Skin, Hair and Nail Supplements

An Evidence-Based Approach

Rajani Katta, MD; Sophia Huang, BSc


Skin Therapy Letter. 2019;24(5):7-13. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Dermatology supplements, often marketed as "skin, hair, and nail" supplements, are becoming increasingly popular. However, many consumers lack an understanding of the science of dietary supplements or the specifics of the supplement industry. While certain supplements at the right dose in the right population may prove beneficial, the evidence is sparse for many supplements. In addition, the use of some supplements has resulted in serious adverse effects. From a regulatory standpoint, the US FDA recognizes dietary supplements as foods. This distinction has multiple ramifications, including the fact that manufacturers do not need to prove efficacy, safety, or quality prior to sale. Therefore, physicians and consumers must evaluate each supplement ingredient and formulation individually. This article outlines an evidence-based approach to assess dermatology supplements. As a starting point, all supplements should be evaluated for PPIES: purity, potency, interactions, efficacy, and safety.