Keep them in mind, but think twice before adding them to your combo.

    Unproven supplements are backed by tradition or by mechanistic, animal, epidemiological, or anecdotal evidence, but not yet by convincing human trials. At this point, they are not good candidates for your combo.

    Inadvisable supplements are either potentially dangerous or simply ineffective, marketing claims notwithstanding. Do not add them to your combo. At best, they’ll be a waste of money; at worst, they can cause you harm.

    Now that you’ve learned of various supplements worthy of your consideration, you’ll learn to integrate them into synergistic combos. You’ll discover a core combo (composed of the most important and least controversial supplements) and several specialized combos. Each specialized combo is optimized for a specific population. The simplest way to formulate your own combo is to combine the core combo with the specialized combo that best fits your situation, needs, and primary health goal.

    Then comes the FAQ, in which we cover common questions that may arise when selecting and combining supplements. With all this, you should be able to identify and assemble the supplement combo best suited to your objective.


    Few sales pitches will get people reaching for their wallets faster than promising that “this will make you more attractive”. We all want to look our best, as shown by the billions of dollars we collectively spend each year on the vast array of products that tout ingredients to preserve and improve the appearance of skin, hair, and nails. Most of those are topical, but some can be taken orally, and in this guide we’ll be looking at both types.

    Like the world of supplements, the world of cosmetics is a bit like the Wild West⁠ — there are very few rules, and everyone is trying to make a quick buck. Beware of misleading claims: a skincare product might proudly state it has been “dermatologist-tested”, but what does this mean really? Just that a dermatologist tested the product in some unspecified way. What it does not mean is that the product was shown to have any cosmetic benefit whatsoever.

    But wait! This product also states that its purpose is to, let’s say, reduce wrinkles. Here again, however, the product states only one thing: its purpose. There’s no guarantee of its efficacy for this purpose. Wrinkles, dry hair, and brittle nails can be symptoms of a health condition, but they are not considered health conditions in themselves; this helps explain why, in the US, cosmetics are regulated more like supplements than like drugs. The FDA regulates the legality of the ingredients and the accuracy of the labels — but doesn’t evaluate efficacy.

    One unique aspect of aesthetic health, though, is that you sometimes need only a mirror to see whether a product works. With most areas of health, you have to rely on laboratory tests; or you might try to judge how you feel after taking the product for a while, in which case the truth gets obscured by the placebo effect and faulty memory. But if a facial moisturizer failed to moisturize or a hair conditioner to condition, they probably wouldn’t be sold for very long.

    However, while a mirror may be enough to assess short-term changes in some areas, to track long-term changes you should take pictures (under the same conditions; lighting, notably, can make a big difference). And even then, it can be hard to be sure if a product is working or not, because anti-aging products claim to slow down apparent aging; none claims to be able keep you looking twenty until you reach your hundredth birthday.

    But then, what can you do? Spend hundreds of dollars a year on products that may or may not make you look better than you would have without them?

    This is where science comes in: it can allow us to evaluate different health aspects of skin, hair, and nails using clinical trials, and how those factors are affected by various products.


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    Primary Supplements

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    Secondary Supplements

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    Promising Supplements

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    Unproven Supplements

    Inadvisable Supplements

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